Skipper’s Story – A Sick Belgian Horse Who Refused To Get On the Trailer to Slaughter

Skipper’s story (reprinted with permission from Coast to Coast Draft Horse Connection)

Skipper died at NH before he could be rescued from tetanusThis is Skipper – Skipper refused to get on the trailer to the slaughterhouse. We did not know much about him, except that he was smart… smart enough not to get on the trailer.

With the help of a network of awesome folks we were able to save Skipper’s life – folks stepped up to network him, share his story, pay his bail.

This morning our quarantine barn was scheduled to pick him up – when we got a call that he was down and unable to get up. Skipper had the signs of advanced Tetanus, although we don’t know for certain. What was clear is that there was no more we could do to help him. This morning, Skipper was put to rest.

Sometimes rescue is hard. Sometimes we don’t win. But what I can tell you is this. If Skipper had gotten on that truck, if we had not stepped up and ransomed him to keep him off the next one, he would have gone down in transit and died beneath the hooves of the other horses in the trailer.

Although we could not give him a new life, at least we could give him a painless death. It is not the big victory we were working for, but it is a victory none the less.

Rest now, Skipper, in your greener pasture. You’ve gone on ahead, we know you’ll be there to greet us at the pasture gate.

Here is a super Belgian who almost shipped even though he was sick with tetanus. Makes you wonder how many get killed and eaten with every disease under the sun.


  1. You know what, I’ve seen first hand at Sale Barns and heard by word of mouth (inner-communication) about what Can and can NOT be done by State Laws. BULL! It goes by un-noticed. There is no Regulator sitting at each and every sale barn! Are you kidding me? There are animals dying on the ground with no remorse; foals bludgeoned in the head with a sledge hammer so their mothers can continue on the slaughter. You PEOPLE, like “Pennell” above are NUTS! You have NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT! NONE! You probably work at a Sale Barn, and are the heartless individuals that WE try to rescue these horses from with your brutality, heartless soul, cold and dark treatment! STOP trying to make out that Sale Barns are a “good” place. They are EVIL and full of DEATH!

    1. Thanks Terri, what you say is true for horses and all other animals.

    2. I agree with every word you say…..

  2. I believe Collette. “This story is not true – this horse was not going to ship to slaughter – he was too sick, he was not provided with the needed medical care at the dealer/auction barn. He was sold for 550 by a dealer.” In PA and a number of other states, it is illegal to sell a horse in this shape. I understand rescue very well, but I do not understand paying and particularly overpaying a criminal for criminal behavior.

    1. People may choose to believe many things, however the facts remain the facts. Neither you or Collette were involved in this situation, and neither of you are in a position to provide facts. Not about his condition, or his handling, or what we or the dealer did or did not do.

      Skipper’s story is sad enough without turning it into a work of fiction. Sick horses are shipped to slaughter. Injured horses are shipped to slaughter. Horses that have been treated with restricted medications are shipped to slaughter. Sometimes knowingly, sometimes not.

      The lot owner extended himself, helping us to try to save Skipper. He took no money from us or anyone else when Skipper had to be put down. I have no idea why you would try to convince people these things are not true. You were not there. You do not know.

      Regardless of what you may believe, of what tale you may prefer, facts are pesky, stubborn things. They are presented in the article as written, and in my response to Collette below. Believe as you may, your belief changes them not at all.

      There ARE things that are worth believing – that the number of horses that go to slaughter is a disgrace – that the safety of horse meat is suspect – that the industries that breed horses and then throw them away are callus and uncaring – that the shipping, handling, and killing methods used with slaughter-bound horses are inhumane.

      And there are causes worth believing in too – that rescues can save individual horses lives – that educating the general public might one day bring an end to the slaughter pipeline as we know it. That’s worth believing in.

      What I KNOW is that the facts are the facts, they do not change.

      What I BELIEVE is that Skipper’s life and death, his willingness to fight to survive are going to stay with me a long, long time.

      Skipper’s story is why we do what we do. It’s why we use our own money to pay vet bills mounting into many, many thousands of dollars for horses that will never be able to work or ride another day. His story is why we work instead of sleep, network instead of play. We could not save Skipper, but we work every day, every day, every day to save the next one, and the next one, and the one after that, one horse at a time.

      1. Thanks for all you do Megan to save horses.

    2. Conversations about brokered horses and kill buyers should be left for another time perhaps, and this is probably not it.

      It’s also illegal to ship horses in late stage pregnancy, but CHDC has completed a few “freedom of information” requests that showed that this is exactly what is happening. And the CFIA here in Canada has no idea what they will get until they break the seals on the trailers. One mare in a CHDC report had even given birth in the trailer. Not legal to ship, but nevertheless it happens.

  3. Collette · ·

    This story is not true – this horse was not going to ship to slaughter – he was too sick, he was not provided with the needed medical care at the dealer/auction barn. He was sold for 550 by a dealer.

    1. The story IS true, exactly as reported. I am part of the the group that worked to save him from the slaughter pipeline.

      The man who owns the yard went to great length to help us with Skipper, working to get him back on his feet, and arranging to have him put down when it was clear there was no more we could do.

      Although it’s not stated in our original post, the yard owner would not accept money for Skipper. We refunded Skipper’s bail to the person who had stepped up to provide it.

      Collette, before making assertions about the veracity of stories like this, it would be useful to verify the facts with someone who has first hand knowledge of them. Our group made this effort to save him, and we reported the facts as they indeed occurred.

      While we do not know for certain what took Skipper down, it is indeed frightening that ill horses, and horses that have been treated with slaughter-restricted medications, can end up in the food supply. And what’s even sadder still, is that so very many horses go to slaughter at all.

    2. The whole trade is mired in inadequate laws, needless suffering and the elephants in the room are the drug contamination of horsemeat and the possible slaughter of infected horses. You have to remember that there is no cradle to grave monitoring of horsemeat as there is with other animals.

      Honestly, I’m not sure what you feel is to be gained by this particular claim.

      1. Collette · ·

        It is sad the owner could not have humanely euthanized Skipper before he ended up with the kill buyer. He was obviously ill and could not stand, he suffered – and he didn’t need to. It is true that 550 was raised to purchase him; whether that was refunded, I do not know.

      2. In regard to Collette’s further reply (Sept 9, 2014 09:29)

        Indeed, it is sad that Skipper’s original owner sent him to auction. Without doubt his life had more suffering that it should have. We do not know what his owner understood about his condition prior to taking him to auction. If the owner knew that Skipper was that compromised, he surely should have gotten vet care for him, or if that was futile, had him humanely put to sleep. Sending an aging or ill animal to auction, knowing that after it has given all it can you are going to pay it’s service with fear and pain and ultimately slaughter is callus and ungrateful at a level I simply do not understand. Skipper’s life should not have had to end where it did.

        The reason Collette does not know what was refunded is because she was not involved in this rescue effort. In case it was not clear, I will repeat, “… the yard owner would not accept money for Skipper. We refunded Skipper’s bail to the person who had stepped up to provide it.”

  4. coltswesternshop · ·

    Skipper a bell rings for your wings. May you fly with the angels at last! Refuse…..refuse….to be brutalizied!!!! Great job Skipper…..great job!

  5. It’s common practise with all meat animals as well as horses. Get the last dollar out of them while they can still walk into a truck or trailer

  6. Barbara Griffith · ·

    I think horses are shipped to slaughter with diseases too. The owner finds out what its going to cost for treatment and hauls them to a auction. I have seen photos of horses taken at auctions and I saw at least one Belgian whose hind leg was twice the size of the other one. Lymphaugitis may be common to Belgians.

  7. Anne Marshall · ·

    Thank you, all of you who saved Skipper from getting on the trailer. The bills you paid and a second chance, no matter how short matters. And Skipper was not tortured in the slaughterhouse.

    Thank you..


  8. Thankfully, this brave horse was relieved of his misery. He fought, which is a lesson to all of us, again, about the intelligence and courage of our best friends, the animals. He deserved to be set free from his suffering. This time, a group got together and made sure he did not get sent to a horrifying death.
    What this says about kill buyers and the entire slaughter industry, I will leave to others.
    The killers are not worth writing about, compared to Skipper. Skipper is a representative of the courage of those we kill for consumption and for sport.
    All species, regardless of circumstances and labels, deserve to be treated as companions and treasured for their own worth.
    Remember Skipper like we remember Ferdinand.
    Congress can be written to or called from **Pass The SAFE Act and The PAST Act now**

    1. The CHDC posted a story a few years ago about another Belgian, this time a mare given the name Pearl by the writer. Pearl was at a kill auction with a badly swollen leg from lymphangitis. She was deemed “fit to travel” and, sadly, she shipped to slaughter. You can read about her here:

%d bloggers like this: