Monday, October 20, 2008

Research and Irony

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.


  1. I'm a huge animal lover and used to horseride years ago. I cannot believe these beautiful animals are sent off to slaughter when their owner's have had enough of them.

    You are so right though, Donna, people live their lives having no knowledge of atrocities under their own noses. Those that have the power to change things like this are too busy doing things that win them votes.

    Hmm, better be quiet now too!

  2. Just wanted to say a resounding YES to your post. It's all too easy to turn a blind eye to what is happening - and then it's too easy to let it continue because nothing is said.

    How I'd love to visit the Bear Valley Ranch and rub lots of those wonderful, soft, trusting noses. We have a recue home near by - at Bransby - and I think I need to pay them a visit soon. Thanks for the reminder