A local group is giving seven horses a second chance at life, saving them from death in a Mexican slaughterhouse.
Mountain Valley Horse Rescue bought horses that would have been bought by kill buyers.
“Fortunately there was a group of concerned citizens who became aware of these horses at this auction,” said Shana Devins, with Mountain Valley Horse Rescue.
It’s not like they bought these horses and then looked around asking, “Now what do we do?” They know exactly what to do.
If you know anything about horses, you know that the purchase price is the starting point. Now they have to feed them, train them and provide veterinary care.
“First, we can always use volunteer help at the rescue,” Devins said. “Once these horses are out of quarantine, people can help with feeding and caring for them.”
Of the seven, one already has been adopted by a trainer. The other six remain in quarantine as they regain their health.
Four horses are stud colts. They visited the vet last week to be gelded and vaccinated.
After that they’ll spend some quality time with a professional trainer. That costs about $500 a month.
“Right now they’re not even halter broke,” Devins said.
Besides the four stud colts and the one already adopted, two mature mares round out the seven, one nervous and possibly pregnant, the other sweet and gentle, with only one eye, Devins said.
Each of the new horses is underweight, despite being well fed by the sale barn in the three weeks leading up to the sale. Right now, they’re eating a half to three-quarters of a bale of hay each day as they put on weight. That’s $45 a day in hay alone.
Besides those seven, 32 other horses were bought at the kill auction in Salida by individuals and rescue groups.
With these seven, Mountain Valley Horse Rescue now has 20 horses looking for homes and help.
“This is significantly more horses than we have ever had in our care all at once,” Devins said.
It’s crowded, Devins said, but it’s a labor of love and far outweighs the alternative.
Kill buyers or brokers will either sell them to someone else, or fatten them up themselves and trailer them to slaughter houses in Mexico. The meat either stays in Mexico or is shipped overseas to countries where horse meat is eaten.
At the auctions, kill buyers will bid between 20 cents and 40 cents a pound, depending on the health of the horse.
“It’s a business transaction for them,” Devins said. “At 20 cents a pound they can still fatten them up and make money selling them for slaughter. At 40 cents a pound they don’t need to fatten them up very much. They can sell them much more quickly.”
Rescue groups make sure their bids are above those kill prices.
There are slaughter sales somewhere around Colorado every week, Devins said.
“The estimates are that 120,000 horses around the country are shipped to slaughter annually,” Devins said. “That number has remained about the same for several years.”
It doesn’t change because about 117,000 unwanted horses are born in this county every year, Devins said. Rescue groups and sanctuaries can handle about half of those.
“We have too many horses in the country. That’s why, one of the first things we’re doing with those four stud colts is to have them gelded, so they don’t make more,” Devins said. “It’s similar to spay and neuter efforts with dogs and cats.”
Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 and firstname.lastname@example.org.