Purple Ribbon Campaign
Premarin News & Views
IGHA/HorseAid in the New Millennium — Horses & People
So Cal Fires Under Control
The damage from more than five days of raging fires from Ventura County to the Mexican border is staggering. By Tuesday night, 10/29/03, nine major fires in five counties had scorched more than 550,000 acres, destroyed about 2,000 homes and other buildings, and been blamed for at least 16 deaths.
All of the fires were fully contained by November 5 when President Bush toured the areas to assess the fire damaged areas.
Almost all the affected areas are rural in nature, and many have horse keeping facilities. HorseAid volunteers were on hand to help move the horses down to fire safe areas. Many other rescue groups and individuals also worked around the clock.
The fires were moving so fast, that many residents of the affected areas had to turn their animals loose rather than risk losing them to the rapidly gaining fires. Others had to de-trailer their horses when the mostly small two lane roads in the fire zones became clogged with emergency vehicles and the crush of residents fleeing the firestorms.
Loose horses gathered by HorseAid volunteers were marked on the hindquarters with the location the horse was found at (using "Giant Marker" marking pens) and then hand walked to staging areas where the horses could safety be transported out of the fire area. Marking the horses with the area they were found in should help to reunite them with their owners once all the confusion dies down.
It appears that most, if not all of the horses in the current fire zones were brought down the mountains to safety by Tuesday evening. It is unsure at this time if any horses perished in the blazes. Our volunteers did not personally come across any deceased or severely injured horses.
to thank all the individuals and groups that continue to make this massive
relocation effort a success, as well as all the fire crews that helped us
to gather and then load the horses so they could be transported to safety
at the same time they were fiercely battling the firestorm. A special thank
you goes to Del Mar Race Track for the use of their facility as a holding
area, and René of the City of Norco Animal Control who has been so
instrumental in getting the horses relocated to temporary shelters.
If you live in a fire area and have horses, please don't wait until the last minute to move your animals to safety. If you have to let your horse(s) loose, please remove the halter. Halters can snag on branches and brush, fatally trapping the horse.
Nylon halters can melt themselves right to the horses skin, causing severe burn injuries. Leather halters can catch fire just from the heat of the fire. The metal parts of a halter can retain scorching skin damaging heat long after the horse is free of the fire's heat.
We recommend writing your contact information, including your cell phone number, on a piece of non synthetic cloth and then placing it between a few layers of duct tape. Then loosely wrap the duct tape high up on the horses tail. This will make it much easier for your horse to be identified and returned to you in the event it gets loose, or because of imminent fire danger to the horse, you have to turn it loose.
As an alternate means of identification, write your contact information on both sides of the horse's hindquarters with a permanent type marking pen. Both of these identification systems successfully worked for us in the big So Cal Malibu Hills fire that occurred several years ago.
Bear in mind that these wildfires move very quickly, a healthy horse can normally outrun a fire, you cannot. Make advance preparations and have a workable escape plan before being faced with an "outrun" situation.
Layne Wilson on BBC Radio
(From BBC London, U.K. — October 25 & 26, 2003)
HorseAid co-founder Staci Layne Wilson recorded an interview for BBC Radio which is being broadcast world-wide over the weekend of October 25th and 26th. Tune in to BBC Radio or Public Broadcasting Radio to hear the interview.
the Cavel Rebuilding Vigil (9/27/03)
(Source: Carol Chapman, The Last Refuge)
Cavel International is on a site that is a little less than 2 acres. The blueprints call for a plant with NO external holding pens, the trucks back up to a dock and offload into a small area with an overhead catwalk to drive the horses into a pipe fenced area that winds up and down like a check in queue at an airport.
At the end
of it and visible to the horses is the kill box, the majority of the
small plant is dedicated to coolers and processing areas. Lots of men’s
rooms and only one ladies room. No offices in the new building, they
are staying in the original house on site that did not burn.
The only way this plant could process 35,000 plus horses a year as they claim they will would be if they ran 24/7. There are truck areas mapped out for trucks to get in line, no places for horses to offload until they go through that door. The footings are poured and the fence outside is tall with razor wire on it... tight security.
There appears to be two loading ramps on the back of the building, one near the cooler area and the other off the dirty processing room. I imagine waste will go out that door.
The plant is set up as a massive, efficient killing machine with everything hidden behind razor wire, tall fences, and concrete walls. The terror will not be seen or heard from the street or by the community of DeKalb.
I am trying to be factual rather than emotional, but the pain is overwhelming.
DeKalb is a town surrounded by farms, ranches, and many horses. The town is primarily supported by Monsanto and side trade generated by NIU. The county Farm Bureau sits in a magnificent brick building that has to be worth in excess of $400,000. Fanciest farm bureau building I have ever seen.
There is a tie between that farm bureau and the old holding company for Cavel, and interesting duplication of names on the bureau roster and the City Council.
The people of DeKalb seem nice and most state they did not know Cavel was there until it burned down. Cavel survived for many years by being quiet and out of the way. Now that the word is out, they are accelerating the build, hoping to get it open and running so we will all go away. True evil wants no notoriety, it thrives in secrecy.
The park was beautiful and the facilities were fantastic. Picture a rolling park setting with a pavilion, and clamshell amphitheater with ample seating for 100's of people.
The pavilion had a fireplace, restrooms, an indoor meeting room and a kitchen.
The police were friendly and seemed interested in the why and wherefores of what we were doing. The workers at Wal-Mart and the Dollar Store were vocally in favor of the vigil and passing the information out to their customers.
The local Pizza Hut donated pizza, and another establishment supplied drinks. Sam's Club of Texas City, Texas supplied the snacks. It was very clear that the residents and businesses of DeKalb did not want Cavel to reopen and were looking for guidance in how to keep it from happening.
and over again was the
refrain "This is terrible, this must not happen. Help us stop it please."
Angela Miller had certainly prepared the town, everyone knew her name and what she was trying to do. I heard nothing negative from anyone as we finalized shopping, picking up grab bags, buying those small items we always forget until the last moment and heading to the park.
busy making tons of posters to point the way to the vigil. I met with
Angela at the park at 11a.m. The pavilion was divided into several areas:
• A children’s discovery area with grab bags, horse coloring area, face painting, and small talking area.
• A praise to horses area with the slide show running on continuous loop and the Horses of the Wind playing next to it.
• Food and goodies area for those needing sustenance.
• Education and discussion area with all the wonderful handouts, Jennifer Hughes’ special horse puppet and the purple ribbons.
• Screened off back area for the tapes of horse slaughter to be shown under supervision.
• Media area with different people able to answer questions, provide hard copy and tape to take back and get contact information.
Also, we aired
Tiff Bartlett's documentary film (CBS and Fox took my copies of it with them
as well as our other tape).
Externally, we had the horse corral, signs, and posters both on the street and up at the pavilion.
There were over 20 people ready to help there by 2:15 and the first guests started arriving before 3:00pm. Jamie Dale, her husband, Rob, their parents, and volunteers made the long journey in from Wisconsin and hopped right in to help.
Jennifer Hughes and Tom Lee both had long drives as well and were incredible. Tom's corral made a powerful statement, we hung a sign on it that said "This empty corral is what America's future will be like if Cavel reopens...no more horses."
"Just say Whoa" on the long banner made a hit with several people as did the wonderful banner made by Vicky's sister and cousin. The posters made by Angela and crew went up around town and the HUGE signs in Gail's front yard had people stopping to see and talking about what was going on.
The doors opened, the people started coming and there was never a moment free to take a breath and relax from 2:45 until after 9:00. People came in ones and twos, in family groups, sixes and sevens, and all at once carload after carload. They came to talk, to listen, to see, and stayed to sign the petition, cry and hug.
Purple ribbons are the attire of choice in DeKalb and at the college today.
We divided up areas and made sure everyone that came got to speak to as many of us as they cared to, answered questions, offered Kleenex, and listened to anger and disgust, and pain emote from people.
They were old, young, in the middle. Vegans, vegetarians, omnivores, and probably a carnivore or two as well. College students, residents, church groups, and a ladies reading club, each had heard about the vigil in a different way.
Some not till yesterday morning when they read about it in the DeKalb Chronicle, others weeks ago, or days ago from an email group or that neighbor. They heard and came. For each that showed up there were 100 more that had head, cared and would think but had other pressing matters that prevented their coming that day.
animals lovers, TB trainers, rescues, people with love in their heart heard
Surprisingly, there were no loud dissenters at the vigil itself, they had gotten bad information and were sitting near the plant thinking the candles would be lit there. I hope they enjoyed the cold dark as we lit up the center of the town with our lights.
Speeches went well, all got a round of applause. Daniel Cordero Fernandez's speech received a standing ovation when I read it. Daniel was the driving force that made this vigil happen.
many that came hoping to meet Daniel and upon hearing my promise that he
would be there when horses were safe, pledged to do all they could to make
that day happen soon.
Angela spoke eloquently about the trouble in her town, and with Gail beside her and other townspeople joining in made it clear this was not outsiders agitating, it was the town itself wanting to stop this abomination. Tom, Jamie, and Jennifer left afterward to do long drives home, I hope the light and life of what they offered and did warms their trips. They went out of their ways to be there and it was deeply appreciated.
The Tiger with Steve and Jody arrived right at dusk with a small retinue of followers they had picked up on the way.
That massive beast of a truck lights up the sky with sights and sounds. The very engine growls and the tires almost appear to claw the streets it struts over.
it for a tour of NIU, lead by students, for students to see and hear. It
got there just as the game let out and picked up more followers that wanted
fliers and information being handed out.
Developing into a caravan, the Tiger strutted over the Cavel where the crowd watching, was treated to sky-high movies and a huge flashing LED asking DeKalb "Why?" and displaying information.
a balloon tied to Cavel's main gate as a present and purple ribbons adorned
several nearby posts.
The Tiger awed some, shocked and disgusted others, created controversy and was a stark contrast to the quiet, respectful vigil that occurred down in the park.
of the two caused a Police officer to ask what horror was there in slaughter
that got so many people from different walks of life and different viewpoints
united together? Two minutes of viewing the tape answered his question, and
wiping his eyes, he went on, head bowed and thoughtful.
The powerful reading of names and groups that stand together behind those spearheading the stop Cavel movement says volumes about the way we can unit for a common goal, put philosophical and religious differences aside and agree "This is wrong, it must stop, it must not continue."
Each and every one of you that contributed your support, time and prayers, was included as we lit the candles and stopped the darkness for one more day. I felt that I had all of you with me in DeKalb and included everyone in my thoughts and prayers as I lit your candle and passed your light on to others.
Endorsing organizations and individuals:
1. THE LAST
REFUGE. Main Sponsor. Speaker, Carol Chapman.
2. HABITAT FOR HORSES. Main Sponsor. Speech by Jerry Finch; speaker Carol Chapman.
3. UNITED EQUINE FOUNDATION (UEF). Main Sponsor. Speaker, Jamie Dale.
4. AMERICAN HORSE DEFENSE FUND (AHDF). Endorsing.
5. DORIS DAY ANIMAL LEAGUE (DDAL). Endorsing.
6. UNITED ANIMAL NATIONS (UAN). Endorsing.
7. THE ASSISI ANIMAL FUNDATION (AAF). Endorsing.
8. FRIENDS OF HORSES RESCUE & ADOPTION. Endorsing.
9. RESCUE NETWORK. Endorsing.
10. EQUINE FRIENDS, LLC. Endorsing.
11. DARK HORSE RANCH, INC. Endorsing.
12. CROSSWINDS EQUINE RESCUE, INC. Endorsing.
13. BRIGHTER DAYS HORSE RESCUE (BDHR). Endorsing.
14. ANGEL RESCUE & TRANSPORT. Endorsing.
15. MARIA D’ANGELO EQUINE ART. Endorsing.
16. TEXAS HUMANE LEGISLATION NETWORK (THLN). Endorsing.
17. BAILEY’S NORWEGIAN FJORDS AND BAILEY’S TRANSPORTATION SERVICE. Endorsing.
18. EQUINE ADVOCATES INC. Status: Endorsing.
19. VIVASECTION. Endorsing.
20. HARMONY CORRAL, THE JAMES HUGHES IRON HORSE RANCH EQUINE SANCTUARY. Endorsing.
21. NATIONAL HORSE PROTECTION COALITION (NHPC). Endorsing.
22. BLUE HORSE CHARITIES. Endorsing.
23. THOROUGHBRED RETIREMENT FUNDATION. Endorsing.
24. WELL CHILD ASSOCIATION. Endorsing.
25. PET ED HUMANE EDUCATION. Endorsing.
26. MEADOW HAVEN HORSE RESCUE. Endorsing.
27. HORSES´ HEAVEN EQUINE RESCUE. Endorsing.
28. ANN MARTIN. Endorsing.
29. INTERNATIONAL GENERIC HORSE ASSOCIATION/HORSEAID (IGHA/HORSEAID). Endorsing.
30. WILDHEART FARM. Endorsing.
31. LIFESAVERS WILD HORSE RESCUE. Endorsing.
32. WEST MICHIGAN SPCA. Endorsing.
33. HORSESNET, INC. Endorsing.
34. CONNIE & BILL DIMOND. Endorsing.
35. CYNTHIA P. Endorsing.
36. GREY OAKS FARM ELDERLY EQUINE SANCTUARY. Endorsing.
37. OKANAGAN HORSE RESCUE. Endorsing.
38. JULIE BRAMOW. Endorsing.
39. FINISH LINE FOUNDATION, INC. Endorsing.
40. TOM CHAMBERS. Endorsing.
41. ILLNOIS THOROUGHBRED HORSEMAN'S ASSOCIATION (ITHA). Endorsing.
42. MAGIC HOLLOW FARMS. Endorsing.
43. SUNRISE RANCH. Endorsing.
44. HORSESISTERS & ASSOCIATES INC. Endorsing.
45. SHOWING ANIMALS RESPECT & KINDNESS (SHARK). Endorsing.
46. CHRISTINE & MICHAEL WATERSTRIPE. Endorsing
Sun-Times article on
the vigil and pending Illinois anti slaughter legislation.
Please read the "Action Alert" on Cavel's rebuild plans.
HorseAid Founders Staci Layne Wilson & Enzo Giobbé
Layne Wilson & Enzo Giobbé
(taken at the Getty Center in late August, 2003)
Staci Wilson, I.G.H.A. Permanent Board Member, honorary (Secretary/Registrar) and HorseAid co-founder, is no longer involved in the day to day activities of either HorseAid or the I.G.H.A.
In late 1999, she decided to devote some much needed time to her career as a novelist and non-fiction author (she was already a successful writer with over a thousand articles published world-wide), and since that change has had over a dozen successful books and novellas published — as well as becoming a very popular and often seen Hollywood entertainment interviewer and reviewer, both on the Web and for TV broadcast outlets.
In lieu of her generous voluntary monetary contributions over past years (1984 to 1999, which amounted to 50% of HorseAid's total operating budget), she signed away all proceeds from her best selling horse training book, "The Horse's Choice" to HorseAid in 1999. "The Horse's Choice" ceased publication last January (2003) when the last of its 25+ printings (over 250,000 books total) sold out, thus ending her financial contributions as well.
To find out more about Staci, go here or here, and then search both of Google's databases here and here.
Enzo Giobbé, I.G.H.A. Permanent Board Member, honorary (Chairman) and HorseAid co-founder, is no longer involved in the day to day activities of either HorseAid or the I.G.H.A.
At the end of 1999, in line with Staci's decision, he also decided to devote more time to his career as a cinematographer and celebrity photographer, and less time volunteering for (and financially supporting) HorseAid.
His many entertainment news/interview TV segments (as producer, director, and/or cinematographer) can been seen on broadcast TV as well as selected Web sites. His many celebrity still photographs can be seen in the entertainment magazines and on the various entertainment news Web sites. He has also filmed four feature films and one TV movie in Europe and Canada since putting his IGHA/HorseAid commitments aside on late 1999.
While he no longer contributes the remaining 50% of HorseAid's financial needs (which with Staci's 50%, accounted for 100% of HorseAid's total operating budget, 1984 to 1999), he continues to contribute HorseAid's very basic operating expenses (Web hosting/bandwidth, answering services, telecom, emergency hay and vetting).
To find out more about Enzo, go here, here, and here.
Volunteer Services to City and State
Commendations from the City of Torrance and the State of California
I.G.H.A./ HorseAid was presented with commendations for volunteer services by both the City of Torrance (CA), and the State of California, in recognition for our many volunteer contributions and relief efforts.
IGHA/HorseAid's "Purple Ribbon Campaign"
For Valentine's Day this year (as we have since 1994), we again reminded everybody of all the horses who are not going to be somebody's Valentine, but who will end up being somebody's dinner instead -- by asking them to join us in publicizing this barbaric practice by the wearing of a purple ribbon. In 1995, we extended our "Purple Ribbon Campaign" to include Web sites world-wide.
Join IGHA/HorseAid in our "Anti-Slaughter Purple Ribbon Campaign" to protest the slaughter of horses around the world. Please place a purple ribbon graphic on your Web site's opening page or as a "favicon.ico" that shows up in in the URL address line or your Web site, and the bookmarks of visitors bookmaking your site — ribbons and favicons are available right here, including the HTML placement code for "cut & paste" ease: "rib_ha_t.gif"— transparent, shown above, for all background colors except black, or "rib_ha_b.gif" — for black backgrounds. Just "click" on the one you require) to show your (and your Web site's) continuing support and desire to "End All Horse Slaughter NOW!"
A favicon icon (with placement instructions and code) is here. "Favicon.ico" icons are those little symbols you see on the URL address line of your browser, and will also appear next to the bookmark of a page. Most recent Web browsers will display them (but not I.E. on the Mac — although Netscape 7.x works). If your browser supports the favicon feature, you will see a purple ribbon in the above URL window of your browser for this page.
If you don't, why not? Are you FOR the slaughter of horses?
As of September 3, 2003 -- the I.G.H.A. has shipped over 525,000 Anti-Slaughter Purple Ribbons world-wide to people and organizations asking for them at no charge (except a SASE, or picture postcard) to them, and NO enclosure asking for a donation.
Now, due to severe financial cutbacks, we can no longer afford to do this. However, you can make your own ribbons (be careful of the sharp pin!), and it's pretty easy to do (the trick is not to end up with "purple ribbon thumb").
All you need is a piece of purple colored ribbon (make it any size that looks good to you), and a straight (or small safety) pin. Cut the ends of the ribbon at an oblique angle (about 45 degrees looks good), fold it across itself, and pin it on! That's all there is to it (see the example above for a guide as to what the finished ribbon should look like).
Now you're ready to show the world that you're a committed horse lover against the cruel and barbaric practice of slaughtering horses for any reason, and that you demand an end to all horse slaughter now!
A short history of our "Purple Ribbon"
Who does it belong to?
It is copyrighted
(©1994) by IGHA/HorseAid, and is also used as a service mark (sm) by
us. But the purple ribbon symbol is really considered "ours" only
in the sense that "ours" means
belonging to everybody that is against horse abuse and the slaughter of
We consider ourselves to be its legal protector (keeping it safe from unkind anti-animal welfare parodies, and other such uses), and of course keeping its meaning clear and singular. That's why we always retain all the rights to it, as well as full legal control over it.
plain English: As long as it is used it for its intended purpose (to protest
slaughter and abuse), anybody can use it, free of charge, under
a freely granted conditional use license, so go ahead
and use it!
One of the organic ingredients often used to make purple dye in the middle ages was the blood of horses (congealed, dried, and made into a powder). Congealed blood from horses dries to a dark reddish purple color.
Purple was by far the most expensive of the color dyes to produce, and cloth made from the dye was only within the reach of the very rich and powerful. The legacy of abusing horses is unfortunately a long and varied one.
In France, the horses were often taken from the Royal Stables to provide the coveted purple dyes for the Royal Court of France. The French aristocrats considered the horse to be royal in nature.
Throughout Europe, the royals associated the color with power and wealth, the non royals (commoners) associated it with tragedy and death. Purple vestments are usually donned when giving a dying person their last rights.
HorseAid co-founder Enzo Giobbé came up with an idea in 1994 to use a symbol to protest the slaughter and abuse of horses that would be instantly recognizable as such.
He chose a ribbon because it was easy to make and very visible, and the color purple because it historically once contained the blood of horses.
chose Valentines Day, 1994 to launch this campaign to remind the world
of all the horses who were not going to be somebody's Valentine, but
end up being somebody's dinner instead.
In 1995, IGHA/HorseAid extended the campaign to include a Website page graphic, and later, a purple ribbon favicon.ico for Web sites to use as well.
Many attendees at the 1994 Academy Awards® wore a purple ribbon to visibly support the goal of forever ending horse slaughter throughout the world.
"HorseAid Purple Ribbon Campaign", "Purple Ribbon Campaign", "Purple Ribbon", "Anti-Slaughter Purple Ribbon", "Anti-Slaughter Purple Ribbon Campaign", and "End All Horse Slaughter NOW!", "End All Horse Slaughter", "End Horse Slaughter" are copyrighted (© 1994 & 1996 respectively) service marks (sm) of IGHA/HorseAid, all rights reserved. Use is hereby freely granted by IGHA/HorseAid under a "Conditional Use License" for the non-commercial use and free distribution of all "Purple Ribbon" terms and associated logos (collectively, the "Purple Ribbon Campaign") to any person, persons or entity, for the items intended purposes only (to protest equine slaughter or abuse). Use is conditioned solely on the agreement that: No fee may be charged for the use of any Purple Ribbon Campaign resource in any way; they may not be used in a parody demeaning their intended purpose; no Purple Ribbon Campaign resource, term, or associated logo may in any way be linked to, or associated with, any Web resource, source, person, organization, or entity other than those specifically using the resource for its intended purpose; and, that IGHA/HorseAid retains all world wide rights concerning its use. IGHA/HorseAid claims first usage and exclusive proprietary rights to the terms "HorseAid Purple Ribbon Campaign", "Purple Ribbon Campaign", "Purple Ribbon", "Anti-Slaughter Purple Ribbon", "Anti-Slaughter Purple Ribbon Campaign" and "End All Horse Slaughter NOW!", "End All Horse Slaughter", "End Horse Slaughter", and/or any purple ribbon, purple ribbon logo, symbol, or graphic, used to denote, or be identified with, a means to protest equine slaughter or abuse.
I.G.H.A. and HorseAid were featured in over two-thousand magazine, newspaper, and book articles world-wide during 1998 to 2003 alone. (All VERY positive, EXCEPT one: The Chanute Tribune -- thanks to all the media outlets featuring us for the great exposure about equine abuse, care, and the PMU farms!).
HorseAid's equine abuse and PMU/Premarin® exposé's have been featured on many local channel TV outlets as well as the national TV shows, "Hard Copy", "20/20", "Primetime", and "Dateline NBC".
Just take a moment to think about the singular contribution the horse has made to this great country!
IGHA/HorseAid proposes that a day be set aside to honor the many splendid roles horses (and ponies) have played for us throughout our great history.
HorseAid proposes that "National
Horse Day" fall on the first Sunday of each May. It will be a
day not only to recognize the achievements of heroic horses in the past
-- from George Washington's beautiful white steed who carried him bravely
into battle and helped us to win our independence, to the many nameless,
but just as worthy of remembrance, chargers, plow horses, pack horses,
wagon horses, mine ponies, and riding horses without whom this country
could never have been explored, developed and traveled at the rate it was
-- but it will also be a day to recognize and appreciate the joy, fun,
recreation and unconditional love our pet, race, and show horses give us
today. In other words, "a day in celebration of the horse!"
Take that first Sunday in May to show your horse how much you appreciate him or her by taking a nice, easy trail ride in anticipation of the long summer days ahead... or if your horse likes to be pampered, try a bath and a nice warm bran mash... or simply give your horse the day off.
just a beast of burden, the horse has been ever the inspiration of poets,
artists and writers. As a companion animal, the horse is unique: the cat
walks ahead of you; the
dog walks behind you; the horse walks beside you.
If YOU too believe that the horse should be so honored, please e-mail the President.
(as a convenience, you may wish to copy the above highlighted text and paste it into your e-mail)
Chapman of The Last Refuge,
rescues six horses from the slaughter truck
Chapman and the rescued TB, Monetary Justice (JC)
Carol Chapman, The Last Refuge, 10/25/03)
The bay stallion stood in the unfamiliar settings quietly, looking around. His ankle swollen to pain numbing portions, he had been taken from his stall at the racetrack and dropped off here where all he could smell was fear and despair.
The groom would not look at him with he handed him over to the cold-eyed men who had stripped his halter off, slapped a sticker on his rump and prodded him into the pen. He had called out to his groom, but he had just dropped his head and walked away without looking back.
He flared his nostrils and breathed in the scent to the horses around him, wondering what would happen next. A gelding moved closer to him and he nervously shifted over. He wasn't quite sure how to communicate with another horse safely. Other than when actually on the track running, he had not been in such close proximity to other horses since he had been taken from his mother’s side seven years ago.
Shifting his weight to try to ease the pain of his leg, he turned and looked at the gelding that appeared to be offering him friendship. Younger than him, the gelding was also a dark bay and had a small filly behind him. She rested her head against the gelding in mute supplication and breathed in rapid short distillations of fear. The stallion noticed she had racing plates on and must have come from the track like he had.
The gelding’s hooves were long; they curled over horseshoes that should have been replaced months ago. The three huddled closer and became a small, compact unit in one corner of the pen. “Do you know what happens here?" the stallion asked the gelding. “This is called a kill pen," the gelding responded. “We are waiting for the killer buyer to come and load us up to take us to Texas to a slaughterhouse.
This is the end of the line for us that is why everyone is so afraid. They all know."The stallion turned his head franticly, looking for an opening to run through. No matter the pain of his leg, he would not go down easily, he was not ready to die. Hadn't he run when asked, run with bolts of pain traveling his body, run with heart and spirit?
There was no opening to the sides of the pen, and a man near the gate snarled at him. He dropped his head back down and chewed his lip in mute testimony to his fear driven thirst. He had done all he was asked, but to stand and wait to die, how could they demand that as his final reward?
His mind slipped back to the early days with his Dam (Dawn of Life). Foaled in April of 1996, he had drunk in stories of his famous ancestors along with her milk. His father, Academy Award, was the son of Secretariat and grandson of Mr. Prospector. His parents had met at Claiborne Farm in Kentucky, home to Nasrullah, Bold Ruler, Princequillo, and other famous names that formed his lineage. His pedigree read like a “Who’s Who" of champions, through his veins flowed the blood of Kentucky’s finest.
They had all run for the roses, and he had done his best to emulate them. Born in New York State, he had run on the Aqueduct, at the Belmont and other tracks in allowance races. Before he was five he had earned over $130,000 a nice return for the stables he raced for.
Then the races started getting smaller crowds, the horses were older and the purses less. Allowance races changed into claims races, with the pot size slipping and his stable changing. His fortune and treatment spiraled downward, to end here, dumped by the last consortium of racehorse owners wanting to wring the last dollar out of him.
They would make a final two hundred dollars by selling him for meat, to be shipped to Texas and slaughtered. He would end his days as a steak on the plate of a French diner. The Belgian run company in Texas would profit by more than fifteen dollars a pound for each slice of him.
A small commotion was stirring the assembled horses in the pen. The killer buyers truck had arrived and they were sorting the herd. The stallion was separated from his two companions; they were put over on the side to have their back shoes pulled before they got on the truck. No sense in bruising the valuable meat by having it subject to kicks from other terrified horses.
Lashing out was always a danger when horses that didn't know each other were forced willy-nilly together without regard to age, gender, or pregnancy state. Watching the ungentle hands yank shoes, the stallion was glad his had already been removed. His owners had not even left him the racing plates; they were worth a few dollars and so had been stripped from him the night before.
As the loading started, a man came into the pen, talking on a cell phone as he sauntered over. He had seen this man when he first arrived, but had discounted him, as the man wasn't "his" human. The man walked up to the killer buyer and started talking, pointing toward the stallion.
Money changed hands, and the man walked toward the stallion speaking low and offering his hand. The stallion dipped his head as he had been taught and a halter and lead line were snapped on. The man turned and led him out of the pen, away from the busy killer buyers. It appeared he wasn't getting on the death truck; he lifted his head and his eyes brightened. He was tied to the back of a stock trailer and stood patiently to see what would happen next.
He watched the herd of horses as they disappeared into the bowels of hell, mourned each one as they were prodded on board. His two new friends were still in the line getting their shoes pulled, but they were nearing the front of it. He nickered softly toward them, wishing them well and a tear dropped from his eye. The man had called someone again, was talking animatedly to them as he walked back into the pen.
More money changed hands, and miraculously his new friends were being haltered and led out to join him. The killer buyers never looked up as the stallion and the other two were loaded and taken away. They had a full load, and these three had made them a few quick dollars easy money. Let them go, there would be more to pick up next week.
There were always more. The stallion, his friends, and three more thoroughbreds are on the way down to Texas as I write this. Not to the false Texas of the slaughterhouses, but to the real Texas, to a place that understands the commitment between horses and humans, that accepts responsibility for those that have given their all for us.
When my agent purchased him out of the kill pen we did not know his name, nor did we care. He was a horse in need, and that was enough. I still don know the name of the last two, but the other four include a British bred stakes winner, a descendant of Man o War, and a grandson of Northern Dancer (Triple Crown Winner).
The stallion’s name is Monetary Justice and he made the front page racing news in 2001, winning over the favorite at the Aqueduct. Two years later he was a disposable commodity to his owners. I wonder what kind of steak they will buy with his blood price. They got the monetary reward, but he will have his justice.
The other horses on the trailer coming down are:
1. Mr. Tricky (British stakes winner out of the kill pen)
2. Moe’s LittlePlot (mare taken in a seizure rescue from a starvation case). She is physically fit, mentally a scared baby and needs an adopter that can work with her. There are too many sound ones off the track needing adoption up North for her to find a home there so she comes here.
3. Quick Moment (Owner turnover at four from off the track) Grandson of Northern Dancer. His bloodlines are as impressive as Monetary Justice and his owner overruled the trainer and sent he to us instead of to the killer buyers.
4. Unidentified filly approximately two years old, racing plates on feet (off the track and in the kill pen) Thoroughbred lip tattoo
5. Unidentified gelding approximately two years old (in kill pen) Thoroughbred lip tattoo.
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