Guest post by Hali Berger:
On July 14th 2012 I decided to go to the Mt. Hope Horse Sale in Mt. Hope, Ohio. I went to get a barrel horse project, but came home with something completely different.
At 7:00 A.M. my friends and I hooked up the trailer and started the 2 hour drive to the Mt. Hope Auction House. I had been doing a lot of reading and researching about horse slaughter, kill buyers and I wondered if the horror stories were actually true. The stories of the big commercial trailers, pulling off the horses shoes, etc. As we pulled into the Auction House parking lot, I was pleasantly surprised. The grounds were fairly clean and the horses weren’t lying on the ground looking half dead like a lot of the stories and pictures I had read and seen online, except that none of the horses had food or water. We walked around and checked out all the horses, checking feet, teeth, eyes and so on. We registered and sat in the seats and waited for the Amish buggy horses to go through the sale. Finally at 4:30 in the afternoon, the buggy horses were finished and the riding horses were starting to come through. I had my butt numbers written down so I could listen for the details on the horses I liked. When I saw one I liked my boyfriend was ready to bid for me. I noticed there were a few gentlemen in the sale ring that were dressed in dress pants and button up dress shirts. I figured they were just helping get the horses through the sale, so I just continued to watch for the horses I picked out. The horses I had picked out were around 15-20 years old and I wanted something younger. I remembered watching a BIG Chestnut gelding go through the sale, he wasn’t one that I was looking at or even interested in. I have grown up with Tennessee Walking Horses so I knew he had the features of one (maybe that’s why he caught my eye).
The sale was over and I didn’t get any horses. My friends and I headed out to the truck to get ready to leave. Walking out I decided I wasn’t going home without a horse. There was a couple in front of me that I was pretty sure bought that big Chestnut gelding that I couldn’t stop thinking about. I went up to them and asked if they would be willing to sell. They told me they didn’t buy the horse, but they knew the guy who did. His name was Fred and he was the gentleman standing inside the sale ring in dress clothes. I nervously walked down to the sale ring and asked him if he bought the big chestnut horse. He said “That Big Blonde thing?”. I said yes and continued to ask if he would sell. He told me I could pay $100 over what he bought the horse for, but I didn’t have that much money. I told him thank you anyway. He asked if I was able to do $50 over sale price and that I was able to do! I was so excited, I thought to myself, what a nice guy, I shouldn’t have been nervous to talk to him. I ran out to the truck to get my wallet and then met Fred in the sale office to sign over papers.
Once everything was signed he shook my hand and told me his assistant would get the horse for me. I walked down the stairs and into the hall where the sold horses were and it hit me. I walked to the pen where my new horse was and told Fred’s assistant which number was mine. I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were two boxes by what I now understood was the “kill pen” one bucket had all the horses halters and the other bucket had all the horses shoes. There was even a man pulling horses shoes off right in front of where we were trying to get my horse out. He was in the back of the pen with over 20 horses crammed in this tiny stall. They were all owned by Fred. The assistant pulled a small halter out of the box and squeezed it on my horse. I was just sick, the horses I had wanted before I realized they were older were also bought by Fred and in the kill pen. I wanted to take them all home. I took my horse and started to walk out of the back barn. As I came along the back of the auction house I saw a commercial hauler backing into the loading dock right by the pen my horse just came out of. We walked to the trailer and he loaded right up! I’m glad we brought my friends trailer and not mine because he would not have fit. He was an 18hh Tennessee Walker who wanted out of that place. My friends and I stopped about 5 miles down the road at a small restaurant to get something to eat before heading home. I opened the escape door to check on him and he had his full hay bag gone. When we got back to my barn we put him in the stall and he drank 3 buckets of water. He had hay in front of him 24/7 when he was home.
I posted pictures of him on my Facebook and a lady from another barn I rode at just fell in love with him. I decided to sell him to her. She kept him over the winter and got him looking good. In May she decided to donate him to the Cleveland Mounted Police Unit. She named him Jakar it means “compelling love”. Jakar passed his 3 month probationary period and joined the CMP team. He is now a member of the 8 Mounted Unit horses serving the city of Cleveland. Jakar has been to Cleveland Browns games and assisted in a drug bust. He is the only rescue horse on the unit. I know most of the endings for horses at auction aren’t happy and I would love to help make this happen for other horses as well. I highly recommend getting rescue horses if you have the knowledge to go about getting one. Do research; check them out and save a life!
Do you have an equine rescue story to share? Feel free to contact me!