What you get when you adopt

A baby that believed humans deliver only terror and pain. A racehorse that earned thousands for its owner, only to be discarded like worthless trash. A pedigreed mare that pumped out prize-winning foals until her body could no longer be used and abused. A reliable trail horse that carried his owner across rugged terrain, traded in for a newer model with younger limbs and hooves.

These are just a handful of the tragic stories behind the horses we’ve saved from the slaughter pipeline.

We keep looking for the thing – that flaw that might justify a human betraying a loyal companion in such a heartless way. What can this horse have done to deserve the horrific fate of an inhumane, violent slaughter? Too old? Too young? Became ill? Too expensive? We keep looking, but we can never figure out how any “horse person” could justify allowing a horse to go to slaughter.

Winston at Swingin' D Horse Rescue

"Horse People"

Only horse people can totally forget what it’s like to go to a shopping mall and pay full price for a designer outfit for yourself; but spend all your money on special boots to protect your horse’s feet. Only horse people can relate to having zero tolerance for rude, self-absorbed humans; but laughing and posting photos of your indignant horse turning her back to you and craning her neck just enough to give you the Mare Stare. Only horse people can be reduced to blubbering tears when humans lie, cheat and stab them in the back; but find the fortitude to lead a 1,000-pound horse through trails, rivers and woods without ever having to say a word.

Only horse people understand the connection that’s required between horse and rider before they can accomplish anything as a team.

How does a horse person nurture and teach a horse until it trusts them enough to grant the ultimate power, to submit to their will… and then exploit that trust for the purpose of betraying it?

Every precious soul we’ve saved at Swingin’ D trusted its owner as the owner led it onto the trailer bound for auction. The horse trusted the owner as the owner handed it over to the kill buyer. The horse even trusted the owner as it watched its companion walk away for the last time. How does a horse person live with that betrayal?

Horses are merely tools

Some horse people see horses as tools, and themselves as the master craftsperson that “broke” the tool into submission. In their minds, the horse would be nothing without them. These horse people believe it’s their right to discard a tool however they see fit, and it’s no one else’s business if they, in their infinite wisdom and power, deem the tool worthless.

The “horses are tools” horse people see rescuer horse people as silly, emotional busy bodies, and they see horse slaughter as a necessary service that entitles them to dispose of tools they no longer use. If they can squeeze another hundred bucks out of that tool by selling it for meat, it’s no different to them than selling a refrigerator for scrap. And it’s their right. So shut up.

One man's trash...

Alfred at Swingin' D Horse Rescie

Alfred is just one of many examples of the old saying, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.” The retired harness racer’s owner gave up on him long before sending him to slaughter, as evidenced by the hundreds of pounds the lumbering standardbred had lost by the time he landed at Swingin’ D.

After 18 years of service to his humans, through no fault of his own, Alfred found himself in a kill pen awaiting his one-way journey to a Mexican slaughterhouse. Why? His owner made a few bucks, that’s why.

There was absolutely nothing wrong with Alfred that a few thousand pounds of grain wouldn’t cure – and I think we can all agree that starvation to the brink of death was not his fault.

Each time 18-year-old Houston accompanied his dad to the ranch to do some work, he and Alfred connected. Who knows what a teenage boy and a mature ex-racehorse could possibly have in common, but of all the horses at Swingin’ D, Houston was drawn to Alfred. Anywhere Alfred went, our dream was for Raven to go too. Houston’s parents knew they’d raised a responsible young man who did well in school and who held down multiple jobs to afford his own horse, so the adoption was set in stone.

Today, the healthy, loving cousins live on a sprawling 100-acre ranch where the horse-loving family rides them regularly, and where they can run and stretch their racehorse legs.

One day their owners decide they’re so worthless, they stop feeding and caring for them until they eventually dump them with a kill buyer; the next day, the Skinnies (as we affectionately named them because they came to us severely starved) are the center of a teenager’s and his family’s world.

Nothing about Alfred or Raven changed. They weren’t ill. They weren’t lame. They didn’t murder or rape anyone. They weren’t child molesters. They were very well trained and well behaved. They did NOTHING to warrant a death sentence. The both wound up on a kill lot for exactly the same reason: Human failure. Plain and simple. 

"One human's inability to value life does not make the life worthless."

So, what do you get when you adopt a horse?

Have you ever been on the hurting end of a breakup? Maybe your lover was more ready for greener pastures than you? At first you wailed over everything you could’ve done differently; but somewhere along the way you realized, it wasn’t you. It was him (or her, or them, or whatever). Point is, there was nothing wrong with you. You were still the little slice of magic God made you to be but you still got dumped.

But somewhere out there, God made you the perfect match who will accept you with all your facets and flaws. And when you find that perfect match, you look back over all the losers, grateful that they helped lead you to the right one for you. 

When you adopt a horse, and when that horse learns you’re not like all the other girls (or guys) and believes you’re worthy of trust and respect, you will literally feel its gratitude. You can almost see in that creature’s eyes how grateful it is to no longer have to fight for food, or wonder what horrors await any time humans come around. You will feel the stress, terror and insecurity melt away as you help your horse regain its confidence and sense of usefulness.

What you get with a Swingin’ D horse

When you adopt a horse, you’re not taking on someone else’s problems. You’re discovering all the beautiful facets some other small-minded, short-sighted, selfish human was incapable of seeing. When you adopt a horse with Swingin’ D, you get a companion that’s off to a great start, along with all the information you need to ensure success.

The last thing we want is a failed adoption, so we’re brutally honest with adopters about our observations and concerns with the horses. We don’t want any surprises or disappointments. The last thing a vulnerable horse needs is to feel like it’s failed again, so we’ll do whatever we can to ensure it succeeds.

As we’ve learned and grown, we’ve added more features to our adoption process. We provide adopters with complete health records, including contact information for our veterinarians and farriers. We also provide de-worming, dental and farrier schedules, as well as a shopping list with the grains and supplements the horse receives in our care.

When you adopt a horse, especially a horse rescued by Swingin’ D, you’re getting a companion that was nearly lost forever, but that now knows the love and respect of humans who care. You get a horse that has found its spark, and it’s up to you to help turn that spark into a blaze!