My name is Vern McWilliams and I’ve been in and around the cattle, horse and general ranching lifestyle for 60 years. For the most part, one of the advantages to that is the people it allows you to be associated with. However, there are times, like now, when that is not the case.
I met a horse the other day…well, actually she’s a mare, and she asked me to tell you her story because she’s ashamed to be seen in her present condition. She doesn’t have a name and all that she knows about her father was that he was the toughest stud on the plateau the spring before her birth. She has no lifetime earnings record, nor best of show ribbons, but she learned well from a wise and loving mother the hard lessons of survival in a beautiful but harsh land.
She does have a heart the size of Nevada and stamina beyond measure, but she told me she didn’t think she had the stamina to survive her current lifestyle. She’s incarcerated on a ranch in the beautiful Santa Ynez Valley. Horse country, they call it. It must be because she doesn’t have any of those horse-related papers, that she’s not treated like a horse.
Some people have been trying hard to get us enough hay so that we can just quit hurting long enough to think about what is next. But a veterinarian, who they say makes marvelous treats for those horses in the valley that have papers to prove that they are horses, says this mare and all the others don’t need help.
As they say, from the horse’s mouth, the long and short of it is if someone, like maybe the county supervisor, who I was told was responsible for may welfare and animal rights, doesn’t do something soon, the only other problem I’ll be for these “horsemen” is where to hide my bleached bones.
Animal Control people are saying they are doing everything they can, given the information they are getting. But that information is wrong, and these horses are suffering because of it. Unless something is done right now, more of these beautiful horses will surely die.
If you are also concerned about the welfare of these horses, pick up the phone and call Third District supervisor Gail Marshall and tell her. Her phone numbers are 686-5095 in Solvang and 568-2192 in Santa Barbara.