Sunday, November 26, 2006
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ROGERSVILLE -- It all began with an e-mail, typed at midnight by Angela Crawford as she sat crying at her computer. It was an SOS, a plea for help straight from the heart.
Save a Horse Riding Stable in Rogersville, with its 20-year mission to save horses from slaughter, was in trouble. Crawford had just learned that her mother, owner Darlene Moore, was ready to sell or euthanize 58 horses grazing on the family farm and neighboring leased pastures. Capital letters and punctuation disappeared as Crawford spelled out the danger her equine family was in:
"ÉWe have managed to save them once, but now due to a loss of a farm lease due to lack of money we will no longer be able to care for the large number of horses É some examples are a very sweet mare with a leg injury É a mare with fractured pelvis, two horses with navicular due to jumping É we rent the ones that can work for trail rides to help feed the other ones and we love all these animals no matter what their health problems or injuries É we are in desperate need of help and ideas to save these animals so we can continue É they are not just a hobby for us, they are our family and each one has their own story to tell É"
"I didn't reread it because I was afraid if I did I'd chicken out and not send it" to area media, Crawford admitted.
And then the letters and phone calls began pouring in.
"I'm amazed that there are so many nice people out there," Moore said. "I have a folder full of cards; some of them just made me cry. People are sending checks, and a man from Fombell (in Beaver County) came by with a load of hay."
Others have called with ideas about getting help for the crippled and elderly horses that Moore has been caring for out of her own pocket.
"I have thousands of dollars in some of these animals -- corrective shoes, worming, vet bills," she said. "When they get too old, I pay to have them put to sleep and buried. I can't let them suffer, and I know they had a good life. You have to understand -- I love horses."
Moore was born into a horse family. Her grandfather checked gas wells on horseback and her father, Harold Stockdale, was a dealer, buying and selling and finally liquidating his nearly 100-head herd in 1980. Darlene followed the horses to the auction barns in Waynesburg, bought a few back and Save a Horse was born.
"A lot of people don't understand that when horses go to auction, some of them are going to slaughter. I can look at them and know their disposition. It's in their eyes. They say 'Save me,'" Moore said. "Every time I got some extra money I'd go to the auction and buy one É or two."
"We're three generations now," Crawford said. "This is a family affair. When I was a little kid, I used to stand on the back of my little pony to get on the bigger horses."
Now her son Mikie, 11, and daughter Paige, 15, help with the trail rides, pony ride birthday parties and lessons by appointment that helps fund the mission to give crippled horses a place to call home.
The tenants at Save a Horse aren't limited to broken-down thoroughbreds and old saddle mares with torn tendons and weak hind legs. Such a crippled mare slipped in the mud and fell on Moore in 1998, breaking the horsewoman's ankle and leading to more complications over the years. As with equine leg injuries, time has only added to the damage already done. This summer, Moore found herself unable to take trail rides, and the number of rides dwindled as the season progressed and family members available to take out groups were limited by other commitments.
"We're hoping to do trail rides next year," said Moore. "I'm really hoping I'll be able to ride, even just a little. Anyone who has been on our trail rides knows that the last couple of years have been hard. I've been in pain, and last year was so bad I finally had to quit. I've been riding since I was 7, and now I can't even get on."
For every hardship, there has been a sliver of a silver lining, thanks to friends and family who have been able to help out, Moore said.
"Our friends are like family. When we had the flood two years ago, Jackie Lahew came down and helped us haul the moldy grain out of the barn. She's always there for us, and all she asks is to be able to ride the little black mare."
"I used to come out here to go riding when I was in school, and I bought my first horse from Darlene," Lahew said. "Now I've moved up the road so I can be near and go riding. I help in the hayfields, chase cows, anything they need."
Moore's list of satisfied students and customers is as long as the years she's been in business. "My colts that I've raised, I know what they're going to do. If you sell a bad horse, everybody knows it."
"I have nothing but admiration for her -- I'm one of her fans," said Jim Walters of Ruff Creek. "We've had foster kids who were teens, and we always had horses. When we moved back here from New York, we donated the horses we got from Darlene to Freedom Village for problem kids. Horses are good for kids; they really are. They're good therapy."
Now that the Walters are back in Greene County, they have a new foster family of younger children that they've adopted and an order in to Save a Horse for more equine friends.
"The horse she picked out for us is perfectly child safe, and we're hoping to get one or two more," Walters said.
Crawford has created a Web page to thank those who have helped save the day for Save a Horse. "I'm getting photos of every horse and will tell their story there, too," she said.
By the time the fields have dried next summer, the four miles of wide trails will be brush hogged and ready for riding, Moore said: "Thirty of our horses are ready to ride, but we can only take out 15 at a time."
The annual fall community trail ride fund-raiser in September includes another four miles of trails on adjoining properties and a home-cooked meal at the end.
For more information, visit www.saveahorsestable.net or call 724-499-5709.
Friday, November 24, 2006
I support this ban because horses were never meant to be raised as a food source. They are not livestock. They are sentient beings, taught to trust us and be our companions. It is an extreme betrayal of trust that we even consider sending them to the slaughter house. And the most shocking part is that these horses have become "What's for Dinner" in France, Belgium, Italy and Japan.
Some will tell you that it is only the old and infirm that end up at the slaughterhouse. Not so. Over 92% of the horses sold at auction and ending up at the slaughterhouse are healthy young horses. They want "young" meat for the dinner table.
And to be very clear, there is nothing humane about slaughter. It's a horrific, terrifying event for the horse. The captive bolt pistol intended to render them senseless before having their throats slit open rarely hits its mark. Horses are flight animals, and they see the blows coming. They fight desperately to avoid the bolt. Many times the horses are hit again and again, resulting in head and eye injuries. Many are still conscious as they are slit open and hung by one back leg to “bleed out.”
The three slaughterhouses in the US are Belgium owned and consequently they operate free of taxation here. Purely from an economic point of view, there is no reason for them to be operating on our soil.
It has been suggested that there will be an overflow of unwanted horses if slaughter is ended. I strongly dispute that. Somewhere between 50,000 and 30,000 horses are stolen each year. When California banned slaughter within its borders the number of stolen horses went down, and there was no increase in neglected or abused horses. There are hundreds of horse rescues working in America to save our horses at this very moment. Responsible horse ownership needs to be promoted. If an owner cannot or will not pay the cost of humane euthanasia (which is minimal), then they should not have a horse.
Most Americans have no clue this atrocity is happening in the US. Every four minutes a horse is brutally killed in one of the slaughterhouses in American and the meat is going overseas for human consumption. The French and Japanese consider it a delicacy. Can you imagine eating Flicka? Barbaro? Secretariat?
This is not about eating meat or not eating meat. This is about killing companion animals for human consumption overseas. Roy Jackson, co-owner of Barbaro, says it very well. “We have an obligation. We are their keepers.” This is about responsible stewardship of companion animals.
The American people are speaking loudly and clearly, and they want this atrocity to end. The House of Representative passed this bill overwhelmingly in September, but the Senate's version, S 1915 currently is languishing in the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee. Please call your Senators and support this bill. Please call Senator Majority Leader Frist and ask him to place this bill on the Senate calendar. This bill needs to be brought to a vote, and now. If it is not voted on before this Senate session ends, it too dies and the entire process will need to be repeated in both the House and the Senate.
It's time to end the horror for America's horses.
Lor in PA