I recently visited Bear Valley Rescue Ranch to do research for my next book. The owners, Mike and Kathy, invited me after I'd e-mailed and so on a gorgeous fall day I made my way there - in the heart of one of my favourite areas of Alberta.
Kathy works a day job so Mike was there to show me around (along with a couple that went with me) and meet the animals. This is a home for more than just horses, though they do make up the majority of the "family". I say family because everyone has a name or, in the case of Mike, everyone is "sweetie". I lost count of cats, saw at least 3 dogs, several chickens, 2 geese we immediately realized were the MP's of the barnyard, and turkeys. There are also five pigs. I'm not particularly a pig person but I did find their antics funny. Mike assured us that no resident ever finds itself on their table.
We met lots of horses - including a brand new foal, four new additions and a couple of old girls with no teeth. The whole place is on 40 acres surrounded by woods, making you feel like you're in a world away from everything else. I rubbed a lot of noses while Mike and I talked.
When we were on our way out, we stopped at a quarter section across from them, where they pasture most of the herd. It's donated land, and it's gorgeous. I came away with so many ideas it was crazy, and I'm really looking forward to writing this book.
I have to mention that the bulk of Bear Valley horses come from those destined for slaughter. I won't go into all the details of the horse slaughter industry here in Canada, to do that visit their web site and you can read for yourself. But on Friday there was a crash in Calgary - a trailer of horses overturned.
Twelve horses died in the crash - either at the scene or in later euthanasia. There is lots of talk about how wonderful people were who stopped to help, and they were. They put up a pen, helped get the other horses out, and yes, it's a feel-good story.
Except the horses were on their way to their own death anyway. They were off to a slaughterhouse. I think what strikes me is the irony. All these people came out to help when there's trouble. It became a major news story. But the fact that they were destined for slaughter - no one gives a damn. It makes me shake my head.
That's about as political as I dare to get today...and I haven't made my word count either, so I'm off.