Protect Your Horses: You Are All They Have

by | 01.18.2012 | 1:09pm
CANTER horses

In the wake of the disturbing allegations against 24-year-old Kelsey Lefever, the Pennsylvania woman charged with deceptive business practices and theft by deception in a case involving horse adoption and slaughter, Allie Conrad, executive director of CANTER Mid Atlantic, posted a very compelling piece on Facebook about what horse owners can do to keep their animals from being exploited.

CANTER USA is an all-volunteer organization with regional branches from coast to coast that have, in total, assisted in the placement of 15,000 ex-racehorses since its creation. Following is Conrad's article, revised for the Paulick Report and published with her permission. –Ray Paulick

I wish we could nail all of the people stealing horses from our racetracks under false pretenses, and selling them direct to slaughter for a measly $300 in profit per horse with widespread articles, shares on Twitter and Facebook, with photos of their faces.  Unfortunately, we usually can't unless there is a public record of their absolutely soulless transgressions.

Thankfully in regards to a case that occupied a lot of my free time this past spring, someone pressed charges against this vile creature, Kelsey Lefever, so her name could be publicized.

Remember that for every horse you give away, no matter how pretty the girl is who shows up, no matter how sweet she may seem, no matter if she has kids in tow, no matter if she says she is a grandmother looking for a horse for her grandchild–NO MATTER WHAT, you MUST check references and you must be prepared to listen to your gut and just say “no” if you feel uneasy.

You are better off putting an animal down humanely before trusting that it will land on its feet with someone who you do not trust.  Checking references means asking people for their vet or practice name, and obtaining the phone number yourself after checking the validity of the identity of the person who wants to give your horse a home.

It means calling and speaking to the vet and asking questions like, “How long has X been a client? How many horses does X have? How would you rate X's fencing? Would you give her a horse of yours?”

You may get answers that require you to read between the lines, but if you've existed with any success long enough to have horses, you certainly have a “gut instinct.”  Follow it! Your horses' life may depend on it.

We have heard every vile story in the book over the past 15 years.

We have had women who borrow disabled children from neighbors to obtain “therapy horses”, only to sell them to New Holland or straight to slaughter.

We have had countless people show up asking for “4H horses”.  (I, for one, have never met a 4Her looking for a horse)

We've heard the “camp horse” angle.

We've heard the sick daughter angle and her dying wish is a horse of her own.

We've heard the “We're really broke but will give him a great home!” angle.

We've just heard it all, and sometimes it's hard to remember that not everybody has.  Please tell any person you know at the track, any person you know with horses, that these people are out there, and they are out there in droves.  


The criminal charges against her may stop Kelsey Lefever, but three more will spring up in her place, and they will have T-shirts and coffee mugs and brochures to convince you that their dimpled smile would NEVER let anything bad happen to your horses.  They are liars and they are laughing every time they take a horse that you help load on their trailer so they can deliver it straight to its very cruel death.
Want to protect your horses in the best way you can? Keep them for life. Lots of folks cannot pull this off.  But they can pull off developing a relationship with a verifiable, well-reputed non-profit working near you, setting aside money to care for your horse and donating it, and one year's worth of expenses to that group.  
No doubt that lots of folks knew exactly what Kelsey allegedly was up to.  Those are the folks that were looking for a cheap, fast way to dump problem animals (problems because they simply existed and weren't fast enough) and wash their hands (and consciences!) of it.

But there were lots of folks who thought they were doing the right thing.  They trusted a cute brunette who handed them a mug and a magnet touting her amazing skills in finding homes for horses, and those people are no doubt reeling from the fact that their animals – the animals who trusted them – are dead from a violent death. I cannot imagine their fury, because if it's anything like mine, they are physically ill and ready to kill.
“You are responsible forever, for those you have tamed”– St. Exupery

Protect your horses, you are all they have.


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  • giftoffaith

    Thank you, you are so right when you call these people, especially this Kelsey, vile. I don’t know how these people sleep. I wholeheartedly agree with putting the horses down humanely. It is so much better than to endure, even for a short period, the trauma of the slaughterhouse and the road there. I believe these poor horse know what is coming.
    My horses will not go that route, it makes me ill to even think it could happen. I feel if I touch them I have a responsiblity to them.

  • Hillsdale

    Kelsey should have to rot in hell for what she has done to these horses.

  • voiceofreason

    Our industry should remain silent on such issues, until we ourselves have a better track record. In other words: shut up or put up. How can this industry make a peep, when we ORGANIZATIONALLY allowed DECADES of steroid abuses to go unregulated? When medications are continually challenged as “therapeutic” when we all know better? It’s laughable… we should simply let the wheels spin, and shrink into the corner, embarrassed by our history.

    Unless of course we are strong enough, ethical enough, smart enough to take a stand.

    hahahahh! LOL. That was funny.

  • Ida

    Thank you so much for this article. So fare this year, it has been torturous reading for animal lovers from the crazy ass b___h in Lousiana and the trailer accident in TN.  I live out in the country where there are people that don’t think it’s such a bad thing to shoot an arrow into someone’s horse for the fun of it. Or people who break up and think the best way to get back at the idiot they once loved is to drag their horse from a pickup down the road in front of their house.  I don’t understand this kind of cruelty against any animal. I still can’t get over Ferdinand and the way he died and he wasn’t even mine.

  • Jane Fieberts

    reeling from reading this story, I watched the Eclipse Awards on Monday night,
    took note of the TV commercial for some equine supplement “not to be used
    in horses designated for consumption,” and found myself stunned, wondering
    why these industry “titans” are not ALL involved in preventing horse
    slaughter. I really could not focus on the awards because of it.


    Like the
    ubiquitous fight against breast cancer, the Thoroughbred industry should do
    everything it can to stop this. It’s not up to the government to police what
    the industry turns its back on. Design a logo with a horseshoe akin to the pink
    ribbon symbol. Require breeders, owners, and tracks each to set aside a small
    percentage of money in connection with EVERY horse foaled, purchased, and racing
    on a track, to provide aftercare. If any of these parties can’t afford to do
    this, they shouldn’t be involved in racing.


    And this
    woman who did this should be forced to watch the horses be slaughtered that she
    sent to that fate. She has blood on her hands and a cruel, cruel heart. Some
    would argue that the Thoroughbred industry does as well. And I’m speaking as a
    fan of 50 years. 

  • Guest

    Thank you for printing this. We are all any animal has.

  • TBDancer

    Joe Shelton of posts these types of warnings often. The young girl with her “dad” driving the newer truck with trailer and getting “her first horse,” etc. He deals with KBs on a daily basis. He has to be careful how much he “outs” them because if they get angry with the (rightful) outing, they won’t do business with him. And the horses waiting on THEIR feedlots are doomed.

    There is no easy answer. Whether you believe in “an eye for an eye” all the way to  “we can’t save them all,” those of us who care for animals need to remember to be good stewards to the animals we have and report those who are not representing themselves honestly. My hope is that the animals that are not saved are dispatched mercifully and swiftly and they are in a better place. Those like Ms. Lefever, who take money and feed for those animals, are even more despicable. A special Hell awaits them.

  • guest

    Thank you for writing about this.  Horse owners need to know this stuff!

  • Like.
    My husband and I, fortunately, have been able to keep our 29yo Arabian for 22 years, and we plan to keep our two OTTB geldings (cross hooves) forever.

  • Have had my two Standardbred mares for a long time. Abigail was given to me as a yearling, and she turns 14 this May. Hazel was bought with Vicky as four year olds. Vicky died of colic the following fall, and Hazel turns 15 in April. I could not imagine my life without my girls.

  • Nivesnola

    Bravo, Allie! I got my mare from CANTER CA in 2008 and I couldn’t be more pleased with her. I invite people to check my references when I buy. I offer to send them pictures of my barn, my pastures, my fencing, etc. I tell sellers up front that I’m looking for resale projects, and if they are looking for forever homes, I’m not the right person for their horse. and I also check references to people I sell to, and there are some barns I will not sell a horse to, even if it means I lose out on a nice profit. I might make a meager living off of retraining and selling horses, but I do my best to make sure they go to good homes. I’ve gotten that gut feeling before and have had to tell people, “sorry, I don’t think this horse is right for you.” it’s not easy to say, but it’s all about the horse for me.

  • Allie – Thank you so much for writing this!  I am honored to know you and hopefully will be able to keep working with you and all of the volunteers at CANTER in helping re-home Off-Track Thoroughbreds.  It is always a thrill when groups such as CANTER, Exceller Fund, Friends of Ferdinand, New Vocations, Mid-Atlantic, So Cal TB Rescue, and others are able to keep these wonderful equine athletes out of the hands of people such as that vile woman whose name I don’t even care to repeat.

    I don’t know if the industry will ever get fully behind all of our VOLUNTEER efforts, or even half-heartedly supportive, but I know that you and I and the other volunteers at our groups will continue to do whatever we can for the horses we hold so dear.

    Having said that, I have been fortunate to have dealt with some individuals within the industry that do care.  Sadly, they do not seem to be the majority.  I wish it were different.

  • Ron

    I appreciate this article and CANTER CA’s link to it, as I’m currently considering adopting out my two boring but super-well-behaved QH rescues that I’ve fattened-up (and then some). My introduction to horses came after my backyard turned into a “sanctuary” for some neighborhood horses a few years ago. I’d hate to imagine anything bad happening to them. Thank you!

  • I would like to add a comment that many of the rescue groups have used the MagShoe designed by Tom Swales to help raise money and awareness for the rescue, adoption and retirement of racehorses.  The Mighty Thoroughbred Clique has designed Thoroubhred Patches to rival the fancy Warmblood patches in the show ring.  There are actually a lot of individual efforts out there, but since most of us do this in our “spare” time (we all have “regular” jobs to pay the bills and rescue/adoption/retirement efforts are done while usually asking forgiveness of family for the massive amount of time and money we must devote to keep it going.

    There are marketing and planning opportunities were the groundwork has been laid, no need to re-invent things, but we could sure use some more good volunteers to help coordinate.


  • James Staples


  • James Staples


  • Jumpnrope

    I wish all horse owners knew about these type of predators. I have enlightened a few people about not giving away or sending their horses to the local sales barn, they are surprised that their horses may not be wanted by others for enjoyment, but only for profit…their trusting horses’ life ending with abuse & death.

  • Pegm

    Right on !

  • Lisanky

    Wonderful article but I want to point out that there are indeed 4H kids looking for horses. I have a 32yr old off track QH that was purchased for me when I was 14. 4H is very competitive where I grew up. This horse carried me through 4H, high school rodeo, and became my backup horse when I went to college. My daughter rode this same horse for her first few years of showing and he is a fat, happy pasture ornament now. My daughter successfully evented an OTTB and has him at college now. This summer we spent several months looking for a step up horse for my 8 old niece, again, for 4H. In the end, we bought a QH for her but if we had found the right OTTB we would have been just as happy. This will be the first year she is old enough to go to the fair as she will be 9 in a few days. 4H kids must have their project months in advance in order to keep meticulous records required at the fair. Of the 2 OTTB’s I’ve adopted, I still have both. My guy is retired and my daughter is currently showing her now 16 yr old. I have 3 other horses with me at all times, one of which is a OTQH. They are 3, 5, & 11yrs. They are all safe and will never be sold. I just want to make point that a kid looking for an OTTB for 4H can indeed be a legitimate purchase. These horses need good homes and I’d hate to see one miss out on ANY opportunity for a safe and happy life.

  • Lisanky

    Just 1 more quick point. The pony mare that my niece outgrew this yr is a 19yr old welsh x. For 16 of those years she has belonged to my family. She was purchased for my daughter at the age of 3 as a lead line pony. Brittany went on to show her for several years in various disciplines. After Brittany, she went to my brothers daughter, then to my sisters son, etc. she has been passed around (only in my family) and will move on to her 7 th child this spring, my 3 yr old nephew. Stormy will never be sold, she’s part of our family and everyone’s “first pony”. If you want to be assured of your horses welfare–keep track of them!!

  • May I suggest, at the risk of subjecting myself to attack or at the very least criticism, that an overlooked factor in the story of Kelsey Elva Lefever & what has apparently happened on a repeated basis at Penn National & other Thoroughbred racing facilities (including lay-up farms) is…
    …her status as a physically attractive young woman…showing up in places, that is, the backsides of Thoroughbred race-tracks & Thoroughbred racing facilities,…

    that are overwhelmingly populated by men &, may I suggest…

    …dominated by a male-oriented ethos that reeks of sexism & places a high value on female physical beauty & sex-appeal &…

    …that permits what most self-respecting adults would find to be offensive sexist behavior, verbal & otherwise.

    I was not & am not privy to the facts of Ms. Lefever’s “visits” to the Thoroughbred facilities when she arrived to meet with trainers & owners seeking rescue & sanctuary for their Thoroughbred racers.

    However, I have spent enough time at Thoroughbred racetracks & other Thoroughbred racing facilties to have observed, over & over again, what happens when a…

    …a physically attractive woman, often 30 years of age or younger, arrives on the scene.

    The backside male workers, including a number of the trainers, more often than not behave in  a manner that is ostensibly & objectively different toward these women than they do towards…

    …men (physically attractive or not) who show up or frequent the same facilities.

    I my mind’s eye, I can see Ms. Lefever driving up in her truck with the trailer attached & stepping out of the cab of the truck…

    …attired, no doubt, in jodhpurs or riding pants, with tall boots, in a sleek blouse or jacket, with a baseball cap on &…

    …a fetching smile on her face.

    Her appearance at these Thoroughbred facilities, attired as such–& I have witnessed other women making such appearances at these facilities, no doubt elicited…


    …in the minds of the men who happened to be present.

    The brain & its operative metaphor, the mind, is a powerful organ & subject to influence by a wide range of physical & psychological factors, including bias & bigotry, &…

    …that includes sexism.  

    Sexism has been documented to influence not only perception but also observable behavior in humans–& may I suggest that sexism played a role in…

    …Kelsey Elva Lefever’s brutal & murderous exploitation of Thoroughbred & (likely other breeds of) horses.

    Sexism… is alive & well in America & I cannot fairly single out Thoroughbred racing for participating in its practice.

    However, I believe it useful to consider & bear in mind how sexism can influence behavior, particularly in men & in a world/activity-occupation dominated by men & a prejudicially male-oriented ethos.

    As Ms. Conrad notes (above), we must exercise great caution in all that we do on behalf of the horses in our care.  I would emphasize that in exercising such caution, we need furthermore to examine our own motivations & behavior before we take any action on behalf of the horses in our care &…

    …ask ourselves whether we have done everything possible to vouchsafe the well-being of the horses & whether we have taken into consideration whether how we think of & behave toward the horses is… the real interest of the horses.

  • Lisanky

    So, should we not adopt to any attractive women? Or young women? Or do they have to be both young and attractive to be excluded? Sheesh! Ignorance!!!! Greed, viciousness, and fraud come in all shapes, ages, and sizes. So do honesty and kindness!

  • BadMoonRising

    WOW! She captured
    every feeling I had after reading Ray Paulick’s article revealing Kelsey
    LeFever. I could not have said it/wrote it better myself. The quote she includes at the bottom of her piece is the truth we all need to understand and live by.

    “You are responsible forever, for those
    you have tamed”– St. Exupery

  • Ida

    Just a quick note to all of the commentators who have talked about their own horses and how much they have meant to them and they will take care of them forever, A BIG THANK YOU.  It certainly makes me feel better that there are loving and responsible people out there who I hope outweigh the psychos who can’t distinguish a plant from a living, breathing, loving creature.

  • JT

    Amen.  Thank you SO much for this article.

  • In tears

    This is a really good article everyone should print out and pass along. To reply to giftoffaith, yes horses know what is going to happen,some die of fright some actually cry. Right now I keep receiving email from people wanting to know the price of horses I have posted on line for sale. And a man emailed me yesterday wanting to know the euro to dollar amount. I have no horses posted on line for sale, ever.
    I went through the wringer when I trusted who I thought was a experienced broker that actually is scared to death of a horse and will not go near one. He never travled to places he sends horses so God knows what happens. I trusted him and sent my mare to what I thought was a breeding farm in the finger Lakes, turned out to be a nut case. I sent up a fat mare and fought to bring a skeleton home that could barely stand in my trailer, she made most of the trip home lying down. It was over a three hour ride. It cost me a small fortune and had to jump threw a lot of hoops to get her back and loads of vet bills for two years on colic.
    My point is it could have been worse since this guy never checks on where these horses are or if they are still alive. He also sent mares  to the other farm in Ny that was a real mess with starved and dead or dying mares and foals.
    A horse owner or pet owner must do their homework before realeasing a animal to a prospective buyer. I know it is hard but sometimes it is better to humanly put them down, at least you know they are in a better and not suffering or scared, and trying to understand what is happening to them or why, They are smarted than people give them credit for. I have learned that by watching and learning.

  • Phoebe Hayes

    Hi Ray, thank you for bringing this awful case out into the open. It is very impressive how dedicated the police have been in pursuing Lefever and associated creeps. I want to commend Georganne Hale for banning this woman from the Maryland tracks back in May even prior to this excellent warning from CANTER that was e-mailed to me and others in Maryland and Delaware :
    From: allie conrad [[email protected]]
    To: [email protected]; Jessica Morthole; Margie Stallings; Bessie Gruwell; Kelly Utter; Hayes, Phoebe
    Cc: CANTER Mid-Atlantic; Erich Zimny
    Re: Heads up
    Sue, thank you so much. Charles town officials called me about this girl yesterday so it seems they have been burned as well. I really hope there is a police report filed so we can post about it on the website.
    On Saturday, May 21, 2011,  <[email protected]> wrote:
    > Hey there,
    > Please pass word to your volunteers/trainers in the Mid-Atlantic area that we’ve had a huge problem this past year with Kelsey Lefever.   She’s a 23 year old, pretty brunette, who poses as a horse rescuer, rehoming OTTBs.    I had been trying to warn trainers, but I had no proof (other than common sense) until today.   This girl has taken somewhere between 50 and 75 horses this past year, all FREE, most of which were slaughtered immediately.   She has been banned from Penn (which really takes a lot of effort!).   She first showed up here with Melissa Michelson (M & M Equestrian – which is a beautiful facility); she claimed the horses would go there to be trained and rehomed, even broodmares, lame horses, etc.    She then snuggled up to one of our more respected trainers, he gave her instant validation, encouraging everyone to give her horses – and she wasn’t taking from our shady trainers, she was taking from many of our top trainers.

    > Last Friday, a trainer had a nice horse who needed rest.  She gave Kelsey $300 plus 10 bags of feed to TAKE the horse, with an offer to continue paying his expenses until she found him a good home.   Monday, 3 days later, the horse was ID’d in New Holland’s kill pen.   A police report has been filed, but I suspect she will try this BS at other local tracks.   Please keep an eye out for her, she talks a good game, but she’s a butcher.

    > Thanks,
    > Sue Smith
    > 717-451-4726
    </[email protected]>

  • Thank you, Phoebe Hayes & Sue Smith for posting this email from Ms. Smith, warning others earlier this year about Kelsey Lefever & her deceptive & murderous behavior.

    In part, it supports my contention (see my post above) that sexism played a part in Kelsey Lefever’s brutal & murderous exploitation of Thoroughbreds. 

    For Lisanky: May I suggest that you carefully read & consider my entire post…

    …It in no way recommends (as you wrongly conclude I am suggesting) that others engage in reverse sexism or discrimination. 

    Rather, my post suggests what others confirm: That because Kelsey Lefever was an attractive young woman she was likely granted certain prerogatives (read: credibility & trust) that were…

    …unwarranted & were very likely attributable to the fact that she was, as Ms. Smith notes a…

    “pretty brunette”…who “snuggled up” to… a “respected trainer.” 

    Care to wager that this “respected trainer” was male?

  • RayPaulick

    Thanks for posting that, Phoebe. What struck me the most about Sue Smith’s email was this: “She has been banned from Penn (which really takes a lot of effort!).”

    Hey, it takes a lot of effort to get Penn National to do anything, whether it’s returning phone calls and emails or addressing the myriad of problems in their racing office and backstretch.

    Does anyone know if Chris McErlean, the VP racing for Penn National, is still on Planet Earth?

  • JC

    Very well said.  Again, if LeFever gets convicted and sentenced, perhaps she needs to serve the time on a slaughterhouse floor. 

    I love that quote by St. Exupery, too.  Yes, you are responsible forever for those you have tamed, or bred, too, in my view.  If everyone felt that way, perhaps this scene wouldn’t be so bad.  Hope it was worth it, Kelsey.  The rest of us get or have a real job for $36,000.00, instead of making a living off cruelty to and the murder of the innocent. 

    I know not everyone is Christian(no problem with that) but all I can do is post again the prayer of St. Basil, who obviously understood this sickening stuff, too, all those years ago: 

    “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness


    O God, enlarge within us the sense of fellowship
    with all living things, our brothers the animals to whom Thou gavest the Earth
    as their home in common with us. 


    We remember with shame that in the past we have
    exercised the high dominion of man with ruthless cruelty so that the voice of
    the Earth, which should have gone up to Thee in song, has been a groan of


    May we realize that they live not for us alone,
    but for themselves and for Thee and that they love the sweetness of life even as
    we, and serve Thee better in their place than we in ours. 


    For those, O Lord, the humble beasts, that bear
    with us the burden and heat of day, and offer their guileless lives for the
    well-being of mankind; and for the wild creatures, whom Thou has made wise,
    strong, and beautiful, we supplicate for them Thy great tenderness of heart, for
    Thou hast promised to save both man and beast, and great is Thy loving kindness,
    O Master, Saviour of the world.” And may some members of the human race learn to do better.  


  • Mr. Paulick, I wonder if you or anyone on your staff would conduct a follow-up on Melissa Michelson, who apparently collaborated with Kelsey LeFever in her “business” of “rehoming” & “retraining” former Thoroughbred racers?Could you or your staff also confirm whether the State Police in PA have followed up in their investigation of LeFever by investigating Michelson’s apparent collaboration with LeFever.  

    Michelson’s facility, M & M Equestrian has a Web site: Mr. Paulick, I wonder if you or anyone on your staff would conduct a follow-up on Melissa Michelson, who apparently collaborated with Kelsey LeFever in her “business” of “rehoming” & “retraining” former Thoroughbred racers?
    I also wonder if the State Police in PA have followed up in their investigation of LeFever by investigating Michelson’s apparent collaboration with LeFever.  Michelson’s facility, M & M Equestrian, has a Web site:… addiiton, I discovered that Melissa Michelson & M & M Equestrian have a You Tube Channel by the same name & attempted to post a question on it about Michelson’s potential involvement with LeFever.  Here is the URL :…, moments after I posted my question, Michelson or one of her assocaites disabled the “Comments” module on their You Tube CHannel (& deleted my question).Loking at Melissa Michelson’s M & M Web site, I see further confirmation of my contention that sexism played a signficant rtol ein LeFever’s capability of convincing Thoroughbred trainers & owners to reliqnuish their horses to her & possibly Michelson for “rehoming” & “rehabilitation.”Here’s further “data” supporting my contention (the URL to the “Contact US” section of Melissa Michelson’s M & M Equestrian Web site:… add this image to the one I suggested in my first post (see above) &… can you imagine the impact Kelsey LeFever & Melissa Michelson would have when they drive up to the backstretch at Penn national & other Thoroughbred facilities?I am hoping, Mr. Paulick, that you can bring this information to the attention of the PA State Police. If others, including Melissa Michelson, collaborated with Kelsey LeFever, they too need to br brought to justice.

  • RayPaulick

    The woman you are referring to is not a target in the investigation, though I am confident the state police are aware of who she is. Please leave police work to the police. Thank you.

    State Trooper Shelly is to be commended for her work on this matter.

  • Picksburg Phil

    I am more interested in further up the food chain. Who bred these horses? Who collected commissions on these horses? Who got paid a day rate on these horses? Who received purse money from these horses? Who got slot machine subsidies from these horses. They are the ones that so cavalierly and cheaply discarded these horses. In the whole scheme of the underbelly of the racing industry, Kelsey is insignificant.

  • Jo_bananna

    The fact of the matter is that we can’t save everyone. There really aren’t homes.  The rate of turnover in barns in NA is astronomical!  I would love it if people would just load up a syrige of the pink stuff and do right by the horses, BUT it’s not gonna happen.
    I as an owner am responsible.  People would rather make the couple hundred bucks (which is a generous sum in this market) with the KB, than pay $600+ to euth and dispose of the carcass.
    You do the math. Loose or “earn,” that is the equation at hand.
    Horses are animals of prey. In nature, death isn’t kind. Actually, Nature is far more brutal and inhumane than humans are.. thus the humane thing.. I’d rather see a horse get captive bolt than be killed by a bear or big cat.
    In this economy, people have been less than humane, abandoning foreclosed properties and their animals, to fend for themselves, no food, no water. In Florida, people have actually turned horses out in gator infested bogs… ya, that’s a great way to die… Others have released their “pet” into places where wild horses run freely, thinking that their domesticated horse will be accepted. NOT. Again a bad way to die.
    This IS an emotional issue, BUT you have to educate yourselves on the whole picture, not just where your emotions begin and end.
    And for what it’s worth, Racing IS NOT the biggest contributor to slaughter in the US.

  • guest

    what is one to do when circumstances make ot impossible to keep a horse and they have been unable to find a new home for the horse? rescues are full.?????????

  • Horseman’s Guide

    Ray might be a management exclusion for taking a shot at a Penn employee.   Haven’t you read the horseman’s guide, Ray?

  • Guest

    Kelsey is not the only to blame here. On my OTT hunt I went to several tracks to see horses that I wanted. Not all people on the track, but some, I have noticed couldn’t have cared less as long as you were there to get that horse off the track so they didn’t have to pay the board. This isn’t a surprising story when there are so many owners that just don’t want them because they (the horses) aren’t paying their way. Sure, she did the dirty work, but why does the story only mention a few horses/owners when there was around 120! It’s a sad thought, but if they don’t pay then they don’t stay and it really seems as though there are a lot more people that don’t care about their well-being as we would like.
    -On the happy note, I purchased my wonderful OTT for a measly $200 from someone that knew/rode with Kelsey and was going to get sent to “someone that would take her for free” if I didn’t want her. I can only now imagine/guess where my mare would have gone if I didn’t take her that week. I can say though, that my little retired racer has won a forever home with me!

  • Three Chimneys Farm

    Great article and so, SO well said. All of us at Three Chimneys strongly support what you and everyone else at CANTER do. You guys are truly Champions of the horse. Thank you for writing this.

  • Stephanie

    Ida, where on earth do you live?! I live in the country too, and those sorts of things would never be considered acceptable or normal by anyone I know around here.

  • I would
    love to know why CANTER is listed as a founding member of an organization that
    is pro-slaughter but yet they state that they are against it. If you go to The
    Michigan Equine Partnership on the front page CANTER is listed at the top 
    Read this article that says how this organization is happy that the slaughter
    option may return.…  I
    think perhaps an investigation is in order for CANTER as much as

  • JC

    I think that which Ms. Conrad quoted applies: 

    “You are responsible forever, for those you have tamed”– St. Exupery

    Another “money sentence”, if you’ll excuse the pun: 

    “People would rather make the couple hundred bucks (which is a generous
    sum in this market) with the KB, than pay $600+ to euth and dispose of
    the carcass”.

    Well, if this were Ethics 101 class, perhaps that notion should be re-thought.  Small animal euthanasia and disposal doesn’t cost a whole lot less.  And burying on your property varies state-to-state.  Often we have to pay our vets for body disposal or cremation.  I’ve spent, in the last 20 years, upwards of ~$1000.00 for euthanasia/cremation of 4 cats and 2 50-60 lb. dogs.  The bigger your pet(even small animals), the more those things cost.  And I would spend it all again, rather than the ~ $500.00 I could make were it possible to send small animals to a slaughterhouse. 

    Preparing for your horse’s demise is part of good horse ownership/stewardship.  If you can’t afford that, as I can’t, don’t own horses, as I don’t(I also don’t have property to keep them).  Instead, I give as much as I can to horse rescues. 

    “Well, this is my beloved pet, and/or I’ve earned money off this horse, but I’d rather make $300.00 off the KB than pay the $600.00 for horse euthanasia and body disposal” is not a rationale that I can fathom. 

  • Cash’s Mom

    I have an OTTB who won nearly a half-million dollars for his owner. Luckily he was only “dumped” with a humane person who gave him to me. This same guy now has another superstar horse. A good friend encouraged me to write to him and ask him how he plans to retire this star. She said, “speak truth to owners.” We need a hell of a lot more of this.

  • My horses are included in my will, so that if anything happens to me or my husband, our horses will be provided for. Any Lawyer can draw up the papers & it is quite simple to do.

  • Trisha Holley

    I live in the country in South Carolina and I see things like what Ida sees, all the time. So many people here say, they are only animals. (I worked in a Animal Hospital for several years) Well, guess what….they are God’s creations and All of his creations deserve to be treated humanely.

  • Betsy

    Allie, thank you for writing this.  I know how hard your group works for the horses and how much you care.  Hopefully, these horses did not die in vain and her hearing and prosecution will alert others to the dangers others face every day.  God bless!

  • CMA

    Mary, give it a rest.  CANTER is not Pro-Slaughter.  That’s ludicrous.

  • Smurrayesq

    I have dealt with Melissa Michelson and found her to be very honorable.  I bought my horse from her in 2010. You can visit any of the horses that she lists for sale at her facility. She keeps them in good condition and genuinely cares about the horses. I would be stunned if she were involved in this scheme.

  • Caroline

    Evidently, it has become very difficult for people to distinguish between cheap horse traders/flippers vs. genuine re-habilitators/re-trainers/and rescuers of racehorses. I wonder who is to blame for that?

  • Smurrayesq

    Ms. Michelson has issued at statement at the following link:… have posted that I purchased a horse from Ms. Michelson in 2010.  In fact, I purchased two horses.  The first horse was not suitable.  Ms. Michelson could have told me that since I had the horse vetted and signed a contract, I was on my own.  She did not.  She worked with my trainer, and came and rode the horse at no cost.  Once she realized he was unsuitable, she took him back and found another horse for me, who wonderfully suits my needs.  The true way to tell character is not when something goes well, but how one handles a problem when things do not go well.  Ms. Michelson handled my problem beautifully.  I would trust any animal with her.  She is a good person and a true animal lover.

  • Smurrayesq

    Complete link to Ms. Michelson statement:

  • equine

    The woman may not be a target, but taking down her website and You Tube channel does raise some questions.

  • Ellen Harvey

    Here is a real teachable moment.  Enroll your horse in Thoroghbred Connect or if you have a QH or Standardbred, enroll them in Full Circle.  It records your name in the horse’s registration database as wanting to help if the horse ever needs it.

  • GaHorseGal

    I started an adoption program in the 80’s in Georgia for the 4-H Horse Program there.  I’m sorry to hear people use it as an excuse nowadays to cull horses for profit.

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