Check it Out!
[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next]
[Date Index] [Thread Index] [Author Index] [Subject Index]

personal experience with auctions

This is a long one - and please don't flame me for the story, it happened years ago, it was published in the Western Horseman November of 91.  The title of the story says it all - "A lesson for us all" Which is why I wrote it.

Horse crazy all my life, I finally got my first horse at age 28.  I was possessed with
my flashy Morgan, Lady.  Housework and cooking no longer existed;  nothing mattered but a 28 year old love dream turned reality.

It was soon clear to my husband that if he was going to see much of me, he'd better get another horse and join me.  We had limited funds, and our search seemed to take us to old horses that needed a lot of prodding just to walk, definately not a match for my spirited young mare.

We had an ad to check out, "12 year old mare-$500.00.  She wasn't impressive-but she wasn't ugly-more pathetic than anything.  She appeared older than the 20 year old horse we just looked at, her ribs protruding through her dull brown coat and a sway to her back.  Tethered by the driveway, head hanging low, she watched us with sad, disinterested eyes.

My heart went out to her, but Tom and I exchanged a knowing look that said, "No way."

Tom talked to the owner while I visited with the horse.  She responded lovingly to my touch, telling me she'd seen better days.

Tom came over to us with her owner and filled me in on her background.  She was a retired rodeo horse, sold and resold at auctions an unknown number of times, her name lost in the sales.

This poor old tramp had won my heart and broken it in 10 minutes.

Tom was not interested, and was ready to leave, when her owner asked, "Don'tcha even want ta ride 'er?"

Well I did, so on went the bridle, then me.  I don't know what happened to the droopy nag I  mounted, but the willingness and spirit of the horse I was riding put my young mare to shame.  It was the most exhilarating ride I'd ever had.

Tom's interest was kindled, so he took a turn.  She was magnificent to watch, her head high, nostrils flared, mane and tail flying, definitely not the pathetic creature we saw tethered.

So, $400.00 later we left, soon to return with the trailer.  The name Tramp suited her and stuck.  She responded to it as if she were born with the name, thus we had our Lady and Tramp.

With time, Tramp's ribs disappeared and her brown coat glistened.  She kept a slight sway to her back, but her intelligent eyes sparkled.

Tramp proved to be an outstanding trail horse-smart, sure-footed, afraid of nothing.  In fact, I never saw her spook;  she was always willing to go anywhere, do anything asked of her.

But we soon discovered her one flaw, the flaw that kept her on the auction block.  She was navicular.  We never knew when she would turn up lame or for how long.  We were soon spending more time soaking and rubbing down her legs than riding.  When we did ride her, we rode easy (though she didn't want to go easy).

Poor Tramp, she had the heart but not the feet.  We retired her to pasture and got Tom another horse for riding.

Three years later hard times hit us, and it was obvious one of the horses had to go.  With a broken heart, I ran an ad in the paper to sell Tramp.  I say it was my conscience, but it could have been my heart that made me tell all who called about her problem.  Needless to say, no one came out to look at Tramp.

But the fact remained, we had to sell Tramp.  I am ashamed to say we took Tramp from her pasture to the auction.  We were worried about the meat-buyers, but Tramp looked good and wasn't limping at the time.

That's no how it went.  Tramp knew the second we unloaded her where she was.  Depressed, the sparkle gone from her eyes, she seemed to disown us, treating us like the traitors we were.

When the auctioneer said sold, it was to a meat-buyer.  Tom led Tramp out of the ring.  I led our son out of the auction, both of us sobbing shamelessly.  Racked with guilt, I swore never to sell another horse at the auction, no matter what.

Tom tried to comfort us and himself by explaining that they would try to resell her before butchering her, but the tears wouldn't stop.  For months, even years, the thought of Tramp was followed with remorse and guilt for betraying a friend.

Six years later, Lady and I were exploring our new neighborhood when we heard a horse nicker at the sound of our approach.  We rounded a corner to see an old, starving nag.

Lady recognized her first, returning the nickers with a whinny that shook me in the saddle.  This caught me by surprise because Lady doesn't talk to horses when she's under saddle.  I didn't understand till this decrepit old horse limped over to the fence.  Could this be our Tramp?

My sweet old Tramp was just a skeleton, miserable and lame with mis-shapen, overgrown feet, and those sad, knowing eyes.  Here I'd been mourning her death when I should have been mourning her tragic life.

I rode Lady home, Tramp calling to us till we were out of earshot.  I got my checkbook, a halter, and a lead rope, then Lady and I returned to do what I should have done years ago.  Tramp nickered us a greeting when we returned.

Tramp's present owner was thrilled to get a $200.00 check, then Lady and I walked our Tramp home one more time.

Once home, Tramp grazed a little, then laid down to rest her weary bones.  I went into the house, called the vet, then went back out to the pasture with an apple and a carrot.  Tramp struggled to her feet and limped over to greet me.  She ate her treats, and we walked the pasture a bit, then with a tired sigh Tramp awkwardly laid herself down.  I sat with her head in my lap, her wise eyes gazing into mine, and we waited together for the vet to arrive with his long overdue, merciful shot.

I have since dumped the husband, but I have never and will never again take a horse to the auction.  I make no excuses for the betrayal, but I learned a hard lesson and hopefully others will too.  It isn't just a horrible death we're sentencing auction horses to, more often than not the life suffered after auction is worse than a quick death.  I have since had to sell a good horse to be able to afford putting down a horse riddled with cancer.  It was worth it.  All my old horses are now guaranteed  retirement in our pastures, and when the day comes that they need a merciful end, it is theirs, no matter what financial state I'm in.  That is Tramp's legacy to all my horses, till death do us part.


    Check it Out!    

Home    Events    Groups    Rider Directory    Market    RideCamp    Stuff

Back to TOC