When we go to the horse sale on Fridays we ask for safety and discernment. The safety part of that request is easy to understand. It’s dangerous working in pens of scared, unknown horses. It’s even more dangerous getting on them. After a broken leg trying a horse at the sale, I feel like any sale we can all walk away from is a good one!
But what about the discernment? That bit is trickier. Discernment can be defined as, “the ability to judge well.” Judging well is absolutely imperative in choosing horses that are trainable, sound, and can be successfully placed in new homes. Copper Horse Crusade came about because, ‘Too Many Good Horses End Up in the Kill Pen.’ Finding and pulling good horses is discernment. Well, apparently I missed one at the sale on July 15th. See the paint at the top of this photo? (Of course you do, she’s the only paint in this pen.) She sold for meat.
I did look at her as she came in. She was somewhat pushy, a MARE (we seem to be an all girls barn at the moment), she had a lot of white and she was sacked up. None of those things inclined me to try her. Additionally, she had what we thought at a glance, was some sort of skin issue across her rump. She appeared to be a pushy broodmare, which is NOT what people contact me for when they are looking for a horse. Besides, we already had one sacked up mare on our list for that day (the grulla.) The paint mare didn’t make our list, we didn’t bid on her, she sold to a kill buyer. End of story, right? Not quite. See the palomino on the right side of the pen with his head turned? He made our list but sold for more than what we had allotted for him. Funds were raised and we returned to pick him up the following Friday, July 22nd.
Horses that have sold for meat from the week before are typically kept penned at the back of the barn. I don’t look at them, I saw them the previous Friday, I don’t want to think about where they are going. There are new horses coming in every week that need to be evaluated. The paint mare having been sold to a kill buyer the Friday before would have normally meant that she was penned at the back of the barn with the rest of the horses waiting to be shipped out. But she wasn’t. She was run up under the cat walk with another gelding while the barn owner sorted cattle. I asked one of the auction workers why they were penned there. ‘There wasn’t enough room on the truck.’ Both horses already had their green USDA slaughter tags on.
I saw her and the other horse several times in passing. I remembered which horse she was from the sale before. Because there were not very many horses at the sale last Friday and we had been through the horses to be sold 7/22 several times, I decided to give the paint mare another look. Being pushy when she came in and sacked up I had low expectations for her training. That mare took the bit as well as any horse (always a good sign.) Before I get on them I ask them to back from the ground and try to determine if they know anything about neck reining. She knew both. This is where education saves a horse’s life. If she had flung her head, gaped her mouth, chewed the bit, I would have concluded my assumptions were right about her being an pushy broodmare and not even gotten on her.
Where my discernment left off, providence began for this paint mare... IF we had not gone back for the palomino gelding, IF there had been room on the truck that hauled a load of slaughter bound horses out, IF she had been at the back of the barn where tagged horses are usually held, IF there had been more horses to choose from at the July 22nd sale... things would have gone differently for her. That’s too many ‘ifs’ to be a coincidence. Apparently Providence takes the form of a pretty paint mare. Safety, discernment, and providence on Fridays.