Every Pakenham sale since December 2018 M.E.R.C.I have attended. We go there each month to stay updated with the industry and to see what poor souls their careless or lazy owners have presented to the sale sometimes with very little or no information on that horse, this lack of detail highly reduces their chances of going to the perfect home.
We chat to Dave Backman, a very nice man with a job to do and a quota to fill, people from other local horse rescues, regulars that are there every week and we also chat to people we just met or people that recognise and approach us. We don’t mind at all, we want to help and educate attendees in any way we can.
All the meanwhile we have people contacting us looking for a horse. We spend countless hours messaging back and forth to try and find a suitable horse for them and trying to match them up to a horse that may be suited, we arrange for them to meet the horse and then sometimes a person can decide for one reason or another that the horse is not suitable. It might be the donation we are asking is too high, or the transport costs we or a transport company are charging are too high and they don’t want to spend that much on a horse, but they really want to help out the horses and rescue one.
This is what we deal with on a daily basis, every rescue does. We go to the sales, bid against the kill buyers and the dealers but NEVER a private home. We buy a horse for anywhere from $50 to $200 is the most we have paid to date, then we float the horse home in our own float so the cost is negligible, only the fuel we use.
That is the fun part. It’s so much fun and so rewarding knowing we have just saved a horse from a gruesome death! But that’s it! The fun is over in an instant! Now the true meaning of ownership and buying a horse to save it from slaughter kicks in. This is the TRUE meaning of RESCUING a horse. Bidding against a private home is not rescuing a horse even though you went to the sales to buy it. If you are bidding against a private home you could be just bidding against another you, someone else that just wants to help SAVE a horse.
More often than not, although we are more experienced than most others attending the sale, we call upon the assistance of one of the other staff employed by the auction company because even we need help loading the buck jumper, quiet in the pen, we unknowingly just bought for $125, or the big thoroughbred or little unhandled colt. Even our expertise sometimes isn’t enough to cope with the ever so stressful environment of the saleyard it brings to the horses and the unknown of what you just bought standing there.
We get the horse home, let it settle out of the saleyard environment and slowly but slowly get to know that horse. We see it trot and appreciate it isn’t lame or we see it trot and realise it is lame and need to spend the next few weeks or months getting to know our $125 bargain and teaching them to trust us enough so we can catch it enough for a vet to assess it and then treat it. We hard feed daily just so we can get close enough to it and it learns to trust us. All of a sudden, we have a horse with ongoing medical expenses that we didn’t anticipate.
Regardless of the outcome that is the chance we and you take when buying blind from the sales and that is what everyone does, buys blind. You only have a short time to get to know that horse in the pen before it goes under the hammer. The difference is we have trained and educated people looking at the pens but this is still no guarantee of a quiet or sound horse. But when we buy these horses we do have paddocks designed to accommodate unhandled horses, we have the facilities and skill available to us that may be required to catch and handle unhandled horses at our premises. This is what most people lack and don’t appreciate the benefit of well set up rescue organisations.
True story - we were chatting, quite a lot, to a girl who wanted a horse from the auctions and had trouble accessing their information so she contacted us. She really wanted to save one so we gave her the information she wanted to know about the kill buyers, the process of buying at the sales, transport whilst trying to find out exactly what she wanted. She wanted a foal, a trail riding horse or beginner horse, just a cheap horse she said. She wanted to meet us at the sales so we could help her buy one, which we would have been happy to assist with as that’s what she wanted. We advised her you don’t know what you’re getting when you buy from the sales but she and her friend were doing their homework with leaving overnight after purchase, transport and everything else with which we answered all her questions. She was arranging to meet us prior to the auction but that meeting was never finalised and we did not meet.
During the auction however, I noticed a couple of girls that were bidding on many horses but as soon as they got to $300 they stopped bidding and they seemed very disappointed each time. And they were bidding against private homes as well as the dealers and kill buyers.
After the auction Sam and I approached them and discovered they were the girls we had previously been chatting to but never met up with. These gorgeous girls were heartbroken and they were in tears. All they wanted to do was save a horse and Sam and I felt for them. We spoke to the girls then pointed them in the direction of Dave who had purchased the horses they wanted. We went with them to speak to him and Dave, being the very reasonable man he is, agreed to sell a horse to the girls. They were so happy they hugged us and cried. They were so happy but so sad at the same time because the little colt that was standing ever so quietly in the pen next to the one they bought was going to be slaughtered! Sam and I, also with tears rolling down our cheeks, really felt for these girls and knowing they had educated people around them offered to contribute the funds for them to save that little horse. We then spoke to Dave and once again he was very reasonable and decided to let the girls have him. Whilst Sam went to the bank to get our cash I was chatting to Dave and the girls and even he said that this little pony was so sweet that all he needs is a good brush, a good clean up, gelding and he’ll be a ripper pony! I agreed. He was standing so still and quietly in the pen he certainly was worth saving.
Sam and I contributed $200 for the complete purchase of this horse and the girls had bought another. Then they were asking us about transport. We asked them how far was home and they said 1hr 40mins or 123 km’s! Hooley, Dooley! That’s not close and they have till 5pm to have them gone. We then contacted everyone we knew with no luck, we spoke to the cashier staff whom kindly pointed out the transport guys so we then helped them arrange transport. It was going to cost $500 to get these 2 horses home.
They were then on phone to every family member and friend begging and pleading for support to rally up the money to get their saves from the sales and credit to them, they got the funds together. Happy days, time to go home!
So now their $200 and $100 something cheap horse had now just cost them an additional $500.
To cut a long story short, only 1 of these 2 horses is alive today and this auction was June 1st.
So saving this horse from the sales was the death of this horse.
The little colt that Sam and I put our own personal money into was shot because the girls as determined as they were could not handle him and couldn’t find the right support to handle him. They did contact us and we did some research, called them back and gave a few options and local people to possibly help and then we understood everything to be taken care of. We weren’t contacted again. We admire their persistence, perseverance and determination but as we continually tell people “Do not buy from the sales. You do not know what you are getting!” We and other rescues are set up for any horse and can handle them with the support of the trainers we have around us. We have professional farriers, dentists, breakers, trainers and handlers that can take on any horse if it’s too much for us.
And then some potential homes want to negotiate with us about the donation we expect for that horse or for the transport to get the horse that we can tell you everything about and know if its suited to you or not! Really! Come on people. It’s not just the glitz and glamour of waving your little auction number at the sales. That is nothing compared to the work that goes into the horse behind the scenes. And that is only the handling of there horse. How do you find that horse? We have to create and update websites, fundraise to be able to feed these horses and pay for domain names and hosting, continually post on our Facebook page to keep you interested in the hope you support us either financially, with a like or just with sharing a post, we have to register our charity keep all receipts and do a tax return, contribute our own money with the hope of recouping some as time goes on all so we can offer you a horse on a FREE 45 day trial to ensure it’s the right fit and so you don’t have to go through the same hell those girls did!! The donation we expect for each horse is miniscule if you consider what we have actually contributed for that horse, not just financially!
This is the TRUE meaning of SAVING a horse!
Home a Rescue horse, don’t breed!