Recently, a story broke about animal neglect in Indiana.
A woman named Chrissy Francies had first ten, and then an additional six, horses seized from her property after a neighbor called the local animal control because he was alarmed at how many horses were being buried on her property.
He reported having seen seven horses die in the past year, and three within the month of January, and finally decided to do something.
Animal control came to the farm and found ten horses with a body condition score of 1- and yet almost all of their bodies hidden with thick winter blankets. But once those blankets were pulled, a horror scene was noticed underneath. Pelvises which showed months, if not years, of malnourishment. Ribs protruding. Spines standing alone, unattended by muscle or fat. And soulless eyes of these animals wondering if anyone cared. Two have already died since being seized.
But the truly horrifying thing was that, in almost each of these cases, someone did care. And still does.
So many of these horses were given to Chrissy by a legitimate source. Adoption agencies like New Vocations, or a trainer like Jen Roberto. People who rehome, rehab, and resource thoroughbreds for a living. People who have been doing this their whole lives, like Stacy Emory or Michelle Craig. People who are impassioned by finding the perfect home for the perfect mount.
People like me.
I almost gave Chrissy my own horses. She had inquired about a friends HenryTheNavigator. She had inquired of a farms retired broodmare. Hell, she had inquired about Kennedy—my very own homebred that I was so adamant about finding a life of love for.
And each time, I was excited that she was interested. We had hundreds of mutual friends. I had met her at a local charity show sponsored by a rehoming organization. She messaged me frequently with questions regarding veterinary care, breeding, and genetics. And she showed no signs of being anything other than what I thought she was. A good person.
Chrissy appeared to take the horses that were so hard to rehome-so hard to find a permanent fix for. She offered to lease, or buy, the ones with injuries. The older broodmare. The War Horse.
And because we knew of nothing out of sort, we gave them to her.
And honestly, I do not know what is worse. The fact that this woman, who apparently suffers from some form of mental illness predisposing her towards hoarding, had so many horses in her care which suffered endlessly-some resulting in death.
Or the fact that apparently so many people knew of her transgressions and never said a word.
We have read in the comments that she was referred to as Crazy Chrissy. That she was run out of boarding facilities, and that it was known that she had too many horses and that none of them were receiving proper care. It was known that she didn’t pay her bills and that her social media was a spectacular joke.
But that was local.
And it is 2018. We live in a globalized world. And so many horses had to suffer because no one was willing to take a risk. To stick their neck out. To be the bad guy and cry foul.
I know what that’s like. I am usually exactly that guy. I have been the one to stick my neck out and receive the threats. I have been sent letters from attorneys, and comments threatening injury to my body and my home. I have been sent messages from friends telling me that I am in the wrong.
That the number of times I risk sticking my neck out for the betterment of the horse will be directly proportionate to my inability to make it in this business.
And to that, I say fine.
I am sick of living in a world where we ignore criminal action. I am sick of living in a world where we fear doing the right thing because it might highlight your wrongdoings in the past. I am sick of living in a world where we attempt to dig dirt on anyone who casts a stone. And I’m sick of living in a world where our consciences can’t be clear enough to cast that first stone.
So here I am to say it.
If you hear something, search with your own two eyes.
If you smell something, there’s probably something rotting.
And if you see something, say something.
We live in a strange world. One where 50% of our industry is made up of 4-legged creatures which can’t fight for themselves. Which can’t leave a job they detest. Which can’t forage for themselves.
And animal cruelty laws are weak, but public notoriety is strong. We might not be able to change the laws, but we can most certainly change the path. For our fellow equestrians. For our beloved horses.
The government might not protect them, but we can protect each other. We can alert each other.
We just need to be stronger.
And the biggest advocate for the horses we love.
Because at the end of the day, if you know abuse or neglect is occurring and you’re turning the other way, you are no better than the abuser themselves. Remember that. Live with that. Take that to heart. And do something. Say something.
But until you do, I will.