Let me start by saying there’s never a good reason for a horse to end up on a kill lot – only excuses. But when we bring a kill pen horse to Swingin’ D, we can usually imagine why its owner gave up on it: Bad feet, injuries, age, abilities, temperament… We’ve seen all the failures of irresponsible ownership that fill the slaughter pipeline. None of those excuses apply to Ella.
We love every horse we bring to the ‘D, and we find something special about each and every one. On April 16, 2019, we picked up a sorrel quarter horse that and generated zero interest on the kill pen’s Facebook page. At first glance, I guess you could say she was just your typical, unassuming sorrel quarter horse mare; but by the time we’d spent a week with Ella, we realized she was the most perfect horse any owner could ever dream of.
Our vet confirmed what we already knew: Ella is the Mary Poppins of horses – practically perfect in every way: Perfect movement, perfect feet, perfect teeth (once they were floated), perfect weight, perfect temperament, perfect temperature, perfect vital signs.
But it was Ella’s evaluation from our trainer that really sealed the deal. Mike has started and trained hundreds of horses over the last 50 years. He was using natural horsemanship techniques before anyone knew what natural horsemanship was. He’s seen the very best and the very worst horses.
We already knew Ella had a great temperament by the way she respects our space, sticks her head in the halter for us, and follows on a lead instead of racing ahead. But when she finished quarantine and Mike saddled her up for the first time, Ella really showed her stuff. She hadn’t been ridden since her kill pen ride in March, so she was itching to shift into high gear. After a few instructions on the ground, she stood still while Mike mounted, and followed his lead from there.
Ella neck reins and responds to leg pressure. She bolts on command and stops on a dime. In short, there’s not a reason or excuse in the world for this beautiful mare to be bound for slaughter. We’re sad but grateful that her time with us will be brief.
The Mary Poppins of Horses
Most of the horses we take in from the Stroud kill pen are in decent shape – especially in comparison to our intakes from other kill pens. They obviously feed their horses and they appear to provide at least basic veterinary care, so we weren’t surprised when Ella was a healthy weight.
She had a scuffed, dull coat and was a little stiff in the back legs, which we attributed to her long toes and being slammed around in trailers while in the slaughter pipeline. After a hoof trim and a few days of rest, the stiffness worked its way out. She never even had so much as a sniffle throughout her 30-day quarantine!
Ella loves baths and grooming, stands patiently for the farrier and the vet, loves to have her feet picked, and sticks her nose in the halter for you.
Because she hasn’t been consistently ridden in a few months, we recommend she go to an intermediate or experienced rider; or that a beginner take lessons on Ella before being allowed to ride without assistance. She likes to run!
- Early teens, per vet
- Sorrel quarter horse
- Perfect feet
- Teeth floated
- Up-to-date on vaccines
- Neck reins
- Responds to leg pressure
- Get up and GO-GO-GO!
- Very calm, gentle and social
- Near the top of the herd, but not aggressive with other horses
- Excellent ground manners