Investigators arrived at the Billings horse auction, which is quickly becoming one of the largest horse auctions in the United States, at 7:30am. Over 900 horses were to be sold that weekend. It was a warm and sunny day with a high temperature of 75°F. There was already a lot of activity and the pens in the back of the premises, holding the “loose” horses or slaughter prospects, were full. It was noticeable that many of these horses appeared to be extremely tired, they were standing motionless with their eyes closed in the crowded pen and in the middle of other, unfamiliar horses, which is quite unusual.
In one of the pens, investigators saw a grey mare that was laying flat on her side. She did not move, even when approached by other horses. An auction visitor managed to make her get up by pulling on her halter, but she laid back down again shortly thereafter. In the same pen also was a horse with a bleeding leg injury, most likely obtained during transport.
The loose horse pens sold first and auction employees on horseback moved the animals into narrow pens behind the auction ring. Once in these pens, the horses became very agitated and started to fight, kick and bite each other. Several were rearing up. It was a very chaotic scene and completely unnecessary since several large pens were empty and readily available within close proximity. An auction employee who was watching the mayhem, showed no mercy for their struggle. Chuckling, he told the investigators that many of those horses were “canners & cripples” and good for nothing.
Inside the auction ring, several kill buyers were in attendance. Curt Anderson, a local kill buyer known to buy for Bouvry Exports, was sitting close to Jason Fabrizius from Colorado and Joe Simon from Oklahoma. The battle over the 479 loose horses that were rushed through the auction ring was fierce. The prices were extremely high, over 100 of the loose horses sold at an average price of $3,500.
After the sale was over, loading started immediately. Some of the horses sold to kill buyers were moved back to the large pens in the back of the property where they remained for the night.
Animals’ Angels will continue to monitor this sale.