Artwork Created To Benefit Equine Rescue
A Horse Painting Created For IERAL Fundraiser
I have been blessed in my life that I am able to do something that I feel passionate about for a living, that is my art. Because of this, I feel a strong need to do a certain amount of giving back. Since my background in animal health (long ago in another life I was a veterinary technologist) I usually choose animal related charities. Critters bring much joy to my life and so it seems natural for me that that is where I put my efforts.
This lens is about the creation of a painting to be used as a fund raiser for the Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League. (IERAL) The horse I chose was actually one of the rescue horses whom I fell in love with when I was out photographing the various horses in IERAL's care.
Also I will briefly talk about the issue surrounding horse slaughter as it's effects both good and bad are felt heavily in equine rescue organizations..
About The Author Of Artwork Created For Equine Rescue
Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery
My name is Mona Majorowicz I am a professional artist who has been making my living selling my work for some time now. I am an animal artist, (meaning I paint critters) who works primarily in Oil Pastel or Water Soluble Pencil.
I own and operate Wild Faces Gallery with my husband Mike in a small rural town in Iowa. There we sell my original artwork and prints, as well as do quality custom framing and offer Giclee printing for other artists as well as for ourselves. I have over 20 years experience in the art and framing industry, both as a business owner and as a working artist.
Animals are my passion and art is how I chose to express it.
All copyrights are retained by the artist,
Mona Majorowicz of Wild Faces Gallery.
The artwork or content in this lens may not be used or reproduced, either
in part or in whole, without the express written consent from the artist.
About the Iowa Equine Rescue and Awareness League (IERAL)
IERAL stands for Iowa Equine Rescue & Awareness League. IERAL is located in the Cedar Rapids area of Iowa and is an established non-profit organization which provides care for abused livestock for the state of Iowa. They partner with law enforcement, attorney's and veterinary agencies all over Iowa to help fill the void when it comes to the rescue of large animals like horses. IERAL offers a rehabilitation program for the horses they take in.
In the spring of 08 I went out to visit IERAL to learn about the operation and take some photos in the hopes of creating a painting for auction as well as prints to help raise some funds. I was pleased to be asked to participate in this cause as it is something I believe strongly in.
Karla Sibert the president of IERAL took some time to show me around and introduce me to some of the horses. I liked Karla quite a bit. She struck me as tough, honest and passionate about the cause. I recognized in her a fellow spirit who pushes herself way past the amount of hours she has in a day. Her work for IERAL is just one of many things that she is a part of.
If you would like to learn more about IERAL visit their website at www.iaeral.org. There you can also see who is ready for adoption and who they are helping now. Also as the need for equine rehabilitation continues to grow they are always in need of donations of any kind. Check 'em out.
A Blind Recue Horse
Karla took me around to several locations where various horses were fostered, so that I could take pictures and ask questions. I was unable to photograph all of the horses being fostered as it had been raining and some were barn bound.
It was on our second stop that I met Colton, a 7 year old lovely gray Arabian gelding whose likable demeanor immediately entranced me. He was a gentle touchy-feely sort of horse. His sweet nature and good manners reminded me much of my own horse. If I were a woman with more time available for a second horse, I may well have taken him home with me then and there. Or rather, I would have started the process.
I photographed several beautiful horses that day in preparation for doing a portrait as a fund raiser. But this is the horse I chose to do as he is so beautiful in both looks and spirit.
about how he came to IERAL
The following is part of an email I received from Karla Sibert regarding Colton..
Colton, was brought to IERAL on August 18th, 2007, along with 5 other horses that were abandoned in Lee County, IA. He was six at the time and had never been away from his mother. When he arrived at IERAL foster care facility, we had no idea that he couldn't see, and we were so taken back that he had never been away from his mother his entire life.
We took two stallions (Colton being one of them) to get gelded that same day. When we picked them both up at the equine clinic Dr. Abraham said "You know this gray is blind don't you?" I'm like no way he is only 6 years old, what would cause the blindness this early in life? He said, probably moon blindness, which he probably caught some virus that went untreated and so he went blind. That would explain why he never bred his mother I'm sure.
So, he was put back in with a half sister and his mother upon his arrival back to foster care. We adopted out both sister and mother within about three weeks after that, so we brought in a pony to keep him happy. Well, he was lost with out the two mares, but he finally adapted with his pony friend.
An Excerpt from my Apples 'n Oats article about the Colton painting.
but this part is not actually about Colton.
Of Pigs and Panic.
On the way out to the pasture where the horses were, we crossed a grassy pen where two pigs were kept. Karla warned me that one of them was quite friendly and would probably come out to greet us. Her warning did little to prepare me for the sight of a full grown pig loping across the pen full tilt, squealing and grunting excitedly.
She had assured me he was harmless. But something very primal happens in the brain at the sight of a largish critter charging wildly towards you. My logical side said "don't be silly" all the while I was having flash backs to a story from my childhood. I grew up in farming country, where stories abound about children gone missing in pig pens . . ."and all they ever was found was one shoe!"
Of course there was no need for concern, he just wanted a quick snuffle to see if we had brought any treats, (alas, we had not) and a quick scratch on the nose.
The IERAL Fundraiser
An Annual Event
After some hesitation (and some convincing by my hubby) I decided to attend the IERAL fund raiser. My trepidation stems from my naturally anti-social personality. Plus, I had no idea what to expect. I'm not the hob-nobbing type. But no cause for concern, it was very rustic and very much my kind of crowd. I mean it was held in a barn!
They had live music in the loft (or perhaps it was a mow?) with wine and cider tasting, gourmet caramel/chocolate apples and miscellaneous noshes.
Outside, you could meet some of the horses available for adoption. They also had a bonfire going to complete the whole experience. All in all an enjoyable weekend.
This is me (of course) with Karla Siebert (on the right..). She also runs a frame shop (among many, many other things) and she is the one who framed the original painting of Colton. The mat looks kinda dark here, but it is a lovely blue-green color, which looks great with the painting.
I didn't stay all the way until the end, so I've no idea what became of the original painting in the auction. We had made some smaller prints of it and they seemed to be selling pretty well. The event had a pretty good crowd and it was a success.
Buy a print and help support IERAL
50% of all print sales go to support the rescue league
Prints are still available for purchase. So when you buy a print you help support IERAL's efforts to restore Colton's sight as well as help countless other horses in need.
50% all of print sales of this image will go to IERAL for Colton's medical expenses. With the purchase of a print, your name will be added to the list of donors (unless you'd prefer to remain anonymous) for Colton's eye surgery.
The Colton print comes in two sizes. Just visit my website Wild Faces Gallery for more details.click on the image for more details.
Colton's first eye surgery went well. He is having one eye operated on, at a time.
Once again the commentary is in Karla Sieberts' own words. .
Colton is at AEC and traveled well yesterday, despite the horrible winds/weather. Colton loaded on the trailer like a charm, and is a VERY GOOD BOY! He is now settling it at AEC, he will be there for approx. 30 days, with med's being administered 4 times a day. He is located in the Stallion barn if any one is interested in seeing him.
I can not explain, how thrilled I am on Colton's behavior. He is such a well mannered boy, who has probably never seen the light of day. Let's hope that he will regain some sight in the first eye in the next few weeks, and his disposition remains as he is today, calm and very quick to learn!
Update: Colton Comes Home
I recently received an update email from Karla Siebert regarding Colton and his recovery. Here is her email in part as I have trimmed some of it, due to it's length.
Colton was taken back to ISU on Friday. Dr. Betts, the surgeon and the ophthalmologist at ISU explained to us the eye, the procedure and the possibilities of his sight in that eye. His report was this "Colton will never be able to read, however he should be able to see objects at afar and his sight should improve in weeks to come". The second vet, came in and did a new test on Colton's retinas in both eyes. The retina's have been damaged, and said it's unknown if Colton will be able to see in either eye.
We loaded Colton back onto the trailer, and came home. Once Colton was back to his foster home, he jumped out of the horse trailer, and his buddies Blaze and Sonny came dashing over to greet him. Colton immediately put his head up in the air "looked" straight at both of them and cried out.
"Colton will never be able to read, however he should be able to see objects at afar and his sight should improve in weeks to come."
We led him into the pasture, where Blaze did his little posturing of "Hey buddy I'm the king here", and for the first time ever, I experienced Colton's posturing. He cranked his neck, nose to nose with Blaze, (vs. running Blaze over because he couldn't see him like before) and they both smelled each others nose, and Colton went to the rear to do the same thing. Then Sonny came trotting over to Colton and he did the same thing.
Colton ran around some, and again for a first time, he slammed on his brakes about 8 feet from the fence and stopped. vs. possibly running into it, as he has come very close to doing that in the past. Having the new snow here, I wasn't sure how he would recover if he couldn't see, because his marks have been recently covered with snow. He did very well. He looked at trees, and then we went into the paddock area where the barn is with Blaze. Colton appeared to look at things as he has not done in the past. He went into all three stalls without bumping into his sides, walked in each of them, took a nibble of hay from each stall and came out to be with Blaze.
The long term effect on this particular eye is unknown. I am confident that he does see things, just not close up. Because of the retina damage we are unsure what the next step is, except to watch him for the next 45-60 days and see how he comes along. "IF" he appears to still have some vision in the 1st eye, we will reevaluate the second eye for the possibility of removing the second cataract.
Colton Has fully recovered and been adopted out to a wonderful forever home. It was quite a journey but I love the happy ending for this special horse.
And Finally A Word About The Horse Slaughter Industry
Because you better believe it plays a part in all of this.
I was very hesitant to put this commentary into this lens because of the furor stirred up when it was initially posted to my blog. But in the end I relented because this has strong ties as to why equine rescues are brimming over with unwanted horses. Whichever side of this issue you are on the truth is, no matter what happens there will be many horses who suffer for it.
I was in our bank a few weeks back, when one of the tellers was trying to give away a horse. A registered 7yr old quarter horse stud. Now I am soooo not in the market for another horse. And if I were, it certainly wouldn't be for a stallion. Still ... the words "free horse" made me pause. Truth is, several people in the area would gladly give away a horse or two. Their value at auction has plummeted. While at the same time hay prices are way up and winter is here. I have heard rumors that some people are just turning their horses out. Dropping them off like some people do with unwanted cats and dogs.
The reason horse prices are so low you ask? Well, you probably guessed it from the title. Horses are no longer being purchased for human consumption. (Yeah, that's right) Over a 100,000 horses a year are slaughtered in the U.S. for the food market. Mostly as a delicacy in Asia and France. (A true french fry in fried in horse lard.) The closing of U.S. slaughter houses only affects slaughter in the U.S. Horses can and are still being transported into Canada and Mexico for slaughter.
Livestock is a business.
Just so you know, I am a big time carnivore. I grew up in the rural agricultural Midwest, where steak and taters were the daily fare. That being said, the idea of eating a horse steak is completely revolting to me. It would be the same revulsion if someone was serving up dog roast or kitten stew. My animals are family to me. Still, I have been in the animal industry long enough to understand that animals are a business. My logical side says what puts horses, dogs and cats off the menu, while cattle, pigs and chickens are all fair game. These food type of livestock are intelligent animals, who can be just as loving as your dog, cat or horse. How easy, it is to compartmentalize things. To disassociate that roast in the freezer from a once living breathing creature.
This is not a black and white issue. I don't know that there is a "right side." I personally, am pleased that horses are no longer going to slaughter for the food market. I like to think that people aren't going to be as inclined to puppy mill out horses as they have in the past. Hopefully, breeding will be more selective. Only quality animals will be bred to quality animals. I am not sure if this is fanciful thinking on my part on not. However, I was watching a quarter horse auction the other day and their quality horses were still commanding great prices. Most of the yearlings were going between $15,000 and $75,000. Of course, this is worlds away from the type of horses we are talking about here. But it goes to show, not all value in horses has been diminished.
I also think that there is going to be a dark time ahead for horses because of this action. The rumors of turning out horses to fend for themselves or worse yet ... leaving them to starve, are a worry. Still, I don't think that we should alter laws because of the law breakers. Anyone who would do such things should never have had a horse in the first place. If providing slaughter allows this type of person to have horses, I don't see that as being good.
The biggest problem as I see it, is figuring out what to do with all of these unwanted horses. There are a great many equine rescues as well as people who would love a good horse. Still, 100,000 plus horses every year is a lot to handle.
I don't really have an upbeat note to end on here. So I will supply you with a couple of places to go to for more information about how all of this came to be in the first place. And who to go to for current information. The current issue (as well as several past issues) of Apples 'N Oats magazine has extensive coverage from both sides of this topic. Also you can check out the following:
At this point there has been no slaughter of horses for human consumption in the US for a few years. Though several states either have or are applying for licenses to open horse slaughter plants, But unless the law changes it isn't going to happen. Of course, laws are always changing.
So Where Do You Stand On The Horse Slaughter Issue?
I unfortunately can see both sides of the issue. But from the comments left on my blog I may well be in the minority as most people felt very strongly one way or the other.
So here's your chance to talk about it. But be curteous. I will not tolerate aggressive behavior.
Are You For Or Against The Reopening Of Horse Slaughter Plants in the US?