Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Our Rescue Journey
The trip on Sunday was successful, despite absolutely horrendous driving conditions. We were hauling five horses from the kill pen in New Jersey to safety northbound. Two horses were being delivered to a farm in Connecticut, two horses were spending a layover at my farm before heading north even further, and then there was our special pony that was coming to live with us.
The ride down was fine - we made it to the auction house by 11am. The place was eerily quiet. I parked my trailer in the lot just outside the barn doors, right next to the auction house rig. That trailer was one that would be leaving at 9pm with the slaughter bound horses...
I walked into the barn and quickly scanned the horses who's hip numbers matched those that I had jotted down on a piece of paper. Four of them appeared to be in OK shape, but one Saddlebred did not look well at all. (Pictured at the top of this post.)
The horses were led out individually and eagerly climbed aboard my trailer. It was almost as they knew that this trailer was their ticket to safety. At the head of their individual stalls, a fresh hay net hung in front of them. Fresh, fluffy wood shavings under their hooves gave them a comfortable place to stand.
I made the decision to load the sickly-looking saddlebred last. His legs were atrocious, he was underweight, and from what I could tell in my 90-second evaluation of him before he was loaded, he was extremely foot sore. I've never seen a horse quite like him, he just looked like he was in pain all over. I gave him some banamine orally and pulled over to check on him a half hour later. He seemed more comfortable but still not right.
On our way back North we ran into quite a few problems... First, we were stranded on Route 684 for over three hours. It was 34 degrees out and raining; the rain was freezing to the road surface creating an absolute nightmare for travelers. We had to wait as tow trucks and emergency crews pulled cars back onto the road. Some people ran out of gas; I was lucky to have filled up just before we got on that stretch of highway. However, I wasted a 1/2 tank of gas sitting there, but couldn't shut my truck off because it would have shut the power to the trailer down. We kept a close eye on the horses; oblivious to our worries and frustrations, they happily munched away on their hay nets. They may not have known what their fate may have been, but they knew they were safe.
Once moving again, our top speed was about 15 mph. At one point, going about 5 mph, my entire rig started sliding sideways into the brakedown lane. I straightened it out and got it back under control quickly, but it was enough to still send my heart racing. We finally got to the farm in Connecticut and unloaded the sickly Saddlebred and a Standardbred. They unloaded well and settled right into their stalls.
Then it was back to the interstate, topping out at about 40 mph the entire way back to New Hampshire. Our journey began at 5:30am and we spent 18 hours in my truck, not including the collective hour to load, unload and eat dinner! Ughh....
But the horses are safe and sound, and that's all that matters!
Pictured below is our little pony mare, who is still nameless! I have a few that I'm considering, but I honestly just have not had time to think about which one is most suitable for her. Our hope is to evaluate and train her and then find a safe, loving home to adopt her.
She is very sweet and personable. The one "odd" thing about her is that when she walks up to greet you, she walks past you a bit and stops with her shoulder right next to your body. Then she leans into you as if she wants a hug. I've tried scratching her on her back, neck and shoulders but that's not what she wants. She just wants you to wrap your arms around her neck... How a sweet, young horse like her ended up heading with a one way ticket to a slaughter house is beyond me.