They are trail mounts, therapy horses and pasture pets. One is learning Parelli Natural Horsemanship and another gave birth to a foal this spring.
None of these horses would still be alive had their slaughter-bound trailer not been involved in a horrific wreck in Tennessee last November.
The doomed horses had just been purchased at a Knoxville auction by Bruce Rotz, a Pennsylvania-based kill buyer who collects horses from auctions throughout the East to sell to slaughter plants in Canada.
Thirty horses were on the trailer that night heading to Rotz’s Shippensburg farm when the rig slammed into a flatbed truck as it tried to merge onto a busy highway. In an instant, the horses were thrown on their sides or violently ejected from the trailer, leaving nine dead.
In 1869 Pennsylvania’s legislature passed a wide-ranging law aimed at protecting animals from abuse, neglect and cruelty. Activities such as cock-fighting, dog-fighting—even bear and bull-fighting—were declared misdemeanors, along with the antecedents to these abuses—“overloading”, beating and the ill treatment of animals. In the mid-19th Century, Pennsylvania was a hotbed of efforts to change the way animals were viewed and cared for. A Philadelphian named Caroline Earle White founded the nation’s first animal shelter in 1869, and stood up courageously to carriage drivers who beat their horses or worked them too hard in inclement weather.
In the nearly 150 years since the passage of that first animal welfare legislation, Pennsylvania has worked toward achieving statutory—if not actual—protection for dogs, cats, horses and farm animals. The results have been uneven. Penalties for animal abuse or neglect have been insufficient to discourage violators, since most animal cruelty cases have been considered misdemeanors. The responsibility for investigating cases of abuse has often been carried by Humane Police Officers paid by non-profit humane organizations. Humane Police Officers, veterinarians and veterinary technicians have not been protected from frivolous lawsuits when reporting instances of animal abuse.
This year marked the 51st year for the annual Devon Carriage Drive, which covers 4.5 miles through Devon’s back roads and neighborhoods. Along the route, residents line the road to watch and wave as exhibitors pass their properties, and share their joy for horses by inviting friends to a picnic lunch on their front lawns.
Karen Schell of Northampton, PA, drove her nine-year-old Morgan gelding, Hylee’s Tripoly, to a second place finish in the Single Horse Four-Wheel division. Karen has only been driving ‘Trip’ for the past five months under the direction of PJ and Tara Crowley of Kendalwood Farm in Zionsville, PA.
‘Trip’ went on to win the Pleasure Driving Turnout class for Single Horses in the Dixon Oval on Monday night, pulling a 1908 wicker basket Studebaker Stanhope. He went on to win the Single Horse Driving Championship. “Trip is very sensitive, smart and a love bug,” Tara said. “He loves his job and has no bottom, he just loves to work.”
It’s an attractive offer addressing an intractable problem. A well-funded national organization will take any horse, in any condition, no questions asked, at no cost or consequence to the owner, evaluate it and do what’s best for it. No horse will be refused, no matter its condition.
That was the offer made to owners of unwanted horses across the region by Horse Plus Humane Society, which held a Free One Day Open Door Shelter for Horses at the Solanco Fairgrounds in Quarryville, Lancaster County, PA on Sunday, June 4. Thirty-seven horses and ponies were surrendered by their owners. They had their feet and teeth attended to at the fairgrounds, and were evaluated by a trainer and a veterinarian. The evaluation continued the following day, with the addition of an equine chiropractor and massage therapist.
Twelve of the equines were humanely euthanized. The rest were placed with adoption partners. Adoption partners included: PA Racehorse Rehoming Rehabilitation & Rescue, Harrisburg, PA; Timberlake Horse Haven, West Grove, PA; Rocky’s Horse Rescue and Rehabilitation, Thurmont, MD; Large Animal Protection Agency, West Grove, PA; Royce’s Rescue, Richboro, PA; Turning Pointe Donkey Rescue, Dansville, MI; Coast to Coast Draft Horse Connection, Howell, MI, and Central PA Horse Rescue, Lewisberry, PA.