The ~Texas~ Mustang Project's Blog

Working for better management options and cohabitation through compromise and communication for the American Wild Mustang

Nightmare and Reality

Posted by Texas Mustang Project on October 17, 2011

If anyone is undecided about whether or not they are anti- or pro- horse slaughter, I beg of you to read on. I am truly begging anyone that has not yet made up their minds to please read the information and stories presented in this post. PLEASE! You owe it to yourself to know the full story. ~TL

My friends, it is with a heavy heart that I write to you this day. While following up on a research project, I came across a story about a horse named Rhapsody Rhose. Her human was Jaime Cowan. As I read Jaime and Rhapsody’s story, I realized that their story was quite literally my nightmare come true. After speaking via email with Jaime, it seemed prudent to share with you all this experience.

Anyone reading this could easily say to themselves, “But that won’t happen to me,” or something along the lines of, “That would never happen here.” My friends, this is sadly the worst possible assumption anyone could make.

The following is an account of just how hard their story has been driven home to us here at TMP. Please, do not interpret this as an attempt to strike fear into your hearts and minds. We simply wish to convey the gravity of the situation so that you may also take preventative steps to avoid a similar outcome. At the end of this post, there are links to websites and organizations that combat horse theft. Please, take a few moments to look over some of their suggestions. There are also links showing what you can do should you ever have to face the same situation as Jaime.

Many thanks in advance, and as always, stay safe. ~The TMP Team

P.S. Of particular interest in the video “Part 1” was his confession of how he trapped Wild Mustangs when he couldn’t get enough domesticated horses bought to make a load to slaughter. 

The Nightmare

About a month ago, I awoke in the middle of the night screaming and throwing punches. Clate woke up as well and immediately ducked to miss a punch I had thrown into the air at an invisible assailant. Luckily, he was able to wake me from the nightmare before I seriously injured him or myself. He tried to calm me, and tried unsuccessfully to understand the incoherent words I was crying. When he was finally able to comprehend my words, he also understood my fear and violent reaction:

“They took him! They took him and I couldn’t stop them! They took Mouse!”

I had been having a nightmare.

Someone elusive and evil had stolen Mighty Mouse away from our pastures in the dead of night. They had taken him to Mexico, and through my dream vision, I saw him standing in the death line. My dream vision flashed back to our home, with Clate and I sitting in the living room, and the phone rang. It was someone telling me of Mouse’s situation. My disbelief was quickly replaced with an awful fear and dread as I raced to the barn only to discover he was indeed gone.

My dream vision then flashed to the cab of our truck as we raced down the highway headed for the border. Texas is a huge state, and we live on the Eastern border. Mouse was across the Western border. Chevrolet makes an awesome truck, but even our big V8 Silverado couldn’t drive fast enough to get there in time.

Again, my dream vision flashed back to Mouse standing in that line, unknowingly awaiting his death. He looked back as though I were standing right there with him. The look on his face was one of confusion and curiosity. Mouse, forever the curious one, was totally unaware of what fate lay ahead of him. Suddenly, fear replaced curiosity’s position alongside confusion as the horse already inside the chute screamed. Mouse jerked his head towards the scream, and then frantically back at me.

Even though it was only a dream, I literally felt my heart breaking inside of my chest. The pain was immense. My beloved Mustang had no idea what was going on, and had no idea where I was, or why I wasn’t there. And try as I did, I couldn’t get there!

Flash back to the truck. My fingers furiously dialed number after number to reach every contact I had in the Texas Department of Public Safety’s State Troopers Offices, the Texas Attorney General’s Office, then on to the Texas Courts System. I called every last friend and ally I had as fast as I could, all the while my vision flashing me back and forth to Mouse standing there in that line. All of my contacts assured me they would do whatever they could to stop this horrible atrocity from taking place. But they should not have made those assurances, for such a thing was not in their power. Mouse was already across the border. He was no longer inside any of their jurisdictions.

I was too late.

As my dream vision flashed back to Mouse, he was now next in the death line. I screamed. I fought. It wasn’t enough. My boy stepped through the opening of the chute. The knife was raised, and just before it came down, I awoke from the nightmare.

The Reality

My nightmare was just that: a dream that sent the deepest fear I’ve ever felt through my entire being. A desperate sprint to the barn confirmed that Mighty Mouse was indeed still safe here at home and not in the clutches of an unspeakable horror. I must have stood there in the barn for what seemed like forever making sure that the dream was in fact just a dream, and that I was really touching his mane.

Relief doesn’t even begin to describe what I felt.

The nightmare had been so incredibly real that I still had a pain deep in my chest, one that persisted until the following afternoon. Breathing did not come quite as easily as it should have. Hot tears still flowed down my face. Anger, intense and furious, welled up inside of my body. As I stood there in his stall rubbing his neck and smelling his mane, Mouse was aware of my emotional state. He responded as a comforter, as my friend, and almost in a reassuring manner as if to say, Mom, I’m ok. I’m here, safe and sound.

But Rhapsody Rhose was in fact not safe and sound, and Jaime was in fact living my nightmare on an even grander scale that I could ever possibly dream or would ever want to.

I’ve spent the last month in a state of heightened awareness, wary of those who slow down even a little in front of our pastures, wary of any noises I hear in the middle of the night, and constantly checking to make sure of the horses’ safety. India is my son’s mare, and is much bigger than Mouse, so I fear for them both.

This fear is very strange to me. I am not the type of person that fears many things, and I am certainly not afraid to defend those whom I care for and love with whatever means are necessary. However, I am finding through this fear that even though I am fully prepared and capable of such a defense, I cannot be everywhere at once. And there are those amongst us who are not afraid of consequences to their actions. Indeed, they do not care about said consequences.

Where I live and where I was raised, we haven’t always locked our doors. In the past, we’ve often left for days on end with the front and back doors left unlocked and even open, especially in the summertime. Now, we are sure to lock every door and window before going on a five minute trip to town and back. Jaime lives in a place much the same as we do, and likely much the same as many of you do as well.

My point is simply this: We as the American People have taken for granted the safety and security of our homes, barns, and pastures for far too long. We who have not been affected by such tragedies as the Cowan family has should count ourselves extremely lucky that we have been but merely “missed” by that tragedy’s aim thus far.

If Jaime and Rhapsody’s story proves but one thing to us all, it is that we must be vigilant. Rhapsody Rhose was taken by someone the Cowan family trusted. This trust was given to this person with no cause to doubt it. And yet, Rhapsody is still gone.

We cannot allow this to happen to othersWith Jaime’s story, others – possibly in the same position with horses at a boarder – can put measures in place to help prevent the same outcome.

(FYI: Under Texas Penal Code Chapter 31, Sec. 31.03(e)(5)(A), horse theft is a third degree felony if you steal less than ten horses and a first degree felony to steal ten or more horses. Both are state jail offenses. Contrary to what many have believed for years, horse theft is not a hanging offense in Texas. At least, it’s not legally.)

Many pro-slaughter advocates would have the American public believe that slaughter is a necessary means to dispose of horses that inevitably will be among any horse population. These “inevitable” horses include those who are lame, sick, old, or those with severe behavioral problems that cause them to become a danger to humans.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Most horses that end up in slaughter are in fact robust, healthy animals. Many are highly trained and certainly capable of continuing life in the service of humans as companions and/or laborers. Even higher populations of these horses were sold under the pretense that they would go to a “good home”, some owners even being promised that their beloved Equine would be the new companion of a small child.

But this isn’t always the case. There are no solid statistics yet available, but it is believed that between 40,000 to 55,000 horses are stolen each year. It is relatively easy to take a horse, put it in a trailer, haul it to an auction and make a quick dollar. Sadly, many horses that go through an auction end up at a slaughterhouse.

Rhapsody Rhose was a Purebred Polish Russian Arabian Mare born April 9, 1989. Rhapsody was never bred. She was raised and trained for pleasure riding only, as was her mother, Romantica Rose, who still survives. Rhapsody’s bloodline contained several patron lines. She was the granddaughter of National Grand Champion Marsianin and daughter of Borexpo. She was valued between $5000- $25,000. She was sold to the kill buyer for $65. She wasn’t a show horse, a racehorse, a mare that produced wonderful foals and she never won any trophies. She was also not an “inevitable” horse.

Rhapsody was not bad. She did nothing wrong. She was not old and she had no lameness.  Her trot was amazing; her canter was breathtaking. She was not ugly.  She did no harm and did not disappoint. 

Click here for Jaime Cowan’s Story, The Story of Rhapsody Rose


WARNING: The following videos give first hand accounts from a “kill buyer”. He is graphic in his detailing of events that he and his fellow “kill buyers” committed and witnessed. Viewer discretion is advised.

15 Responses to “Nightmare and Reality”

  1. Well, Your dream scared me to death, before I knew it was a dream. I was honored to see Mighty Mouse in FT.Worth. What a fabulous little horse. In fact, a saw several wonderful horses. mustangs performing amazing tricks and movements. I was so proud. I’m adopting a mustang colt, I hope, as soon as he gets his brand and has 30 days after at Palomino Valley. It seems like so much red tape. i just want him out before he gets sick. I wish I could post his picture here. I appreciate you making us aware of the terrible things that can happen..we believe. Your are preaching to the choir. Maybe post your blog over at the AQHA site. But don’t try to argue with them. Maybe they would change their minds on their own.!

    • Paula, So sorry for the scare. I didn’t even realize how it read out until after I posted. Thanks so much for the support, and thanks for your support of the the little Mustang colt. I do hope and pray for his health and safety! I posted over at the group that the AQHA folks suggested. Didn’t want to get into the squabbles going on there already. They didn’t seem very productive the last time I looked. I really feel somewhat sorry for them. They seem like they have no clue as to what really goes on in the horse slaughter industry, and they seem even more oblivious to the AQHA’s unrelenting support of said industry. Maybe you are right, maybe they’ll change their minds on their own. We can hope and pray!

  2. Hey TL, a dear friend of mine many years ago, placed her aged, but healthy gelding with a children’s camp locally. She was an active rider and had purchased a younger mare and felt George would get the attention and affection and light work outs that would keep him fit for another decade. Imagine her surprise when she called back to check on him 6 months later, that he had been sold. She asked why? And the owner said, she had more horses than she needed. When asked why she wasn’t contacted (as she had left all of her contact information) when the owner came to this decision, the response was, ‘well, you wanted to get rid of him.’ She knew, in her heart what became of dun colored Handsome George, Her beautiful, trusting, healthy and safe older gelding. She was devastated. This woman just collected free horses and made money off of selling them to slaughter buyers.

    This happened to a friend in California as well.

    It’s true, there is no such thing as a ‘Free’ horse, only uneducated owners, lying predators and the horses pay with their lives.

    My friend’s last horses both came from kill buyers. They lived out their lives as companions and friends (aka ‘pasture ornaments’). My friend is not wealthy, but told me she would NEVER sell another horse to the day she dies.

    • Hey Puller,
      Thank you for sharing your friend’s story with us.
      I am just… well… I’m speechless in some ways, and in others I am so f-ing mad that I want to scream!
      “George” and so many more like him are placed into what appears to be a loving home or situation, only to have their trust in the humans they are trained to love and honor betray them in unspeakable ways.
      What hell awaits mankind for the atrocities he has committed against his kindred!

  3. Thank you, TracieLynn. I appreciate the story on Rhapsody Rhose. As I have said from the beginning, her story is not only her’s. From now on, when her name is mentioned, everyone will not only picture her, but the millions of other horses, wild mustangs and burros that are transported and slaughtered each year….and for no “logical” reason. Thanks again. The article was very well done.
    Jaime Cowan
    In Spirit She Guides Me

    • Jaime,
      You and Rhapsody are most welcome. I was just telling a friend that I am finding myself amazed with every comment I read and email I open this morning of others telling of their own experiences and losses. This problem has reached epidemic levels. We must stop this. It simply cannot continue. As Puller stated, “It’s true, there is no such thing as a ‘Free’ horse, only uneducated owners, lying predators and the horses pay with their lives.” I for one will never forget the realizations I felt while reading of Rhapsody. It was like my nightmare was being read back to me in detail that you couldn’t possibly have known at the time and yet, there it was, plain as day.
      We must stop these people and we must protect our loved ones!

  4. thank you for this post. courage and heart are appreciated. from you and Jaime and all of us.

    Today, October 7, 2011 the new rule affecting double decker transport of horses becomes effective. The Humane Society of the United States wants to be in a position to monitor compliance/violations while urging the USDA to enforce the new regulations. We are in the process of developing a monitoring plan and would like your assistance. We are aware that many rescues attend auctions on a regular basis and are often in a position to observe violations of the humane transport of equines. If you witness any violations, please contact us with the following information:
    1. name, date, and address of the auction
    2. name of the truck cab and trailer and the name of the trucking company
    3. license plate information of the double decker trailer
    4. If you are able to take video or stills with time and date stamps, that is preferred. Video and stills without that information is still acceptable. Information without any photos is fine too.
    5. We will work with the information provided to us and you are allowed to remain anonymous.
    6. You may use my contact information below and either email or call me.
    We all need to work together to make sure the USDA does its job and enforces this new law. Thanks for being the voice of the horses.
    Valerie Pringle
    Equine Protection Specialist, Equine Protection
    t 301.258.1408 f 301.258.3078

  6. CB said

    The story of Rhapsody Rose should be shared by every one who loves horses, and every one who wants to stand up to protect the lives and safety of animals. This way she would have not died in vain. Mouse spoke to you in your dreams, in a way he might have sensed Rhapsody’s dream, and perhaps even her last breath. This is a story they both want to share with us, humans, to put an end to the inhumane practice of transporting and killing horses for profit.

  7. yes Jaimes story of Rhapsody Rhose is every horse owners living nightmare. It could infact happen to any of us at any time…but there are also some of us who have been privaleged to have been presented the opportunity to get horses from stuations and rescues etc which have been saved from this barbaric industry. If people would just look inside their barns and look at their pastures and ask themselves “can i save just one horse”..then we would make a huge difference in the horse slaughter trade…it is within all of us to make this a thing of the past..for the memory of those who have been, and those who are innocently grazing in a pasture today…..

  8. With tears I write to thank you TL for telling Rhapsody and Jaime’s story here. Jaime is our dear friend who we have stood by helplessly…only able to offer care and concern for her grief. I know she promised Rhapsody that her loss would not be in vain and that has now become a reality. Their story has gone international now, but I hope everyone will please keep this going for the lovely, irreplaceable mare Rhapsody and all of the other beloved horses that have perished. I am so sorry to each and every person who has suffered this great loss.

    Kim Sheppard

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