Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Annual Winter Horse Abandonment

Pro Tip: You may want to think about trading your poor horse for a snowmobile.

Every year this happens: irresponsible horse owners suddenly realize it's winter. Yes, this totally regular and predictable season apparently comes as a shock to them. They'd been scraping along, feeding too many horses on some scruffy pasture, and suddenly there's no grass. It's cooold, which means it's no fun to go out and handle horses. Ice and snow block trails and gates. The shoddy fences are breaking down under drifts of snow. They've maxed out their credit cards on Christmas presents and New Years booze, so they have no cash to buy hay. And all of the muddy ponds and five gallon buckets that served as water tanks are frozen over! OH NOES.

The only logical response to this: Is it doing without their own comforts in order to keep the horses fed, then planning better for next year? Finding lower-cost rough board and dealing with winter chores yourself? Trying to sell a few of those extra horses? Hell no! That would be too hard! 

Just dump all the horses on someone else.

What follows is the latest round of winter dump-offs in my area, brought to my attention by various email lists, horse boards, blogs, etc. All are unaltered, original messages. My comments are in green. Note: People do dump horses all year 'round. It just seems especially prevalent, and unfortunate, in the dead of winter.


$300. horses:
A woman dropped off 26 horses at this persons place to board and then never paid anything past the first months board. The lady that currently has the horses went thru legal channels as the horses were abandoned and now has the court's approval to sell them.
They range in all sizes and breeds, mares and geldings. Asking $300 a piece to cover their feed bill.  There is a tall dark brown dressage horse, but not sure what level he is at.
If anyone is interested, please just give Robin a call, she is always available.  Last weekend she rode most of them to see how they are and said they are just nice riding horses. Didn't have any trouble with them.

Robin Schmidt
Eagle, WI
Please pass around and you can call or email if interested

This has got to suck soooo bad. The legal wrangling alone must have taken months. Imagine being in Robin's shoes; you're stuck with 26 horses to try to sell, in mid-winter, when no one wants an extra mouth to feed. To ensure the financial survival of your own farm, you HAVE to sell them SOON-- but your conscience is going to bother you forever if you don't take the time to make sure they find GOOD homes, of which there is a short supply. What an awful position to be in.

UPDATE: Looks like this is a hoax, folks! Sorry. It seems as though Robin may have had a minor problem with a boarder, but certainly not to the point where she had to go to court, and 26 horses were not involved! Thank goodness. I have erased her contact info. I wonder how this stuff happens? Was it simply web-drama, where a situation was blown WAY out of proportion, or was it purposeful harassment by someone who cleverly arranged for Robin's phone to ring off the hook via this sympathy ploy?


I appologize for such a large mass mailing but I am reaching out to my friends and colleagues who may be interested themselves or may have connections to someone who may be willing to help out my family. I am trying to put the word out to anyone who may be willing and able to add one or more horses to their family. My brother has several horses and is unable to properly care for them. He said if they are not able to find a new home for them asap, they will have to have them put down so they don’t suffer and starve. My brother, Terry, is a fireman and works very hard. He had an unfortunate accident in the Summer of 2010 where he indured a life threatening brain injury. He has made a miracalus recovery and is back to work, but his finances have suffered greatly. I’m sure he is probably feeding his horses before himself, but there is really nothing more he can do. I understand the economic times are hard all around and it is expensive to care for a horse, but if you or anyone you know has room to add one or more of these beautiful creatures you would be saving their life. I told Terry I would do what I can to get the word out. Here is a list of the horses he has.

3 yrs 50/50 Arabian, Checkner Male No Training
2-6yrs Arabian – Black Male Halter Broke
2-6yrs Arabian Male Halter Broke
2-6yrs Arabian Male Halter Broke
2-6yrs Arabian Male Halter Broke
14-15yrs Thouroughbred Female Trained
9m Saddlebred/Arabian Male Halter Broke
3-10yrs Arabian Female Broke
3-10yrs Arabian Female Broke
3-10yrs Arabian Female Broke
3-10yrs Arabian Female Broke
3-10yrs Arabian Female Broke
3-10yrs Arabian Female Broke

(HIS Sibling Not Mine- carol)My brother’s contact info:
His name is Terry Condon, cell phone number is 608-434-7508 and work number is 608-245-4561. He lives in Loganville (that's also in WI).

Okay, I do have some sympathy for anyone who is injured. However, this situation didn't develop overnight. Terry was injured in 2010 and has only now decided he can't care for his animals? Terry himself chose to collect THIRTEEN horses in the first place-- and 13 is about nine too many for one person to handle under the best of circumstances anyway. He chose to wait until his finances were really bad to do something about getting rid of those horses-- in the middle of winter, when no one wants a horse. He has apparently also chosen to keep such poor track of his horses that there aren't even reliable descriptions of them. Also, I'll eat my hat if the mares aren't pregnant by the "males." So he's chosen to create MORE horses to deal with! ARRRrrghhhh!

From the Refuge Farms Horse Sanctuary boards:

In the Wausau area, a woman and her husband have been evicted effective 11/29/11. The Sheriff has visited and will seize her horses "sometime next week". She has no options. We have discussed euthanizing rather than shipping.
Her herd is 5 stallions and 5 mares. The mares, she says, are not pregnant as the stallions have been seperated from them. I will follow-up with her next week and offer to support some of the costs to euthanize.
If anyone has any ideas or any space or any names - please reach me. At least for a couple of them . . . .
How sad. How horribly sad.
The mares are 2 and 4 (both of these are halter broke) and three 20 year olds off the track. All are thoroughbreds.

Later, Refuge Farms got some more (worse) information:

I am having tough time with this one.

The owner is now thinking her horses are worth some money rather than just surrendering them. And I am finding it difficult to time my calls to her when she is able to talk with me. There seems to be an addiction involved here. The first call it was 10 horses. The next call it was 12 horses. The last call she couldn't recall how many horses. I'm thinking the mares are pregnant, too. Most likely. This woman is a breeder.
My calls to the sheriff so far have gone unanswered. I'll continue to try. The owner swears she has never received a business card from a deputy and that she has never received an eviction notice, either.

Again, I have some sympathy for those getting evicted, especially in this rough economy-- but also again, that situation did not happen overnight. You don't get evicted quickly. It takes months to get someone evicted. If this couple had financial problems and couldn't pay their rent for months, they had a responsibility to deal with the horse situation long before it required the intervention of the local sheriff and a horse rescue. They could at least have stopped breeding more horses. The fact that the woman is only now interested in getting some money out of the horses (because the rescue showed interest) is despicable. Lady, if you wanted to sell, you had time. Don't try to bilk the rescue out of money. The whole "eviction" thing could even be made up to try to get the rescue to hand over some cash or free hay.

Back to me again. There are more horses being dumped en mass out there (just browse Craigslist) but if I tried to list all of them, I'd just start punching things in rage. That's not a good idea around a computer. Anyway, if you can fit an extra horse into your life, please contact these folks. Keep the sarcasm and nastiness out of your conversations with them; it's okay to be snarky and commiserate on the internet in general, but it won't help the horses if you provoke their owners in person.

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