When I was given my first horse my parents told me that she was my responsibility and there would be hell to pay if she were not cared for properly. When I got out of bed in the mornings, before I could shower or eat breakfast I had to first feed and care for my mare. When I came home from school the first thing I had to do was clean her stall even before doing my homework or other chores. I didn’t eat dinner until she was given her evening rations and I didn’t go to bed until she was safely back in her stall. I was taught that when we own animals we must think of them first always; you don’t buy a dog just to tie him in the back yard, and you don’t take on a horse unless you can feed and care for it.
I was only two years old the first time I rode a horse, and I was twelve when I was given Ginger my Morgan/Arab mare. Since then I’ve had horses all of my life and have been involved in the “horse world” for thirty plus years. In all that time I rarely saw a horse that was abused or neglected. But recently that has changed.
After being without a horse for a few years, in August I decided it was time to get another one. So I bought Leo. I rented a stall at a barn owned by a very nice lady who had several horses of her own. She was trying to open a new boarding facility and I was her first boarder. The rest of my family soon followed suit; buying horses of their own and boarding at the same facility; we had to help this lady to build stalls to accommodate all of our horses and she was very appreciative. She took very good care of her horses and recognized that we did as well; so when she was asked to take in some orphan foals she came to me and asked if I would be willing to take one or two. I adopted one filly who I re-homed with my niece and her husband.
Shortly after I re-homed the little mustang filly, the nice lady again came to me and introduced me to one of her “very good friends” who had several horses for sale. She brought one down for me to look at and he was skin and bone and had a blow-out on one hoof. I offered to buy him for five hundred (a good 800 less than what she was asking) which is more than the meat buyer would give her. She turned me down but brought down another horse. This one was not as skinny and didn’t have any apparent injuries but she wasn’t really what I was looking for. But to keep her from going back to the woman who I felt was not a great horse person; I bought her. That was Sugar; she put on weight, turned out to be a fine mare until she died of cancer in February.
In October this nice lady’s”friend” brought several horses to the barn to show some people (she didn’t like to have anyone come to her place to see the horses she had for sale). While they were there I saw one that was so underweight he looked like a walking skeleton; I bought him, fed him and re-homed him at a great financial loss. Her excuse was, as in the other two cases, that she had just got him as a “rescue”. In my experience you don’t sell a rescue, you re-home them AFTER you have actually rescued them by feeding them and treating their ailments.
In January this woman was arrested. She had over a hundred horses on twelve acres; they were all infested with worms and lice. Some were so emaciated they had to be destroyed, there were several cases of strangles that was not being treated, and a pregnant mare who had a t-post injury to her throat that was infected and had become systemic because it had not been treated. The woman’s name is easily found if you google “Mill City horses rescued”, as far as I know she has not been tried and convicted yet (I am confident that she will be); but I have heard rumors that she plans to move to Bend and under a new name restart her horse trading business.
That was just one of the nice lady’s friends. Another one is a Ferrier and horse trainer/trader and he too claims to ‘rescue’ horses. He was allowed to bring some horses into the barn that he was “training”. This guy would bring in a sickly looking animal, which then would stand in the stall day in and day out, without the stall being cleaned, the water bucket would run dry for days, and there was little evidence of the animal being fed. I never saw this guy “train” or even touch the horse. I complained to the owner of the barn and the man came in one night to “take care” of his animal; but instead began to verbally assault me and threaten me with physical harm. He called me a nosy bitch and a stinking whore and several other epithets. Because there were several witnesses to this attack the man was told to leave the barn, but he was soon allowed to return; and continue to neglect his horse.
Well this is not the end of this nice lady’s list of friends. She decided to move but she still owned this stable; so she hired a “barn manager”. She claimed that this woman was a long time friend but only a few months prior she had introduced her to us as her “new” baby sitter. As soon as the nice lady moved, her barn manager brought in a horse that was recovering from pigeon fever, was a rack of bones, and covered in rain-rot (this is another article). I complained; I now own that horse. Then another stall opened and two more horses were brought in by the barn manager; both sick. One covered in what looked like mange; another complaint. Then when those two left, another sick mare was brought in and placed between two of my horses. Coughing and pouring snot, they claimed she had allergies (I’m not the idiot they thought I was). I complained again. And yet two more sick fillies brought to the barn. One of these was a filly that the nice lady had bought and sold months earlier. She was a pretty thing and completely healthy. On her return she was a rack of bones and had rain-rot, and her eyes bulging from mal-nutrition.
My family and I frustrated and worried for our horse’s health and safety moved them to a new stable. When we moved we left the stable only two decent boarders and the guy who neglects his animals and the barn manager who has nothing but sick and skinny horses. I don’t know how long it will be before the two decent horse owners will also leave. We now are at a facility where all the horses are healthy and cared for and we have seen a tremendous change in our horses; they all seem so much happier and relaxed.
In all the years that I have been around horses and horse people I have never seen so much neglect. From August until March I saw more neglected and abused animals than anyone should ever see. And I wonder how one seemingly nice lady, who is knowledgeable about horse’s and takes great care of her own; can have so many bad friends. Can she really be blind to what they are doing, or is she somehow involved in their practices? I know she traded several horses with them over the months that we boarded at her stable.