A few days ago I wandered into a Starbucks for an all too rare cup of excellent coffee. The barrister, a young man in his early twenties, was busy pouring this and steaming that, making all sorts of unnamed but specialized concoctions. He was being assisted by a couple of others, but the one thing that I immediately noticed was a piece of duct tape across his mouth.

UnknownI can’t tell you how many times I’ve wanted to use that technique when around various people, but I was mystified about his particular problem. When I asked the cashier, she called his name. When he turned to face me, I immediately understood. On the tape was written “NOH8”. The symbolism is clearly understood – No Hate.

The campaign began in California back in 2008 and, in a changed form, grows stronger every year. The current goal is to promote equality – in all human aspects. While I know little about the actual organization, I admire their ability to promote themselves so well that an employee at a Starbucks in a little town in Texas would proudly carry their message and make it his own. Obviously, he felt the issue deserved attention.

The art of drawing attention to certain movements is a fascinating subject, one I don’t fully comprehend. In the age of social media, no one needs to stand alone. A single tweet, a video, a Facebook post done well can explode a cause to the forefront of everything else within hours. That power can draw the eyes of the nation to an injustice.

A politician making a stupid comment, a shooting that ends up with a good guy injured or dead, a dog beaten, a child endangered – the response is rapid and demanding. The public rising in protest over an action that was inherently wrong is a new kind of justice never before seen. It is indeed an amazing time.

Which brings me back to the coffee shop and the thoughts that surrounded me as I sipped my double grande Americano. For whatever reason, hate seems to be more acceptable than it has been in a long time. Of course, it’s an election year and all the talk about, “Those people are bad,” doesn’t help. When the hate flows into races, when certain people are hated more than others, when we separate ourselves from “them” because they are different, it means that we are going down a very dangerous path.

History doesn’t have to repeat itself. We can only hope to learn from our past and teach the next generation what happened so they don’t replay the same mistakes. It should be enough that the older generation bears the mental scars and painful memories of past hate and saves the next generation from those horrors, but to see it all starting again….

And what does that have to do with horses? I’m glad you asked.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is starting the most horrifying and sadistic experiments imaginable on wild mares by removing their ovaries while they are standing in a dirt pen, an act most veterinarians would not do under the most sterile of conditions. With the males castrated and the mares spayed, there is no reproduction of the almost extinct herds, and the cattle ranchers will have all the government owned land to themselves. That’s hatred.images

The Interior Appropriations Bill is set to be voted on by the Senate as soon as they return from vacation. Within that bill, supported by the meat industry, is an amendment that allows the same BLM to give “excess” horses away to “States and local agencies.” Such giving allows the killers to grab truckloads of horses and take them to the borders for shipment to the slaughterhouses. While special wording in the amendment might lead us to think the horses are protected, there is no enforcement. This spells doom for thousands of horses, a mother lode of money for the meat packers and – more land for the cattle ranchers. The direct quote from a welfare cattle rancher, “Those horses are like cockroaches. They’re disgusting.” Yep – hatred.

Some people hate horses. I get that. That’s what Habitat for Horses deals with every day – taking people to court, rehabbing the beaten, battered, and starved. We still face the commercial hatred of horses, those who make their handful of silver by taking horses to the slaughterhouse. I’ve been dealing with that issue for 20 plus years and, thanks to the efforts of a nation willing to stand up to the killers, we’ve gotten – nowhere. It’s still as vicious as it was back in the 80’s. The horse slaughter pipeline is fully functioning and filled with perfect horses. It’s controlled by people filled with a love for money and a hate for horses.

The BLM has never been a horse and donkey love fest but, for the most part, they’ve kept within the law. On occasion, they’ve been caught, like letting a killer-buyer have a couple of thousand horses, and they’ve gotten away with it. As a whole, they’ve been immune to any oversight and certainly no Congressional Investigations have ever been called to look into their behavior.

But this is different and speaks of a money and power driven attack of the very existence of wild horses and burros. This is pure, raw, officially approved and sanctioned hatred by our government.

Their goal – Sterilize and kill all the wild horses and burros. Get them off the lands so cattle ranchers have complete access, along with the oil folks, the miners, the lumber industry – let the dollars speak instead of the horse lovers.

The hate is very real, my friends, and I have serious doubts about where this is headed. This is no longer a time to ponder about the future of wild horses. That thoughtful period has passed. It’s seriously time to take the tape off and scream. The silence needs to be over.

Did you hear me say that the Senate was on vacation? That means they are home, and your Senator is somewhere in your state. Never has there been a better time to visit them, to call and express your opinion about the Interior Appropriations Bill than right now. We are fighting against Section 110 of S. 3068. It’s a Senate Bill. The identical amendment has already passed the House, so your Representative can’t help.

NOH8 means no discrimination against sex, race, religion – it can also mean stopping the hatred against animals – and this is a government sponsored hatred.

Call. The very existents of our wild horses depend on you.

A Horse With No Name

July 14, 2016
“What’s the real reason?”

Ranch In the course I teach on equine cruelty investigations, one of the first lessons, and for any number of reasons probably the hardest lesson for students to learn, is that people lie.

“Never believe the first excuse,” I tell them. “Dig deeper, probe, ask and ask again. The real reason is there and the job of the good investigator is to dig it out and get the owner to confront his own reality.” 

“The horse is just old.”

“The horse just won’t eat.”

“I asked my son/daughter/neighbor to feed it. I didn’t realize it was in such bad shape.”

Excuses – they are good at protecting fragile egos. Blame it on someone or something else and never take personal responsibility. That’s one of the tragedies of being human. If ever a person is to change, be it with alcohol or drug abuse, spousal abuse or starving a horse, realization has to happen; the realization that the blame is inside the person, not because of external forces.

I stood by a thin horse a few weeks ago and watched him fade into a forever sleep as the drugs did as they were designed to do. A volunteer was watching me, then burst into tears. Later she asked me, “How can you do what you do?”

I have stock answers for that question. Those stock answers supply everything that people really want to hear. Few want to know the true inner turmoil that is felt by those of us in the animal rescue business. Besides, few of us really want to delve into it. The job needs to be done. That’s the bottom line. While we tell others to stop coming up with excuses, we don’t really want to know face the motivational reality within ourselves.

I’m saying all that because during the last few days I was forced to look inward, and the search for answers cut to the core of everything I believe about life. This blog is not for throwing a pity party. I truly dislike those who write long, involved stories about how hard life is for them. It is for most everyone. Life can be very cruel and while some of the stories should be told, chances are someone else will raise their hand and say, “You think that’s bad? Listen to what happened to me!”

What this job does do at times is to throw the battle between life and death smack dab if front of my face and, without any hesitation, tells me to deal with it. Most of the time I can, same as the other folks at the ranch. There are occasions when…well, it becomes a little too much. 

Case in point – A call from a neighboring town, a horse is down, two other horses are on the property, very thin. Could we help?

Of course we responded, bringing a full crew and two trailers. It didn’t take long to grasp the situation: No feed, a bale of rotten hay, a dirt pasture and a bone thin horse laying on the ground while two other horses stood to the side. What didn’t connect was an old woman fumbling around the downed horse with a water hose.

We obtained the warrant for seizure, got instructions for immediate medications from the vet, loaded the downed horse on one trailer to rush to the clinic and put the other two on a different trailer. In the meantime, through an interpreter, I’m questioning the old lady. She states that she knows the only thing wrong with the horse is that it’s stopped up, and the cure is to put a water hose up its butt and turn the water on.

“It cleans them out,” she said in Spanish.

The horse passed away at the clinic. Her intestines had ruptured from the blast of water.

A death completely devoid of any logic. It is truly impossible to wrap the mind around her thinking. Trying to find a thread of logic in her statement is like throwing a cotton ball at a madman. There’s just nothing there.

Another case – a mare tied to a tree for 6 years, never once being set free to graze. She delivered a foal while standing tied. With the aid of law enforcement, we took the foal and the mare from the owner. They are now at the ranch where she’s learning how to be a mother. Six years. Think of that. Imagine yourself experiencing that life, having a baby. 

I love cases where I can talk with the owner, where I can explain the need for dental care, talk about parasite loads, the quality of feed and hay, where I can visit with people who never had someone explain to them the details of animal care. I love watching the lights go on as they understand why the horse is skinny. Suddenly they want to change … and they do. 

The others? Even in the furtherest stretches of the imagination, there is no logic. 

But it doesn’t end there. The illogical life extends to Orlando, with so many innocent lives lost. It goes to France, where insanity destroyed 87 innocent lives. Time after time, without reason, without even the slightest understandable motivation, the death toll rises. What we don’t want is to come home after a long, stressful day only to view more insanity on the news.

I wish I were a wise elder and could mumble words of wisdom but, like so many others, I stand in a state of shock and feel the sting of tears. Trying to offer solace in a time of insanity seems like a waste of effort.

What’s the purpose?

Perhaps the answer came in the form of a completely emaciated horse that the Sheriff’s Office dropped off the other evening. He was too weak to stand so we placed him on the glide and slowly pulled him into the stall. Doc started IV’s, we dosed him with several medications and he spent the night under the watchful eyes of the ranch staff. I have no way of telling how many hands touched him that night, or how many prayers were said. I know he felt safe, at last, and perhaps that’s all it took for him to know that it was okay to pass on. He closed his eyes in the morning and went gently into a forever sleep.

A horse with no name

We gave him that one night. All the trucks and barns and feed bills and payroll and insurance and paperwork – it was all for him that night. He was the sole reason for us being there. He, at last, felt safe enough to let go.

Does it make up for the loss of so many others? No, those losses will be felt forever. Does it balance out? No. There is no balance to unadulterated cruelty. It doesn’t weigh against the insanity. It simply gives a reason for us to be here, even if that reason doesn’t make sense. In reality, none of it makes sense. There is no “real reason.” It happens, and we deal with it as best we can.

To all those horses and donkeys before him, and to a horse with no name – may God hold them gently and give them eternal peace. 

Animal Abuser – Therapy or Jail?

July 10, 2016 – Opinion by Jerry Finch

“One of the most dangerous things that can happen to a child is to kill or torture an animal and get away with it.” -Anthropologist Margaret Mead

As part of my less formal but vitally important education, I attended a course from HSUS called “First Strike – The Violence Connection.”  While the material presented was shocking, the conclusion fits like a glove onto every scenario of animal abuse and neglect that I’ve witnessed. The bottom line is that when you see a person who is guilty of animal abuse, you are also looking at a person who has no problem beating the hell out of another human. Animal abuse is a proven predictor of violent behavior.

The FBI considers past animal abuse not only as a predictor of human violence, but uses it when profiling serial killers.  In one study alone 70 percent of women seeking shelter from physical abuse report that their partners had threatened, injured or killed one or more family pets.

There is no doubt about the connection. Anyone who is even vaguely and remotely interested in the subject can Google “animal abuse and human violence” and have instant access to over 2.7 million articles. Those articles are not hidden from law enforcement or the judicial system. No one is telling the prosecutors, “Oh, don’t look at that stuff. Doesn’t mean anything.” 

So the question of the day is – why do those who beat, starve and kill animals receive little more than a slap on the wrist? What part of the statement, “…a predictor of human violence….,” does our judicial system not understand?

LA Mare 11
Naysa with a barbed wire halter

Case in point – Naysa was a bone thin mare, sold at an auction in Louisiana. When she was reluctant to load in a trailer, the owner made a halter of barbed wire, tied her to the trailer, pulled her half a mile down the road, shot her in the head and left her in a ditch. (She survived, came to HfH for rehabilitation and now is living happily in a pasture close to our ranch in Hitchcock) After two and a half years and a zillion letters from all over the world to the District Attorney, the owner, father of several children and a “horse trainer,” admitted he was guilty and received a probated sentence, which was nothing more than, “Ya’ll don’t be doin’ that no more, ya’ hear?” 

Jason Meduna, former owner of the Three Strikes Ranch in Nebraska, killed countless horses, starved hundreds more, claimed his neighbors were poisoning them (I’m still searching for the type of poison that causes starvation, massive worm infestations and snow-shoe hooves), spent 20 months in jail and was set free to wander around Wyoming. Think he has an ounce of remorse for his deeds? Do you really think he learned anything?

The Sanctuary that didn’t care

Montana Large Animal Sanctuary and Rescue – we pulled 1,200 animals out of that hellhole in the middle of winter, starved, too weak to walk, complete lack of even the basic level of care. To this day, no one has had to answer to a single judicial official about the indescribable horror those animals went through or the endless death we witnessed. Oh, the DA is very proud of his case file. It’s right up there on his bookcase. The bad guys can be found down at the coffee shop.

Habitat for Horses is one humane organization out of hundreds across this country that deal with the victims of animal abuse on a daily basis. There isn’t a single active animal rescue organization that doesn’t have a horror story they could share, nor one that doesn’t look back in revolting disgust at a decision from the weak-kneed, “couldn’t care less” attitude of the judicial system.

I well remember talking with the Assistant DA in the Naysa case as he explained the delay in taking the case to trial, “We have a murder case, two rapes, I don’t know how many assaults. These animal cases just get pushed back.” As much as I tried to explain it to him, he wasn’t interested. “Have you checked on his kids?” I asked. The blank look was all the response I needed.

Animal abusers have no empathy. They see nothing wrong with setting fire to a cat, throwing a puppy out the car window or stabbing a horse. To animal abusers, there is a sick sense of joy in causing pain. 


Breeding farm

What the studies show is that when they no longer find enjoyment in beating a dog to death, their next step is a baby or a spouse, or even taking the opportunity during a brief traffic encounter to beat someone senselessly. Only then does the law take it seriously.

Listen to this – animal abusers are five times more likely to commit violent crimes than non-abusers. What does that say about a logical placement of resources if the end goal is to reduce violent crimes?

The burn-out time for people employed in animal control is three years, and the “why” is simple. We can pick up the bodies, bury the remains and try to heal the physically and mentally wounded, but it doesn’t end there. We have to go out and do it again tomorrow and the next day – and far too often the same core group of people are doing the damage.

I haven’t burned out after 20 years of doing this work, but there is no doubt that I’ve become more than frustrated with the judicial system. Sure, we get the horses, but there is nothing to stop the bad guys from turning around and buying more horses. We’ve participated in civil seizures where the owner had more horses in his pasture the next day.

All any of us want is to think that our efforts will somehow make a difference in this world. Perhaps we are a bunch of tree hugging animal lovers, but I’m sick of being ignored by a judicial system that has “more important things to do.” Give me a reason to think that somewhere there is an end to this mess, that we are cleaning up the streets and putting the bad guys away. Let me hear from a prosecutor than understands how serious a case of a beaten horse can be, that knows the bad guy needs some serious therapy and not just a scolding look over the top of a Judge’s glasses.

Someone, somewhere, studied the data, looked at the system, analyzed the cause/effect, did costs analysis and came up with a way to reduce violent criminal behavior by injecting therapy into animal abuse cases. A number of states have such a program written into their laws. If the therapy works, it saves lives and turns potential criminals into future productive citizens.

If it doesn’t work, lock them up and lose the key. The life of an animal is far to precious to be destroyed by a degenerate psycho that finds happiness in causing pain and death.

The Thin Blue Line

July 8, 2016 – Opinion by Jerry Finch
The police detective sat in the driver’s seat of the town’s new Crown Victoria, punching the keys on the dashboard computer. Two other units pulled up. Warrant in hand, we approached the junkyard house. No one answered. It wasn’t necessary to serve them, attaching the paperwork to the door did the job.

“We feed him all the time.”

In the trash filled lot close to the house stood three emaciated horses; a gelding, a mare and a miniature gelding, all thin enough that one could easily count their ribs. As we attached lead ropes to them and led them to the trailer, the neighbors came out to watch. More than a few thanked us.

Fifteen minutes later we shook hands with the law enforcement officers, made plans for the court date and took the horses to our ranch.

A Sheriff Deputy from another county asked us to look at a group of horses that looked malnourished. More miniatures, some with hooves grown far too long, manes and tails knotted, and bones barely covered with skin. The owner seemed truly overwhelmed and admitted that things were out of hand. We took four off her hands and offered to help if she followed directions and did as we requested. She received the instructions – feed, hay, get the feet trimmed. The Deputy helped us load the little guys into the trailer.

A phone call from a police officer in a town in East Texas about a seizure they just completed. Could we take a few more donkeys? She would bring them down.

Two counties over – two extremely thin horses in the pasture – one of them with a very033004 046 swollen leg, unable to walk. The local vet already put the third horse down. Could we bring the trailer?

All this within the last two weeks.

During the same period, we took a call from a person who complained that law enforcement was ignoring a dangerous situation involving a horse tied to a tree. “I call them every day and nothin’s being done,” she complained.

I spoke with the officer handling the case. “The horse is in excellent shape,” he told me. “The owners are having the fenceline redone in the pasture, so in a few more days that horse will be back where he belongs. I explained this to the neighbor. She just doesn’t want the horse where she can see it.”

Almost every one of the horses and donkeys that come through our gates is here because of the efforts of law enforcement. Their attention became focused on the animals because of a possible violation of the animal cruelty law. Admittedly there are a few cops that ignore a plea for help, but 99% of them will go far out of their way to help an animal in trouble.

It wasn’t that long ago that I was at one of the most nightmarish scenes of animal cruelty I’ve ever witnessed. Without going into ghoulish details, it was the work of someone who enjoyed causing extreme physical pain to horses.

With the animals safely removed, with the bad guy on the way to jail, I walked the property with a detective, looking for more evidence. After another hour, we were done. We shook hands and walked back to our cars. I saw him drive off as I sat in my truck finishing up my notes.

After five hours of being professional, I was alone at last, and the gasket blew. I screamed, cried and let it all out, hit the dashboard so hard that it cracked. It was a good ten minutes before I had it together enough to drive.

A half-mile away I saw the police unit parked on a dirt road. Thinking that something might be wrong, I pulled up beside it. The detective looked at me with tear stained eyes. We both knew, we both understood. I nodded and drove off.

You can only hold back for so long, and cops are no different. Despite maintaining your composure and doing your job while witnessing bloody bodies, rapes, unimaginable death in car wrecks and bullet holes in blow apart heads, it still gets to the point where the emotions can no longer be controlled. The bloody remains of a once perfect horse put both of us over the edge.

Five cops were killed in Dallas today. Senseless, stupid, ignorant hate filled shooters trying to make a statement destroyed the lives of families and entire communities. Five brave officers, trying to protect the public from gunfire, trying to do their job, seven more injured.

thin-blue-lineThe blue line is composed of white, black, Asian, Hispanic, men, women, straights, gays – they are just like us, except they put their life on the line every single time they put on a uniform. That’s a big difference.

Bad guys are in prison, drunks are off the road, we feel safe at gatherings, traffic laws are enforced, and our horses and donkeys owe their lives to the efforts of peace officers. This organization would not exist but for their efforts to protect the lives of the animals.

Yes, there are police officers and politicians who hang on to raging contempt for anyone not white, straight and male. Those beliefs are held by carpenters, steelworkers, insurance agents, people in all sorts of occupations. None of them realize that the world is moving on, that their beliefs are of a time long past and will never rise again.

They live in a world of hate and mostly end up hating themselves. They are the same people that we take to court, for animal abuse is tied to their behavioral patterns.

“Haters hate,” as the saying goes.

There is magic in understanding that simple two-word statement. A bad cop acting out his/her hatred in Baton Rouge has nothing to do with the five cops in Dallas that someone shot. Misplaced anger, haters hating, and if we turn the hatred upon one another, our world will quickly disappear.

The next time you see a cop, give them a thumbs up. Show that you support them. If you see one trying to grab a quick bite in a restaurant, pay their ticket. Your life might very well depend on the quick actions of one of them. You never know ….

What I do know, beyond any doubt, is that the lives of each one of our horses, all 340 of them, depended on the efforts of a law enforcement officer who saw something they didn’t like and took action to correct it. That in itself is a powerful testimony to the caring and concern each of them feel.

And for horse people, do something special tonight – Hold your horses. Really. Go out and hold them tight. If you don’t have a horse, borrow one for a few minutes. Hold them and say a prayer for the officers who lost their lives, for the families torn apart, for the kids that will never again see their parents. Hold your horse and pray that this hatred will stop, that we will all be drawn together instead of being ripped apart.

Give thanks for the thin, blue line.

“And maybe remind the few, if ill of us they speak that we are all that stands between the monsters and the weak.”


Talking With Horses

July 5, 2016

Years ago, before others started taking over all the jobs I once did by myself, I’d sometimes spend the evening writing a blog. The writings were nothing more than a few pages of deep thoughts about horses, love and the value of coffee along with an occasional rave about man’s inhumanity to animals. Those stories were my relief valve to a very stressful life.

Things have changed since then. We have some highly qualified folks working with us, folks who are probably far more capable than I was back at the beginning. Knowing that Habitat for Horses is in good hands I’m able to relax a bit, which is a wise thing to do, according to the doctors.

“You used to write so well,” a few people have said. Maybe they’re just trying to boost my ego which, according to others, really doesn’t need to be boosted. But I do enjoy writing, so I am reclaiming this small portion of the internet and start once again to ponder deep thoughts and rave at injustice.

Join me, if you will. It makes it worthwhile to know that I have touched someone.

Let’s start by talking about talking with horses.

There is no basis in fact for the following, other than a very wise old man who taught me how to talk with horses. He was the picture of the old West, a tobacco-chewing, spittin’ old cuss who knew more about horses than anyone else I’ve known This was back when I was a teenager, so naturally I knew everything. But he knew I didn’t, which frustrated the heck out of me, and there were many an afternoon he’d want me sit and listen to his horse stories.

At first I resisted, but as he talked, I found out about another world that I never knew existed. I’d give anything to go back again, now that I’m old enough to know that I don’t know anything. Sometimes, when you find out that you really want to learn, all the teachers have passed on.

Horses don’t speak English, he told me. You can talk to a horse all day and he’ll never grasp the concept of psychoanalytical expressionism. But if you draw an image in your mind and send it to the horse, he’ll see it in his mind. If you’re very, very quiet, and if you clear your mind completely, you can see the horse’s thoughts as images in your mind. “That’s the way to communicate with your horse,” the old man said. “In fact, that’s the only way.”

Let’s just say that you need to clean your horse’s hoof, something you do all the time. The only thing different is that you just saw your truck tire is flat, your back is hurting, and your best friend just yelled at you. You grab that hoof and jerk it up. Your horse pulls that hoof away and stomps it down. You grab it again., he jerks it again and your horse turns and nips your jeans. By this time, you’re fuming, red-faced and ready to spit fire.

It’s at that point we should realize that we are just not communicating. Far too many people respond by thinking they need to teach the horse a lesson by slapping him hard on his rump, which does nothing more than teaching fear. If you want a relationship with your horse, fear is the polar opposite feeling your horse should have for you.

Any good horse person knows that it’s time to calm down and do it right to build a relationship based on trust and respect. Of course, we are going to do the latter. We’d never let our anger get in the way of an opportunity to build a better relationship, right?

Here’s the magic part, the part the old man taught me: Stop the internal conversation. If you’re talking inside your head, the horse can’t understand. Make an image of him lifting his foot for you. Make it feel good, relaxing. See it happen as your hand goes down his leg. Now ask him, in pictures, to do it for you.

If he doesn’t, find out what’s wrong. Clear your mind and let the horse’s image come to you. As it does, grasp the feeling that comes with it. Is it pain? Fear? Excitement? There is a reason for his resistance and that reason is available to you if you let yourself see and feel as the horse sees and feels.

In other words, become like the horse.

IMG_0860There is a fine line between anthropomorphizing and communicating with animals. You must keep yourself out of it if you are to hear what a horse is saying. Our mental filters can destroy everything and lead us down a false path if we’re not careful. Horses don’t know about jobs, bad marriages, and delinquent kids. Concepts of money and bad hair days are not part of their world, but I constantly see people throwing those filters into what they think their horses are saying.

There is no proof, but horse people know that horses understand love and hate, fear and respect, pain and loneliness, and other human emotions. To hear a horse talk about those things, you must put aside your emotions. It’s done through images, pictures drawn upon a blank screen within your mind. Listen to the horse within you. Become one with the horse.

It all makes sense, doesn’t it? When the feeling of calm surrounds you, it surrounds your horse as well. You work as one. You know, your horse knows, because you each see the pictures of the other.

Way back then, back in the days of my youth, I stopped seeing horses as “them.” I started understanding, communicating and learning from the horses instead of teaching.

“Horses want to do whatever it is you want them to do,” the old man said. “There’s only two reasons they don’t. The first is trying to understand what it is you want and the second is overcoming fear.”

From trailer training to overcoming the fear of mailboxes, you can use mental imaging, or you can use fear. Far too many would raise a whip as a sign of dominion over the beast. Far too few use their brain to provide a path to understanding, respect and love.

If we could take that lesson and apply it to our own lives, how much better our world would be.

Jerry Finch

Independence Day For Equine

Preparing for his speech
Preparing for his speech

If my son, Pete, were to give an Independence Day Speech before Congress, this is what he would say:

I do not know why you have asked me to speak here today or what you believe I represent in the celebration of your Independence Day. You celebrate freedom and justice, reflected in your Declaration of Independence, but that paper does not apply to me, or to any other animal that shares this earth with you.
For your sake, I am pleased that you have reached such high levels of freedom. Would that sole document reflect your outlook for horses as for humans, I would be first to celebrate with you. Sadly, such is not the case, for horses are not included, nor are the safeties and securities granted to you held in common with those of us who have helped you build this great nation. This Fourth of July is yours, not mine. As you celebrate, I must mourn for the loss of millions of my kind to your lust for power and money.

To halter me, tie a lead rope on me and pull me into this magnificent hall to speak of your freedom is once again a sample of your inhumane treatment and a mockery of the justice of which you are so proud. You, who have thrown the bodies of dead horses in stacks that reach to the heavens, ask one of us to tell you of the glories of America? I think not.

For as you hear the fireworks booming in the skies, I hear the cry of millions of my kind, tied in backyards, stuck in dark, wet stalls, left unfed and unloved. I hear the plaintive moan of those being trucked thousands of miles to face a horrible death at your hands. As I look out at you, I see them and what is happening to them in your name.

On your Independence Day, the future of my kind looks far darker than ever before. Far worse than the conduct of those who occupied these seats in the years before you came, those of you who presently sit within this majestic hall now conduct yourselves with an arrogance that is both revolting and hideous. You have tied yourselves to the pockets of those who profit from the suffering of my kind, you make false statements on their behalf and refuse to represent those constituents whose vote brought you into this once magnificent hall of honor.

I do not stand before you as the honored guest, representing the triumphant battles for freedom which I fought with you. I do not stand as your partner in memory of our great history together as we conquered nations, fought our way to the west, plowed fields and fed millions with our combined labor. I will not, for I now know, as do those citizens who call me their friends, what you truly think of my kind. You who occupy these seats have trampled upon the Constitution for the right to pocket pieces of gold. You refuse to represent the horses of this nation when we turned to you. You have made fun, ridiculed and ignored those citizens you represent as they have pleaded our case before you, and for that I can say nothing positive about you, the system you represent or the freedoms you allegedly vowed to protect.

Do I need to stand before you and argue that the slaughter of horses is wrong? That point is long passed. It is conceded and acknowledged in private and only disputed in public by the repetitious lies of those who profit from your murderous ways. Do I need to show you the truth behind the lies? They are known and open for you if you are of the mind to look beyond the hands of those who give you money for your next reelection effort. Do I need to tell you of those citizens whom you allegedly represent who want you to stop the slaughter? Look at your call logs, your emails, your fax machines.

Am I to tell you that it is wrong to have us stolen from our loved humans, to be beaten with sticks, shocked, transported without rest or water, shoved into kill chutes, terrorized and injured by captive bolts or guns, hung by our legs while we are still alive and sold by the pound when we are dead? There is not a man among you who would suffer to the point of death as we do, yet you deny us the right to be free from this horror.

What then is your argument, that you have a divine right to our death? That your interpretation of dominion gives you a reason to kill us for the dollars it places in your pockets? Is that indeed your concept of God’s will? If that is your God, then those humans who love us are not a part of your world.

Those days of intellectual debates are a thing of the past. You do not need to hear the arguments, nor do you need to see the light. Instead, you will feel the thunder, stand in the storm and be burned by the firestorm you created, for those humans that support our freedom are aroused, and your hypocrisy toward the honor of your Constitution will bring your downfall.

Do not ask me to celebrate with you, for I am not free. I am your slave, to be destroyed at your whim. Only when you grant the right of the American people to turn their beliefs into laws that stop the insane practice of horse slaughter will I be able to stand before you in honor.Independence Day for Equine

What is a Miracle Worker?


The primary job at Habitat for Horses is taking care of the horses. First and foremost, beyond anything else, comes the welfare of each horse.

That might sound easy, but here’s a little bit about what is involved:

It means being ready, on a moments’ notice, to drive to a scene involving the worst forms of animal abuse and neglect. It means putting aside the pain of seeing horses and donkeys close to and past the door of death because there is a job to do, a job that involves measuring, recording, gathering evidence and preparation for a court case. It involves law enforcement, District Attorneys, court preparation, case presentation and hours of detail work.

It involves working closely with your fellow employees to calm, halter and load horses that have been beaten, starved, and treated with hatred. It means trying to find that point of trust just enough to let them know that change is here, that the bad is going away.

It involves being at the vet clinic at all hours of the day and night, of setting up IV bags, giving drugs, and perhaps listening to the doctor tell you why, no matter what is done, that the chances of survival are so very small. It means knowing that our vet will keep trying as long as there is any remote chance.

It means holding back the tears, not giving in to the negative. It means cradling a horse’s head in your lap at 3 in the morning, talking ever so softly, giving out the purest kind of love. Not part of the job, not necessary, but it’s something that you feel you must do, because it needs to be done.

It involves that overpowering surge of hope when the horse tries to sit up, when it nickers at the sight of a bit of hay, when you see that spark of life return.

It involves the sense of pure joy when, six months later, that once almost dead horse is healthy and full of energy, that it is part of the herd of horses in the barn, all strong and playful, waiting for their supper.

It means explaining to a potential adoptive home, as the family looks over the “Before” pictures, what the horse has been through. It means knowing when that it’s time for the horse to move on to its new home….

…even though it hurts to see it go…

… when a truck and trailer pull up to the barn and it’s time to load the horse….

…and someone says to you and your fellow employees, “You guys really are miracle workers.” You smile and nod your head in agreement.

You’re proud of that name, because that’s what you are.

When someone comments about the words on the back of your shirt and ask, “You’re a miracle worker? What does that mean?”

You respond, “I’m with Habitat for Horses. We save horses.”