Would Never Understand

September 11, 2012
The heavy scent of urine stung the noses of the equines packed tightly inside the heavy metal livestock trailer. Shoulder to shoulder, breast to breast, the horses stood, lathered heavily in sweat. Sunlight shown through the slits in the sides as sun baked down on the metal. The little light that broke through the darkness offered hope for those trapped inside the man made vessel.

Very few still had the energy to move, and a few had grown too weak to even stand. Lying on the soiled bedding, a bay mare breathed hard. The horses around her struggled to keep from stepping on her battered body. Open gashes from where she had been nicked by others’ hooves which caused blood to run down her red sides. Shaking a little, she closed her eyes weakly, praying for an ending that just didn’t seem to come.

Rattling back and forth, the trailed knocked the unsecured horses off balance, and with one shuttering racket, the vehicle threw itself sideways again. A little black colt stumbled, his long newborn legs wobbling as he cowered against his mother. The chestnut mare lowered her weary head, nuzzling him close. Both of the horses’ rib cages shown under their tattered and filth stained pelts. The new mother’s eyes had shown very little hope for this cruel world that had taken she and her baby captive.

It had been four days since they had all eaten. Four days since they had drank. Four days since they had moved more then a few inches or feet. Four days since they had been packed into this moving death trap whose temperature reached higher then the hundreds in the blazing Mexican sun.

Looking at them then, you could have never guessed they had come from wonderful backgrounds. Loving homes and caring owners. Children’s ponies, prized race horses, show ring champions, all worth something to someone. But times had gotten tough. Horses had to be sold. Shipped off to packed auction houses where their once loved companions were sold to the highest bidders. Some ended up in good homes… some didn’t. Some were sold to killer buyers. Bought for little and then sold to the meat industry. Now that it was illegal to kill and eat horses in the United States, the horses destined to such a cruel fate were packed up like sardines and transported thousand of miles to Mexico or Canada where they would be put to death. It never mattered what their pasts were, how much they were loved or what they were worth. It all mattered how much they went for in the ring and how much money their flesh would bring.

It was just that moment that the shaking stopped. At least a dozen horses raised their aching necks and gave nervous knickers and the ones who didn’t were too weak to show their attention. Tiredly, a gray gelding stared listlessly at the doors. Blood ran heavily down his forehead leaving scarlet trails where the liquid had run. Large black flies swarmed around the still bleeding gash atop his noble head. It was still sore and raw from where he had reared and smashed it against the roof. Now his vision was wavering, making it harder and harder to see… but the sound of unlatching bolts had caught his attention.

Slowly, the heavy doors lowered and opened letting light flood into the prison cell. Horses near the front shied away, knocking hoses beside or behind them out of their way in a blind panic. The young colt hobbled a little, getting shoved hard into the side of the trailer. His mother tossed her head in alarm, eyes rolling white with fear and terror. Scared and angry for her frightened baby. The horses around her shied away from her pinned ears, one stepping down hard on the down bay mare.

Men with whips and prods stepped up into the hellish trailer, a few covering their noses with the collars of their shirts. Some just couldn’t stand that stench. Some could. One way or another, all of their eyes watered non-stop. Slowly they gained their grounds though, and some walked in, starting to yell and curse. They swung their arms to scare the horses out. They gray gelding stumbled out first, running into the heavy pipe corral. The others followed him, leaving those that had fallen behind.

Stopping on the solid ground, the tiny black foal looked back into the darkness from the light. Two men yanked hard on the bay mare’s made and neck while another pulled harshly on the side of the old halter that had buried itself into her nose. They were, in vain, trying to get her to rise. She was worth more if she walked to her death. But the mare only made it to her stomach, her legs tucking under her body. They didn’t agree… too weak to stand.

The man who was pulling on her halter cursed and in a last effort kicked her side, driving the steel toe of his boot into her ribs. The exhausted mare only flinched, she couldn’t find the energy to stand and run from them. She barely had the energy to even let out a little cry. Another human shook his head and pulled a shiny metal object from the holster at his side and pressed the circular end to the horse’s forehead. The mare drew in one last breath and closed her eyes.

The young horse’s mother quickly moved in front of him, her shoulder pushing him away from the sight, herding him towards the other horses. Her ears laid back and she trembled when the loud crack sounded from behind them. Only guns made that horrible sound. The colt jumped and the mother nuzzled his side in hopes of comforting him, praying that he never would know what that sound was.

In a hustle, the mare moved her baby in with the small herd of other horses, towards hay that had been tossed onto the ground. She slowly dropped her elegant head and took a little bite as her colt stumbled forwards and began to nurse for what would have only been one in a handful of times.

As they ate the men separated their traveling mates. They drove the gray gelding at their side to another corral, one that seemed to be more like a long line. A line that moved slowly towards a large building. The stench that was carried in the wind had to be worse there then in the confides of that trailer. Frightened neighs and screams of horses came from the line ahead, scared sounds that made the large horse more then uneasy himself.

Wafts of blood and burning flesh carried themselves in the wind and made the line dance, snort and shy away. It frightened them all. It didn’t take a creature with high intelligence to know that scent. The scent of death. It was only animal nature to want to flea, but the humans with whips, prods and cruel words kept them from turning around.

Nostrils flared, the large gelding tried to run, but didn’t get far. Without a clear vision, he only ran hard into the heavy pipe fences. By the time he reached the front of the line, his dappled grey coat was smeared with blood and sweat. His head hung low in defeat. The gash on the top of his head still bled, a drop of blood trailing down and hit the corner of his eye. It fell like a red tear down his great cheek before falling to the dust below.

Opening his eyes, he looked around through hazy vision for the last time just as his chest got pressed against the metal doors. Horses went in, but never came out, this he knew for sure. Had watched all those before him enter and never leave. It scared him, but he tried not to show it much more. Too tired to. But he looked up as the feeling of cool drops of rain fell down onto his back. The sun still shown in the far, peaking through dark clouds that covered most of the sky. A grand rainbow spread its colors across the gray at the same moment that the doors clanged open and he was shoved into the gates of hell. Into the stench and dying screams of others just like him…

From the far corral, the colt watched from under his mother’s stomach, his tiny ears laid back. He didn’t understand. He never would. Someday soon it would be his mother pressed to those doors, and not long after, he would be too. But he wouldn’t ever understand. Barely any would ever understand why man kind, those humans that they had carried time in and time out… would let them bleed out. Dying slowly. Carelessly. They never understood… why they would go in one door and never come out…

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