Hubby and I had been thinking about finding a new mare since the passing of our 37 year old a few months ago. Our senior Percheron draft horses were looking a bit down, and after reading Joe Camp’s book – The Soul of a Horse – I was thinking that the herd might be happier with a mare. I heard about the Dawson Creek Auction – and thought I would join the Facebook site which had formed a few days before.
I called the Auction house on the Friday before and found out that I could bid through a “fieldman” that they only took cash or cheque, and that the hauler could pay that at the time they picked up. The girl in the office also assured me that I could board there for $4.00/day. She took down my name and number and said she would assign a fieldman to me. One girl from the Facebook site said that she would drive to the auction and take photos to post with hip numbers so that others could bid them.
The next day she started to post photos and I took one look at the Palomino mare and her 3 month old foal and that was it – that had to be my new horse. I didn’t know at the time that she was pregnant. I called the Auction house again and they assured me that Ron was my fieldman, he had my number, and he would call me – but he never called. What Ron did do was pass my cell number on to a random rancher at the auction who kept calling me about selling his horse! I finally insisted that Ron call me, and when he called he told me that I lived too far away. He refused to take my bid because I couldn’t keep any horses boarded there since cows were coming in – and also said that I had no way to pay. I went back to the Facebook page and posted “I failed – I give up” – in a moment I got a private message from a gal at the auction – she said “e-transfer me your highest bid and I’ll do what I can” – the next message I received said “Got the mare $450” – and then a pause – I could not breathe – then I saw “got the baby $300” and then I just started to bawl – another message right after said “I think she’s pregnant” – I kept breaking into tears for about a week, and I don’t even know if it was because I was so happy to have won the bid, or if I’m so affected by the injustice and horror that I had to witness. Other people were posting and posting that no one would help them. One gal was posting that the auctioneer was just ignoring her bids and staring at the kill buyer. Others were stating that the auctioneer was just mumbling the numbers and then waving them through to the kill buyers. People were desperately trying to buy babies and others from the kill buyer the following day, but he said the paperwork had been done. I was told that 80% of those 770 horses went to the kill buyer.
The next day someone posted a picture of the horses which were shipped, and I just kept bursting into tears at various times throughout the day, especially about a Palomino mare with braids in her hair. I don’t usually cry, but I’ve been an absolute mess since this experience. I lucked out to find an amazing hauler in Doug Nord, who brought them as far as Abbotsford. The second haul was then done by Trish at Crofton Transport – another awesome company to deal with.
The mare’s name is Dolly. She is 8 yrs old and her foal is now named Crumpet – 3 mos. old. Dolly is due again in June/July. It was a nasty situation to think of what may have been, as we witnessed pregnant mares and foals bid on and taken by the kill buyers. The good that arose from the dust was that in one single day I got to know more people that I admire and respect, than I’ve been able to meet in a while. The gal who bid for me, the gal who boarded them for me, the people who hauled for me, and my horses’ ride-share buddy Elmer the Clydesdale, and his owner.
When they arrived, I learned that they were not touchable. I had heard they were “shy.” I think they may have been on a range – possibly in a herd of 100 horses and among some 65 brood mares. Luckily for me they don’t have a mean bone in their bodies. As they say – “the teacher will arrive when the student is ready” – and like magic I met Liberty Horse Trainer Heather Nelson.
In the short three weeks they have been here I am already able to brush both horses head to tail – we’re ready for halters now… I’m so proud of them both. They may be carrying something from the past and I’m definitely trying to project into the future, but the liberty training brings us all into the present moment. I have no question that it was just meant to be.