Jen, it was great meeting you! Did you have fun? Was it at least a learning experience? heehee
MIE, it's a rough place. I mean, they HAVE really cleaned it up a lot over the last 5 or 6 years, so depending on how long it's been since you were there, a lot might have changed. They do keep it as clean as possible given the circumstances, but you still very much wade among the horses at your own risk. Back when I first started going, the few brave souls would jump in the kill pens to handle the horses in there. Anymore, there are so many killpen horses they pack them in like sardines, and I haven't seen anyone DARE to jump in the kill pens in a long, long time. If you can climb the fence and hang on it to check a mouth or two you are doing good.
That being said though, like I mentioned, they have been trying to make an effort to clean the place up. There were a couple times this summer that a lady had a couple cattle dog pups in a crate, for sale, but I'm pretty sure it was the same lady both times, and she did have the crate in the shade with water and food for the babies in there, and she stayed with them. I've never seen any other animals aside from the horses out there (usually there are some livestock in the way back left over from the Wednesday sale)
But killpens are still killpens. I try to harden myself against it as much as possible, especially as there are usually some pretty gross wounds in there - eyeballs hanging out seems especially common, gruesome though it may be and I just try not to look. The horses beat the crap out of each other in there, and sustaining injuries while there is probably far more likely than sustaining injuries in travel on the way there etc. There are the desperately sad seniors - those are the ones that choke me up the most. 20 something, skin and bone old guys - usually amish standies - that probably gave their heart and soul for a lot of years. It's hard not to buy all of them up. But I don't know if all auctions are run the same, I've only ever been to Shipsy and Strawtown. At these auctions, the seller pays commission in the saddle barn (horses that actually get run through the block in the main auction), but the buyer pays commission in the kill pens (aka "loose pens" - these horses don't get run through the block, you literally stand in a crowd in the aisleway as the horses are run past, try not to get kicked, and bid before the main auction starts). So a lot of people that are getting rid of their horses because they can't afford them anymore, have little choice but to run through the killpens. It's very, very sad.
Another thing Shipsy seems to be getting on top of is they are taking a lot more care with the technicalities than they have in the past, or than they do at Strawtown as well. Every horse must have a coggins, if they don't have a current one, there is a vet on hand to do them as the horses are brought in. They also keep on top of any reported stolen horses - while running horses through the killpen today they actually called one back to check a tattoo, as it matched the description of one recently stolen (wasn't the same horse, in the end, sadly.) They guy even rubbed his hand vigorously across the horse's neck in case a brand was dyed.
Last edited by Indyhorse; 11-12-2010 at 08:09 PM.