I photographed this mare back in the early '90s while visiting with a co-worker who knowing I painted horses, had invited me to come out to her place to see and photograph her appaloosa mares and foals. She had some very nice appys and one very cute foal that I happily burned a few rolls of film on, but, the whole time, this skinny, old palamino roan mare was tied to a hitching rail just calmly watching us fool around with the other horses. Before leaving, I walked over to pet the mare and snapped a few pics of her tied to the post. I asked the owner what the deal was with her being tied there and she said she was waiting for the truck that was to haul her off to the local auction. She added that the mare was starting to go down and was losing her muscle tone and that they wanted to sell her before she died on them. She figured that she would get bought by the meat packers and at least bring in $50 or a bit more.
Then, this woman went on to tell me how they had had this mare for many many years and that all her children had learned to ride on her and showed with her over the years. I was left pretty much speechless, but, managed to say as I left that perhaps she would get lucky and someone other than the slaughterhouse would buy her instead. I didn't know this co-worker well, and I was in no position to do anything to save the mare, so, I just left it at that. I really felt bad about it though. Even today, after all these years, the photos I took of this mare make me think about that encounter and I am still stunned by that blase' attitude towards a living creature that should have been treated as a beloved member of the family and allowed to live out her days with them, or at least taken care of in a humane way if warrented...not packed off to an auction at the first sign of failing due to age, knowing the mare was likely to end up with the meat packers. Well, anyhow, as it happens, the mare did not get bought by the slaughterhouse! I found out about a week later that she was bought by a man who wanted a reliable older horse for his daughter to learn to ride on. A happy ending to this story. I like to think that a horse-crazy little girl's dream came true and an old roan mare found a loving new home for however long she had left.
This is a sketch of that roan mare from one of the photographs I took of her.