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All proceeds go to Dreams Hope & Faith Foundation at Cornerstone Ranch.

Dakota’s Story – and how rescued horses were led to Cornerstone Ranch

Written by Bonnie Paasch

Dakota was the most desired horse at Dreams, Hope, & Faith Foundation, (DHF). He recently passed away due to a severe colic. Dakota had devoted his last days bringing love and joy to the little hearts that so eagerly came to DHF. Each of them, longing to be with one of our furry friends. The loss of Dakota left only two horses to fill the demand of over 25 kids (this number is still growing).

So I decided that even with winter coming, meaning a bigger expense for extra hay, I needed to find a replacement for our beloved Dakota.

The search didn’t start out as easy as I had thought that it would. As I searched the internet, I found mostly old horses that were limited to short arena walking sessions. My desire was to fill the need because we are currently serving a couple of hard working girls who had a dream to compete in shows and 4-H. I like to support the kids that are willing to work toward their goals.

A couple of days later, I was reading through my FaceBook postings and I came across a site that had about 20 horses listed out of a killer pen. These are horses that had been bought at auction by the killer buyer. He then brings the horses from different auctions all over the area to what they call the kill pen.

The horses are then loaded on large trucks and taken to slaughter plants. Since it is no longer legal to slaughter horses in the U.S., the horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico. These horses face a horrible fate. First they are shoved into a crowded truck full of fighting, angry horses. Most of the horses have learned to fight in order to survive, while others are gentle kids’ horses who have been trained to not kick or bite and to always be polite. Sometimes the long journey is in 100 plus degree heat and there is no water available. Often a horse will fall and it is so crowded that they are unable to get back up and are trampled under the crowded horses.

After the horses get there, I have seen a video of a horse struck between the ears with a machete. I’m not sure of all of the conditions as it is done outside of the US, but I am sure that it is a brutal death.

So as I looked at the horses on the Internet site, I was amazed to see that there were two beautiful palomino kids’ horses. They were only four and six years old. There were also a couple of beautiful ranch geldings. I decided to call the contact number to get more information on the horses. I talked to a girl named Sabrina. She told me that there were over 100 horses in the kill pen and that they had only a few days to find other homes before the truck would take them to their death.

Sabrina said that the two palomino mares had belonged to some children who were broken hearted at having to part with their beloved friends due to hard times. The sad story and obvious sorrow and confusion radiating in the photo of the two mares, was more than I could bear. I knew that I had to get there fast.

Suddenly, I knew why God had allowed our beloved Dakota to pass.

The next day, I loaded up the trailer and started on the nine hour journey to Sunnyside Washington. I had been in the horse business most of my life so I wasn’t to concerned at what I would see. My friend Shay and a couple of our hard working girls got there that evening so we settled into a motel for the night with plans to get to the kill lot first thing in the morning.

We arrived at the kill lot around 8:00 A.M. I got out of the truck and walked toward all of the horses. There were so many and they were all so beautiful. My heart sank as I looked around from face to face. The feeling was that of utter despair and confusion.

Some of the horses were angry and picking on any gentle or weak soul they could find.

Some of the horses huddled in little group of like-gentle souls, taking comfort in each other – and staying as far back as they could from the stronger, more aggressive horses. This meant sacrificing their desire to eat as all the hay was in a large bunk in the front.

As I walked down the front of the three pens full of horses, my shock turned to sorrow. Tears began to stream out of my eyes like a river. I felt the pain of each terrified soul.

I had to find a corner to bury my head away from the girls for a while and find a way to get past my state of sorrow for the horses.

As I gained my composure, my eyes found the two Palomino sisters that I had come to rescue. They were standing back as close together as they could possibly get. Their beautiful heads hanging – barely off the ground. I was amazed at how much weight they had lost already since I had seen their pictures which were taken only a few days before. As my eyes moved from their skinny bodies down to their depressed faces, I could see gobs of thick yellow snot streaming out their noses. Then I heard their pitiful coughs. The smaller sister looked worse off than the other. I couldn’t hold back any longer as I crawled through the rails and walked over to them, tears flowing.

“I’m too late” I thought. I wrapped my arms around the little one’s neck and pressed my cheek against her neck. I sobbed, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. You don’t deserve this.” She barely seemed to notice that I was there.

As I gathered myself again for my task at hand, I began to walk away to go look at some of the other horses. The stronger palomino began following me as if to say, “please come back, don’t leave us here”. I stopped and gave here another pat and said, “I will be back my sweet girl. I will get you out of here.”

I realized that I had room for four horses and I had to take four horses home. I called my husband sobbing. I told him about the sick horses and he told me to do what my heart was telling me to do. We only had $1,800 left in the DHF account and a vet bill for Dakota to pay. Yet a whisper in my head said, “God will provide.”

As I began walking through the horses, I prayed for God to show me which ones I needed to take home.

An old sweet horse limped up to me seeking comfort and feeling that I was the way out of that horrible place. Again, my eyes welled up and I wrapped my arms around his neck and sobbed, “I’m so sorry boy. You don’t deserve this.” I prayed that God would comfort him, but I had to move on. I only had two slots left in my trailer and a short bank account.

While I was looking at the horses, the man who owned the kill pen pulled in, loaded with 50 more horses. He was anxious for me to be getting out of his way. He began unloading the frantic horses and several crashed into the metal railings making a big crash and crashed into several horses lying on the ground.

Things got very chaotic after that, with horses running everywhere. One came running past me and slipped in the foot of horse manure, crashing to the ground and skidding about 20 feet before coming to a stop and jumping back to his feet in horror.

I was desperate to get my two palominos out of the fray. The kill buyer was annoyed with the distraction, but pointed the way for me to get the horses to my trailer. I tied them to the trailer and went back to continue my search.

I recognized one of the ranch geldings that I had seen in the picture days before. He was huddled with a couple other horses. I squeezed my way up to him and he was very eager to have the halter put on. His feet were in very poor shape but it appeared that a couple of trims and some hoof oil would turn them around. I jogged him on the lead line and he looked sound. A quick attempt to get on him bareback seemed not a concern to him so I decided it was good enough for me. I handed him off to one of the girls and continued searching for the last horse to take home.

Suddenly a beautiful sorrel mare with a blaze walked right up to me. I looked down and she was wearing shoes. I slipped the halter on her and she jogged right with me and looked sound. The kill buyer was nearby so I asked him if he had any information on the mare. He pointed out a numbered brand on her hip and he said that all of the horses with those kind of numbers had come out of a Girl Scout camp. He also said that there was several more in the pens. It was bittersweet because I was happy that I had found a very nice horse – but how could horses that were gentle enough and broke to be used for kids’ horses, be in the kill pen heading for slaughter?

It was getting late and I had a long trip, so I had to press on. I gave the kill buyer a check and loaded up the horses. They were all very well mannered and walked right in the trailer.

The two sorrel horses are doing very well and we tacked them up a few days later and they both are amazing.

The gelding is so quiet and easy going and he will work great with any level of rider.

The mare is a little more energetic and she will be better for a more experienced rider.

The two palomino mares are on the mend and getting stronger every day.

Please join us in a fundraiser to help save and re-home these beautiful horses. All donations go 100% to Dreams, Hope, & Faith Foundation. DHF not only reaches out to broken horses, but through Gods love, our team reaches out to mentor and encourage children and families from all situations.

Please go to our web site at www.dreamshopeandfaith.com to learn more about us. Also you can follow us weekly on face book.

If you would like to get involved, we are in need of volunteers in all of our areas which include: horse sessions, music sessions, metal and wood shop sessions.

Please support us by attending our fundraiser at the Fairgrounds in Gold Beach.

We are also in need of silent auction items, and pies or cakes to be auctioned off at the fund raiser.