Category Archives: The Mattawan Junkyard Horse

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aboutOh hey there…..  Thanks for stopping by!  I’ve now been writing this blog for exactly 364 days!   While I’m not a professional journalist,  I hope I do a decent job of it,  at least better than these guys.

I started this blog not only as a creative outlet for myself, but because I was so inspired by the bloggers that I follow – a few philosophers,  as well as people opposed to horse slaughter and animal abuse.  I also wanted an outlet to document the protests we made against Toronto restaurants serving horsemeat,  and show that they were entirely peaceful.  My first blog post, on April 16, 2012, was the start of many posts about restaurants,  foodism,  eating animals,  pets,  and of course horses.  I post about 4-7 times a month,  and lately I’ve invited a few other bloggers and other people who write well and have a great message,  to guest post.  So I’m happy if I can publicize a great message or article, even though I didn’t write it myself.  These guest writers often end up having some of the most popular blog posts too!  I’m also a 3-D artist and like to use my own art and photography in the blog whenever possible.

mag-article-largeI try to stay away from blogging equine-related news only,  because there are so many other horse-related blogs that do a great job at that and have it totally covered.  I also want to write about local animal issues such as Toronto restaurants and livestock markets,  putting my own personal (and usually sarcastic) spin on it.  Hence the tagline “When Reason Goes Out The Window,  Ridicule Pulls Up A Chair.”  God only knows that in the world of horse slaughter,  there’s more than enough subject matter to tackle,  ranging from the inane to the irretrievably stupid.  That is not to say however, that I wouldn’t apply the appropriate gravitas or high seriousness to the subject matter that demands it.  I also write an annual summary of what happened in the world of horse welfare each year-end on Storify.  Please check out the summary for 2012 – Horse Welfare 2012 – The Year in Review

Roundups:

In these “round-ups,”  which bear no resemblance to  BLM roundups,  I highlight my own favourite posts as well as the most popular blog posts of the past year.  Check out  the top 20 countries that are responsible for the majority of traffic to this blog.  It’s like getting a quick’n’dirty view of the entire blog on fast-forward.

My Own Favourite Posts:

The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse

The Disquieting Truth About Drug Exposures in Horsemeat

Start The Car! The IKEA Monkey Chronicle Gets Ugly

Horse Sense vs. Non-Sense – 10 More Enduring Myths From The Pro-Slaughter Posse

Get Your Freak On – Horsemeat Restaurants (And the Companies That Should Sponsor Them)

Putting Horsemeat on the Table – Canadian Influences and Enablers – Infographic

Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

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Most Popular Posts  by Unique Hits (in descending order)

1.  Canada’s Live Export of Horses For Slaughter – Do Canadians Care?

2.  50 Shades of Black and Blue

3.  Small Town Stouffville’s Dirty Little Secret

4.  Have the Tentacles of Horse Slaughter Touched the Set of Heartland?

5.  Heads, I Win: Tails You Lose – Myths and Fallacies of the Pro-Slaughter Mindset

6.  Where Will All The Horses Go?

7.  A Tale of Two Polls…..

8.  Canada’s Horse “Welfare” Group in Dubious Company (Or Reason #189,743 Why We Cannot Trust Unified Equine or the IEBA)

9.  Hunting for Fallacies – Why Hunting is Bad for the Environment

10.  Slaughterhouse Sue – “We’re Losing Horses in Our Lives,” So Let’s Slaughter More of Them!

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Top 20 Views By Country:

United States

Canada

United Kingdom

Germany

Australia

Netherlands

Mexico

France

Italy

India

Sweden

Belgium

Austria

Spain

Switzerland

Finland

Russian Federation

Brazil

Poland

Ireland

Colophon:

Of course this blog uses the WordPress platform.  I want to give full credit to the great international community that WordPress has brought together.

The theme is “Matala” by Matt Mullenweg.

I’m using the Tag Cloud,  Twitter,  Links,  Milestone, and RSS Links Widgets, and I use Poll Daddy to collect and publish survey info.  I also use Sitemeter,  which is great when it works,  which isn’t that often!

Lastly,  please consider subscribing to this blog. You can also follow me on Twitter – @hclemenceau.  Please check out the other great blogs and resources on the right in the Blogroll.

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The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse

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Written by Heather Clemenceau

The transition from summer to fall is a time when the air may still be hot,  but the winds signal that a change is arriving.  The fall is a time of letting-go;  we prepare our gardens for the fall,  pruning and fertilizing,  removing spent foliage, and raking leaves.  When the leaves flutter to the ground,  we are reminded that nature’s cycles are mirrored in reality.

It is possible to take something beautiful and lasting out of the heart-wrenching experience of seeing something you love move inexorably toward death.  Four ladies living in or near Mattawan,  Michigan discovered that sometimes memories are one of the most poignant legacies that exist.  If you aren’t involved in the equestrian community on Facebook,  you might not have heard about the story of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse.

Sugar was a 34 year-old mare living in the junkyard owned by Don Austin of Mattawan.  She was purchased at auction about 20 years earlier,   and lived her life out in his junkyard.  Don Austin claims she was a barrel-racing quarterhorse,  but to me she looks more like a thoroughbred.  Her history seems unclear,  but years ago she apparently had a foal who still lives to this day. There may have been a time when she looked relatively healthy,  but in recent years her emaciated appearance created concern in Mattawan.  Add to that concern was her injured back leg,  deep lacerations,  and rapidly growing mass on her jaw.  Despite complaints,  the Animal Control and Sheriff maintained that Sugar was healthy and receiving appropriate care.

Concerned animal lovers took sides with many residents in Mattawan over the health of the horse and the rights of others to intervene in cases of obvious neglect.  Sugar was an “icon” with whom parents photographed their children  while feeding her apples and carrots that she could not chew due to the loss of her back teeth and the encroaching mass on her jaw.  Animal lovers questioned the appropriateness of photographing Sugar for a keepsake photo with their children while doing nothing to intervene on her behalf.  Two Facebook pages dedicated to her became battlegrounds over such issues as humane euthanasia,  property rights,  and the Sheriff’s inability to discern via direct evidence (Sugar’s condition) that the mare needed an intervention immediately.

After reading about Sugar on Facebook,  Cindy,  Nancy,  Mary and Laura stepped up and became everyone’s “eyes on the ground” for Sugar.  And thus,  the “Sugar Shack Crew” came to be.  A very caring local equine

The Last Photo......

The Last Photo……Saying Goodbye

veterinarian,  Dr. A,  who had tried to help Sugar in the past,  gave tirelessly of her time and skills to provide professional care and assistance to Sugar and the Crew.  A Chip-In was begun,  and people from all over the world gave money to provide food and medical supplies.  Through an agreement with Austin,  the Crew and Dr. A. reached an understanding about Sugar and how she would be cared-for in the coming months.  They also reached an agreement of sorts that allowed for humane euthanasia when the time came.  Through diligent visitation for several months,  the Sugar Shack crew cared for Sugar and truly gave her her “Last,  Best Days.”

Through the oppressive heat of the summer of 2011,  the Sugar Shack Crew doted on their charge.  They restored both her mind and body,  and performed all the maintenance and hard labour that goes hand-in-hand with caring for a horse on a small acreage,  in the limited time left before the harsh Michigan winter took hold.  The onset of winter was an immovable milestone in the near future,  because despite the greatly improved condition of Sugar,  it was agreed by her caregivers that she couldn’t survive another winter.  The kindest thing anyone could do for her would be to make those last days,  her very best days,  and then humanely let her go  before the deep cold set in,  and before the growth on her jaw made eating or swallowing impossible.

October 29, 2012 is the one year anniversary of Sugar’s humane euthanasia.  May she rest in peace.

I know the experience was transformative for all the Sugar Shack ladies.  Cindy and Nancy describe their feelings one year later……..

Cindy's Comments

Click to read the entire message

~Epilogue~

Dr. A did do a biopsy after Sugar was euthanized and the diagnosis was indeed osteoma,  a benign tumour which is typically formed by abnormal growth of bones on the skull or jaw. Once again, she paid for everything because she wanted to know.  To remove something that large would have resulted in Sugar losing her left mandible and the basic care for this kind of wound would have beyond unmanageable for any of her caregivers to handle especially considering where she lived.  Dr. A also felt that it would have been too traumatic to move Sugar to a place where that kind of procedure could have been carried-out.

The excess funds (so many people were so generous) were donated to the Michigan Horse Coalition.  Part of the monies were used to provide a small honorarium for Dr. A,  since she would not accept cash in compensation for her services.

Don Austin was never charged with animal cruelty.  The prosecutor’s office did not authorize animal neglect or cruelty charges against him because Sugar had enough food, water and shelter.  Among animal rescuers, the phrase, “food water shelter” has become a sad code when clear cases for criminal charges are dismissed. Ironically, the food, water and shelter don’t even have to be nearly adequate.

The bylaws in Mattawan were subsequently changed to disallow horses in junkyards.  There will be no new junkyard horses in Mattawan.  I think this is a good thing,  because a skinny horse living alone in a junkyard doesn’t bring anyone any peace.  We would also like to wish Buddy,  depicted in photos here,  a safe journey to the Rainbow Bridge,  where no doubt Sugar will be gratified to see him once again.  Buddy died under unknown circumstances at the Austin farm.  RIP Buddy.