Accident on the Way to the Slaughterhouse Ends Up Rescuing a Handful of Horses

The new foal is so tall he has trouble tucking his long, white legs underneath him to nap.

Considering where he came from, the colt called Baby can rest easy.

New life has sprung from a gruesome middle-of-the-night wreck of a horse trailer on the way to a slaughterhouse last September.

A Thoroughbred mare named Mama, one of the dozens of horses trapped inside and rescued, gave birth to healthy foal on April 18. They are resting and doing well at Longmeadow Rescue Ranch in Union, Mo.

Healthy, energetic, and interested in nursing, Baby also is curious. Last Wednesday, he met a llama that has free run of the ranch.

Run by the Humane Society of Missouri, Longmeadow is widely recognized as the largest rehabilitation facility in the United States.

It is also where 24 of those horses have been given the most unlikely of second chances after their trip to an Illinois slaughterhouse took an unexpected and, some say, miraculous detour.

Last fall, a double-decker horse trailer crashed on Interstate 44 and tipped on its side. Forty-two horses were trapped in the mangled wreckage. Some died.

Rescuers, led by the ranch director Earlene Cole, worked through the night. Using huge straps attached to a tow-truck winch, workers lifted and moved horses that were pinned on each other inside the trailer.

The horses were set to be processed and sold for people to eat in Europe.

After the wreck, the owner, who was taking them for slaughter, told Cole he would dispatch another truck to take the surviving horses to the processing plant.

That was not acceptable to Cole or the handful of veterinarians on site, who saw the suffering and had to put nine of the horses down on the spot.

After some negotiating, Longmeadow gained custody of the horses.

Among those saved were a yearling Thoroughbred, a 4-year-old Appaloosa named D.D., and a young Quarter Horse mare named Karma who recently took sixth place at a local riding show.

They also included a spunky Thoroughbred named Stan, Mama, and a horse they call Willie because of his will to live after being trapped under four dead horses.

Of the horses that survived the wreck, five have been adopted, three are being sponsored as barn buddies in which the public helps pay for their upkeep, and three are still recovering from their injuries. The rest are up for adoption.

The Humane Society of Missouri is asking the community to help name the new colt. Ten choices will be posted online.

Last year, about 90,000 horses were processed at the three United States slaughterhouses: one in Illinois and two more in Texas that are not slaughtering for human consumption and could be shut down permanently, depending on pending legislation in Congress.

About the Author

The Associated Press

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More