Friday, August 15, 2008

Just for mbd :)

I actually addressed the matter that has you so riled up, on this blog:

Just the past few weeks I have seen some horses for free, to horses with little or no training for thousands. These are the same horses that would bring a pittance at any auction in the L48, btw. There are a very few some what reasonably priced weaners and yearlings-and I even know (not for a fact, mind you) of at least one family is dealing with being your own backyard breeder by simply harvesting the foals for the freezer.

In case you've missed it, I have taken in an oldster too. This guy is horribly crippled up from arthritis from two blown knees, and was given to us by someone who "didn't want to deal with him". Besides, he had been over to visit a number of times-usually when we weren't home ;) I found a wonderful horse person who agreed to pasture him for the summer, and he has the companionship of three mares and runs on 100s of acres. I can't imagine a better last summer for him, considering he spent the last five or so years pretty much by himself in a small pasture. The summer turn out and exercise has helped him tremendously. He is getting around much much better than earlier in the year, and he has slimmed down and toned up and is generally content to be part of the small herd. I am still determined to put him down as I cannot see subjecting him to yet another hard winter here. That horse is just one of a string of older horses I have rehabbed, and then either found a great last home or had to be put down. I don't like hauling horses to the musher, but of course I am a practical person and realize this end is *much* better than starving to death in someone's back yard.

Since we have no retirement facility, and no auctions, and no sanctuaries-there just isn't any place for them to GO, when the owner has had enough. Of course, I thought of a practical solution, but I can't see being able to make it happen.

Your thoughts?


mbd said...

Well, good God, girl, you didn't have to write me my very own blog!

But thank you. I had not seen your earlier blog and it's very good. Hits all the points.

And this winter will be much worse, IMHO. I do wish people would be realistic about the value of our horses up here.

I had seen where you'd taken in an old guy and were giving him one last fun summer, what a great thing to do and what a gift for Chubs. I wish there were more people like you.

You may regret asking for my thoughts. Feel free to add a disclaimer to any potential readers :)

You may also disagree with what I'm going to say: I think that, in this one respect, we are much luckier than the lower 48ers. Having the mushers available to take horses is a tremendous resource, especially in the winter for catastrophic occurrences.

Most of us are simply not equipped (summer or winter) to put a horse down and bury it properly. You're talking about the actual euthanasia process, cost of excavation, availability of equipment, space, consideration of water tables if lethal injection has been used, and long-term usage of that land.

And, as you pointed out, we have no auctions, no slaughter facilities, and one very overwhelmed rescue group. There's not great options.

This is not a guppy, people. This is a 1000# animal.

This leads us to the most important part of this conversation, for all of you who are reading this with gaping mouths thinking I'm some evil witch:

Have you actually thought about this? Amazing how few people ever have (and this isn't limited to horses, but at least with smaller pets you don't have quite the logistical problems.)

#1) Dobbin is arthritic and beyond what modern vet care can do. It's coming into fall and Dobbin is obviously not having fun any more.

#2) Dobbin is found dead in the pasture.

#3) Dobbin has broken a bone / colicked and is not responding to treatment / foundered with a terminal prognosis / insert major medical catastrophe here.

What do you do? Obviously in #1 you have a little wiggle room time-wise, but #2 and #3, whether it's winter or summer, you're going have to do something fairly quickly.

Having the mushers available is invaluable, again IMHO. Of course, the horse has to be shot to be of use to them, but most of them I have dealt with will do this and know how, provided the horse is in shape to be transported.

I have used different mushers several times. It's been done with the least amount of (additional) stress on the horses, and I was very grateful each and every time. In a couple cases I had time to plan and in a couple cases, I didn't. It was good to have options already in place.

So, now that all you readers are shocked, maybe once you get over that, you can think about just what you would do in a bad situation. Again, with the horses' best interests in mind.

Would you rather haul an ambulatory horse to a known resting place, or let them suffer and / or have to deal with one already dead? (Although mushers will sometimes get those, too, depending on the circumstances.)

Until we have some other options in place, and I'd love to know what those might be, I'll stick with the mushers.

And please do not assume that because I think like this that I love or care for my horses any less than you do. I feel this is my final responsibility to my horses, and I better do it right.

That does not mean selling or giving my horse away to somebody else to deal with, it does not mean dumping them on the local rescue group, and it certainly does not mean waiting in vain for the magic fairy to wave her wand and make all the bad things go away.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog. Thank you, TJ!

suvalley said...


Ok I have somewhat of a different idea, but you are absolutely correct about having a musher as a last resort. And heaven knows I have hauled enough to be put down myself....never pleasant, but necessary and *humane* Much better a quick ending by a skillfully placed bullet, than dying in agony becuase the owner is in denial. JMNSOHO.

My practical idea would never fly. Sigh. I mean if you step back just a bit and consider horses as a food resource to the expanding recreational mushing community....there are ways that both the horse owner and the musher could be served.

Here's my scenario-and everyone do feel free to actually post here-instead of sending me a squicky email about what a miserable excuse for a human being I am, ok?

OK in my scenario....Mt McKinley Meats accepts horses for processing. Note that I do NOT say that they PAY for horses, alright? They establish what amounts to a holding facility. Two or three times a year, folks are able to drop off horses they no longer "want" (never mind the reasoning) to this place, and their only requirement is to fill out an info sheet. Perhaps they are charged a very small sum-$25? for being able to do this. Horses are catalogued and indexed, and a websie is created where photos and relevant information is available to the public. The horses are kept by MMMeats for at least 30 days. This allows wormers and meds to clear their systems, and ANYONE can purchase (or adopt with Humane Care Contract and supervised by both MSBACR and AER) for set sum, say $100?

This covers the hay cost for the month, round bales I would presume. Hours and days are established for folks to check out the horses in person-but ALL horses are assigned numbers upon arrival-no names. You only get detailed info when you buy/adopt.

After the 30 days, the horses that are not sold, are processed. The resulting meat is sold to mushers at cost.

It goes without saying that any horse that is in serious trouble is processed asap after vet review.

Entirely too simple and pragmatic, isn't it?

mbd said...

TJ -- what a great idea that would be! We have the facility and knowledgeable staff to handle the animals, and it would be much easier on most owners, and the horses, than our other options. And, as you pointed out, it would benefit our mushing community too.

However, surely you remember that our beloved federal government, in all their infinite wisdom, has decreed this process illegal? It doesn't matter if no money changes hands, it is still illegal for a federally licensed facility to slaughter horses. Even if the owners of the horses willingly surrender them and haul the animals themselves, the plant cannot accept them without breaking the law and subjecting themselves to being shut down and fined.

What a country!

Now, everybody falling all over themselves to start lambasting me along with TJ because we favor rational, controlled, humane slaughter -- come up with a better idea. PLEASE. I don't want to hear about how awful slaughter is (it can be, I agree, but it can also be done humanely), and I don't want to hear about how you could *NEVER* do that to your poor horsie because you wuv them too much, unless you have a viable, practical option to offer me.

Believe me, I'd love one. So would a whole bunch of us.

So, TJ, while I would whole-heartedly support your idea and would gladly volunteer my time to back up the words, until we can get our idiotic judicial system changed, we're stuck.

Anybody out there got anything to add?