It is the unfortunate horse that is taken to the Sugar Creek auction. This is the story of 'Stoner', a gorgeous perlino that was run through Sugar Creek not once but twice in the same month. A donation from Audrey Kidd allowed me to make the phone call that kept Stoner from shipping for meat.
On any given Friday there are between 100 and 200 horses at Sugar Creek waiting to see what Fate has in store for them. The first time that I saw Stoner he was locked in a stud stall with a note and a copy of his papers on the the door. I admit that I'm not partial to studs – there are plenty of good geldings that need homes and I have no plans of contributing to the equine overpopulation situation. So. . . I looked over Stoner's papers, I got him out of the stud stall and evaluated his ground manners and soundness and even took note of his hip number, but I knew that there would be a significant vet bill involved in making him a gelding. Still, there was something about him – he looked like a fairytale horse!
The auction started and Stoner's turn came. I put my hand up, other hands went up, the bid climbed higher than what I could go keeping the expense of having him gelded in mind. He sold, but not for meat this time.
About two weeks later I was back at Sugar Creek looking through the kill pens. What a coincidence! Another gorgeous perlino! It couldn't be the same horse - but it was! This time he was a very fresh gelding. The people that had brought him back didn't waste money on a vet bill though – they had done it themselves. The horse looked rough and this time he sold with no papers to a kill buyer. I was sad for the perlino but two other horses came home with me that Friday. But … in the mail on Saturday was a check from Audrey Kidd in TN for almost exactly the amount that the perlino had sold for the day before! I was on the phone to the kill buyer immediately. For an additional amount over what he had paid the buyer was willing to bring Stoner back to Sugar Creek the next Friday where I could pick him up. A little discreet detective work through the auction office and through personal contacts revealed the individuals that had purchased, gelded, and returned this beautiful horse to Sugar Creek. They were not willing to help get his papers – in fact they had shredded them when the horse sold for meat the week before. Fate had another card up her sleeve though and eventually I would end up with a copy of Stoner's papers.
So the gorgeous perlino that had gone through Sugar Creek twice and been sold for meat stepped off the kill buyer's trailer and came home with me. With some doctoring his castration wound healed up nicely and we started riding him. He never made a wrong move. You would have never known he'd been a stud for years. About a month later when Julie M. came to look at King (the big black QH gelding from Sugar Creek) her friend Samantha came along for the ride. In meeting the rest of the horses here Samantha was introduced to Stoner and fell in love with his quiet disposition. (Of course his fairytale good looks didn't hurt anything either!) King found a home with Julie M. and Stoner found a home with Samantha.
And here's the twist that allowed me to have a copy of Stoner's papers: Later in the summer his 2 year old son was run through loose at Sugar Creek. 'Ghost' was one bid away from following in his dad's footsteps to the kill buyer. Of course the breeder (who was responsible for taking Stoner to Sugar Creek the first time) hadn't bothered to register the colt but she did send a copy of the sire's papers and a breeder's certificate; that way someone else could pick up the expense of actually registering him. Classic back yard breeding. All you need is a nifty colored stud and some mares and you're in business! Stoner and Ghost didn't end up going for slaughter, but they represent the very real problem of back yard breeding and the horses it produces.
Ghost came home with me and was started under saddle. He was just as quiet and nice as his dad. And then Fate smiled again. Amy N. and her friend stopped by unannounced to see what horses I had available. Amy had just lost her paint mare to colic the week before. Most of the horses that were ready to go were outside eating hay. But none of them was what Amy was looking for. Ghost happened to be in the barn because he had been grained that morning. Since I wanted to put more training on Ghost before considering him available I didn't show him to Amy. But Ghost had other plans. He stuck his head out of the barn and looked right at Amy. It was then that she told me her paint mare had had blue eyes. We went to the barn so that Amy could meet Ghost. She was almost in tears. Amy was not new to horses. She had the experience and the 'know how' to continue Ghost's training. He soon had a stall in her barn.
Stoner and Ghost were fortunate. There are many other horses that are not. Too many good horses end up in kill pens. Horses that are young, sound, healthy, sometimes registered. Irresponsible back yard breeding contributes to this problem. There are too many horses and too few homes. I feel fortunate to have played a part in saving two fairytale horses. Hopefully there will continue to be 'Happily Ever Afters' for other slaughter bound horses.