Regarding the Easter Twilight Herd
This is where the story ends...
This herd of 75 reportedly purebred Morgans was purchased direct from the broker to avoid the slaughter truck. The money used for the purchase was a loan from two very generous supporters. The idea was that once the herd was identified through DNA, these well-sought old lines, descended from Easter Twilight and Coal Creek Tornado, would have enough demand in the community to repay the loan.
What is important to realize is these horses were largely un-touched and had been so for years. Handling them was a safety issue and only a certain few who were capable and knowledgeable with this type of horse were allowed to handle them, as the safety of the handlers was paramount. These horses were not pets. This added to the challenge of placing such a vast number, as they were not immediately placeable when most were not even comfortable being haltered or brushed.
On intake each was assigned a halter, a number, saw a vet for basic immunization and worming and had DNA pulled. Though it was believed at first that this was a closed Morgan herd, as we saw each animal up close it soon became clear that the herd was mixed and other breed traits were present..
Months went by, and as time went on, expenses continued to mount. We were blessed with support of the many who volunteered their time in the beginning to gentle these animals including vets, private people, boarding facilities, and the real heroes - young Amish trainers who took these wild horses and trained them for useful lives. Grants were written and calls for donations did go out asking for help to cover the growing expenses. In the end, it was still our original funding and that of a handful of initial private sponsors that carried the financial weight.
What does it cost to purchase, vet, board and train an untouched herd of horses? The cost of rescue may surprise some. The following is a list of the major expenditures incurred in the Easter Twilight operation:
Purchase of 75 horses & Transport; $34800
DNA kits and Blood Type to DNA 5 of the herd's original mares,
whose registration would be needed for their progeny to be registrable; $3200
Board July 2016 - April 2017; $90,438
Board/Training July 2016 - April 2017; $57,547
Totaling (with not all expenses accounted): $186,030
Well over $200k has been spent when all miscellaneous expenses are added in.
By February/March of 2017 we were cycling to nowhere with the DNA, as virtually no horses were found to have registerable parents on both the top and bottom. Still, expenses were accruing with little relief.. The outside interest was for registered Morgans and these were clearly not going to be. When it became clear that several of the animals were not pure Morgans but Morgan crosses, we let go of the hope that the DNA would prove lineage and proceeded with placement.
As of August 2017, all but 7 of the older Morgan stallions were sold or placed with private individuals and/or trainers. We took in much less that we had spent to get them placeable because we had a need to cover the expenses and overhead. Even with these placements made, we were not able to recoup enough in placement fees to cover all of our costs.
For some there is no other way to describe what happened than as a tragedy. If the Crammonds had been able to register the original group of 11 mares and their offspring years ago, these descendants of several old-line Morgans would be part of our breed registry. However, a Registry rule in place at the time - since rescinded - did not allow it. While this herd did have some outside breeds mixed in, our eyes and the experience with these intelligent animals tells us there are many unregisterable, pure blood Morgans descended from the original unregistered horses which have now been lost to the breed. Unfortunately, the result is that for many of our followers, who are Morgan breeders and owners, these horses ended up with limited salable value. Today, at least we were able to register five of the original mares, though it was too late for generations their offspring, who were the genetic links to the herd and passed on without DNA samples being taken.
We choose not to see this as a tragedy. While it was not the fairy tale ending anyone had hoped for, at the end of the day, over 75 horses were saved - many pregnant mares or mares with foals at their sides. Endeavoring on this path to save them would not have been possible without the help of so many breed-loving, generous-hearted volunteers. It would truly have been a tragedy had we not intervened. The horses are alive today and still living proof that the tractability and hardiness of the Morgan shines though, registration papers or not.
If anyone has any comments, questions or concerns, feel free to address them directly to me via phone or email.
Colleen Saint Loup
Morgan Safenet President
Every Morgan Matters!