Most everyone has heard of rescue groups for various animals, from Welsh Corgi dogs to Siamese cats to American Saddlebred horses. There are multiple rescues dedicated to the American Saddlebred horse, including Saddlebred Rescue, Rescue Me ASB and Team American Saddlebred. Why do horses wind up in a rescue? There are numerous reasons. Sometimes people’s circumstances change and they are no longer able to keep their horse, perhaps due to moves, job loss, divorce or economic hardships. Other times, a child loses interest in their horse and no longer wishes to keep it. Sometimes, a horse no longer fits the purpose for which it was originally purchased. Horse owners die and no one left is able to care for the animals. Breeders may find themselves overstocked with horses, and no market in which to sell them. Maybe a horse didn’t live up to expectations in the show ring. A well intentioned owner may sell their horse at a sale believing that it is headed to a wonderful new home. Unfortunately, the horse may be one sale away from an auction where there are kill buyers and the downward spiral begins. These auctions may include any type of Saddlebred from foals to pregnant mares, youngsters to old timers, pleasure horses to show horses straight from their last horse show. No horse is exempt. Thankfully, the Rescues can sometimes step in to save these horses from kill buyers, or life on the road pulling a buggy. They rescue, in some cases rehabilitate, and try to re-home and repurpose these horses.
Several years ago, my daughter sold her pleasure horse. Our trainer had arranged the sale to someone he knew who would be able to use the mare in her lesson program. My daughter thought that she would be good at it because she had taught my daughter a great deal about riding. She was a sweet tempered mare and had a great trot and canter. My daughter even emailed the new owner and told her to let her know if she ever wanted to sell her when she too old for lessons. We thought she was all set.Several things happened that led to a happy ending. Thankfully, Lyric sold with her registration papers and was never in any danger of going to the kill pen. Thankfully, someone from the rescue organization spotted her and posted her papers on Facebook. Thankfully, my friend Angie was watching the posts and looked up Lyric’s ownership on ASHA and contacted me. Thankfully, a person like Jennifer Hegg knows about rescues and could help us navigate the situation. Thankfully, we have stall space available and Lyric was able to come home. And thankfully, Lyric came home in great condition.
Their first day together in 2009
Lyric in 2011
Three weeks ago, I received a message from one of my Facebook friends, Angie Dubois. There was a picture of Lyric and my daughter. “Did I own this horse?” Sure, I told Angie, my daughter had owned and shown her for several years, then sold her a few years ago. I just thought it was coincidence that Angie had asked. Then came the line that sent chills down my spine. “She is at an auction in New Holland, PA.” How could this be? The New Holland Auction has a reputation that is not always positive. Lyric should be several states away, healthy, happy and useful. Angie contacted Jennifer Hegg, who was affiliated with Rescue Me ASB and put her in touch with me. We spoke later that day. From that point, she and my daughter made arrangements to return Lyric home. Things progressed quickly, and at the same time, painfully slowly. I was also able to contact her former owner. She had no idea when she sold the mare that she would wind up going to the New Holland auction. She was as shocked as we were. Due to transportation delays, it took another week or so to deliver Lyric to our barn.
What can anyone do to avoid having a similar fate befall their horse? Once a horse is no longer in our possession, sometimes absolutely nothing can be done. However, a number of suggestions can help former owners connect with a horse. Keep in touch with the current owner. Support the Rescues for our breed. These folks try to provide help for horses that might otherwise become a statistic. The American Saddlebred Horse Association has a program titled “My Meadows”. Visit ASHA and add your horse to the Meadows database. http://www.asha.net/asha/mymeadows.php in the event that someone may be getting rid of a horse, your contact information is included on the horse’s pedigree page.
And finally, here is a fitting quote from the book Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.
"My ladies have promised that I shall never be sold, and so I have nothing to fear; and here my story ends. My troubles are all over and I am at home"
Lyric enjoying an outdoor show.
Here is more information about the workings of one of the Rescues.
TAS is a non-profit whose mission is to educate and raise awareness about the threats the Saddlebred faces today. We do that through assisting Saddlebreds in need wherever they are, as we are able. That is most often ones found on Craigslist, broker owned programs, auctions, farm dispersals and kill pens.
There is a network of Saddlebred lovers who are working to help intercede and repurpose the horses before they become official rescue status, therefore ultimately helping reduce the number of unwanted horses that end up going to slaughter.
Without more people talking about the plight of unwanted horses, change will never come. We do want people to realize there are other options and we are working hard to create even more!
And as always, visit The American Saddlebred Blog's Face book page and like it!
3/13/16 Lyric has been home for 8 months now, and she makes me smile every single day!
So glad she's home.