Sunday, August 29, 2010


Yesterday I went to the open house of a small Arabian horse breeder around the corner from me. I like to go to these things because I think we small breeders need to support one another. It's tough enough in this industry without those of us trying to preserve the quality of the breed not sticking together.

It's also at the open houses of the smaller breeders that I tend to meet people I haven't met before. It seems like the open houses of the really big barns will draw the regular show folks that I've seen for years. For some reason the smaller breeders seem to draw a different sort of crowd, more local and more grass roots I'd guess I'd call it.

That's what it was like at yesterday's event. There were faces there I had never seen before and others that looked familiar but I had not names to put with those face. Then there were some friends of mine.

It was in the group of new faces that word of something very shocking. Rumors have been circulating throughout the horse industry of horses being turned loose out at combined base, Fort Lewis - McCord. One of the women sitting beside me had connections to those involved in the round up of horses the fort must do because of these abandoned horses.

When one of the other women heard of the connection, she began to ask much more direct questions. The resulting information makes me physically sick. I had no idea so many people could be so callous to their supposedly equine friends.

It seems the "normal" number of horses abandoned each year is somewhere around one hundred. The fort does two round ups per year. The people who help with the round up can pick horses to keep if they chose. The rest are sent to slaughter in Canada.

Since the decline in the economy the number of horses abandoned has risen just as the rumor mill said. The last four years the total number of horses dumped off at the fort has been nearly one thousand.

The first round up of this year totaled two hundred eighty head. If the rest of the year stays about the same, it will mean over five hundred head of horses abandoned in just one year.

I can't even imagine what these people must be thinking turning horses loose like that. If they think they are taking care of them better than they can, they couldn't be more wrong. The horses are pretty much guaranteed to be sent off to slaughter and before that time they must survive in a war zone.

That fort is a training facility. We hear the blasts of training clear over where I live. When troops are on maneuvers they are utilizing everything in their bag of tricks for practice. That means razor wire, trenches, bomb blasts, mortars etc. Who would turn a horse loose under those kinds of conditions? Who would abandoned a horse, period??


  1. This makes me feel sick. What a horrible thing to do.

  2. That's horrible. I would have never imagined numbers to be so high. How can so many believe this is a good solution?

  3. That's a horrible story. I wish it weren't true but sadly I guess it is. I can't believe any owner could just abandon their animals be it horses, dogs or cats, etc. It's heartless and cruel. There are humane ways of putting your horse to sleep if you can't afford to take care of them, there are shelters, there are any number of options other than abandonment and slaughter. How disgusting that people can be like this.

  4. Makes me sick. We have people who dump their dogs out at the lake all the time, just leave them by the side of the road. It's so callous, I am always stunned.

    It seems so much worse and inexcusable with horses.

    Frankly I think people use the economy as an excuse.

  5. Makes me ill and very sad for the horses. There ought to be something that can be done, rather than send them to slaughter.

  6. Awful, just awful. I cannot fathom what someone must be thinking to think that dumping an animal is okay. And in the middle of an Army training field? Fracking insane.

  7. I have read similar stories back here with humane societies now being dumped on with lots of pets the owners can no longer afford to take care of.

    The problem was the societies charged an arm and leg to adopt one and in these tough times a person can't go down and pay a license fee and adopt a dog. They want a profit too.

    As a result there is some talk about doing things differently as it is costing too much for animal care and vet bills.

  8. I read several horse blogs and this seems to be a nationwide problem. People are losing their homes and can't afford to keep livestock or pets. They must think that the horses can forage to survive. Sadly it just isn't true.

  9. holy moley! That's a five fold increase!

    you know, there is a thread on one bb right now about making your horse marketable. So many horses aren't handled or trained and then when hard times hit, they can't be sold, given away or placed.

  10. I cannot imagine what people must be thinking to make that choice to flat out abandon horses anywhere far less such a dangerous area

  11. There are literally tens of thousands of unwanted horses in the US; many of them abandoned. While I can't even begin to wrap my head around the mentality part of it, I'm sorry to say it doesn't surprise me at all. We live in a "disposable" society that, tragically, seems to extend itself not only to cats and dogs but the equine population as well.
    If it wasn't 4 o'clock in the morning, I'd dash outside and give ours a squeeze (stuff like that always give me the urge for a ginormous horsey hug :o)

  12. Very sad.

    We have a problem around here with "summer" pets where at the end of each summer we have to try to catch two or three dogs and have a whole spate of "new" cats in the neighbourhood.

    We figure people going back to the city just turn them out and get another one next year. They never have tags.

    I'm in Canada and the story you tell is one reason why I'd rather regulations about horse slaughter rather then a banning. At that it still makes me sick but if people will do this, what else will they do?

  13. So many people are cluelss. They actually think that domesticated animals can adapt and survive if they are just 'turned loose'.

    I get so irritated with people who blame the breeders and they blame the closing of the U.S. slaughter plants. Give me a break.

    Isn't it about time horse owners took some responsibility for what has happened?

    Individual people are the ones who bought all of those foals that have been mass produced. Once they purchased that foal, it was THEIR responsiblity to made sure to grow the foal up properly and to make sure the foal was started under saddle and trained to do something...ANYTHING!

    If the individual owners had done that, then the mass production of foals would never have gotten as bad as it did.

    Most of the people who bought foals had no business buying them in the first place. They are just like the 'pet' people who get keeyyuuttte little puppies and then don't want the dog when it has grown up. They didn't work with their foals, probably didn't even know how to feed them properly and when it came time to get them started under saddle, didn't want to have to pay to have it done OR couldn't find someone who wanted to take their unhandled (or worse yet-spoiled) monster.

    Not that finding a good trainer has been easy to do the last few years. Everyone wants to finish them out in 30 days anymore. Geez-30 days? About all that was ever supposed to accomplish was a youngster that could walk, trot, lope and maybe turn around without bucking you off.

    Nowdays, they want to send kindergardeners to freaking high school...and they wonder why so many horses aren't dependable...or sound.

    Ugghhh...sorry! I know you, as a small breeder, feel the same frustrations as the rest of us small breeders. We are trying to create a limited few, really nice horses and there just aren't enough buyers out there that can even recognize a good horse when they see one anymore. People are too busy wading through the 'freebies' and mass produced left-overs.

    All I can say is hopefully these 'dumpers' get out of and stay the hell out of the horse world. We didn't need them in the first place and we sure don't need them back in the future.

  14. Recently a woman drove into a feed store with her empty horse trailer to buy some feed. When she came back outside with the helper carrying her feed bags, she opened the trailer door to find TWO HORSES inside! And they didn't belong to her!

    Along with the horses was a note taped to the door of the trailer asking this woman to take good care of these horses because their owner could not afford to anymore.

    Can you imagine???!!!

    I've also read about folks who've come out to feed their own horses inside their pasture only to discover several new horses with their horses. Seems people are just dumping horses anywhere they can.

    Lots of people around here place locks on their gates, but that hasn't helped because they can still come outside to find an abandoned horse or two tied to their gate.


  15. Oh my gosh! I had no idea this was happening. My husband was stationed at Ft. Lewis a few years back and we boarded two horses there, rode all over the trails. There were no horses being dumped then.
    I can't imagine ever dumping my animals, especially on a military base! A bullet is cheap and far kinder if someone is that desperate.