Tag Archives: “horse rescue”

Rescue Reality


Vinnie-aka-Executive-ShopperSeveral competitive markets for horses have emerged as a result of the opportunities gleaned from social media sites like Facebook. Kill buyers outbid private buyers at auctions on horses that they think they can flip. People are buying horses at outrageous prices and paying phenomenal amounts of money that could be used for feed and vetting, to ship them halfway across the country only to sometimes find that they are sick. In many cases the horses that arrive bear little resemblance to their photographs, may be misrepresented and sometimes must be euthanized upon arrival. After passionately giving themselves to their previous owners, these horses do not deserve to die.

We have largely forgotten about the horse rescues who have to confront this competition for resources and face challenges that surpass those of humane societies and shelters.  Most rescues and sanctuaries rely on public donations rather than government funding, and they require commitment, passion and business acumen in order that they be sustainable. Private rescues are often run by a single person or a small group rather than a large board of directors. Most of their expenses cannot be discounted, and veterinarians and farriers usually don’t work for free.

Many horses waiting for homes at rescues are registered, sound, very rideable, beautiful, kind, and healthy after months of care. Rescues restore horses to good health, evaluate them for a variety of different types of riders, put training on them, and often provide warranties for a price that doesn’t reflect the investment of time.  Yet the perception exists in public realm that rescued horses are devalued or marginalized as old or dangerous, when in fact they are usually quite the opposite.

I really believe that we need to be careful what we allow, as it is what will continue.  If we choose not to support rescues, they will all go away….

Tanya Boyd of Kindred Farm Rescue will no longer offer adoptions through her rescue.  In her own words,  she explains why she is decertifying her not-for-profit and her former rescue operations will now operate for-profit.  (We are trying Tanya….)


“I have been running a horse rescue for just over four years. Effective today, that comes to an end. From now on, any horse that I “purchase” will be rehabbed and marketed as for sale for a price that is in line for their true value. I will no longer operate as a rescue, because, for some reason, potential buyers think that these horses/ponies are less than, and are not as valuable as horses of the same quality, advertised on the open market.

I cannot put in words, just how emotional this is for me…showing my horses to potential buyers…knowing full well the value of any of my “rescues”, on the open market…and I am singing their praises….and offering them up for free or for $500. and still no buyers. I will do this no longer. I am simply not going to give horses away for a song anymore.

If you were an orphan…or adopted…are you worth any less? Many horse rescues in this area, and beyond, are giving it up. Why? Because there is no funding…because acquiring and maintaining Not for Profit Status or Charitable Status….for horse rescues is extremely time consuming, in terms of the administrative requirements. I know…been there, done that…cannot commit the time required to fill out paperwork. So, I sent off my letter to dissolve my Not for Profit Status. Not worth the time and energy required. Sadly, horses do not rate, in terms of rescue organizations…they are still deemed as livestock…and livestock is butchered…..and that will not change until the public demands that it change.

Frustrated, yes. Sad, yes. But I do not see a move towards any change of status for horses in sight . They are indeed, the forgotten. Where would we be now without them?. I am truly heartbroken that in the four years I have been doing this, nothing has changed. And the public is no more aware now, than it was then, of the degree to which we subject horses to so much pain and abuse. It seems that it really doesn’t matter. I feel so defeated. What does it take to get people to understand that horses are not meant to be slaughtered so inhumanely….and transported so inhumanely. Along with many other animals that we ship in transport trucks, packed full, in 35 degree weather….for hours and hours.

What have we become, as a society, that we close our eyes to this abuse….it makes me so very sad. We are allowed to ship animals for 36 hours, without water, without feed….and in this heat. And that is considered to be ok. Again….in 4 years of doing this…this horse rescue…I have seen no change in our approach….no real concern about what we subject both horses, and other farm animals to in terms of humane handling…prior to being butchered for our consumption. Are we really that unfeeling? Or do we really not want to know.

Time to ask yourself these questions.”

Will To Win


JLC Jenn

Written by:  Heather Clemenceau

For hundreds of years, the horse has been recognized as one of nature’s strongest and most noble animals.  Throughout history, horses have carried generals across miles of war zone, led armies into countless battles, and survived with their riders against unbeatable odds.   Although modern technology removed the need for horses to go into battle, some horses have found other jobs in the barn rather than on the battlefield.  Many horses have a personality that inspires solace.  They are large flight animals but they choose to stand beside us.  When you are making an internal life transition, being in the presence of horses can be an incentive to embrace change.

Why do some bounce back from major and minor losses more quickly than others?  One of the main factors in building resilience is to connect with a purpose that is larger than you yourself.  Having a goal beyond the present, often one such as starting a foundation or taking care of an animal, can be the impetus that helps one grow in resiliency.

horse medalsJennifer Cutting started Justice Love ‘n Care Animal Rescue,  in June 2012, after realizing that most horses at a local auction went to slaughter rather than finding homes. Since then, 31 horses, 2 donkeys, a sheep, a duck, and a pot bellied pig have come to JLC, have been rehabilitated, and most rehomed.  JLC  volunteers include children, youth, and adults, people from very diverse backgrounds and experiences. There are no paid staff, and everyone donates their time and resources.

Jennifer and the rescue are enrolled in the Aviva Community Fund program, as they are now ready to move onto their next project  – the W.I.N.N.E.R. Program for at-risk youth, ages 12-25. Securing funds via the Aviva program will mean that the rescue can hire two full-time staff. Their  vision is to offer an Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Equine Assisted Learning Program (EAGALA), which also includes programs for art and nature,  which encourage creativity,  environmental stewardship,  and an appreciation for life and nature. Equine assisted learning (EAL) takes place from the ground, with no riding involved.  Youth would be encouraged by an EAL leader, through a series of activities with the greatest teacher, their horse. The entire program promotes self- awareness, problem solving skills, empathy, compassion, and an awareness of body language, along with many other characteristics.  The EAGALA program (along with a mental health professional and equine specialist) is designed to address specific goals for the participants,  so that youth will have key “take-away” experiences that can help them to make lifelong changes,  all while adhering to a specific code of ethics.

The JLC W.I.N.N.E.R. acronym stands for:

be Well,
get Inspired,
find New opportunities and ideas.
feel Empowered,
Reach out & Share Change with your community

Jennifer plans to become a certified instructor through the Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International (PATH, Int.) to teach at-risk youth how to interact with horses in unmounted activities. In addition, Jennifer’s husband Trevor is a natural environment technician who has training for wilderness life skills, plant and tree identification,  wildlife observation,  as well as surveying and survival skills.

Broker sponsored newspaper ad

Aviva Insurance Broker ad taken out for Justice Love ‘n Care

“I have worked with youth in group homes, in a youth detention centre, as well as with women in federal prison,” says Jennifer, who currently works as a community facilitator with people who have acquired brain injuries.  While volunteering at the prison, Jennifer was part of a healing circle, as well as the community integration team with the Canadian Mental Health Association.  She developed a group that was approved by Corrections Canada called LAM – “Looking After Me.”  LAM’s focus included establishing healthy relationships, reaching one’s dreams with a realistic plan with small steps, finding supports, budgeting, volunteering and giving back to the community, understanding triggers for different feelings and behaviours,  and maintaining physical health via nutrition and exercise.

The milestones have not stopped.

Jennifer also wants to create awareness of the horrific horse slaughter industry – a morass of cruelty and corruption – where animals that are unfit for human consumption and never designed to be part of the food chain are slaughtered mostly for export from Canada.  To that end, she diligently attended the Ontario Livestock Exchange auctions (OLEX) in Waterloo, Ontario most weeks for several months and began gathering statistics that showed who was buying these horses and other animals, and what breeds were either being rehomed or sold to kill buyers and sent to slaughter.  Minis, standardbreds, drafts, arabs, quarter horses, haflingers , fjords,  paints, donkeys, llamas and alpacas are all sold at OLEX – an auction where many weanlings and yearlings are also sold and,  according to her stats,  roughly 50-80% of all the equines go to slaughter.  Sadly,  Jenn has made note of quite a few “meat only” horses,  including mares heavy in foal.  Baby colts are often sold for $5 to kill buyers,  who sell them to slaughterhouses.   She has become well known for these very-detailed statistics that also capture the average prices for horses that are sold every week.

poppy and jazz

Poppy and Jazz were adopted in the most serendipitous way! One Saturday, a woman by the name of Sandra called. She knew these girls. They used to belong to a friend of hers named Judy. Several years ago Judy was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer. Judy fought for her life, and even went to Mexico for treatment in hopes of being cured. Judy died from this horrible disease. Before she left his world, Sandra promised Judy to find a home for her beloved donkeys. Friends of Judy said that she felt relieved her donkeys would be safe. That was her biggest concern before she passed away. Sandra did find a home, but there was only a verbal contract. The new family was not able to keep the donkeys any longer. They were sold to a couple who ended up sending them to auction at OLEX.
At first Sandra cried tears of sadness for what Poppy and Jazz have been through together- moved, separated previously for a few weeks due to an emergency with Poppy. Now she is excited and happy- to keep a promise.
Sandra explained that it was a fluke that she was on Kijiji. Her pony had just passed away a few days before, and she was looking on Kijiji. Her pony passed- giving the gift of two lives. Yes Judy, if you are looking down from above, your girls are safe. They are now at their true forever home.

Jennifer is in the process of applying for her non-profit status, and once that has been approved, she will apply for charitable status – part of the requirements for registering as a charity with the Canada Revenue Agency requires the creation of Guiding Principles:

JLC Guiding Principles (in development)

Our W.I.N.N.E.R. program for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy and Learning shall be guided by our desire to instill confidence in clients, while ensuring safety, by maintaining the highest standards of ethics and integrity.  We will honour the dignity of the client in a respectful manner, always preserving their privacy and confidentiality.  We will constantly evaluate our program and the progress of our clients and will refer them to other professional services if and when this is in the best interest of the participant.  The W.I.N.N.E.R. program will be a place where all views, ideas, and opinions shall be respected.  We will promote the development of programs that serve challenged persons and educate the public about equines.  We will endeavour to facilitate the re-homing of equines that would otherwise be abused, neglected, or sold to meat dealers.  We will safely match both program participants with horses as well as screen and match foster homes and adopters when considering homes for the horses.  We shall adhere to all provincial and federal laws and will always strive to improve our professional strengths.

In some ways you could say that Jennifer’s program to help youth and horses was made easier by the difficult road to get there.  Jennifer felt helpless throughout her grade school and high school education as a result of being bullied for years until she finally moved away.  Today, she advocates that bullying be addressed in schools or workplaces, and on the internet.  Some of her worst bullying experiences happened in places where children and young adults are supposed to be protected.  “That is part of the reason I went into Social Services – to help people find empowerment and to better themselves regardless of obstacles or the actions of others.  And that’s why I really want to start the W.I.N.N.E.R. Program for At-Risk Youth. “AVIVA

Jennifer has also had some recent setbacks while promoting the Aviva Community Fund and her rescue,  when Facebook deleted several of the groups she was using for networking – completely wiping out her base of friends and associates who were all voting for the rescue.  Jennifer is,  however,  well practiced at prioritizing stressors in her life – while she is competing for the AVIVA Community Fund,  she is also in the midst of a move.

Through the soft nicker of a horse,at-risk youth can find healing at the barn. Although the horses can offer us immeasurable therapeutic benefits, programs wouldn’t survive without the dedication and support of the volunteers at JLC, who are gratefully acknowledged.

Competition for the Aviva Community Fund is fierce.  Please help this rescue by voting everyday through to November 4th.

JLC volunteers

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, how you can still come out of it.”
  ~ Maya Angelou

Jeers of a Clown….


rescued draftI wanted to share a post made in a Facebook group (not saying where or by whom) that I believe is sadly indicative of the way in which most pro-slaughter people approach the concept of horse rescue.  In the last few days we’ve seen many people,  anti-slaughter and pro,  offer assistance to Oklahomans and their animals who have been hurt or displaced by the tornado of May 20th.  I don’t want to belittle this tragedy,  but as we mourn what happened in Oklahoma,  where injuries and deaths of all are in the hundreds and damages may exceed 2 billion,  we should not forget that unwanted horses are displaced every day when they are sent for slaughter.

We also must defend the hard and tireless work of the many people who toil in rescues in all manner of weather and circumstance,  because they have huge hearts.  The timing of this post,  so soon after the tornado seems weird to me,  but I guess since the pros do not have any problem with the timing and seem proud of their disrespectful post,  this is perhaps as good a time as any.

“Dear U’nita Geta’clue,

Thank you for your fervent support of the recent laws that were passed in Illinois and Texas that effectively ended the closely regulated slaughter of horses in the United States. Thank you for pushing the practice past our borders and out of control of the USDAs standards for humane treatment of food animals. We also appreciate your lobbying to pass the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act currently in Congress, which will end the transport of unwanted horses to foreign slaughterhouses and keep each and every one of them within the borders of our beautiful nation alive and well!

You’ll be pleased to learn that the live and well part is where you come in! A new organization has been created through the cooperative effort of the numerous horse industry organizations and the USDA, called Save Horses In Trouble-Help starved horse2End Abandonment & Death, or crap-HEAD for short. In accordance with the guidelines of this new program, and to alleviate the pressure on existing rescue facilities to take in the thousands of unwanted horses, we have decided to place one unwanted horse under the personal care of each and every person that supported banning horse slaughter in the United States.

As you may know, since the slaughter facilities have closed, not only have rescue facilities and shelters been inundated to the point that they have to close their doors to new arrivals, but many horses have also been neglected, starved to death, or abandoned because of the record high hay prices. Therefore, your participation in this program is mandatory.

We understand that it is your feeling that horses are pets, not livestock, and since most people in the United States do not choose to eat them, therefore no one should, and all horses should live out their lives in an idyllic pastoral setting. We also understand that while your relatively large 40 X 40 suburban backyard isn’t exactly Yellowstone, it will just have to do. We are certain you will make the necessary adjustments.

Your unwanted horse is of unknown origin, but is roughly 6 years old (although we can’t get close enough to him to tell for sure), weighs approximately 1500 pounds and has a mean streak a mile wide, and has been known to randomly bite, strike, or kick, especially at small children, elderly people, and house pets. We have decided to call him Satan.

While Satan is capable of physical aggression, unfortunately he is not able to be ridden because of his crooked front legs. He is capable, however, of reproducing, as he is a stallion. This is of special import to you, as your neighbors and fellow members of the Horses Are Humans With Hooves group will also be provided with horses through our program, some of which might be mares.

starved horseFor your information, the $20 you donate annually to the Humane Society of the United States can instead buy you approximately two bales of high-quality hay at the current market rate. Assuming that the bales weigh 100 pounds, and you feed 20 pounds to said beast per day, this will be enough to feed him for ten days. You will be happy to know that the lifespan of a horse averages about 25 years, and therefore Satan can bring you approximately 9,125 days of enjoyment. That is, of course, only if you provide him with the best care possible, which we are absolutely certain that you will. To ensure that Satan is receiving proper care, an inspector will visit your home on a weekly basis.

At your request, we can provide you with contact information for veterinarians, farriers, trainers, equine dental practitioners, whisperers, and tranquilizer gun dealers in your area, as well as the necessary contacts you will need for euthanasia and disposal of Satan’s earthly vessel when he crosses over. We foresee that Satan’s death will be especially traumatic for you, being the enlightened individual that you are, and counselors are already available at 1-900-NO-SENSE. ($3.99 for the first minute, $1.99 for each additional minute).

Unfortunately, there is no government financial assistance for care and maintenance costs of crap-HEAD horses, as all of the funds allocated for such things are dedicated to the Bureau of Land Management’s Wild Horse program.




The Last, Best Days of Sugar the Mattawan Junkyard Horse


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


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.