Lest We Forget

There are tragedies every day; some are personal, some are public, and some are almost unseen. We need to remember all of these tragedies, from small to large, and not forget that we can make a difference to a person's or horse's life, if we take the time to care.

Remembering September 11

I had attended a seminar at Pat Parelli's International Training Center in Pagosa Springs, Colo., and was driving toward the Durango airport on a lonely two-lane road. After finally turning on the radio, the shocking news flash announced that a plane had crashed into one of the World Trade Center towers. Horrified, wondering how such a tragic accident could occur in this day and age, I stayed glued to my radio. In the next hour driving to the airport, I changed. Our country changed. The world changed.

My rental car wasn't turned in and my luggage wasn't checked, I just went to the small airport's coffee shop to sit in abject horror watching events unfold. I shared those moments with pilots and flight attendants from United, who didn't know if friends were on those ill-fated flights. Others headed home from the Parelli ranch sat with me. We all waited, trying to decide first if we wanted to get on flights that day, then wondering what would happen if we didn't. All flights ended up grounded by the FAA for three days, removing that decision.

The homing instinct was strong. A call to my childrens' schools got them word that I was on the ground and safe, then a call to work--I had made the decision to head east to Kentucky. I passed the word that if anyone was going that way, we could share a car. Two women from southern Ohio who had been at Parelli's also made quick decisions, and an hour later, we were on our way. Three people bonded by tragedy, and a shared sense of home and family.

The trip took 26 hours. It was an insightful look at our country; from the horror on the radio to the stark beauty of the Rocky Mountains. A mountain lion walked across the road in front of the car; we didn't bat an eye. All our disbelief had been used up.

From the small, one-pump mom-and-pop grocery on an Indian reservation to the cities across the Midwest, all eyes were glued to televisions and all thoughts were on the tragic events. Then home. I'm not sure I've ever been happier to be home.

We three women shared those events, and the ride, and I'm still grateful for their companionship. We haven't talked since that time, but I hope they still feel the same sense of closeness forged through hardship. Thank you. It would have been a much harder trip without you sharing the driving, the tears, and the prayers.

Horse owners are a proud people with lingerings of the pioneer spirit in us today. I mention all of this lest we forget the bonds that made this country great yesterday and today, and that will keep it in our hearts tomorrow.

Public Auctions; Public Tragedies

There are all types of tragedies, and those that go almost unseen are tragedies nonetheless.

Selling horses at public auction isn't always a bad thing. However, there are problems with the system that make it tragic for some horses. Nearly every county across the country has a livestock auction that once or twice a month will sell horses. There are no guarantees on the horses, no relationships between buyers and sellers, and the horses are pretty much left to their own devices to survive the process. Some find good homes; others aren't so lucky.

In today's livestock markets, there are few or no rules or regulations that protect horses. It is these auctions that have the fighting and injuries that debilitate so many horses, and often are the start of the horse's trip to the slaughter plant.

Some of these livestock sales have become drop-off points for unwanted animals--horses which have become unridable due to temperament, age, or disease; horses which were "pets" and now are too expensive to keep; horses which are by-products of breedings that were unnecessary.

While this country has tried to regulate the safety and well-being of horses once they start on their final trip to the slaughter plant, there is nothing that protects them before that point. Now federal and/or state governments need to address the handling of horses at livestock auctions. If that industry can't police itself, then it deserves to have government intervention and regulations--for the good of the horse.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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