You were thrilled to find a summer camp that allowed your kids to make wonderful memories riding horses. You snapped photos and watched with glee as that faithful horse taught the priceless life lessons of courage, compassion and responsibility. But as children across America prepare to say goodbye to their loyal summer ponies, many camp owners prepare to dump their herds to avoid the expense of care through the winter.
Horses are expensive – especially during the winter. The cost of hay, grain, veterinary and hoof care would quickly erode any profits made during the summer, so many camps sell their horses at auction and buy new ones in the spring. Auctions are the bread and butter of the horse meat market.
Year after year as summer winds down, we watch kill pens fill to the brim with well-broke, kid-safe, babysitter camp horses, sold at auction and forced into the corrosive, abusive slaughter pipeline. Camp horses bought by kill buyers either get marked up and sold on Facebook, or ship to a Mexican slaughter house where they’re butchered for fine diners in Europe or Asia.
You can make a difference. Ask your camp director what they do with horses when camp ends. If they take their horses to auction, suggest they instead surrender them to reputable rescues. Maybe they can make a deal with a rescue to care for the horses through the winter and adopt them back in the spring.
Next summer when you’re searching for camps for your kids, ask directors where they keep their horses in the winter. You have the power to help choke off the slaughter pipeline by only dealing with summer camps that have a humane plan for their summer herds (auctions are never part of a humane plan for horses).