SELBYVILLE -- The "kill pit" is where horses unworthy of auction are kept.
They are broken, bleeding and on the brink of death, awaiting transport to a foreign slaughterhouse.
"There was a horse there in extreme pain, suffering from stomach colic and a broken leg," said Shelley Wright-Estevam, owner of Sweet Meadow Stable. "While he was trying to lay down to relieve his pain, his rope was tied too short to find any comfort."
Moments later, she said, the horse died.
For 10 years, Wright-Estevam has been traveling to the New Holland Sales Stable in New Holland, Pa., to purchase horses that would otherwise be sold to slaughterhouses. She's rescued about 20 horses. This year, a group of her riding students took up the cause and purchased Rosco, a 5-year-old quarter horse cross.
"He was cute as a button," said Peyton Carter, 13. "We bid on him because he was in our price range and he turned out to be the most wonderful horse."
The other girls involved are Tarryn Chichester, 15, Rebecca Saltzman, 17, Taylor Smith, 16, and Andi Wade, 14. All live in the Bethany Beach and Rehoboth Beach area.(Scott Nathan photo)
If you help Contact Mindi or Peyton Carter at 302-227-6364 to find out how you can help rescue horses. For more information on Sweet Meadow Stable, visit www.sweetmeadowstable.com.
Carter and her friends began raising funds for Rosco early this summer, through bake sales, baby-sitting, business sponsorships and other means. They raised more than $1,000. With taxes, Rosco cost $505. According to Wright-Estevam, all horses worth less than $700 are purchased by "killer buyers," who ship the animals to Canada or Mexico where they are processed for their meat.
"All horses are slaughtered for human consumption in foreign countries," Wright-Estevam said. "With a large racing industry, America is the largest producer of horse meat."Rosco lucked out.
"We already have a few people interested in buying him," Carter said. "But we have to make sure that whoever takes him does not plan to send him back to auction."The girls have dubbed their effort "The Sweet Meadow Stable 2010 Rescue Team," and plan to continue raising funds to purchase more horses. Mindi Carter, Peyton's mother, said the girls could use all the community support they can get.
"They are doing this pretty much on their own, with guidance from their instructor, while learning valuable life lessons along the way," she said.