Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Secret Behind Kill Pen Rescues (and How Much a Slaughter Horse Really Sells For)

Ladies and gentlemen, step right up, gather 'round! I'm about to tell you a great secret. Once you know this secret thing, you can decode many, many situations, giving you power and confidence.
You can use it to see the truth, avoid bad relationships, and save money.

This thing is one of life's most powerful mechanisms, driving events both insignificant and enormous. Psychologists and sociologists study it, marketers strive to create it, and Hollywood feeds off of it.
It is the thing compelling some of your very own behavior.
You already know this secret, but you don't know that you know it.
Like most great truths, it hides in plain sight.
And today, it is more prevalent in the horse world than ever before, especially in kill pen rescues.

This thing is made up of four key ingredients. By themselves, each of these things can be compelling. Together, they create an absolutely enormously potent force called...

HYPE has made people millions upon millions of dollars with insanely popular, yet silly products such as the Pet Rock, Tickle-Me-Elmo, and Beanie Babies, all of which have caused physical fights between shoppers.

HYPE is why everyone remembers the sinking of the Titanic (1,500 dead) but no one remembers the more recent sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff (9,500 dead) or the much more recent Doña Paz ferry disaster (4,400 dead).

HYPE is why every serious adventurer hopes to climb Mount Everest, but no one has even heard of
Chimborazo (technically two miles higher) or K2 and Annapurna, which are only slightly lower than Mount Everest, but much, much more challenging and deadly.*

HYPE is the reason this Guicci brand backpack sells for $1,980, but you can buy the exact same thing direct from China for $187.

And finally, of course, HYPE is the secret behind the success of kill pen rescues.

Let's take a look at how hype is created. Here are the four ingredients:

Excitement: Drama, thrill, turmoil.
This can be positive or negative; it can feel good or bad.

: Time pressure. A ticking clock. Stress.

Exclusivity: You get to be THE ONE. The one that gets to be the hero, or gets the best deal, the one in the spotlight, the person with a unique experience, or being a part of a special group.

Pathos: Emotions, especially feelings of guilt, sorrow, empathy, pity, and compassion.

Let's take a look at how the ingredients of Hype are applied in Kill Pen "rescue" situations. Here's a typical post from a kill pen rescue operator:

At the end of this ad, you are left feeling like you would really, really, like to give the horse a home, or at least donate. You feel sympathetic, guilty, and sad, because you get the impression that this poor "defeated" horse is suffering. And you may be a little panicked because there seems to be so little time ("DEADLINE!" "Slaughter!" "Before it's too late!") You also want to feel like you are a special part of a group of rescuers ("he has NO ONE BUT US TO COUNT ON"), donating money to save this special horse (an abandoned racehorse "robbed of his identity!"). But let's see what the ad would look like without all the hype, and with a shot of plain old truth thrown in:

how do you feel?
Disgusted? Confused?
Do you feel like a used car salesman is trying to talk you into something?

Most of the time, kill pen "rescues" are little more than a scam. Unfortunately, good people get sucked in very easily, because of those four ingredients that make up hype. We all get sucked in by drama (Excitement), we all feel rather bad for slaughter-bound horses (Pathos), none of us are immune to feelings of Urgency, and we all like to feel we're a part of something special (Exclusiveness).

But you know the very worst part of these scams?

Good people are sometimes the very ones promoting them. The become blinded to the facts, even to the point of believing their own hype. What facts, you ask? Here's one:

1) The price for these kill pen horses is always significantly above slaughter price. This means that in the end, the kill-buyer profits greatly off of kill pen "rescues." Even if each horse only makes them $50-$300 more via the "rescue" than they would get via slaughter, that adds up to quite a profit over time. This is especially true considering the fact that almost nothing is known about the horse as a riding animal, the kill buyer does nothing at all to care for the horse, and by selling to "rescues," kill-buyers save themselves the cost of keeping the horse on a feedlot, or hauling it to a slaughter plant across the border. In fact, the "rescuer" often has to pay the kill-buyer or his agent a large amount of money for quarantine and shipping, further lining his pockets.

Slaughter price varies, but is, at the very most, about 70 cents per pound here in the United States. At this maximum price, a 1,000lb horse in good fat condition is worth $700 to a kill-buyer. Realistically though, the average slaughter-bound horse is worth more like 40 cents per pound, or $400 to a kill-buyer. Yet, kill pen "rescue" horses are often priced at $750-$900. In the pictures below, compare the "packing" price of a horse actually bound for slaughter with the "bail" price of a horse at a kill pen rescue.

Cwt means "hundred weight." 35cwt = $35 per 100 lbs = $2.86/lb, or $350 for an average/large 1,000lb horse.

Now compare that to a kill pen rescue's prices:

The prices for these kill pen "rescue" horses are at least $400 over "packer" (meat) price.

Let's move on to another example...

Here's a gelding at Ryon's Rescue Pen, a popular kill pen "rescue" in this area.

The gelding's front cannons look to be in bad shape, bowed with hard use. Although they talk about the gelding's "good condition" and abilities, there may be absolutely no truth to this, because as per their policy,
'All horses are sold "AS IS; WHERE IS' with no guarantees regarding temperament, age, soundness, health, discipline. There are NO exceptions."

I was easily able to Google this horse's breeder and see his original sale listing. According to the breeder, he's actually two years older and .1 hands shorter than Ryon's has listed him as.

Poor Cole Wimpy is being sold for $850, about three to five hundred dollars more than he'd probably bring at a slaughter house. Is he worth that? Maybe he is. Of course, you can't ride him and see, because unlike real rescues, Ryon's does not allow buyers to try horses.

A real horse rescue gives adopters more flexibility. You are encouraged to handle and ride the horse. If you begin to feel like a horse isn't the right fir for you, an adoption can be stopped at any time. Good rescues also take horses back. But at Ryon's Rescue Pen and other kill pen rescues, once you've even seriously considered buying a horse, you're stuck. Here's the policy for putting money down on horses at Ryon's Rescue Pen:

"If for ANY reason you back out on a horse you put credit card information on, that card will be charged 25% of the cost of the horse plus any board that may have accrued."
And of course there are NO refunds, under any circumstances. 

At a real rescue, horses are adopted out with up-to-date vaccinations, hoof trims, and Coggins, and adopters are given a good picture of the horse's existing medical problems (if any) and overall health. At Ryon's Rescue Pen and other kill pen rescues, you aren't even guaranteed a recent Coggins test. If the horse's was consigned without one, you are responsible for hiring a vet to have one done at the auction house.

Here's another fact that people completely disregard in their rush to help "slaughter" horses:

2) Ponies, minis, foals, and severely lame, sick, blind, or skinny horses almost never go to slaughter.

First of all, some basic federal laws apply: a horse bound for slaughter has to be able to stand on its own, can't be blind, and can't be under 6 months old or visibly pregnant.

Secondly, it's just not in the kill-buyer's best interests. Think about it. If you're a slaughter buyer, do you want to fill your trailer with small, skinny, or sick animals that may die on the journey and won't bring much money, or big, fat, healthy ones that will travel well and get you a higher price? Yet kill pen "rescues" often advertise these types of equines as "going to slaughter SOON!" That's because...

3) A local sale to a sucker always beats a long-distance sale to a factory.
A kill-buyer, like anyone in business, wants to get the best deal. So he will always sell an animal for the most money he can get. And of course, he can get the most money off of YOU, a caring member of the public. He would much rather take your $800 and make you pick up a horse, versus spending his own gas money to haul a horse to the meat processing plant and make $400. This is why so many kill pens and auction houses cooperate with rescues, or set up their own "rescue" pages to advertise horses. In fact, a "slaughter buyer" is actually just a horse dealer-- they don't exclusively sell to slaughter plants. They'll sell to anyone, and they make the most money from private sales.

"OK," you may be saying, "so what?" "So I paid more than slaughter price, I still saved a horse!" Well actually...

4) For every horse you "save" from a kill-pen "rescue," another takes its place. Sad but true.
  The kill buyer will load up his trailer with the least desirable horses first-- the unbroke, unsound, and older ones. But you can bet that there won't be any empty spots on that trailer. Why waste the space and gas? Besides, the kill buyer has to fill his quota-- he's likely under contract.

The Moral of the Story:
  • Don't fall for the HYPE of kill-pen "rescues."
    Don't let the excitement, fake urgency, emotional blackmail,
    and sense of exclusiveness get to you.
  • Don't impulse-buy a "slaughter-bound" horse from these rescues
    dealers, don't donate to them, and don't support local horse rescues
    that work with them.
  • Good people get sucked into the HYPE and try to help, but they
    just end up making slaughter-dealers richer.
  • Spend your money on adopting a horse from a real 501c3
    non-profit rescue that has put time and money into that horse,
    and knows its health, training, and temperament.
  • If you can't resist the excitement of buying a slaughter-bound horse,
    go to an auction yourself and buy one instead of paying a dealer extra.
  • If you absolutely can't resist buying from a "kill pen rescue,"
    be aware that you are supporting a horse dealer, not a real rescue.
  • Did you buy a kill-pen horse? Quarantine it.
    The horse is probably sick from being surrounded by many
    strange horses. Don't trust anything the dealer has said
    (or not said) about the horse's age, training, temperament, or soundness.

Want to read the saga of a woman who bought a kill-pen "rescue" horse and got in over her head? Click here. Her $350 horse ended up costing $2,200 to quarantine and transport! You could adopt 2-3 horses from real rescues for that price, and you would actually have some confidence in the rescue's descriptions of the horses.

Read more about kill-pen rescues here, here, and here.

About 72,000 horses went to slaughter in Mexico last year. In 2018, as of today (6/12/18),  29,220 horses have gone to slaughter in Mexico.   Source.

*Annapurna is the mountain with the highest fatality-to-summit rate (32% of people who go up never come down). The mountain called K2 is only 778 feet lower than Everest, but only 302 people have ever reached the summit it and lived to tell the tale, vs Everest's roughly 3,000 conquerers. K2 has never been climbed in winter.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Jo Jo News and Mini Rescue (Finally)

Hey folks, it's been a while, sorry about that! I find that as the months and years go by, I'm spending less and less time blogging, and more time doing "real world" stuff. That's probably good, but I miss all of you wonderful readers. Today I'm going to make it up to you somewhat-- you're in for a treat, because we have a bit of a double feature!

She's Baaaaack!

Yup, it's Amanda "Jo Jo" Everhart again. If you haven't read my main blog post about here, go do that here and catch up. If you're well aware of the insane depravity already, read on (but maybe go click that link later, because I've added and reorganized things).
Jo Jo is trying to re-start her scammy "horse rescue" somewhere else in Wisconsin. I'm not sure what to be more appalled by, the fact that she claimed to have saved 57 horses last year, or that she re-named the rescue after the horse she starved (Phoenix).

Last I knew, Everhart was living in a house in town so if you know where (in general) she's rented her new ranch, let us know so that we can all warn the locals. We don't need an address, just a vicinity.

NOTE: Do NOT contact her directly. The goal here is not to harass her, as that is 1) illegal and 2) only gives her the ability to play the victim. Also, 3) she is crazy and may come after you if you do.

How crazy is she? Oh my God, sooooo so crazy. And not in a "this bitch is being dramatic" kind of way, but in a truly pathological, serious way, to the point that... Well, I could write a whole book about it, but it seems wrong to dwell on the whole ugly, trashy saga. Suffice it to say, save your hard-earned money for a real charity, don't donate to her Go Fund Me campaigns or her "horse rescue." Moving on!

Mini Rescue

It's taken me far too long to write this, but it seems like it only just happened.

In late July of 2017, I went to rent some large equipment from guy I'll call "Chad." I'd never met Chad before in my life, but his hand-painted sign on the side of the road had advertised what I needed. I called him, he seemed pleasant enough, and we quickly signed a very basic rental contract in his garage, whilst an adorable pit-bull puppy attempted to chew my on boots, old beer cans, and its own ears.

Chad seemed like a decent enough guy; young, hard-working, rough around the edges but raised well. Like many of us in Wisconsin, he had a lot of side gigs going, trying to make a buck or two before and after his "real" job. When I pulled down around the back of his place to load up my equipment, I caught a glimpse of one of those side gigs:

This mare and her stallion buddy were tied to rusted-out vehicles in an overgrown field. Other than the junkers and a wrecked chicken coop, they had no shelter from the sun. There was an empty cat litter tub nearby, perhaps hinting that there was water sometimes-- but neither mini could currently reach it. The mare was tangled up in the nylon kind of combination halter-leadrope normally used on calves. Her hooves were long and deformed. The stallion was tied up short. Both appeared desperately unhappy.

"Well crap..."
I knew immediately that calling the authorities would be useless, since they often don't get involved even when a horse is actually dying of starvation in front of them. Even if I could convince a cop or deputy to come out, he would take one look at these fat ponies and say, "What's the problem?" To non-horse people, if an equine isn't skin and bones, it must be doing fine.

With official assistance unlikely, I just had one question: should I take these minis home today, or not? It really depended on whether Chad was open to change. Maybe I could education him a little. Maybe I could mentor him, keep an eye on things. After all, I had just adopted out my last horse, and I had been looking forward to the rest of the summer "off." So when Chad came down to help me load up my equipment, we had a little talk. I was polite, friendly, encouraging. I didn't want him to be on the defensive, I wanted him to be open-minded about doing things differently. Over the course of the next hour, I learned the following:

- A year ago, Chad had bought the stallion at an auction on a whim, "because he was kinda cute." At first, he had tied his new pet, "Winston," to a steel truck rim lying on the ground. Of course the pony dragged it for miles across the countryside, eventually stopping to *ahem* chat with some mares. The irate owner of the mares called the nearest humane society, which picked Winston up. Chad had to pay $35 to "bail him out." That's when Chad started using the junk trucks as hitching posts.

- Chad bought the mare from a neighbor because he thought she and Winston would make an adorable baby, which he could then sell for a quick profit. He was deeply disappointed to find out that foaling takes, "like a whole year!" When he had gotten the mare, he said, she had even longer hooves, but his cousin had helped him take a hacksaw to the worst bits. The previous owner explained that the mare had lost her last foal, and Chad wondered if that had to do with the feet. When I saw the mare, the feet weren't the skis Chad described, but clearly hadn't been seen by a real farrier.

-Ever since Winston and the mare (which he never named) "got together," Chad had been surprised and displeased at how uncontrollable the stallion was. Hmmm, shocking!

-Chad had no idea what a farrier was, had never wormed the ponies, called halters "collars," and had never had a vet out. He didn't know about founder/navicular, was unaware that equines needed salt/minerals, and was under the impression that miniature horses,
"get smaller as they get older, don't they?"

Needless to say, I did not feel comfortable leaving the ponies with Chad. He was a nice guy. He meant no harm. But his busy schedule and the sheer magnitude of his ignorance had led him to  neglect his minis. Perhaps he sort of knew that already, because he was willing to sell them.
I knew I was going to spend an exorbitant amount of money doctoring them. I didn't really want to give this guy any money. But I was also eager to get the ponies out of there, and unwilling to risk blowing the deal, so I shelled out a few hundred bucks. By late afternoon, the ponies were home safe with me.

The first thing they did was to attack the salt and mineral blocks. They didn't just lick them, they broke off chunks and swallowed them whole. Alarmed, I asked my vet whether this would do any harm. Nope, not as long as they had access to plenty of water.

Apparently the poor little dudes had been so long without salt and minerals, their bodies absolutely craved them. Equines especially need salt during hot weather, when sweating causes them to lose it by the liter. In the wild, mustangs (and deer) will actually lick and even chew dirt that has a high mineral content in order to get what they need.

Reminder here: do NOT give your horse mineral blocks meant for cattle. Eating even a tiny amount can KILL your horses within a day or two. Cattle minerals and feed may contain ionophores, including lasalocid (Bovatec), monensin (Rumensin), salinomycin, narasin, maduramicin, laidlomycin and semduramicin.

These additives can't be seen, smelt, or tasted, and horses are twenty times more sensitive to them than cattle. There have been some famous cases of horses that died from poisoning simply because the local feed mill made pelleted cattle feed with an additive, and then didn't clean the equipment prior to mixing a batch of horse feed. For more info, check out these links:

Wisconsin Family Loses 12 Belgian Horses to Accidental Poisoning
Feed Manufacturers Settle with Horse Owners After Fatal Monensin Poisoning
Equus Magazine: Don't Poison Your Horse with Cattle Feed
Monensin and Horses: A Deadly Combination
Poisoning in the Feed Room

p.s. Chicken feed can contain these some of these additives as well!

Okay, back to the ponies!
Those poor, poor things.

Their manes were infested with mites, their teeth were terrible, and the mare had a weird eye.

To get rid of the mites, the first thing that happened was major haircuts. Then came baths with regular shampoo and water, then iodine baths, then a good strong insect repellent.

The eye was oozy and misshapen. 
I think what happened was that she'd torn the lower lid at some point, and (because of course she'd never seen a vet in her life) it healed weirdly. There was nothing to be done for that except keep it clean.

The mare's teeth really needed a good floating, but other than that were OK. Winston the stallion, however, had sharp/hooked teeth, an under-bite, misaligned teeth, and missing teeth. His mouth looked like he'd tried to eat a blender. My wonderful vets spent a long, long time doing the best they could. Fortunately, modern sedation allows vets to work miracles...

...including brain surgery!

Yes, of course I had Winston gelded ASAP. The world did not need another grade stallion making grade babies, cute or not. Those testicles really do look like little brains, don't they? And of course he was much, much more level-headed after a couple of weeks without them.

During those weeks, however, we had some rough times. You see, many vets recommend that after a stallion is gelded, he should be trotted for at least ten minutes two or three times per day.
This is so that the cuts down there heal cleanly.

Poor Winston-- he'd just had his hair chopped, his teeth ground down, and his balls chopped off, and now I had to make him run!

Winston wasn't the only one who started to hate me. I named the mare "Margaret," and right away we got off on the wrong foot-- literally. Her feet had to be trimmed, and then afterwards treated for a massive thrush infection. Not surprisingly, Margaret wanted nothing to do with people anyway, after a lifetime of neglect. Now she was being forced to pick up her painful feet.

These are before-and-after pictures of Margaret's right rear hoof. The bottom of her foot was completely encased, trapping the thrush infection inside to fester. She was walking on hoof wall that had curved underneath. Her other rear foot was similar. Her front feet were in poor shape, but not this bad.

After trimming, she still had long feet, but my farrier said that taking more would make her bleed. When a hoof becomes very long, blood vessels grow along with it, so you can only take off so much at once.

 The right hoof is obviously worse than the left. My farrier filed a flat surface on the right side of her outside hoof wall to help her balance, but did not take so much off that doing so would damage the hoof. It's a fine balance between keeping her as comfortable as possible and encouraging that foot to rotate upright.

Margarget's feet may never return to normal. her hooves were overgrown and twisted for so long that the tendons and even bones remodeled their structures. However, with frequent, consistent trims, she will be much more comfortable, and with time she may straighten up a bit.

When I got Margaret from Chad, I asked if she was pregnant. He said he was pretty sure... but of course he'd never thought to have an ultrasound done.

Ultrasounds are just as necessary for horses as they are for humans-- maybe moreso. We humans have shorter pregnancies, we are less at risk of infections, and our babies don't have incredibly long legs to get tangled up in the womb. Finally, while twins are pretty safe for us to carry, twins are very often deadly for mares. To find out why, read "The Trouble with Twins."

Margaret's ultrasound showed that she was indeed pregnant, about 2-3 months along. I was able to watch the foal's heart beat in real time. In the heat of a summer afternoon, the double miracles of new life and high technology left us silent in wonder for a time.

Unfortunately, we could not take joy in Margaret's pregnancy. The vet estimated she was 18 years old (Chad had told me 9). Her twisted feet were obviously painful, and the weight of her pregnancy would only increase her suffering. It might even cause her to founder. Although she was at a good weight, she'd been nutritionally deprived during the early stages of her pregnancy, which was bad news for both her and her foal. Finally, Chad had said that she'd lost her previous foal. Every sign pointed to a pregnancy that was, at best, a tenuous one. At worst, attempting to keep the foal might mean the death of both mare and her offspring.

I looked at the vet. "Is it too late to terminate the pregnancy?"
"No," she said.
A baby horse is not the same as a baby human.
Still, I struggled with the decision.
"Would I be doing the right thing?"
"Yes. It's what I would do."

We talked logistics. Margaret would need a shot of Lutalyse every day for five days. Lutalyse is the brand name of a synthetic prostaglandin which occurs naturally in most mammals. It's not quite a hormone, but the effects are the same. The injections would cause Margaret's body to have uterine contractions and go into heat, which would cause her body to abort/absorb the fetus. (Ironically, Lutalyse is also used to help mares and cows get pregnant when using artificial insemination.) There was very little risk involved. After a couple of weeks, we would do a follow-up ultrasound, to check and make sure everything was OK.

So for five days without fail, Margaret got an injection in the butt. The shot was not only painful, it gave her cramps. On top of that, I was taking her buddy Winston away several times a day for jogging. And they both got baths and mite treatments. They hated me, those poor ponies, they really did.

It wasn't all suffering though. No longer tied up to junk vehicles, they could eat and drink and wander as they pleased. The got to taste peppermints, carrots, and apple slices. Instead of being stuck in the hot sun, they could rest in the cool, shady barn. And of course they got all the petting and scratching I had time for.

The second vet appointment went very well. Margaret's follow-up ultrasound showed that her womb was empty. Both ponies got wormed and vaccinated (something we didn't do the first time around because we didn't want to stress their systems with everything at once). My farrier declared Margaret thrush-free. As summer turned into fall, the ponies became healthy and happy. Margaret still had a grudge against me, and was even hard for me to catch sometimes-- she got quite quick on her feet. She was much nicer to strangers, however. Winston was like a puppy dog. I took them both to Story Time at the local library, and they did pretty well-- especially Winston.

I was very fortunate to find both ponies a truly fantastic home. Margaret and Winston got new names, new halters, and a new life. They stayed together, not far from where I live, and I get picture and video updates from their new owners. As for myself, I (eventually) paid off the vet bills, and was able to enjoy the whole winter without having to go outside to feed or scrape frozen manure or de-ice any hoses. I am still horseless... until the next rescue.

Many thanks to those who made this rescue possible:

The wonderful family who adopted Margaret and Winston;
My own wonderful family, who supported me fully when I showed up with unexpected ponies;
My friend Deb, who left her own busy life on the back burner to assist with pony wrangling;
My excellent farrier, who took off from her "real" job to help me;
The excellent vets that charged me as little as possible and worked hard in the July heat;
...and finally, Midwest Horse Welfare, the horse rescue that inspires me to do the right thing, always. They deal with these kinds of situations (and much worse) on a regular basis. If you'd like to donate money to me, donate to them instead.

Miscellaneous Pictures:
Winston, with a buzz cut, begs for a treat.
Margaret's left rear hoof after the first trim.

Margaret's dental work.

Winston often had a flehmen response after smelling Margaret's hormone shot.

Bright-eyed, happy ponies in their new home.

*P.S. Yes, I know miniature horses are not technically ponies, but to my mind anything under 14.2 is a pony, period. Fjord? Pony. Falabella? Pony. Small mustang? It's a pony.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Horsie Halloween! (But First, 1 Day Open Shelter Event)

Welcome back! Before we get started with our Halloween fun, I want to applaud all the Wisconsin horse rescues and volunteers that participated in the 1 Day Open Door Shelter Event on October 22nd. This event allowed owners to surrender their horses for any reason, no questions asked. 49 horses were brought in, including the whole spectrum of rescue horses: healthy weanlings, severe neglect cases, wild but healthy adult horses, well-trained horses, and lovely seniors. All horses were distributed among participating horse rescues, where they will be cared for until they are ready for adoption. You can find a short video from the event on Facebook.

This kind of event is so incredibly wonderful and important. If not for this event, dozens of horses would be suffering in some people's back yards right now. Thanks to those who stepped up to do the hard work, they were either humanely euthanized with loving care, or given a chance at a great new life.


Organizers and veterinarians: Horse Plus Humane SocietyThe Right Horse Initiative, Dr. McKichan and Dr. Sholts of Dells Equine Vet Service LLC, and Dr. Lorenz of Capitol Performance Veterinary Services.

Midwest Horse Welfare in Pittsville, WI, which helped host this event in Neillsville, WI.
 You can see pictures and descriptions of the ten horses they took in here. They will be taking in one more, as soon as they can convince the mare to get in a trailer! (We've all been there.)

Amazing Grace Equine Sanctuary, in Elkhart Lake, WI, which took in three horses from the event. See photos of those on their facebook page.

Pony Tales Refuge & Rehab, Inc, in Colfax, WI, which took in nine horses from the event. You can read descriptions and see pictures of those horses on their web page or in this Facebook post.

Beautiful Hearts Rescue, in Shell Lake, WI, which took in horses, but has not yet posted updates.

Please check out each one of the rescues listed here. If you can't donate, you can still "like," share, and spread the word about the good work they're doing.

Now on to...

Horse Halloween!

I love Halloween, don't you? Let's jump right in to the best and worst costumes, plus a gallery of the gruesome.

Best Halloween Costumes

WOW! These skull and gypsy ensembles were created by Horse Costumes by Pamela, based in MA. Don't have Facebook? She's also on Pinterest.

AMAZING. It looks like a painting, but this is totally real. Designed by Blythe Brown of Historic Runnymede Farm, and worn by Bria Shorten. This costume won a World Championship in Friesian Period Costume. You can see a gallery of Friesian photos on their Facebook page. Warning: You WILL be jealous. Side effects include drooling, heart palpitations, and mood swings.

Oh. My. God. This is the cutest thing on earth. It's a Push-Me-Pull-You dressed up for Easter!

Worst Halloween Costumes

Last minute, much? If the guy was wearing a jersey and padding, this could be OK.

Zebra body paint: do it right and you're good to go. 
Do it wrong, and all you've done is paint weird, ugly stripes on your sad horse.

Actress Nina Dobrev and a friend dressed up at Leonardo Di Caprio and the gutted horse from The Revenant. Ew.

Gruesome Gallery

This horse skull was found in western Nebraska. This poor young horse was abandoned, left to grow out on the range, until its too-small halter became deeply embedded, eventually killing it.

Archaeologists recently discovered a sit in Fengxian, Shaanxi province, China, where thousands of horses were sacrificed in honor of emperors. It's nicknamed "the Blood Pool."

This zombie/demon pony is actually edible. The life-sized cake was created by "Miss Cakehead," and drips rum from its nose! See a full gallery of pictures here.

Need more spooky stuff? Check out my Haunted House of the HorseHaunted House of the Horse II, and Horse Superstitions.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Guest post: Horrific Twin Creek Visions Rescue & Youth Ranch

A note from North Horse:

Twin Creek Visions Rescue & Youth Ranch is run by Renee and Darrell Nykanen in Clayton, WI. They said they were closing their rescue in 2014, but there are still about 40 animals on the property, living in horrible conditions. Renee claims to be a "trainer" and "gives lessons." Darrel claims to be a "farrier."

This blog post is written by a guest, whom I will call Rescue Warrior. I have done a bare minimum of editing for readability, but the words are R.W's.

Rescue Warrior was able to get some horses and donkeys out of the hell hole that is Twin Creek Visions on June 4th of this year. This is their story.


I received a phone call from a friend saying one of her friends needed help hauling a couple horses from a terrible situation. I was prewarned of horrible pastures, how bad off the horses are, and how this lady was a tad on the crazy side. The horror I witnessed vs. What I was told is not comparison. There was piles of manure everywhere. Horses were standing in small, pens in feces about a foot deep. I have never in my life seen so many skinny, neglected animals all on one property in my life. I hauled for a living for about a year and have come across some dumpy places. This place takes the cake. Piles of garbage and building materials everywhere that the horses have access to.

The 2 horses I was there to pick up were penned in a make shift round pen. The owner of the horses asked if I could help her catch them to make it faster to get out of there.

Upon entering the round pen, Renee came out. She wasn't to happy to see me out there helping and grumbled a few words to my boyfriend. We caught the horses and while loading them noticed they smelled as though they rolled in something dead. It was horrifying.

I left in tears and vowed to help those poor souls left there to die. From what I could tell none of the pens had access to water. None of them had hay and most had no shelter. Not even trees. I started calling immediately after I got home.

I called Barron county sheriff's, the humane society, and news stations. With not much of a response because it was a weekend, I turned to social media. I asked a few friends that I had in common with Renee. To my surprise one of them had actually helped her start her rescue a few years back. It is called twin creek visions rescue and youth ranch. She knew all about how terrible things had gotten at Renee's. After I posted to weau13 all sorts of disgusting stories started piling in. About how she buries all the horses that die and how, in about 5 years time she has buried more horses than she should have. Any time someone calls her in, she moves her horses so the worst ones aren't seen.

Once my post took off on Facebook the sheriff paid her a visit. I thought for sure this was it. I had 5 rescues lined up to go help pull the 50+ horses she had there. What a disappointment. I received a call from someone within the department that said there was nothing they could do. The horses "weren't neglected." I was told the donkey in my photo had just had her hooves trimmed and that they came that way. I was told my pictures were old. That there wasn't near the 50+ plus horses I seen with my own eyes. He said there was under 30. He also admitted to me that he didn't know much about equines. I cordially thanked him and hung up the phone. I was in disbelief.

That same day I had another friend call me. She had contacted Renee about taking some horses off her hands. Renee agreed. So I had another friend call too. Between the two friends a total of 8 were pulled from that hell hole. I ended up with 5. I have since been able to rehome one of them.

"Lady" the day of intake. Vet gave her a body score of 1.5- 2. She was covered in wounds and some weird fungus. Her hair was coming off in clumps due to the severe rain rot. She was lacking in minerals and her hooves chipped and cracking.

"Lady" 3 weeks after rescue. Gaining weight nicely off of grass hay only. No grain, no weight builder, no supplements. Just grassy hay. I found a tattoo on her lip. She had won 40k at Canterbury downs. Her owner/ breeder sold her to Renee for $300 in December. She was in perfect health.

White donkey Progress Pics:

Brown donkey progress pics:


A note from North Horse:

Rescue Warrior also got two mini horses out of Twin Creek. They too desperately needed baths and hoof trims.

As of this week, I am told that the
Nykanens have over 40 horses living in filth, hungry, dehydrated, and with no hoof care.

It's outrageous that local law enforcement won't take this seriously. No horses should have to live with no food, in kneep-mud, plastered in their own filth, their crippled hooves untrimmed for months. If you agree, contact Baron County Sheriff! They may tell you "we've checked on those horses, they're fine." Tell them NOPE, this is NOT "fine!"

Baron Co Sheriff Dept.
Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald
1420 WI-25
Barron, WI 54812


(715) 537-3106

Huge thank-you to Rescue Warrior for the excellent work!!

Miscellaneous pics from the
Nykanen property: