Saturday, January 26, 2019

OR Rescue Trainer Revealed as Convicted Animal Abuser

I don't normally write about happenings outside the boundaries of our fair state, but this one was too unbelievable to let go.

Roughly 2,000 miles due west of us lies Oregon. Much like us, they have lots of gorgeous nature, too much mud, and one large city full of excitable, pink-haired persons of indeterminate gender that can yell sexismracismhomophobiafacism faster than a caffeinated auctioneer. Also much like us, they also have many horses and horse rescues. The similarities don't end there.

Recently, we had our first Midwest Rescue Challenge, a special competition for rescue horses only, in September 2018. The Oregon Rescue Challenge began just a few years earlier, in 2015, under the name Rescue Revolution.

In a rescue challenge, trainers apply to work with horses from participating rescues throughout the state, and after 90 days, compete with them in a multi-disciplinary show. The trainer gets exposure and goodwill, the rescue gets a horse or two trained up, and the horse becomes way more adoptable. Sponsors like local businesses and civic organizations pay for advertising and facilities, or donate silent auction items, raffle prizes, etc. If the venue is large enough, vendors can come and sell stuff. Crowds come and see all the adoptable horses in action, plus pictures of more at each horse rescue's booth. Swag is sold, donations given, connections made-- it's like a mini Horse Fair, but just for rescues!

Stick figure illustration for my stick figure budget. 

These kinds of events are an amazingly good idea. We need them because far too often, the public thinks of all horse rescuers as either shady, fast-talking, redneck liars out to make a profit, or as PETA-inspired, crystal-healing, animal-hoarding lunatics. While those do exist, I'd like to think that most a good number of horse rescues are legitimate, and can work together to promote the good work that they do. And rescued horses themselves should be promoted as hard as any breed. Rescue horses are just as talented, athletic, and lovable as those that come straight from a breeder. Yes, the horses, rescue organizations and trainers alike can benefit tremendously from the positive PR of a Challenge. Everyone goes home a winner. It's a great thing.

Naturally, of course, the first thing humans do with a good thing is screw it up.

It has just becoming widely known that Oregon Rescue Challenge (ORC) has allowed a convicted an animal abuser to participate in its competition, and was (is?) all set to let him do it again in 2019.

In 2007, Geraldo Morales kicked and beat a three month old foal so hard, he broke its neck. As it lay in the dirt, he kept on kicking it. He then forced a cold water hose up the severely injured foal's nose in an attempt to make it get up. The foal had to be euthanized.

The same year, Morales threw a miniature Jack Russel Terrier puppy through the air like a football, onto concrete.

A full article on these horrors can be found here. Warning: more awful details.

I'm pretty sure the very definition of evil is beating a baby animal.

Now, we all know how hard it is to get anyone charged with animal abuse. Long-time readers will remember our constant struggles to even get authorities to pay attention when horses are starving to death. Yet Geraldo Morales was not only arrested and charged with felonies, but convicted by a jury.

You would think that an organization devoted to helping horses rescued from exactly this kind of sadistic criminal would not want to associate one. But ORC did. They promoted Morales as a top trainer, including him in Challenge PR before and after the event. He even won 3rd place in the 2018 Challenge. But that's not where it ends.

There is an argument that can be made about this situation, and it goes like this:

"OK, so Morales screwed up. He did bad things. But he's changed! He's a great guy now!"

Me personally, I'm not gullible charitable enough to think that the kind of man who can beat a baby foal to death is the kind of man who is going to change much. But some people do think guys like that deserve a second chance. Ok... but shouldn't people have been given the basic facts, so that they could at least give that second chance themselves?

Not according to ORC. In fact, they didn't bother to officially tell any of the participating sponsors, volunteers, or rescues, about Morales's past record so that those folks could make their own decisions about whether to give him horses, money, sponsorships, etc.

Did I mention Geraldo Morales also pleaded guilty to domestic abuse?
He strangled a lady in front of her child.*

Also, while under the influence, he flipped his pickup truck into a canyon, and lied to police about how somebody must have stolen it.

Great guy, this Geraldo. Is the ORC Board of Directors insane?

Oh wait. It appears that Geraldo Morales's wife is on the ORC Board of Directors. NOW it all makes sense! Can you say, "conflict of interest?"

Speaking of morally questionable behavior, it turns out that ORC hasn't filed their yearly tax-exempt forms with the IRS since 2016. According to the IRS, charities which don't file this paperwork for three consecutive years have their non-profit status revoked. I wonder if their sponsors and donors know? As of today, the ORC is still asking for donations of money and services, as well as high-priced sponsorships. And they're doing so despite apparently telling some of their supporters that the 2019 Challenge has been cancelled (no public statement though).

Let's get to what else the Oregon Rescue Challenge Board of Directors has been saying.
Their list of excuses and justifications for the Morales situation is as follows:
  • 2007 was a long time ago!
  • There were extenuating circumstances that basically excuse his kicking the foal to death.
  • It was (somehow) a tragic accident. 
  • Only God can judge him, you aren't perfect so you can't judge him.
  • Our critics should be ashamed of themselves for being bullies.
  • We're/he's helping horses, so you shouldn't criticize, doing so makes you the bad guy.
At least one member of the ORC board (guess who) is threatening to sue anybody that has anything bad to say about Morales for slander-- or even just posts a link to a news article about him. This has got some people scared.

Don't worry, folks. If I had a dollar for every time I have been threatened with lawsuits for outing abusive jerks, neglectful owners, and cheaters, my favorite horse rescues would be rolling in dough from my donations.

In case you weren't aware, slander is a legal term for spoken lies (libel is written lies). To be successfully sued for either, you actually have to knowingly tell a lie.

The fact that Geraldo Morales committed animal abuse, domestic abuse, and a heinous DUI, and the fact that the ORC worked with him anyway, are all 100% true.

To all the good people of Oregon: Don't let anyone from the ORC board try to intimidate you to keep you from telling the truth. They don't have a leg to stand on.

To the horse rescues pulling back from the ORC: Good job.
Maybe your reason is simply that you can't afford to publicly associate with a convicted animal abuser, no matter how reformed he may be.
Maybe your reason is that if the ORC wasn't transparent about this, what else are they not telling you?
Maybe your reason is that you feel that the protection of your rescue horses and volunteers comes first.
Whatever your reasons are, don't be afraid to stand by your convictions. I particularly love Mustang MEND's response to this situation. Very professional.

ORC Board of Directors as listed on their website:

Stephanie Morales -- Barn Manager/Sponsorship

​Sarah Hockett -- ​Trainer & Rescue Contact

Gayle Park --Past-President/Sponsorship

Connie Settle --- Treasurer, Website

Margie Humberston -- Social Media

Cyndi Davis President -- no contact info
Colleen Olsen Secretary -- no contact info
Colleen Freihoff Sponsorship Director -- no contact info

Rescues Withdrawn from the ORC:
An ORC alternative has invited rescues to their chellenge.

All About Mustangs
(541) 890-1274

Mustangs MEND
(541) 666-8112

Mustangs and MOHR
(503) 623-8430

Harmony New Beginnings
(503) 569-1969

Rescues Still in the ORC:

3 Sisters Equine Refuge
(202) 821-8855

Project Spirit Horse Rescue

Warm Springs Horse Network

HyTyme Equine Rescue

This blog post was written with help from a wonderful contributor, who is not a part of any of the previously mentioned rescues.

*Supporters of Morales will say that the domestic violence case and DUI were "dismissed." In fact, Morales did plead guilty, and was punished. Court records show "dismissed" because the cases became part of a criminal justice "diversion" program.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Spirit Horse Rescue: Bah Humbug!

What's going on with Spirit Horse Rescue in Janesville, WI? They've gotten a ton of sympathy in the media lately, because they have been ordered to re-home 23 horses before April 1st 2019. What's up?

The answer is that a shit-storm which has been gently simmering for about a decade has reached a boiling point. For years, the horse "rescue" owner DeeDee Goldberg has been more or less hoarding horses, as I said in my 2013 blog post, Questionable Practices at Spirit Horse Rescue.

If you don't want to go read that, here's the short version: although (like many hoarders) Goldberg has the best intentions, she continually take on more and more horses, keeps them in not-great conditions, and refuses to adopt them out. Why? Because she doesn't want to geld them or get them trained, and she doesn't trust anyone else to give them a "good" (Parelli/hippy/organic/snowflake) home. Basically, she's one of those individuals that believes horses shouldn't have to do anything "unnatural" (including taking people for rides when they don't feel like it). Also, she's constantly broke. If you go back and read my past blog post (srsly just do it) you'll see plenty of desperate cries for money because she's out of hay, the vet refuses to do anything more until paid, etc etc.

DeeDee currently has somewhere between 33-38 horses on far less than 30 acres of land. This violates the "one horse per 1 acre" ordinance in her municipality (a very common law and sound horse-keeping principle). She got away with the situation for years, until...

...A Right to Life Animal & Equine Sanctuary popped up near Janesville, run by Porsche Lynn Kettelhut.

On the Right to Life Facebook page, captioned "baby training."
I assume training as in, "train the foal to get her foot stuck in that super loose halter and panic, running on three legs and crashing into a nearby hobo encampment." 

Porsche is your typical broke crazy wannabe rescuer. She took on horses even as she said she can't afford cancer treatments, and is, "not working due to her health issues and has no income at this time..."  She also complains about her neighbors' ATVs making too much noise... in the daytime... out in the country... Arrghh. Look, I can't do a full story on this. At least the horses look well cared for, the fences aren't barbed wire, and it is a registered 501c3... plus, I just do not have time for this right now. Norse Horse is so tired guys. So, so tired.


This new would-be rescuer also wanted to have more than 1 horse per acre of land. She assumed this would be okey-dokey, since DeeDee/Spirit Horse was nearby and was getting away with it.

In the summer of 2018, Porsche brought two more horses to join her herd of 4. This meant she had 6 horses and two ponies on 6.3 acres. She applied for a Conditional Use Permit and then a Variant, spending a bunch of money in the process, but was denied.

Spirit Horse had applied* for a Conditional Use Permit back in 2007 and was approved for 27 horses. Spirit Horse applied again in 2010 to have 35 horses, and was denied... but no one enforced the law in their case, and DeeDee accumulated that number anyway.

When Porsche did not give up any horses, the Town of Janesville sued Porsche and her husband for about $14,000 in fall 2018, demanding that the couple not only get rid of two equines but also pay for the Town's attorney fees. A judge knocked that way down to $500 in fines, plus getting rid of 2 horses. The couple refused, so a judge then awarded the Town a $12,000 judgement. You can read more about it at Right to Life's GoFundMe page.

This was a clear case of double standards. Two horse rescues violating the same law. One gets punished, one doesn't. And Porsche was pissed.

She went to the media, and the Gazette Xtra picked up on the story, writing two pieces about the Town of Janesville's hypocrisy. The Town started to feel the heat. Finally, they told DeeDee Golberg that if Right to Life had to play by the rules, so did she.

DeeDee has claimed that Spirit Horse has actually adopted out 27 horses this year. If this is true, I will eat my fucking hat. Many, many people have said that over the years they have called, texted, and emailed about adopting a horse and gotten no response, even when they've sent in the adoption application. I would honestly be shocked to learn of Spirit Horse having done even five real adoptions this year. Certainly, I have not heard even one person come forward and say they got their horse from DeeDee in the past year.

DeeDee also says that most of the remaining 30-some horses at Spirit Horse are all too sickly to be adopted. Hmmmm....

Let's talk about the seven horses actually listed for adoption on the Spirit Horse website, shall we?
It doesn't seem like DeeDee is trying very hard to get them adopted out:
  • All of them have been at the rescue for at least a year.
  • None of them have adoption fees listed.
  • None of them are broke, or they were broke before they came to Spirit Horse but DeeDee has never ridden them.

Stetson-- Morgan, age 8. His picture is labeled "gelding," but when you download his description, he's labeled "stallion," and with DeeDee's history of failing to geld, I wouldn't be surprised if he's still got his balls. No health/behavior problems listed. He's been at Spirit Horse at least 3 years, and he's still not broke. In fact, he's still doing "Groundwork – Beginning." This guy looks fabulous, and if I were in the market, I'd be seriously considering prying him out of the rescue's clutches.

Vera-- Quarter Horse mare, age 15. No health/behavior problems listed. She came from a surrender clinic in 2016, and is still doing "Groundwork – Beginning," despite the fact that her surrendering owner described her as broke to ride for an intermediate rider. This is sad-- here's a horse that could have been worked a bit and adopted out within 6 months. Instead, she's been allowed to sit for two years. Not only is this bad for the horse, who is getting older, less rideable, and less adoptable every month that goes by, this is bad business. Adopting out good horses like this faster could help pay for sick and injured horses who really do need to stay at a rescue long-term.
DeeDee says, "We are taking it really slowly with Vera, and she is beginning to show interest and a bit of trust. With a great deal of patience and slow, careful work..." Yeah, with two years of careful work, this mare should be a dressage horse by now.

George-- Quarter Horse stallion, age 3. "Will be gelded before adoption." Why hasn't he been gelded already? He's Vera's son, so he's been at Spirit Horse since 2016 as well. He, too, is still doing "Groundwork – Beginning."

Autry-- Quarter Horse gelding, "mid-teens." Gut issues and a sore back when he came in, but reportedly broke. He's better now. He has been at Spirit Horse since August 2016, and, you guessed it, he's doing "Groundwork - beginning."

Morgan & Winter -- Appaloosa mares, no other info given. Not helpful for potential adopters.

Hope-- paint mare, age 9. She was seized in a 2010 neglect case, then spent about a year and a half under HSUS guardianship before being turned over to Spirit Horse. So let's give them maximum leeway and say Spirit Horse has had her since 2013. That's still five years ago, almost six. Why is she still not broke? She's of course still doing "Groundwork - beginning."

Oscar-- Mini stallion, about age 6.  He's been at Spirit Horse since October 2017.
 "Will be gelded before adoption." Why hasn't he been gelded already? Has a vaguely described eye issue and "likes to play stallion games." Great.

Do you see where I'm going with this? If Spirit Horse were Spirit Dog, none of the dogs would be neutered or housebroken.

Did I mention that Spirit Horse deliberately took in four wild mustangs in 2017? Yes, despite DeeDee's constant desperate please for funding since at least 2013, despite having so many horses already that she couldn't get them all broke and gelded, she took in four untouched feral horses. And two of them were pregnant mares.

Yes, while other rescues took in (and then adopted out) local horses who needed help, DeeDee shipped in these magical-historical-miracle "Hallelujah Horses." And she did get plenty of great publicity for it, despite the fact that there are 300 more mustangs just like them waiting for homes in a government facility in Ewing, Illinois that nobody talks about, and about 5,000 more across the country. Speaking of publicity, I wonder...

I have heard from a couple of people that when they contacted DeeDee about adopting a certain horse or two, she refused to discuss it, and said that she would be permanently keeping the horses as "attractions." As in, attractions at a circus. Or a zoo. Could this be a reference to the magical mystical mustangs? Are these narrow-chested grade crossbreds with attracting tourists in droves?!

No. Of course not. *sigh*

DeeDee Golberg's solution to her predicament is not to adopt out more horses, or even, God forbid, euthanize a bunch of them. Her solution is:

Yes, if you click here, you can send her your hard-earned money so that she can buy her very own, bigger, fancier farm! She only wants $500,000!

Gee whiz! Can the public buy ME a really nice farm too?! I mean, I have about as good of a track record as Spirit Horse-- I've rescued, rehabbed, and rehomed six, plus that messed-up llama (which has got to count for like three more). Come on guys, it's ONLY a half-million dollar donation based on some sappy sentiments, online pictures, and my promise that I'll be so much better at rescue than I've ever shown myself to be in the past, pllleeeeeaaaaase?!

LOL. On a serious note, Merry Fuckin' Chrismas ya'll.

*Note: When I say "Spirit Horse" here, you should know that DeeDee Golberg doesn't actually own the land/farm her rescue sits on. The land is owned by Kelly Cusick, who "rents" (donates) use of the place to DeeDee.

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, 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: