As we walked from the truck, we noticed a horse lying still on the ground in the row of Amish horses. We approached only to find the horse was motionless, still in harness and attached to the Amish Buggie.
When I inspected the horse more closely, I confirmed the horse was breathless and dead. Despite being dead, the horse appeared in good health with a shiny coat, good weight and well groomed. I moved in closer to peer into the horse’s vacant stare. At that exact moment, MOST people would feel compassion, empathy and sadness. I felt none of these emotions, rather I saw a horse at peace. This horse had died of natural causes which is a rarity in 2017. He was not abused, neglected, discarded or unwanted like the 200 horses inside the auction. He wasn’t shipped from auction to auction to auction to killpen to slaughter.
I imagine that morning the horse had come in from the Amish field to a nice breakfast, was groomed, harnessed and went off to work. Then just died. In my opinion, that was a good ending for a horse. The horses inside the auction won’t have a good ending. Their ending will NOT be abrupt or painless.
The dead horse has spiraled into an attack on the Amish and New Holland Auction. Before you cast blame, here are some things to consider:
The AMISH regard horses as ‘beast of burden,’ They have little emotional attachment to a horse. They feel the same way about their horses as you do about your car. Think about your car: you recognize that it serves a purpose in your life. It is an expensive asset, therefore, you care for your car by filling the gas tank, changing the oil and parking it in the garage when it snows. You replace the tires when necessary and pull over when the engine light comes on so not to overheat.
Amish horses serve a similar purpose and their Amish owners recognize that they must care and feed a horse well in order for horses to server their purpose. If the Amish were to abuse or neglect their horses (or Mules), these animals would be be unable to serve their purpose.
The Amish horses (and mules) I have met do not exhibit signs of abuse or neglect. They are not head-shy, jumpy or under nourished. My issue with the Amish is that when a horse is no longer able to serve their purpose, the horse is discarded at auctions like New Holland. This is similar to when you decide it is time to trade in your old car for a new model. You trade in your car to a dealer and drive off in another without a second thought of the welfare of your old car.
New Holland. It is far too simplistic to blame New Holland Auction for the conditions of horses at the auction. Photos and videos that surface on social media show horses in horrible condition. It is important to remember, these horses are dropped off at the auction in horrible condition, by horrible people….
Often times horses are not allowed in the sale because they are too lame, too thin or both. Sadly, the owner responsible for their poor condition is turned away at the gate and forced to take the horse back home. Many of the pictures you see of emaciated horses are in the parking lot, not the sale barn. I would rather see that horse enter the sale and sell to a responsible owner, but state regulations prevail.
Blaming New Holland is like blaming Ford Motor Company for building cars that result in the traffic-jam in your town.
The New Holland Auction is a clearinghouse for horses that come from farms and backyards near YOU. Horses that got too old for lessons or summer camp. Horses that were injured. Horse’s whose owners could no longer afford their care. Race Horses that ran too slow and performance horses that didn’t bring home enough blue ribbons. Unwanted ponies that were never properly trained to be good ponies. YOU know these horses – We see them all the time. Yet so many are shocked and appalled when they see them at New Holland.
If the problem were the auctions and killbuyers, that would be an easy problem to fix. The problem is much bigger and surrounds all of us in the horse community. We need to start looking at the real problem, not the symptoms.
SO when you see reports of animal abuse at auctions, ask yourself the following:
- Who dropped that horse off in that condition?
- Who bred that horse?
- Who owned that horse: who competed that horse and enjoyed that horse’s youth?
- Who profited from that horse through lessons/camps?
- Who sold that horse to the dealer?
Those are the questions to answer…..