"Rescue those who are being led away to death. Indeed, hold back those who are staggering to the slaughter." Proverbs 24:11
This weekend I met Mary Falcone, an amazing young woman with boundless energy who runs All The Kings Horses Equine Rescue (ATKHER) in Northford. Operating since June 2010, they have rescued 23 horses and currently have eight up for adoption. This is a big number for a small rescue.
Mary grew up around horses and when she was able to afford one, decided on adoption through rescue. She found June, a pretty but spirited chestnut Morgan horse, at Tara Farms in Coventry and fell in love. After adopting June, Mary looked more into horse abuse and slaughter and decided to give more horses like June a second chance.
According to the USDA, 150,000 to 170,000 American horses are sent to slaughter each year. In 2007, the last three horse slaughterhouses in the U.S. were closed. But horses are still exported to Mexico and Canada where their meat is processed and then shipped to Europe.
There is a huge misconception that horses ending up in the "kill pen" are old or sick. The USDA states that 92 percent of horses killed for their meat were in good condition, healthy and still productive. This practice should not be confused with humane euthanasia. It is not, nor will I go into the gory details of the trip to and the process at the slaughterhouse.
But Mary Falcone, an angel disguised in dusty blue jeans and muddy muck boots, has been able to save a few lucky horses from these horrors. I visited her at a farm in Northford where she leases out space for her rescues and her own horses.
We walked the grounds, met each of the horses and she educated me about how these big, beautiful creatures land here and about the fate of those unfortunate equines who don’t.
"The majority of horses that end up in the slaughter pen have run out of luck," said Mary. "There is a divorce, a child has outgrown the hobby, it’s an underperforming race or trot horse, or Amish cart horse who can no longer work a full day, lesson horses and camp ponies that are too expensive to keep over the winter. These animals are not old or sick and should not be thrown away."
Her rescue also takes owner-surrenders.
Most of the horses at ATKHER are from the Camelot Auction House in New Jersey. Mary has gone down there and literally taken the last horse in the lot.
"When I have room, I take the last horse standing, whoever is left," she said. "I like to take the one who needs it the most. We are not a sanctuary so can’t take in a lot of injured horses."
During this part of our tour, we meet Missy, a 25-year-old dark brown horse who during her long life was probably a jumper. When Mary met Missy, she was in bad shape.
"Transporting to slaughter is very dangerous for horses," said Mary. "They are crammed together in a truck with no food or water, old and young, stallions and pregnant mares, ponies and minis. I just couldn’t see Missy making that trip. So I basically took her from the kill pen to humanely euthanize her. If not, she would have gotten trampled."
They are working to bring her around, but she now has colic. If Missy does bounce back and someone wants to give her a nice retirement home, she is an incredibly sweet horse and would be a good companion for another horse or a sweet loving pet.
Running ATKHER is a full-time affair, but Mary also works 9 to 5 as a social worker. Each day before work, she feeds and turns out the horses and, with another volunteer, splits lunchtime duty.
She has a great set of volunteers who work at night to clean the stalls and bring the horses in. Chester Equine Vet Frank Palka provides all routine care for free, but ATKHER does have to pay for emergencies and medicines. Feeding and boarding care is expensive so donations would be appreciated!
Under Mary’s care these horses are thriving. I met some beautiful animals:
- Ginger, a 21-year-old standardbred trotter with a soft black/brown coat
- Legs or Legitimate, a 12-year-old thoroughbred who happily rolled in the dirt
- Breezy, a spunky 5-year-old standardbred pacer -- her race name was Who Is Your Daddy!
- Indy, an 11-year-old Arabian Quarter Horse who just got adopted
- And two tall, strong and handsome Belgian draft horse brothers Jack and Dan.
I could go on about June’s braid, how Missy, sick as she was, gently followed me, or how massive Jack and Dan are. (Look for more descriptions of each under their photos.)
For now, I’ll leave you with a message from Mary:
"Because a horse is at a rescue doesn’t mean there is something wrong with it. Come out and meet them. They are in great condition. They know they have been saved and have a lot of love to give. You don’t have to buy a horse, which may be costly. Their adoption fees are very small."
I went out and met them and the awesome Mary. I hope you will too!
ATKHER is a 501c3 and funded fully by donations and fundraisers. If you can’t adopt, send a donation, sponsor a horse, or volunteer -- Mary could use a morning off!
All the Kings Horses Equine Rescue, P.O. Box 88, Northford, CT 06472
- High Quality Hay - Rescue horses need good quality hay
- Grain - Blue Seal, Beet Pulp, Dengi Hay
- Salt blocks
- Stall Mats
- Monetary Donations
- Tack - Saddles, Bridles, Lead ropes, new or used, break away halters
- Buckets - 5 Gallon Flat Back Buckets, Muck Buckets
- Bandage Supplies - Self Cling Vet Wrap, gauze
- Antibacterial Ointments
- SWAT - A must for summertime injuries, it helps keep flies off of injuries!
- Digital Thermometers
- Funds for vaccinations and medical care
- Wormer - Quest Gel, Quest Plus, Zimectrin Gold, Ivermectin, Panacur or Safe-Guard, Strongid,
- Blankets - All Sizes
- Towels - All Sizes, New and Used
- Wheel Barrow
- Fly Spray
- Fly Sheets
- Horse snacks- apple butter treats, carrots
Lisa Maloney can be found @LMMaloney48 on Twitter.