That is what separates these two photos. The first was taken at the holding facility of the kill buyer the day we picked Valentine up. The second photo was taken exactly 6 months later.
This is what six months of love, food, comfort, and education can do for a neglected, discarded little mare.
Stunted from malnutrition, Valentine would never mature to the big, 15+ hand mare that her alleged breeding would have offered, but she is nevertheless perfect in her own way. Scarred physically, mentally, and emotionally, she is a survivor and her life has taken on a new purpose. She is the face of over-breeding and the throw-away mentality of many breeders in America today. The slaughter industry will continue to be a necessary evil so long as irresponsible breeders keep flooding the market with foals to make a quick buck. They breed these animals, create these lives, but take no responsibility for their future.
“We raise them for us; that means we owe them some respect. Nature is cruel but we don't have to be." -Temple Grandin
Val would have been one more forgotten soul on a long ride in a cramped trailer to Mexico if not for our friend "ChiChi" and her refusal to turn away from her brave, dignified little face and we were honored to be a part of Val's bright new future.
Unfortunately, due to the damaged she suffered early on, we had to say goodbye to our little fighter far too soon. After just 4 short years with us, she was released from the physical and emotional pain of the abuses she endured surrounded by love. Valentine's story and strong, dignified presence inspired so many, and her refusal to be defined by her past injustices resonated deeply with the survivors of sex trafficking she worked with.
The sad truth is the mindset that led to Val's predicament is as prevalent today as it was then. Unfortunately, her story is not unique. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of horses EVERY week who share the same, sad fate our little Valentine once faced.
We as the horse loving community have the ability to change that. We need to hold breeders and breed associations accountable for the lack of integrity and quality in many of the stud books in the US at the non-performance level for so many breeds and STOP backyard breeding. We need to encourage adoption and reclaim the value of a horse based on it's education, talent, and conformation rather than who it's parents are. The vast majority of horse enthusiasts are just looking for a safe, trustworthy family member, not a show record. We need to stop flooding the market with foals no one is buying from unproven stock and bring some value back to purebred horses and any horse with a quality education.
These are my opinions and nothing more. This little mare stole my heart and gave me a new reason to be passionate and care. Her sad beginning was someone's CHOICE....and that someone was not Val. Valentine deserved better.
Horses deserve better.
In Loving Memory of our precious Valentine