Weighing In: Is This An Acceptable Way to Treat Horses?

“Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people. ” 
― W.C. Fields

“My troubles are all over, and I am at home; and often before I am quite awake, I fancy I am still in the orchard at Birtwick, standing with my friends under the apple trees.” 
― Anna SewellBlack Beauty

“A horse loves freedom, and the weariest old work horse will roll on the ground or break into a lumbering gallop when he is turned loose into the open.” 
― Gerald Raftery

“Horses make a landscape look beautiful.” 
― Alice Walker


This is an opinion piece, based on what I have witnessed and/or perceived to witness at this location. All opinions in this article are mine and mine alone, unless otherwise stated. The photographs are taken on site and have been unaltered or Photoshopped except for cropping out the background to focus on the center subject. All photos where taken from the rightaway, on public access, with a zoom, and/or across the street. At no time did I trespass on Bishop’s Lodge property to take these photos.

A little different post. But most of you know (that have been following me for a while) that I’m big into animal rights causes…to the best of my loner ability. 

In early spring of 2017, a family member pointed out the state of the horses at Bishop’s Lodge in Santa Fe. They were being kept in this corral and, as we were driving by, the family member said that was a terrible way to keep horses, since they didn’t even have grass in the corral and they had resorted to eating the bark off the trees in the corral. This family member grew up around livestock and horses.



I took a drive down to Bishop’s Lodge when I got home. It has been bought out and is undergoing renovations by these people. (More information on their website: http://www.bishopslodge.com/)


On my first visit, I took some more photos. The horses were grazing on the dirt and actually eating it.




The horses seem to be angry. I was driving by one time and saw a gray spotted horse chasing another horse, swinging its head and its teeth bared. It looked like it was biting the other horse. Note the dented feeding bin above (I have witnessed them kicking it repeatedly both in the Spring, in later Winter visits, and today) and the overturned feed bin below. 


There also seemed to be a lot of horse poop in the corral. It smelled awful. And I love the smell of stables and, yes, even horse poop.

See the darker stuff in the picture lining the trench in the photo below? It’s not a shadow. That’s all horse poop that has been there so long it’s a thick, trampled layer upon the ground.


So, now I am upset and angry on behalf of the horses. As I don’t have the same network of people passionate about animals on my speed-dial as I did in Florida, I have to resort calling the New Mexico Livestock Board again. I don’t remember the exact sequence of events, so this is an attempt to relate it from memory.  After some persistence and leaving more messages, I finally get a call back from the investigator. This person goes out and investigates and says the horses are in good shape. I keep an eye on them as I drive by each day, and see that not much has changed. Sometime during this event, I also reach out to Animal Protection of New Mexico. I find out from public record reports that there are multiple other reports that have been filed against Bishop’s Lodge. Among them was a report where apparently a witness saw a staffer kicking and/or beating a horse. “Allegedly”, like newspeople like to say, I’m apparently not the only one reporting the situation of the horses at Bishop’s Lodge to the authorities.


I am still saddened over these horses. It looks pretty in the picture, but the horses are still living here month after month. I notice little things as I drive by. Somebody, at one point, tries to grow grass in the adjoining corral, and has attempted to irrigate the corral. The sprinkler is actually only irrigating the part outside the corral and the road, not the corral, which is a waste of valuable water in the desert. I notify the Water Department. Sometimes the horses are in both corrals, sometimes they are back in a exercise corral, but mostly they are still being kept in this same corral. Summer is hot here. Then Winter comes, and the temperatures dip below freezing. I am assured by horse people that they are fine in the winter, even without shelter or protection from the desert winds. I call periodically, and give both the New Mexico Livestock Board and the Animal Protection of New Mexico updates. I check on the horses but it seems not much changes on the surface. I make attempts to join rescue groups so I can be more on the front lines, and contribute more.



I’m driving by one day and I see major construction happening at Bishop’s Lodge. Concrete mixing and grinding and building and noise, noise, noise. I was relieved to see that they weren’t in the corral. But that was just one day. The next time I drove by, guess where the horses were? And there was a huge cloud of dust from either the concrete mixer or the grinder–I couldn’t even see which of the construction equipment was making the dust. Just that it was white (New Mexico natural dust is brown) and sweeping over the horses in huge clouds. I wish I was exaggerating. I was horrified. At the soonest possible weekend, I went back to take pictures. The above picture is from today. You can see the corral to the right. But it gets worse. In the time I last drove by, to today, there has been massive land clearing right behind the corral. The other exercise corral is off to the left, and not in the photo. There were also horses in that one, right next to where machinery and trucks were operating on this very day. I have tried to crop the background out of the pictures as best I could to show the scale of huge piles of dirt, debris, felled trees and massive rocks, as well as the size of the yellow earthmover involved. When you are standing there, it looks like a war zone.






This earthmover was not just a little Bobcat–it was huge!


This is directly next to the corral. You can see the cement mixer.



Okay, so, yes, that was a lot of pictures. (There’s only a few more.) But I am just incensed over the fact that not only they think this is a perfectly acceptable way to treat horses, but that they continue to get away with it. Can you imagine these sensitive, beautiful creatures not only having to endure this small corral day after day (and the noise from the street), but the noise and machinery all around them? How terrified and shellshocked they must be? I think that this is absolutely unacceptable.

And to top it all off, it made me cry just to look at the horses in their miserable corral they are still forced to live in. When I was there today, they were eating dirt in their empty food troughs. I don’t know what I can do about the ongoing plight of these horses aside from this blog, but I have not only left messages for the New Mexico Livestock Board, and sent emails to Animal Protection of New Mexico today, but have tried to do everything I can to notify nationwide groups like PETA, In Defense of Animals, and even the Animal Liberation Front, as well as others. By the time I came back with my charged-up camera, the horses had at least been fed some hay. I have also informed the New Mexican (the local paper) and the local news TV channel: KOB 4 via phone and/or email. If any of you have any other suggestions or comments, please let me know in the comments section. Thank you for bearing with me to this point on a cause close to my heart and soul.

Here they are eating dirt, in their empty food troughs.



Here are the last pictures of the miserable, dirty, and smelly corral I witnessed today.



I say, shame on you, New Mexico. I think it is definitely is the “Land of Entrapment”  for these poor horses.


Black CATastrophy Writing Prompt: Puppy Love



                                                              Puppy Love

They found the bike propped up against the wall, but Allison was gone.
“Dammit, I knew I should have never got her that bike.”
“Dad, it’s not the city anymore. She’ll be okay.”
“I know, it’s just…”
“Yeah, I miss Mom, too.”
Samuel gave his son a side hug. “I love you, Marius.”
“C’mon, Dad. Let’s find her before she stumbles across a backwoods meth lab.”
“Ha, ha.” He watched his son load the bike into the back of the SUV. Hard to believe he’s already a senior.
“We’ll hit all the stores on Main Street before they close. Then head over to the dog park, then—”
“Then we’ll swing by the trailer, then the community pool, then out to the farmhouses on the outskirts. Can I drive?” Marius asked.
“When you get your own car.”
None of the store owners had seen Allison.
“Next stop, the diner,” Samuel said. His son was too busy texting to answer.
“Hey, Rhonda, seen Allison today?” Samuel asked his boss.
“No, hun, not since you all were here for Sunday brunch. She missing again?” Rhonda inched closer. “You just need a good woman to look after you all.”
He could smell peppermint Schnapps on her breath. “We’re doing okay.”
“C’mon, Dad, it’s going to be dark soon.”
“You all just let me know if you need something.” Rhonda patted Marius on the head.
Samuel hustled Marius out the door.
“Seriously, Dad, a head pat? Please tell me you don’t like her.”
“Why not? She’s a good woman.”
“Now I know you’re full of shit.”
“Watch your mouth, son.”
Their laughter stopped when they got to the trailer and saw Allison on the steps.
“Oh, no, she’s got Mrs. Wilson’s dog.” Samuel said.
“Daddy, look. I have puppy friend.” Allison stood, the dog struggling to get free.
“Dad, what’s all over her dress?” Marius said.
“Hopefully just mud.”
“It’s all in her hair, too.”
“Sweetie, that puppy is Mrs. Wilson’s.”
“No, daddy. Is mine.” Allison held the dog even tighter.
“Allison, we’re going to get hamburgers at Charley’s. Mrs. Wilson is going to watch the puppy while we eat. Okay?”
Allison smiled crookedly. “Okay, Daddy. Then we go get puppy, if I’m good?”
“I promise.” Samuel gently took the dog from her. “Now, go with Marius. He’s going to get you all cleaned up.”
Samuel carried the dog over to Mrs. Wilson’s trailer and knocked. The tin door squeaked open.
“That girl of yours stole my dog again?” Mrs. Wilson flicked her cigarette into a bush.
“Yes, ma’am. I’m very sorry. Allison doesn’t understand when she does something wrong. And she just loves dogs.” Samuel said, as the dog ran inside.
“So you keep sayin’. Next time, I’m gonna call the police.” Mrs. Wilson slammed the door.


Later that evening, Samuel made sure the childproof locks were set on the front door. At least she couldn’t wander outside at night.
“But what if there’s a fire,” his wife said to him, in his head.
“I tried my best, Janine,” he whispered, as he poured himself some Scotch. After a couple of sips, he took the glass to the desk in his room. He pulled out a glossy pamphlet from the drawer. “I’m so sorry, Allison.” Salty tears mixed in with the whiskey taste in his mouth.
The next morning, Samuel dropped his son off at school.
“Allison not coming to school today?” Marius asked.
“Nope, we’re taking the day off. After yesterday, I’d better keep an eye on her. Figured we’d go get pancakes. Can you get a ride home after band practice?”
“Sure, Jessica’s mom can drop me off.”
“Pancakes?” Allison said from the back seat. “Chocolate chip?”
“You betcha. All the chocolate chips you want.”
After Allison had her fill of pancakes, Samuel drove her to the state psychiatric hospital that Allison’s doctor had recommended.
“Daddy, where are we?”
Samuel unloaded her suitcase. “Sweetie, you’re going to go on a vacation.”
“Are there puppies inside?” Allison asked.
“Let’s go see, shall we?” He held her hand tightly while he led her up to the white building.


He got home well ahead of Marius. There was a dog sitting on the front steps of the trailer porch. At least it’s not Mrs. Wilson’s dog.
“Shoo,” he said, and the dog took off. The trailer was so quiet. He turned on the TV and then took a new bottle of Scotch and a glass from the cabinet. The house was still too quiet. He turned up the TV volume. Some old action movie.
He poured one drink, then another. Then a third. His hands hadn’t stopped shaking, but at least he wasn’t crying anymore. Have to be strong for Marius.
Five o’clock, and the winter darkness started to close in. Someone started yelling in the movie. Then a cacophony of barking dogs erupted from the television. I don’t remember dogs in the movie. How much Scotch did I drink? He shook the bottle. Almost empty.
He squinted at the TV, but the picture was blurry. He turned it off. The yelling stopped but the barking persisted. No, it was more like howling, now. He fumbled with the childproof locks and opened the door. Animals streaked from the small porch into the shadows.
“What the—” He took the flashlight from the shelf by the door and shone it into the darkness. Dogs. Hundreds of dogs. Some even looked like wolves. And they had stopped howling. Instead, they were growling. Growling and snapping as they sprinted forward. Samuel stumbled backwards and fell, dropping the flashlight.
“I’m so sorry, Allison,” he cried as the dogs closed in.


“Hi, Marius.” Allison hugged her brother. “Are we going to go get pancakes?”
“Yes, Allison, pancakes with chocolate chips.”
“Then home?”
“Yes, home. But only after we get you a puppy from the shelter.”
“Puppy.” Allison clapped her hands. “I love puppies.” Her smile was no longer crooked.


–Willow Croft

Writing Prompt Link: https://blackcatastrophy.com/2017/12/03/black-catastrophy-writing-prompt-16-gone/.


Surreal (Slow, Sleepy, Sad, Sullen) Sunday

Today is Food Stamps day, so I have go shopping. I dread shopping. Even though I have my list handy (that I work on in the weeks in-between food stamp days), I always seem to forget something. Food Stamp Day has fallen on a weird day. It’s come after the Saturday Farmers’ Market, so I can’t get all my shopping done in one fell swoop. Poor me, right? *wry laugh* Imagine if I was a gatherer in a hunter/gatherer community. “Oh dear, I forgot to get some wild garlic. Now, I’ll have to go back out and get some.” And then I would get eaten by some fierce nocturnal animal because the garlic spot was miles away and I didn’t make it back before dark. Not that the stew wouldn’t have been burned by then, anyway.

I had a weird dream I had moved into a new apartment, but I was forgetting something (a hint of the grocery shopping day looming?) in the move. The apartment was in a European city, maybe in Germany, and I was embroiled in this undefined mystery. Plus, I was trying to get settled into my apartment community, and I kept forgetting to take stuff to my new apartment from the place I live in now. Like one of my cats. Like a bed, which I brought anyway, and then realised there was a bed already in the apartment. I was trying to get everything sorted so that I could begin my new life, but I kept screwing it up. I never did get things fixed, because I heard one of the feral cats outside and it woke me up.

I miss having a indoor cat companion so much. Although, I realise I’ve been really lucky (or smart) in the cats I picked. For the most part, they were such good kitties. They were also older cats by the time I adopted them. Everybody seems to want kittens, but I can’t imagine why. Older cats are fantastic…sweet, calm, mellow, patient, loving. Kittens can be that, too, eventually, but somebody I know just took in a kitten that showed up at their house. But they get into everything. Running all over like a demon, jumping all over you, attacking you in play nonstop. This little sucker even managed to tear off the sofa cover in about a few minutes’ time. Better them than me, seriously, as cute as the little monster is.

I am officially a fan of older, more sedate cats–the ones that so often get overlooked in shelters. Even senior cats rock! It’s so nice to have them just curl up on your lap for hours, or curl up with you at night. They embody meditation and stillness and just radiate peace and contentment. Comfort in a little purr-body.

Find your old-kitty gem at a shelter today. Or an older dog. #AdoptDontShop https://www.petfinder.com/

I mean, look at these sweet loves. How can you resist?