"Wholesome." This should be a word used to describe bread. Not women.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

My Feelings on Horse Slaughter and a Triute to an Old Friend

I've been hearing a lot of different ideas and opinions about the horse meat industry trying to set up shop here in Missouri. I'll be the first to admit that my thoughts are clouded with emotion when it comes to this topic. Please let me tell you why.

In the summer of 1989, I turned 9 years old and met Shawna. She was a 19 year old, sorrel mare who was literally skin and bones. Shawna was inbetween being purchased by a horse dealer and being resold again at auction. My family and I were told by the horse dealer that he'd rather sell her because her fate  was to become "dog food" if she did not find a loving home. My mom told him that the loving home would be ours! And so began some of the most magical and wonderful moments of my young life.
Shawna was the perfect kids horse. Once we got her up to her fighting weight she would do just about anything for us. I was a dark haired, freckle faced, "Punky Brewster" looking little girl.
I always felt chubby and awkward  but atop my sorrel mare I became the woman in the maxi pad commercial on the beach, bareback, wind in my hair!
One time when I was a boy crazy 11 year old I took Shawna to the river. Everyone was
out that hot summer day relaxing in the water, swimming and playing. I was the only
one there on horseback. Naturally the kids (I mostly noticed the  boys) were pointing at me and excited to see a horse. This encouraged the show off in me.
Shawna and I raced up the bank putting on quite a show. She trotted through the knee deep water on the river's edge picking her feet up in an exotic prance (or at least that's how I remember it). Caught up in the show I was giving to all (your welcome) I missed the fact that Shawna had taken a pretty large... let's call it "horse-sized" dump. This dump was bobbing up and down in the water following the current. The only thing that could have brought my attention to this and away from my performance was the screaming mothers. They were frantically picking lawn chairs and babies up out of the water and running for dry land. Shawna and I made a glorious galloping exit that day. She always had a way of making me feel special but keeping me humble.
My favorite memory of Shawna was laying on her back in the sunshine finding pictures in the clouds while she chomped on grass, unbridled in our yard. She was as trustworthy as a horse could possibly be. Her nose was as soft as the petals of a rose and she had huge, honest brown eyes.
When I was around the age of 16, my beautiful friend's health started to fail her. Her teeth were worn away next to nothing and she had started to lose weight even though the grass was high. The day the vet came to put her to sleep, my little sister and I braided blue corn flowers all throughout  her mane and tail. She looked beautiful though her body was roughly in the same shape as the day we saved her from the auction house. The vet who put her to sleep was a huge trucker type of a man. He looked tough but I remember his eyes welled up as my sister and I begged him to take care of our horse. We couldn't bare to stay and watch him inject her but I knew from the gentle way he laid his hands on her  that he would be kind.
It was a dignified way for Shawna to leave this world. When I think of horse slaughter I picture the one we saved and the way she died. I think about the fear she never had to experience of being loaded into mass transport and being lead down a conveyer belt to die. When people tell me that I'm just being emotional I agree with them. Love is emotional. I loved Shawna and she created within me a love and repect for all horses.

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