A horse that is abused, neglected, abandoned, or simply no longer useful or wanted becomes vulnerable to being sold at auction, where too often kill buyers are the primary bidders. Old, young, pregnant, injured, healthy, even well trained and highly valued horses: all are susceptible to ending up in a kill pen. Once there, horses are exposed to a variety of illnesses and extremely poor conditions, until they take the final torturous ride to a devastating end, unless a well-intentioned individual or organization intervenes to give them a second chance. Over 100,000 American horses suffer the terrible fate of shipping to slaughter each year.
These horses end up there because someone along the way decided their lives no longer mattered. The circumstances under which a horse goes to auction vary greatly: they may be family owned and loved but the family fell on hard times and simply cannot care for them any longer, they may be the product of overbreeding or the livestock from a camp or racing owner who does not want to pay to feed them once their useful season has ended, they may be the “byproduct” of an industry that does not value the animal outside of a specific use or need, they may be wild horses rounded up by our own government, they may even be local horses seized by county livestock officers due to abuse, neglect or abandonment. The possibilities are many but the result is sadly the same: too many horses with not enough responsible owners.
These horses are often perceived as being damaged, unusable, expensive and/or undesirable; few who are looking for their next equine partner for sport or pleasure consider one of these horses as a financially viable or generally desirable option. While any horse can have health problems or training gaps, especially those who have not been well cared for, many of these horses are fully well and able to ride, compete, and live long lives. The USDA estimates that over 92% of horses that ship to slaughter are healthy, sound horses.
At Ruby’s Home for Good we are committed to providing a safe, permanent home for horses in need, recognizing the value of their lives and their right to be well cared for. We choose to bypass the kill pen to avoid supporting kill buyers who use funds for purchased horses to buy more at auction, and in doing so also lessen the risk of the horses we adopt being exposed to the disease-ridden and poor conditions often seen at a kill pen. We have seen firsthand horses that have been starved, barely handled, or roughly handled, blossom into robust, engaging, and successful equine partners through time, equine appropriate care, and horse-centered horsemanship and training. The possibilities are endless for these once forgotten horses.