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The Farm

Posted by poloponyrescue. Comments (3).

When I was about five, we had a dog named Buffy. Buffy was a great dog – just your typical awesome, friendly yellow lab. But Buffy had a habit of eating just about anything. Tin cans, clothing, didn’t really matter, Buffy would eat it. This necessitated more than one vet visit.

One day, Buffy didn’t come back from the vet. My mom told me she had gone to live on a farm. Being a little sharper than your average five year old and already showing signs of the stubborn desire to get at the truth that I still suffer from today, I refused to let that drop. I wanted to know WHOSE farm, WHERE the farm was, WHEN we were going to visit the farm. And I was persistent. I didn’t actually let it drop for many years. I would bring up in arguments how no one would ever take me to the farm to see my dog. Finally, in the middle of a screaming match with my mom when I was around 13, I pointed out that there was no farm and that my dog had been killed and I had been lied to about it. And she confessed.

HA. I knew it! I had known at five that something was very wrong with the farm story.

Sure, I got suckered, and I’m sure my mom would argue I got suckered because she was trying to protect my feelings. In her defense, I was five. Now the question is, why are so many of you buying the exact same story even if you’re 20 or 30 or 40?

Here’s the scenario: You go out and you take lessons or you rent Buffy the horse for chukkers. You really like Buffy. Buffy gets carrots, you ask to use her all the time.  Then Buffy goes lame, you can’t use her for a while, but you still bring her treats every time you come.  Then you come out one day and…no Buffy. And, like my mom, your trainer or the club pro gives you the line about the farm.

“She was getting old, we sent her to live on a farm with some kids.”

“She went to pasture. She’s eating grass and enjoying the good life.”

“We donated her to a kids camp. She’s living on a farm.”

And if you try to get some details, like where Buffy the Horse is so that you can visit her, or if you say that gee, you wish you had known because you would have taken Buffy, then you might hear the runaround start. Suddenly Buffy is at a farm with people who don’t want visitors. We have to respect their privacy. And they’re not on Facebook. They don’t have the Internet. It’s really far away. Or the trainer says he will get you the name of the people, even though he gave Buffy away yesterday and it shouldn’t be that hard to remember – and then he hopes you’ll forget and not bring it up again and evades your questions when you do ask again.

You know, THE FARM. She went to go live on A FARM.

You know, THE FARM. She went to go live on A FARM.

C’mon folks – you’re not five anymore. If you’re getting the runaround, the odds are that Buffy is already in Mexico being sliced and diced. And that’s a fact. Every year, more school horses than you think – from polo clubs, from hunter jumper barns, from kids’ camp – go to slaughter. Every year, some of the proprietors of those establishments show up at the kill buyer’s place with a full load. It’s happening now. It’s happening here in Southern California, despite our alleged no-slaughter law (you know, the one that no one enforces, ever).

A few years ago, a bunch of trail string horses showed up at the local low-end auction, an auction at which virtually every old horse is on a one-way trip to Mexico. But thanks to the wonder of the Internet, their pictures got posted and some people recognized them and where they came from. They didn’t all get saved, but some did. It was pretty much a miracle. The horses were meant to disappear. The trail string was none too happy about the bashing they got on Facebook. Ironically, many of the riders would have bought the horses in the first place if they’d been reasonably priced, but the old, crippled horses had gone overnight from being for sale for $2000+ to selling at the auction for $100.   Why?  Why?  Why?  Because there are a lot of people in the horse business who don’t care about horses, and because customers don’t pay attention and keep them in business no matter what they do, that’s why.

Generally, if a horse is picked up by a dealer, there’s about a one-week window to save them. The trucks don’t leave until there is a full load collected. So when you see a horse that you ride and you like disappear, it’s really up to you. If the story sounds lame and you can’t go visit the horse and verify it is okay – take action. Any local rescue will tell you who the kill buyers are and if you can intercept a horse.  You can find out who to call who can check and see if a horse matching Buffy’s description is there. If you can prove you have been lied to, for heaven’s sake, stop patronizing the person who lied to you. The world is full of trainers of all disciplines. You don’t have to line the pockets of people who have no actual love for horses if you don’t want to.

Tomorrow morning I’m going to go look at an old lesson horse. I’m pretty sure a lot of people love him. And if all goes well, he’s going to be heading to a farm that really exists. A farm with a web site and a Facebook, a 501(c)3 charity sanctuary that posts regular pictures of their horses so that no one who ever loved them has to wonder how they are doing. I’m going to do my part to make sure that the only farm he goes to is a real one. Will you do as much for the horses who are teaching you (or your child) to ride or play polo? Think about it.

“I always thought someone should do something about that, then I realized I was someone” ~ Lily Tomlin

Shortcake, on a real farm, that really exists, that you can visit if you're in Eastern WA! Just email us for info.

Shortcake rehabbing, on a real farm, that really exists, that you can visit if you’re in Eastern WA! Just email us for info.

UPDATED: The old lesson horse is heading East – a former trainer stepped up for him! 🙂 Now that’s the kind of person you should take your business to.

3 Responses to “The Farm”

  1. Liz O'Connell

    This needs to go viral. Oddly enough, one of the ruses to keep thoroughbred owners quiet is to tell them their horse has “gone to polo”. I’ve never been able to track one of those gone-to-polo horses. So that’s another lie thoroughbred trainers and farm managers employ.

  2. Paola

    Wow. This post is really well-written, and I agree with Liz–it needs to go viral on Facebook and every other popular site. “The farm” story would be heartbreaking to hear about any horse,and I’m sure people who have heard that story truly appreciate what you and people like you do for the horse world.

  3. cindy king

    Sold to a 4-H Family. Sold to the Amish.

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