When I was about six years old, I wanted a turtle. One of those tiny ones, the size of a quarter, that you bought at the five and ten. My father refused. He explained that every turtle they sold made it possible for them to buy five more. And that those turtles led terrible lives.
When I look at the brokers — Another Chance for Horses (thankfully shut down), Moore’s, or Cranbury — I see the horse equivalent to those turtles. For every one of the horses bailed from a broker (I’m not talking about going to an actual livestock auction like New Holland), you enable them to buy five more horses. Horses that you’ll probably never see because the do get sold to kill buyers, without the social media outrage. However, what makes these places so insidious is their constant drumbeat of fear. “If you don’t ‘bail’ this horse, it will go to slaughter. It will ship Saturday.” Of course that “bail” is typically three or four times more than the broker paid for it, making this a very profitable business.
Recently, I came across a post that is so similar to one that I was planning to write, The Truth About Kill Pens — Are you really saving a Life?, that I’m posting it here. The article provides a lot of well-researched facts about the brokers that may well change how you look at those horses.
Although I also look at the Facebook pages of many of the broker programs, I’m not too worried about the horses going to Canada. As of March 2017, all horses imported from the United States into horse processing plants in Canada must be held in U.S.-side feedlots for a minimum of six months. The regulation is intended to address food safety concerns expressed by European Union (EU) buyers because many of the horses had consumed drugs. No broker programs will keep horses for six months. The horses on the East Coast are unlikely to be shipped to Mexico, so most of them are going somewhere else — likely to another auction. Certainly, the ones featured on these websites. The ones being sold for $900-$1200. No broker will ship a horse that they can sell for that much.
In fact, most of the horses featured by these middle men are bought specifically to sell to consumers whipped up into a frenzy over the impending shipment. Take a look at the number of views some of these horses get on Facebook — way into the thousands. Facebook and and Forums provide a ton of free advertising. And the ones that don’t sell the first time? There are always people fundraising for them. I get at least one email a week asking for money to save the horses.
Where do these horses come from? Some are bought from breeders, some are bought privately, and many are picked up at auctions in other parts of the country. People who watch the auction sites can track the progress of a particular horse across the country. The bottom line is that if a broker is unwilling to sell it for kill prices plus $200, they will keep running it through auctions until someone buys it.
I’m not opposed to rescuing horses. There are some great horses that end up at New Holland, or similar auctions, through no fault of their own. There are also many legitimate rescues that take horses people can’t care for, help racehorses transition to new careers, or buy from auctions without the hysteria or the business proposition. If you want to rescue a horse, go to one of them. Don’t keep lining the pockets of the brokers because, like the turtles, the horses you buy from them keep the industry going.