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December 2, 2013: Horses Gone

Yesterday, the person who owns the three neglected horses came and took them away. This was because my friend Victoria called her and read her the riot act. She got scared because she’s been down this road before. She generally puts horses in places where they don’t have much access to food, then relocates them when people let her know this is unacceptable.

Pete and I saw her and her rumbly white stock trailer leave. We were walking the horses up road – the vehicle went across the intersection of Oceanview and Murphy Road. Our four horses saw the stock trailer and pricked up their ears.

I’d asked them previously what they thought of this situation – all were concerned because I was taking the other horses hay that they thought should be theirs. Admittedly, I was concerned about giving these horses our hay because we do have a limited supply. But others came through. This gave all my horses reason to pause, for the concept of sharing is almost inconceivable to them.

After our ride, I went to check to see if perhaps the owner had merely dropped off some hay. Nope, the horses were gone. I even went and looked in the woods, for I feared she might have shot them. I did not even find any evidence of horse, except for the many piles of manure that was left behind. Some would say that this won’t be problematic – the problem is that we’ll end up having to deal with a larger than average fly population. And the manure is unsightly. And if someone in the future buys the land and puts horses on it, they will have to deal with a high parasite load.

Some have said that my caring for these horses was beyond the call of duty. This wasn’t so. I enjoyed caring for them. Caring for animals does not at all seem like work to me. I don’t know why this is, but it just is. On the other hand, the administrative – contacting authorities, documenting what’s going on, asking friends for hay – this sort of thing – is difficult for me.

What I learned this time around (this is the third go-around) is not to turn a blind eye to such matters. I wanted to do this, but my very good friends would not let me, for which I thank them from the bottom of my heart. They were motivators. If need be, I would have followed through with the administrative stuff.

I most value the power of the written word. An example, the day after Thanksgiving I was over at Vickie’s place – and found I could not leave her refrigerator magnets alone. I also value what others have to say.

A few days ago, Vickie wrote a letter to the horse community about this horse owner’s lack of concern for her animals. It was addressed to a member of the Back Country Horsemen of Alaska who off-handedly remarked that most likely some horses would starve this winter because there is not enough hay to go around. This woman is not callous – she was merely making a statement of fact. And for the record she did provide me with phone numbers of people who might have hay on hand. However, Vickie’s point is that it’s wrong to let animals starve, and that there is hay available. What follows is this most wonderful letter:

This is in regards to the response of the plight of the woman who thinks it’s okay to pen horses up in a small area and expect them to live through the winter on brush that is there because she can’t find any local hay. It is inconceivable to me that anyone would make such a statement simply as a matter of fact that those on a shoestring budget who might own horses might lose horses because this year “local” hay is sold out.

Do we, as reprehensive of organizations (in this case the BCHA) that profess to hold horses in high regard, seriously advocate that it is okay to possess a horse even if it is not within our means to properly care for it, even minimally?

We’re not splitting hairs here, as to what “proper care.” It is increasingly inhumane to allow animals in one’s care to starve to death. My mind is completely boggled. Put a bullet in their heads if you can’t give them away. Try not eating for just one week people and see how uncomfortable you become. Then consider an animal, one we profess to revere no less, going several months without enough food to sustain them until they finally succumb. Isn’t this considered to be barbaric?

To throw your hands up because there is not enough local hay is stupefying. There is hay available. It may be more expensive and more inconvenient to haul but there are enough conscientious horse people out there that can help by providing a truck and running to Anchorage for hay.

One salutation of one horse owner was “keep warm everyone.” It should have read “keep your horses warm everyone.”

And there you have it. What is most amazing to me about this letter is that Vickie so well described the situation. The horses were in a field with no food or water, and slowly starving to death. This (we all realized) was simply wrong.

I know this isn’t the end of the story. These horses are now elsewhere, and they are in the same neglectful hands. If they resurface here, I will the next time around be more proactive.

Next: 252: 12/3/13: A Long Trail Ride