The mother and daughter team of Amy and Saje Bayes, both of Peabody, are in the life saving business. They work to stop horses from going to slaughter by rehabilitating and finding the horses homes. Their work started years ago.
“We were a rescue before the kill pen was even here,” said Amy.
The women took in horses from the state and horses that people didn’t want. They went to auctions to try to save a few, only to watch the kill buyers buy 20 or more with the intention to slaughter the horses.
Initially, the women believe that there was no way they could compete. The kill buyers had more money and were doing their jobs.
“Then I thought there has to be a better way. I went to the kill pen owner in Marion County and asked him if I could sell the horses for him before they went to slaughter so that they could still make a profit and we could save them,” said Amy. ”He agreed and gave me 48 hours and then was shocked when I managed to sell several in time. He started bringing horses to our place and if we didn’t sell one, he would take it back.”
After awhile, they couldn’t afford the cost of feeding the horses and caring for them. They couldn’t even send the horses out very far to pasture since many were sick. They gave up until the man they had been working with called.
“He called us up a few months later and said his brother was buying a place near us and we could keep the horses there. We went over there to talk to him, and now here we are. It will be three years in Feb,” said Amy.
The kill buyer gets horses from all over and brings them to Marion County. The ladies check them out and try to sell the ones that they can by posting the information and videos on the internet. The slaughter house will only keep a horse for about four days or less so they have to work quickly.
“I put one up today and he sold within 10 minutes. They don’t always go that fast since they are often sick or old, but we try to save all that we can,” said Amy.
The relationship between the Bayes and the kill buyer is very untraditional.
“We had to learn to understand each other’s point of views and we get along and work together well. It’s very controversial what we do, and we get slammed by other rescue pens all the time. They think we are giving money to the kill pens, but this kill pen isn’t like other ones where they mark the price up extremely high. He lets them go at what they go for slaughter because he is not a jerk and is an honest man,” said Amy.
Amy and Saje explained that it’s illegal in the United States to kill horses and sell them for meat, but it is not in Mexico. Kill pens ship the horses there where they are sold by the pound just like cattle. Then they ship the meat off to other countries as a delicacy. They kill them by letting them bleed out.
Some say there is an over population of horses but it is actually an over population of unwanted horses. In addition to finding homes for the unwanted horse, they sometimes take them as well.
“We often buy the horses that no one else wants. We get them vet treatment and help make the rest of their lives comfortable. Some of them we have had come here and will never leave. Horses generally live on average 25 years and we have several pushing the 30 year mark,” said Amy. “My husband jokes that we have a nursing home for horses.”
Since Amy works full time, Saje does the daily feeding and other care full time. But it takes both of them to get everything done.They have things down to a routine which helps.
Some horses have come through have been rescued more than once. One horse, Allen, came in with a group from a boy scout camp in Arizona. Someone bought the horse, and then ended up giving the horse back to the kill pen. Amy and Saje were able to sell him to the Hoffman family in the nick of time.
“He is the perfect retired camp horse to start my kids on! We rescued him the day before he was to ship to slaughter so we named him Lucky. We appreciate the info we were given from Amy and Saje to make sure he was a good fit for our family,” said Natalie Hoffman.
The non-profit has three Facebook pages for those wanting more information. In addition to the Greenwood Stables and Equine Rescue page, there is a Greenwood Happy Tails which has posts from people over the years who have adopted the horses. The Kansas kill pens page is the business page where horses can be bought.