By Gillian Gordon-Moore ( jill@dishmail.net)
The view from our bedroom window is quite spectacular with the Blue Ridge Mountains as a backdrop to an historical pre-Civil War Wickliffe Church. But this very cold night, the feeling was heart wrenching since I had just heard that there were eight horses starving to death just out of sight over the crest of a hill.

Meanwhile our fat and happy horses were casually sifting through the orchard grass to get to the tasty alfalfa leaves. If only they knew that their cousins were dying less than half a mile away. I felt like sneaking up there to throw them some hay, but realistically I had to wait until morning when Holly Tomlinson and the US Equine Rescue League planned a rescue. Mitchell Rode, our Veterinarian had contacted me to help with the transport.

It was obvious that these were all Thoroughbreds, most with tattoos and some with outgrown racing plates and all with soulful eyes. These poor creatures were racks of bone covered with rain rot and open sores. Someone had loved them once in their lives since they all knew about carrots and were willing to load on the waiting trailers.

The eerie part was that as we stood there, no noise like kicking, whinnying or trailer springs could be heard. Eight heads were buried in hay nets and the munching sound was slightly satisfying. The ninth horses had died the day before, struggling in a ditch.

We transported the horses and settled them into a luxurious barn at REACH, where the Vets and their assistants started the evaluation process. With some luck they will all survive and homes will be found for them.

Our farm is in a rural horse friendly county and I find it hard to believe that this atrocity was going on right under my nose. Some despicable person was leasing property and was simply letting these young Thoroughbreds die. He needs to go to jail or perhaps a concentration camp like the one he was running. We are all struggling with a hay shortage and high prices due to the drought, but these people could have stopped the suffering by contacting the appropriate authorities.

We all need to be more realistic and think through what we are doing. Breeders should not be so indiscriminate and just continue to produce bodies. Those who race should exercise their consciences when they push the young horses too hard and then discard them like paper plates. Owners need to pay attention and educate themselves about reality. Those who care must be vigilant and help the helpless beasts who give us their hearts and lives. Their ancestors died on this very same land while working for humans during the civil war. These shouldn’t have to.

My eyes are open, I hope I can encourage others to pay more attention and be kind. Please do your best to help stop disgraceful situations like this from happening in the first place.

P.S. If you can help, donations are being accepted at
USERL Administration Office http://www.userl.org/
P.O. Box 317
Pendleton IN 46064 “For Clarke County, VA horses”

(Photos of the author with rescued horses courtesy of USERL)