I went to a kill pen here in Colorado. When pulling up to the place, it seems peaceful, and looks just like any other ranch in the area. There is no indication of what lies within.
The pens are dry, not muddy, Surprising after the heavy snowfall and rain we have had recently, and each of the pens with horses in contains about 30-40 horses and donkeys.
In one pen there are the straight ship horses. The stench of animal shit and fear creeps into your very soul. These horses and donkeys don't even hit the potential adoption page. As soon as there are enough warm bodies they are packed on a truck, bound for slaughter. Many have been dumped on the lot with health problems more severe than anyone can fix - their owners abandoning them to a terrifying journey in a packed truck down to Mexico.
Slaughtered, consumed, forgotten.
Where is the humanity of putting them down peacefully at home? Certainly not here.
Some of these horses come from auctions, discarded like trash for someone else to pick up. These owners must surely know that their 20+ year old horse that is dead lame will NOT find a nice home - do they even care for the animal that has given them their lives, serving their every need? Do these people just turn a blind eye and ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ their shoulders and whisper that term that seems so appropriate 'Insha'Allah' - God willing.
God will take care of it so I do not have to.
This straight ship pen contains two grey geldings, one so sore on his feet he can't walk, the other with swollen hocks, hobbling. I move over to them. They ask for pets. I reach my hand out, stroking their soft fur, crying inside for the life these horses once had. Hate rising in my throat at the owners who did this to them.
The rest of the 20+ horses in this pen are in varying states of horror, most are unhandled, wild, and completely broken down. One looks to have a deformed leg, another has a hugely swollen hock. There is no life for them. They are unsavable.
They are scheduled to die.
In the pen across the way are the ones that still might have a hope or another life. Perhaps someone will pick them off the kill pen page and at least let them live out their lives, or humanely euthanize them if necessary. There are about 30 donkeys, a herd of babies, and around 10 rideable horses.
One stands out.
An old sorrel mare, about 15.2hh I would guess. She is in her late teens or early 20s, another that has given her life to some person, although calling them a person is allowing them too much humanity. She leans her head into me, closes her eyes and sighs deeply. My heart breaks. I hope she finds her home, or someone that will do right by her. She does not appear lame, just old. She is kind, gentle.
Maybe in some other life she could be a kids horse. Maybe in this life?
- These images are not from the kill pen as cameras are not allowed inside - they are of horses rescued from the kill pen.*