Have you ever been to a horse auction? Many people don’t even know they exist. Many believe it’s the “best place” to send a horse that you don’t want, can’t handle or just plain can’t afford to keep anymore. Quite the contrary, it’s the last place you want to send your horse. Please let us tell you the truth about horse auctions.
Last weekend, one of our supporters went to a local auction with Auction Horses Rescue. We thought it best to share her eyewitness account and let you judge for yourself what your best options are if you ever find yourself in need of help with re-homing your horse:
“There really is nothing sadder than a bunch of confused, frightened, screaming horses at an auction. Got home about 10 p.m. last night and cried into my pillow. Please, please, everyone, even if you think there is is no other option, please do not send your horse to an auction. There is a huge network of rescues that can help. And for gawds sakes, don’t send an old or sick animal to auction. It’s a death sentence. If you need to put a horse to sleep and can’t afford it, please please please ask for help. Auctions are probably one of the most heartbreaking things imaginable. If you don’t believe me, come with me to one some time and I’ll show you.
Last night’s auction in Lancaster was a small one. Only about 20-25 lots. Everything sold and none for more than $300!!!! One of our rescues was a gorgeous pinto gaited Saddlebred mare. She hopped in the trailer for me and gladly let me scratch her nose. She is safe today thanks to AHR. “Winter Wedgewood,” is a 9 year old pinto Saddlebred mare brought to auction by her owner last night. “Raven” as she is now called, is by the sire “World Wide Web” out of “Last Horizon” by “Wing Shot” and she had been purchased, originally, as a 2 year-old for $11,000 and put into dressage and show training, then developed string halt in one hind leg. Her subsequent owner decided she was too much horse for her and brought her to auction. She was purchased by another AHR volunteer for a measely $225 and I took her to her new home in Acton last night. This mare is GORGEOUS and once again proves that no matter how much a horse was worth as one point in it’s life, it is no guarantee of future safety or saleability.
We also rescued Hip 61, an older TB mare “Fan TC” …who is going to a sanctuary in Idaho at the end of the month. She and the SB mare “bonded” in my trailer last night and screamed for each other when I unloaded them….gulp.
In addition to the two mares I hauled to new homes last night, AHR was able to network for buyers/homes for two more. Unfortunately, most of the ex-lesson horses sold to traders. One of which we know has contracts with Mexican slaughter houses. The warmbloods were lovely, and none sold for more than $250!!! Sadly there were several very cute ponies, all of which sold for about $50 each to the same trader that we know has slaughter contracts.
While California law prohibits the sale of horses for slaughter and there are no slaughter facilities in the state (closest was New Mexico) there are several across the border in Mexico. The ‘feedlots’ for these are in several places along our southern borders. Horses that go to auction have a high chance of going to Mexican slaughter houses albeit through middlemen traders. If they are over 13 years old, have any health issues, or are in less than perfect condition, the chance of them coming to an inhumane end rises exponentially.
P.S. Best way to arrange safety for an auction horse in future, is to click here and complete the adoption/foster application. There’s a space on it to explain what you are looking for. Once AHR has this information, you become an approved foster or adopter in future. There are also several equines available at AHR now that have been rescued and are available for adoption so check the website!!! For real time pics and info on horses at the auctions AHR goes to, ‘like’ the Facebook page here.
In general, AHR gets to about 3 auctions a week – Lancaster, Mira Loma and Cowtown in Turlock. We don’t know what is there until the day of the auction and in general we only have a few hours to network and find buyers/fosters/homes/donations for horses. A promise of a home for a horse that fits your needs will help us figure out which horses we can rescue and rehome.”