From the Director:

I grew up like many young girls, absolutely fascinated with horses. As a country girl, I drew them, I did research papers on them, I went to the nearest big city to see the Lippizaner Stallions perform, and almost my entire youth was spent immersed in a “horsey” world.

 


Chino, age 7


I thought I’d died and gone to heaven when I was given an adorable Appaloosa pony for my eighth birthday. The little fellow, part of a semi-wild herd living at a nearby farm, was small enough to be picked up and placed in the back of our truck by my dad. Named Kopachino (Chino), he and I grew up together, wandered the hills and hollows of my childhood after school, participated in horse shows together, celebrated our birthdays together (he got carrot “cake”!), and developed the kind of relationship that can’t be easily described by scholars or scientists. Despite the fact that while he was learning to let me ride him, he had scraped every inch of my body on fences and thrown me off more times than I could count, he and I were a pair. All my family knew it. My friends knew it. He and I knew it.

When I went away to college, I missed him terribly, and came home on vacations and in the summer to resume my riding and feel that unfamiliar pain in my muscles that came from not riding regularly enough. After graduating from college and leaving home for good, I was lucky that my sister adopted Chino and cared for him until he was humanely euthanized as an “oldster” at age 32.

That little pony and the experiences we shared together taught me many life lessons, some were unpleasant but all were valuable.



"My hope is that New Mexicans who are lucky enough to get to know horses, to spend time with them, will join with other caring citizens to create the kind of robust safety net all equines deserve." –Lisa Jennings

 

I learned about discipline and hard work by rising at 5:30 a.m. even on -30º F. mornings to feed all the horses, chop ice from the water trough, and to patiently (and sometimes impatiently) wait while they ate their grain, since they would take each other’s portion if I weren’t there.

I learned that not all “horsey” girls appreciated their horses and were too concerned with ribbons and trophies. After watching a girl beat her horse behind the judges’ stand when I was 10 years old, simply because they didn’t win the trophy, I decided showing was not for me. It was all a 10-year old country girl could do at that time in the face of such cruelty and selfishness.

I learned that sometimes “horsey” girls quickly tired of their horses and sold them without carefully choosing their next home. I learned that in many cases, humane euthanasia probably would have been a better option for the horses, but it required someone taking full responsibility for those in their care, and understanding the cruel reality of horse slaughter (at the time it was called the “glue factory”).

I learned that the priceless experiences of growing up with a horse–hours spent riding, brushing, feeding, putting in hay, learning along with him how to drive with a harness and cart, learning to care for him completely–meant that I could never even consider anything but humanely euthanizing Chino when the time was eventually right.

 



Let’s give today’s 10-year old “horsey” girls a 21st century vision for horses that is inspiring rather than shameful.

 

 

"I consider it a matter of personal responsibility to choose humane euthanasia for horses, rather than casting them off to the “slaughter pipeline” and pretending that’s not where they’re going."

–Lisa Jennings

Sending these sensitive, intelligent and vastly misunderstood animals to death by slaughter should be incomprehensible for all of us, but especially for those like me whose lives have intersected with and directly benefited from horses.

I consider it a matter of personal responsibility to choose humane euthanasia for horses, rather than casting them off to the “slaughter pipeline” and pretending that’s not where they’re going. For those who can’t afford it, ask for help from the Equine Protection Fund. We can help.

As is true for all animal issues in New Mexico, how we treat those who rely on others for care and compassion determines not only whether animals suffer terribly, but also whether we are making our communities safer and better places to live, or more callous and neglectful to the most vulnerable among us.

Forbes reported earlier this year on the waste and abuse at a US horse slaughterhouse in Kaufman, Texas.

This in-depth reporting includes information on how foreign investors in American horse slaughter plants avoided paying taxes, how the high amounts of blood coming from slaughtered horses overloaded the city’s wastewater treatment system, and how the working conditions in the plant were unsafe both physically and psychologically for employees.

New Mexicans are on the cusp of changing the way horses are treated in our state – will we change for the better or for the worse? The decision, whether thousands of horses continue to live out the ends of their lives in panic, fear and pain, rests with all of us.

My hope is that New Mexicans who are lucky enough to get to know horses, to spend time with them, or benefit from them in financial or other ways, will join with other caring citizens to create the kind of robust safety net all equines deserve. The solutions are right in front of us, we simply need to act with determination.

Let’s give today’s 10-year old “horsey” girls a 21st century vision for horses that is inspiring rather than shameful.


–Elisabeth Jennings


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