Over the past few weeks, VeganLand has been blessed with the presence of 12 magnificent horses, brought by a local rescuer to feast on VeganLand’s endless grass.
These beautiful beings were so excited when they arrived that they literally jumped for joy, kicking their hooves up in the air. After everything they had gone through in their pre-rescue lives, they were very much in need of exactly what VeganLand provides.
We don’t know how long these lovelies will be staying, but for now it’s definitely a win-win. The rescue needed extra grazing space, and we needed some help with the endless task of keeping the grass down!
Horses tend to receive more compassion from the general public than other less “charismatic” animals, but with speciesism having such a firm footing throughout the world, the lives of all nonhuman animals are not their own. Horses are no exception, and the impact of human brutality can be as devastating for them as for any other species.
Horses are subjected to a myriad of freedom violations at the hands of humans, including being used for rides and racing, for labor on farms, and for pulling carriages in the middle of crowded city streets. When used for English riding shows and dressage, certain breeds become victims in a practice known as “soring.” Soring is the intentional infliction of pain to a horse’s legs or hooves to force the horse to perform an artificial, exaggerated gait. Horses experience extreme pain and suffering through the application of caustic chemicals to the feet and legs. This horrific practice continues in horse shows to this day, with judges encouraging it by rewarding what is known as the “Big Lick” gait.
Now a peaceful herd of their own, the motley crew now gracing (and grazing) VeganLand’s 34 acres come from a wide variety of backgrounds. Cowboy (with a stunning black mane and tail) was a ranch horse at a feedlot, where he was used to drag other big animals (such as steers used for beef) to be branded.
Once they’re no longer considered valuable enough to warrant the cost of their care, many horses end up at “last chance auctions.” There, they will be offered to the public, for sale to whoever will pay more than what their flesh is worth per pound to the slaughterhouse.
After many long years of dragging his bovine cousins to the branding iron, Cowboy came to the auction drained and tired, his demeanor clearly demonstrating that he had been to hell and back.
The best chance horses have for survival at auction is if they’ve received some kind of training that allows them to be placed in a situation where they can be used for labor, or if there’s something else that gives them monetary value, such as in the case of Peaches.
Peaches was bought at auction because she was pregnant. With no training of her own, Peaches’ baby was the reason for the sale, but once her foal was weaned and rehomed, she was of no use, so she was on her way to the kill pen when she was rescued.
While many countries don’t think of horses as food, slaughterhouses in both Mexico and Canada are happy to turn horses from the United States into cuts of meat for countries where they are eaten, such as in Italy, Belgium, Russia, and France. Zoos and safaris also feed horse meat to large carnivores kept in captivity.
In 2021, more than 24,000 horses were shipped out of the U.S. for slaughter.
There’s a wide range of reasons why a horse might arrive at a last chance auction.
In California, with grass drying up, open fields being developed, and feed prices increasing, it can be a simple matter of the land on which they once grazed no longer being available. If there are no other homes to be found, the auction is the place they will end up.
When race horses are injured, or they just don’t measure up to expectations, the training they’ve received does nothing to help them be placed in a home with a family. The auction is the place they will likely end up.
If a horse has not been well cared for, and ends up traumatized or in pain due to human ignorance of a horse’s needs, he or she might kick or bite, or even buck a child from his or her back. Such misunderstood behavior will give a horse a bad name, and the auction is where he or she will end up.
When rescued from the kill pen, these horses often arrive at the rescue so terrified that their eyes are rolled back in their heads.
Their prescription is CALM. Calm, loving touch, and a safe place to be. With grass… Lots and lots of sun-kissed green grass.