CALGARY – Some of the province’s wild horses were saved from the slaughterhouse after an Alberta auctioneer took steps to find them a home.
“Horses and cattle are put here for us to use, not abuse,” the auctioneer said over the microphone.
At The Innisfail Auction Market Saturday, more than a dozen were auctioned off to the highest bidder and the right home.
It’s a new lease on life for the wild horses.
The Innisfail Auction made sure all of them were sold to just ranchers and farmers.
Any potential buyers from the meat market, were sent packing.
33 wild horses were captured in the Ghost River area west of Calgary.
19 are in the care of rescuers and 14 were left to be auctioned off Saturday.
It’s a relief to Wild Horses of Alberta Society’s Bob Henderson, who is caring for some of the horses at a rescue ranch near Sundre.
Danny Daines from the Innisfail Auction Market says the horses have taken good care of themselves in the wild.
“These horses are in better shape than most people that have been feeding horses,” Daines said.
One buyer observing the horses that were auctioned off said some don’t appear to be wild.
“There were horses with brands, there was a horse that’s here that’s a gelding, so that means somebody cut it and threw it out. Just dropped it off and let the government feed it,” one buyer said.
There was even a palomino stallion in the herd.
The special auction even brought out a new breed of buyers.
“The regulars that support the horse sales all the time are here but it’s brought a lot of new people out to come and see how it’s all going happen,” Daines said.
James Spidell is a new customer and he bought his first horse.
“Better than it going to the meat factory,” Spidell said. “Just going to take him back and see if I can get him halter broke right away. Play around with him in the round pen and maybe get a saddle on him and stuff and go from there.”
The highest bidders were more focused on making a point rather than getting a deal.
Jennifer Rath paid $1,600 for the horse she bought.
“For a non broke in horse in the market today, that’s a lot of money but I kind of looked at it as an opportunity to kind of develop skills with a horse and give it a new life,” Rath said.
“It means a lot to me. I plan on having him as a forever horse. We do a lot of riding in the mountains so I plan on taking him back and riding him there this summer,” Rath said.
Wild horse culls in the foothills have been a source of controversy for years but now, the Alberta government has agreed to a new pilot project to manage the number of wild horses in the Sundre area.