“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 Sewell, Black 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.