They shoot horses, don’t they?

Yes, Virginia, they do. Despite the fact that the last horse slaughterhouses in this country were shut down (only a few years ago!) horses are still being euthanized by the government as part of a roundup of wild horses on public BLM lands in the West. Or sold in the auction yard by racetrack owners who no longer want them, Premarin farms who no longer require them, or private owners who can no longer afford them. These big, strong, beautiful animals are incredibly vulnerable to a bad economy and man’s dark side, and are in rather desperate need of protection.

Actually, the wild horses are supposed to be protected under a 1971 federal law that prohibited their “capture, branding, harassment and death” as “living symbols of the historic and pioneer spirit of the American West.” Well, yeah. But somehow that mission has been conflated with BLM’s job to establish “appropriate management levels” of the wild horses, and when that gets overlaid with cattlemen’s competition for the same grazing land, the wild horses come up short. So they’re rounded up, put in pens, and, many fear, sold to the slaughterhouses in Mexico or simply euthanized.

At home on the ranch.

But not if Castleton Ranch Horse Rescue gets there first. Working with auction houses, private owners, killer buyers (who buy horses at auction for as little as $10 and sell them to Mexican slaughterhouses for hundreds of dollars), and PMU farms (where horses are bred for their urine to be used in now highly discredited hormone replacement drugs)—Castleton takes in horses that no one else wants and brings them back to health on two beautiful ranches in southern California. The ultimate goal is to rehab the abused or neglected horses, train them in dressage or trail riding if possible, and find them new homes. Or provide a nice, quiet place for the unplaceable horses to be put out to pasture for their retirement (sounds lovely to me!)

It’s an expensive proposition, without a doubt. Horses require hoof care, teeth care, vaccinations and tons of expensive hay– and thoroughbreds cost even more to keep healthy. But that doesn’t daunt the Castleton Ranch Horse Rescue folks one bit.

“When the horses come to us, some are so afraid they won’t let us touch them,” says founder Lisa Thomas. “They tremble with fear and their eyes are filled with terror. But when you finally win them over and earn their trust, you can see their faces change, their eyes get soft, and you can tell they’re happy.”

It’s like the happy ending of Black Beauty! I’m sending $100 to Castleton Ranch today to feed one horse for two weeks. To join me, click here. And to petition for an end to the Wild Horse roundups, visit American Horse Defense Fund or American Wild Horse Preservation Campaign. Giddyap, Giddyap, let’s go!

8 thoughts on “They shoot horses, don’t they?

  1. If we all each one of us start to hold the vision of 30,000 wild horses stay unharmed and left to freedom we are focusing the energy on the solution not this problem. I am just now learning about horses in British Columbia Canada a long passion of mine now being activated. I will do whatever it takes to help support these horses somehow thank you for bringing awareness to the people of all over the planet.

  2. Dear Betty,

    I am truly filled with appreciation for this wonderful blog you do. I don’t remember how I came across it but I am grateful for how much your humor and grace and exquiste good taste in charities has enriched MY world. I have shared your site with many people so I hope some are contributing.

    Today’s blog on the Horse rescue has me wanting to point you in the direction of someone doing wonderful work with DONKEYS. I hope you’ll take moment to visit this site and see what Mark Meyer of the Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue has been up to for most of his adult life.

    I rescue animals….dogs, cats and yes, donkeys. Now, having moved off the farm and into town, I have had to downsize my adoptions (only an indoor donkey now…in the form of an incredibly gorgeous rescued great dane).

    Donkeys and mules (their sterile, hybrid cousins), literally built this nation and have a tremendous heritage I wish more people could be aware of. Won’t you take a moment and see what Mark has accomplished and possibly shed some light on his work through your blog? It is a deserving non-profit, as are all those you put into the light.

    Thank you again for what you are doing…..I wish you all the best and know that the causes you have made this past year to highlight the wonderful work so many people are doing will bring great good fortune to them and to you. It has been an honor and sheer pleasure reading your posts each day.

    I have to confess to you that I have not yet contributed to one, although I find all so worthy. Quite honestly, I actually DID give at the office. As the Charitable Fund Drive Coordinator for the Museum of Natural & Cultural History at the University of Oregon, I had to put my money where my mouth was! In fact, I forwarded your link to Mrs. Larivier, the University President’s wife (who’s chairing the Fund Drive this year).

    Nothing last forever, and I will certainly be sorry to see your blog vanish when your year of giving is up soon. Thank you again for reminding those of us who’ve had the pleasure of reading your posts this past year how much there is that needs attention and the people and organizations who embolden us with HOPE that expressing our best selves in the service of others is alive and well and deserving of at least a hundred bucks!

    Susan Smith Laycock
    Cottage Grove, Oregon

  3. I can just imagine the cost to Castleton Ranch. I had a friend with one horse and she was always paying for something, but always felt it was more than worth it. Why can’t the federal government set aside some land for this purpose — Wild Horse National Park?

    • Well, in terms of the wild horses, there are about 30,000 of them left in the wild — about half living in Nevada on federal lands. If you’ve ever flown over Nevada, you know there’s a whole lot of nothing out there — but some 19 million acres have been removed from their terrain. They’ve got 550,000 acres of the Calico Mountains to live on… but they’re still being rounded up to give cattle more grazing room. It doesn’t seem fair to me — I like the idea that wild things are allowed to remain wild. As for the horses Castleton is rescuing, those are thoroughbreds mostly and it’s a big tribute to horse-loving givers that they can afford to nurse & keep 100 horses on their ranches!

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