Does "Black Dog Syndrome" apply to rescue horses? Do minis not go to slaughter? +more

I would appreciate some advice from those of you that work with rescue/auction horses on a regular basis. I’m sorry if this sounds naive, but are these things true?

-Am I understanding correctly that grey horses are the horse world’s version of “black dog syndrome,” in which no one wants an old grey horse?

-Are minis and ponies less likely to be picked up by kill buyers? Where do all those $25 minis end up then? Or is that why their prices are so low, because no one wants them?

-How does one reliably identify kill buyers at a new auction you’ve never been to before?

Just trying to gain a little experience in this so we can try hard to make a difference. Thanks for your advice/experience in advance!

With questions like those, you need a lot more mileage and an honest friend on site, before you even think of bidding. Sit and watch through a few. It’s why people like me don’t go.

Not being rude. Just honest. It is a rough world out there.

Some friends who go to sales have told me the KB’s won’t take grays anymore because the plants won’t buy them; more often than not an older gray has some melanomas somewhere, inside or out, and the meat is therefore discarded.

I’ve also heard they seldom bid on small ponies or minis, because they take up room in the truck but their weight (and therefore price) isn’t worth the space they take up.

I’d like to throttle whoever keeps overpopulating the world with these things, which started off as “novelty pets,” ditto Haflingers, mules, donks, etc. that have just about ZERO prospect to find a home for the same reason. If all you “rescuers” want to REALLY do something, go give a convincing talk to the Amish etc. about breeding animals for which there is actually a DEMAND–and a job. :cry:

Interesting. I actually researched this (out of pure curiosity - not because I’m considering it with my own gray), and some sites said that they are slaughtered anyway - melanomas or not. I’ve never been to a sale like this and probably will never have a reason to go, but I’d be interested in the answers to the OP’s questions.

Reason I know is because I got a big old gray TWH from my friends. Poor guy had been forgotten in the kill pen for about 5 cycles of the auction in MA because no one had bought him–or FED him. He was 23, a “1” on the Henneke scale when they got him, a 2.5 when he came to me, and a 5 after a winter of proper feeding and rehab. He was a wonderful boy who introduced me to the gaited world and we had him for a marvelous 4 years before he succumbed to a neurological cause which the vet said might have been melanoma. He had 150% “try” in him, even when skin and bones.

I’ll always wonder how such a fine old gentleman found himself on that end of the food chain . . . while I think it’s a lot better to be a horse today than in the bad old days, it’s not a great world yet by a long shot. :no:

I made it through one auction in PA and I still have nightmares about it. It is not for the faint of heart. I admire rescue people, who can do that on regular basis.

People, who took me there, experienced and highly knowledgeable horsemen, were regulars, able to see through, and keep their minds on track, so we came home with a couple of nice “salvageable” animals (not sure, how else to put it).

I was thrilled to work with them and help, but I don’t think I could go again. All, I could sense there, was an omnipresent pain and quiet suffering. The way, horses were exposed and vulnerable… Even today, years later, the image remains very vivid.

Why all the Haflinger bashing on here? Seriously, what is the deal?

I would not know. I only met nice ones so far. Lovely animals.

I really like ponies, Mongolian horses, and other sturdy, strong-minded, critters.

Haffies are getting a bad rap because there are a lot of bad breeders in the Haffies world who make the decent breeders virtually non existent. There are always going to be bad breeders but the breed’s rep took a hard hit when some of those breeders decided the world needed spotted Haffies.
There isn’t much of a market these days for Haffies so they created the spotted ones in a desperate attempt to bring back the breed.
Most Haffies are nice, but have ponytudes, are sturdy and hardy but the world just doesn’t seem to want the pony sized can’t tell if it’s gaited hard to fit horse.
I know there are due hard Appy fans on here but I’m speaking from my experience of having boarded at a supposed haffie/Nash breeder and never understanding why they bred them in the first place.

Don’t all ponies have ponytude? Hence the name …

Thanks for elaborating, they are not common out here, so maybe we dodged the overbreeding bullet? Never heard of a spotted one! The Haffies I have known have been gems. My Parker is half Haflinger and while he does have some ponytude, he is a marvelous little guy – and a great mover.

I had not heard the dissing, so thanks for explaining.

Thanks everyone for the replies! Had no idea about grey horses, and it’s interesting, to say the least… I guess in some ways it makes sense about the melanomas.

It’s hard to know at auction where your dollars are going to do the most good. I struggle with the thought that even going to the auction at all is supporting those who are sending the horses there… which turns into a long philosophical debate that keeps me up at night. I used to buy horses from the “loose horse” pen (killer horses), but it was at a particular monthly sale where I was very familiar with everyone, owners and auctioneers, buyers and consignors. I think I have the necessary steel gut to deal with the heartbreaking task of choosing which ones go home, and which are left behind… but I’m going to New Holland this time, and trying to prepare myself for a whole new world. I won’t be going alone. I appreciate all your suggestions-- and Merrygoround, I don’t take that as rude at all! Wish I had someone with years of expertise to go with me and soak up some years of knowledge from!

I’m trying to get around your thought process here- but the kill buyers have a contract to fill a truck. They WILL fill that truck if you are there or not- not unless you can afford to buy every horse that goes through. So if you can stalk one KB and bid against him so he drops out of the bidding on a specific horse- he’s going to buy another horse to take it’s place. So while you have saved the life of that specific horse- you won’t have changed the number of horses who are going to get on his truck. It’s not like you are buying the spot on his trailer.

So the way I see it- EVERY horse who has a home is a rescued horse. Buying the most pathetic unmarketable most likely to be killed horse may just put a more fit marketable animal on the truck in his place and put a greater burden on you to rehome an animal no one wants (if adoption or resale is your aim) I don’t know if that’s the right thing to do with your resources… but the art of rescue business choices seems to be just as tricky as the KB art of grading a horse by sight.

If you skim the cream off the auction house herd- and select the most marketable animals- perhaps you can turn them over quickly- and have a high volume of “saves” … if you scrape the bottom of the barrel- maybe you will spend thousands to rehab a horse no one even wants.

You have to philosophically figure out what does “money best spent” even mean? There isn’t a clear best answer.

I suspect some rescues prefer more desperate pathetic horses because they bring in donation money and have dramatic stories. The proximity of the horse to the kill truck seems to be how “rescued” the horse was.

Also- lots of killer buyers will buy up good horses and try to remarket them before shipping over the border. They know where there is money to be made- so if auction crowd is weak- but the horse is good- they may snap up some good deals for resale too. Don’t assume that they intend to ship everything they buy.

I write from a rescuer’s perspective, not an auction buyer’s perspective:

As far as adoptions go, I don’t see an issue with gray horses. Paints, buckskins, palominos and those with other ‘unusual’ colors seem to be more adoptable.

Older horses, no matter what color, are harder to adopt out.

[QUOTE=HeadWrangler;7483092]-Are minis and ponies less likely to be picked up by kill buyers? Where do all those $25 minis end up then? Or is that why their prices are so low, because no one wants them?

I don’t know about that, but I know we see FAR fewer minis and smaller ponies come into the rescue. Most of our horses are in the range of about 13.3-15 hh. We don’t see a lot of little or big horses (there are exceptions, of course :)).

Some minis are freaks of nature - meaning they are so badly conformed with
back, leg and jaw problems, they end up dumped at the auction. Vet visits cost the same as with a full sized animal who is more useful. Greys are not accepted at kill yards (theoretically). Neither are those who have bee medicated, ha ha.

All of the Amish I know do breed horses for a job - either driving down the road or plowing a field. May not be a job you like, but it is a job.

I have a small pony from the KB because he wasn’t worth it for him to ship. He told me to take him. Not sure if he is broke but he is the friendliest little black/white pinto. He has to be ancient, in his 20’s I would guess.

I also have bought several nice greys from the KB. And several greys that I missed that still get shipped. As long as they are big, fat, and can stand on 3 legs then they get shipped. Since I was 15 I have been buying from the local KB, rehabbing, training and selling almost 100 horses. A good portion of them greys that I picked out because greys are easier to find homes for then chestnuts.

Color of the horse doesn’t make any difference in how appealing it is to meat buyers.
Horse melanoma is not contagious, it is related to certain traits in horse skin and hair genetics.

[QUOTE=Also- lots of killer buyers will buy up good horses and try to remarket them before shipping over the border. They know where there is money to be made- so if auction crowd is weak- but the horse is good- they may snap up some good deals for resale too. Don’t assume that they intend to ship everything they buy.[/QUOTE]

We use to have a well known KB here (he’s probably still around) who would do just this. He knew there was much more $$ if he could remarket a horse quickly instead of shipping it to slaughter. He use to come by our barn with some of the horses he got at auction who he thought had potential. He did find some diamonds a long the way. One of his finds was a very fancy Jr. Hunter who won everything. He always told me it was a business deal & he didn’t want to send a horse with other options to slaughter.

I second that ! To include mules? They have a great value if trained. That goes for a mini or donkey as well. My friend belongs to a mini group who does driving activities. It isn’t the breed, it’s the lack of training that is the problem.

PlainandTall, You are exactly describing what I’m struggling with. So do you buy as many cheap horses as possible, spend a little time with each, and send them back out into the world where they may or may not be the ideal horse for each particular adopter? Or do you pick the “cream of the crop,” spend loads of time on it to get it performing at a pretty fancy level, and then find just one home? Which is going to make a bigger difference to the stigma of “rescue horse”: The quantity of horses rehomed (even though some will not be a good fit and be returned), or the quality of a single horse rehomed (which may or may not go on to touch a number of other lives in a specific discipline that may never have considered a rescue horse as a viable option before)?

I don’t know. It is such a pandora’s box. I really appreciate the thoughts, everyone. Every insight or piece of advice helps me formulate a little better the larger goal of the operation.