Although this project is not about me, I feel it’s important to give an idea of my experience in documenting this story. A number of years ago, I stumbled upon the Catskill Animal Sanctuary in NY and learned that high production agribusiness animals are very much like our dogs and cats. They strive for our love and affection and need companionship as much as we do. After that realization, I wasn’t going to give one more cent to facilities where these animals are cruelly born, bred and mistreated for the short duration of their lives. Before I left the Sanctuary, I had decided to stop eating meat and dairy.
A few years later, my father introduced me to Cracker Box Palace, a horse rescue in Alton, NY. It was snowing that day, allowing silence to envelope the hilltop pasture. I walked into the snowy field with my camera not knowing how they would react to me or the device in my hand. I found myself surrounded by giant yet gentle and curious creatures. Listening to them breath, I innately knew that there was nothing to fear between us. I could feel a connection to them and a sense of belonging (perhaps because I had spent too many years walking the concrete jungle with no connection to nature –maybe I was having an extreme yin/yang reaction). Whether it was that or just a true spiritual connection, it brought me to a place of serenity that I needed. But I didn’t know it until I walked with them.
For many of us, it’s unfortunate that our modern day lives are spent without a connection to the true spirit of the earth and it’s beings. I hope this project will bring us closer to our companions and inevitably nearer to who we truly are. And in effect, make room for us to appreciate all that we have so we can give back for the good of our collective welfare.
Below you will find the facts on what is really happening to these free spirits.
Nearly every horse I photographed at the rescues was abused, neglected, abandoned and often times, bought from a kill lot for the price of it’s meat. Many of them are the product of irresponsible ownership and overbreeding for pharma and meat companies and the racing and horse show industries.
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Horses have a major connection to our food and pharmaceutical systems. There is a profitable market for horse meat here in the US because France and Japan amongst numerous other countries are demanding it on their plates. The argument by the US authorities is that there is an overpopulation of horses that need to be controlled. But really,
“The market for slaughter horses is set by the international demand for their meat in other countries, not by the number of supposedly unwanted horses. Unlucky horses that find their way to slaughter include yearlings, very pregnant mares (their near-term foals cut out of their stomachs and discarded in a pile), Off-Track Thoroughbreds that didn’t run fast enough (many with very famous bloodlines), and Amish horses – beasts of burden their entire lives, sent to slaughter as their final reward. There are also PMU (Premarin) mares, and their offspring, stolen horses, and yes, the family horse that no longer fits “little Suzy” that is unwittingly sent to slaughter. While some horses are knowingly sold into slaughter by their owners, many, many are not. According to USDA, in 2006, 92% of horses they inspected were young and healthy.” (“The Realities of Horse Slaughter in America”, by Anne Irving)
In addition, the Bureau of Land Management is removing thousands of wild horses from the western lands of Oregon, Montana, Utah and Idaho, so that more cattle can graze those lands and feed the US’s demand for beef. The BLM says that the horse population needs to be controlled so that healthy herds can thrive on healthy rangelands. What they don’t tell you is that at the heart of this is a near extinction of wild horses. And in doing so, a heinously inhumane act of starvation, abuse, and slaughter is committed. The roundups are done during hot weather and helicopters are used to chase them for miles scaring them in the direction of holding pens. Many of them are only a few weeks or months old and unable to hold up running for so long, die in the process, breaking their legs and some even run off cliffs dropping to their deaths.
The BLM states that the wild horses are rounded up for adoption. Some of them are, but a large number of them are sold off to kill buyers and sent to slaughter houses. We have equine slaughterhouses reopening in the US since the no-kill policy had been revoked in 2011. This paves the way for more overbreeding and more slaughtering. There is a huge difference between slaughter and euthanasia. You can read more about it here: http://hher.webs.com/horseslaughter.htm
Our pharmaceutical industry has thrived on hormone regulating drugs called, Premarin and Prempro which are made with an impregnated mare’s urine. This is not a small scale operation. As many as 6 million people use this drug world wide. Most doctors do not even know that they are prescribing horse urine to their patients. And, Premarin and Prempro are responsible for numerous maladies in humans including cancer and heart disease. In the US, there are over 10,000 lawsuits pending against the manufacturer, Pfizer. Beyond the human affliction, the mares’ and foals’ suffering is unthinkable. Each mare is confined for the majority of her life. She is impregnated, then put into a stall to urinate into a catheter for the entire duration of her pregnancy. She will have her foal in a pasture, and then be taken from them much too early causing undo stress on both mare on foal. The foal is then taken to a kill pen by machines to be weighed and then brutally slaughtered for its meat. Often times the mother would stand alongside the foal and be slaughtered as well if she was considered not strong enough to withstand another pregnancy. No one benefits from an operation like this except the pharamceutical company and it’s supporters. We don’t have to sit idly by and let it happen either. I will list rescues that you can support, and websites where you can vote no on animal cruelty and write to your senators.
If you’d like to help us grow this initiative and bring it to a wider audience, purchase a print here:
The more of us that know about it, the less likely that it will continue. Spread the word and share these links with your friends and family.
Horse Rescues to visit and/or support:
Tell Congress what you think!
Wild Horse roundup information and an amazing documentary. This site has so much to offer, please check it out!
Horse Slaughter Overview:
The Bureau of Land Management creates it’s own crisis:
- Rescued Wild Mustangs, Ray of Light Farms CT
- Herd of Wild Mustangs, Ray of Light Farms CT
- Feona pregnant, Crackerbox Palace, Alton, NY
- Feona in Recovery, Crackerbox Palace, Alton, NY
- Crackerbox Palace, Alton, NY
- Frankie Abstract #1, Medicine Horse, Longmont, CO 2013
- Ray of Light Farms, CT
- A rescue at Ray of Light Farms, CT
- Prince, Cracker Box Palace, NY
- Magic, very ill and newly rescued, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- Magic, very ill and newly rescued, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- Ribs, Cracker Box Palace, Alton NY
- Buddy and Bill. Sodus, NY
- Buddy with his rescuer, Bill Whitney. Sodus, NY
- Buddy, Rescued from a neglectful owner, and almost slaughtered. Sodus, NY
- Cracker Box Palace, NY
- Prince and his buddy, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- Prince in his house, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- A destroyed image of Lizzie extremely thin.
- Lizzie and her caretaker, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- Cheri and Stormy, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- Cheri's House, Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- The Barn at Cracker Box Palace, Alton, NY
- Feona's scars from barbed wire wrap, Cracker Box Palace, NY
- Texas, scarred from being mounted by bulls that his owner left him locked up with.
- Texas, Cracker Box Palace, NY
- Timid Premarin foals, Ray of Light Farms, CT
- NO. 7, Rescued Premarin Foal, Ray of Light Farms
- Rescued Premarin Foal, Ray of Light Farms
- Nitro at Medecine Horse, CO 2013
- Frankie Abstract #2, Medicine Horse, Longmont, CO 2013
- Mama Abstract, A rescued "purse" horse, CO 2013
- Mama, A rescued "purse" horse at Medecine Horse, CO 2013