'Kill buyers' leave estate auction empty-handed

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— A group of horse lovers attended an auction near Steamboat Springs to save horses Nov. 5. They left happy.

Eagle County-based Mountain Valley Horse Rescue was joined by supporters and like-minded bidders at an estate auction that had more than two dozen animals crossing the sale block at Sunset Ranch on Elk River Road.

In the end, all the horses found temporary or permanent homes, and none went into the trucks of a pair of “kill buyers,” people who buy horses at auction and send the animals to Mexico for slaughter.

The group’s goal was to get enough buyers at the auction to run up the prices for the animals to the point that made it unprofitable for the kill buyers to continue bidding.

The nonprofit bought seven of the animals. Four were adopted by people who were priced out of the bidding. The remaining three animals were taken to the rescue group’s facility in Eagle County and still are in need of homes.

The animals were examined by a veterinarian and found to be in reasonably good health.

More hard work will come during the next several months because two of the three horses aren’t saddle-broken.

“We’re really happy to have them here,” rescue group President Shana Devins said. “But their journey has just begun.”

Comments

Krista Monger 2 years, 8 months ago

steamboat pilot - do your own investigating. especially today's article which I can not find online. You use a vail reporter to tell you about a steamboat event????

Ask ANY local rancher about the so-called kill buyers and they will let you know that several legit local ranchers were trying to buy the horses only to have the "horse rescue" people run them up. Plus, many ranchers and other locals were trying to buy the animals to give them back to Mr. Wilhelm who got caught in a nasty family will-dispute.

There was never any real threat from kill-buyers, merely a con to get more people at the auction. Making it harder for Mr. Wilhelm to get back his property.

Shame on you steamboat pilot for not finding out the true story in your own backyard.

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spidermite 2 years, 8 months ago

kmm, Alot of these horses and mules were listed to be unbroke or over twenty years old. Their isn't much of a market for these animals. Especially in the winter. I'm glad people stepped up to help these animals. The family drama was unknown. If you had something to say you should have posted when the article about the auction was published. I'm not a Pilot employee.

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Joey Andrew 2 years, 8 months ago

KMM,

Maybe Mr. Wilhelm should have taken better care of the horse so that they wouldn't have ended up in a "Kill Auction." Oh and you can't own what never was truly yours.

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Krista Monger 2 years, 8 months ago

spidermite, I didn't intially respond for fear that someone like flatiron would post horrible outrageous comments about the family. And now I feel like I've stepped into the ring and brought Mr. Wilhelm with me. For that I am sorry... I should've known better.

Flatiron, Mr. Wilhelm is one of the hardest working ranchers in our county. He is an OUTSTANDING man who ran the family's ranch. I do not know the particular's, but a will that was not notarized was legally challenged, keeping him from being the sole heir. That is why all the estate property, including horses, tractors, hay equipment, and other ranch assets were put up for auction, because he couldn't "buy out" the other heirs. He is of such strong character that many of his neighbors and friends bought these ranch assets and GAVE them back to him, or let him purchase at discounted price. Flatiron, I hope you take the time to learn about this man so you can feel like an idiot for making assumptions about Mr. Wilhelm's husbandry practices.

Geez, it was NOT a kill auction.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 8 months ago

From Wikipedia: "Yellow journalism . . . a type of journalism that presents little or no legitimate well-researched news and instead uses eye-catching headlines to sell more newspapers. Techniques may include exaggerations of news events, scandal-mongering, or sensationalism."

Just sayin', Pilot.

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sedgemo 2 years, 8 months ago

Phoebe, I agree the Pilot could have/should have covered this issue themselves but there is no exaggeration here, nor scandal-mongering or sensationalism in the article, which is a follow-up to the earlier one announcing the event and situation. The only whiff of negativity I pick up is Flatiron's misinformed sniping. I suggest you take your yellow-lensed glasses and review the entire newspaper, you might find more offensive "journalism" on a regular basis.

Their were kill buyers at the sale, at a horrible time of year (and economy) for these animals to go on the block. There was every likelihood those horses would be sold for meat in Mexico. It is a common enough scenario, unfortunately.

Kudos to the community for stepping up to help the horses and long-time area rancher Mr. Wilhelm, no matter the back story.

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Phoebe Hackman 2 years, 8 months ago

sedgemo: Sorry, but I think this article is exactly an example of yellow journalism. The use of "kill buyers" in the headline and "rescue" groups in the article implies that the animals in question were abused. Both articles focus on the animals, with no mention of the equipment and other assets, furthering the impression that the auction was all about the animals being rescued from some sort of bad situation. Had I only read the articles and not the above comments, I would have assumed, as Flatiron did, that the animals had been confiscated and auctioned due to mistreatment. In our small, rumor mill of a town, I just think that The Pilot, as part of the community, should have filled in the gaps instead of simply cut-and-pasting an article from The Vail Daily that is only half the story and gives a very wrong impression. I'm sure Flatiron isn't the only one who only saw "kill buyers", "rescue" and "The animals were examined by a veterinarian and found to be in reasonably good health" and formed the wrong opinion. And no one needs to wear "yellow-lensed glasses" (sniping?) to find this type of journalism in The Pilot. It's just that in this case, I felt like the reputation of a nice man in a bad situation might be called into question because of the way this situation was presented and it ticked me off. The real story here is about neighbors coming together, at a horrible time of year, in a bad economy ... to help one of their own. In my opinion, the back-story IS the story.

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greenwash 2 years, 8 months ago

I went to auction , Looked like a bunch of old worn out equipment to me .And that barn and house..Pretty bad.

Twenty 20 + year old un - broke horses ....Why ?

Buck Brannanman would be really dissapointed ....

Want to see a ranch...Go look at Sherrods place , thats what a ranch is supposed to look like .And they had family estate issues as well.

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sedgemo 2 years, 8 months ago

Hmmm. I don't see why you'd make a leap to assuming confiscation/mistreatment were the cause of the auction. I posted a link to the entire auction flier in response to the original article... and it's clearly stated there and here it was an ESTATE sale.

Confiscation usually means an intervention, transport to a rescue, then assessment/rehabilitation followed by adoption. The horse rescue got involved due to the age of the animals, the time of year, and the very real possibility they would be sold for slaughter. They weren't confiscating but purchasing.

The term "kill buyers" is standard usage, nothing out of the ordinary there, though maybe new to you. The vet was most likely there (like the brand inspector) for legal purposes as is typical.

Wash, not sure what Buck has to do with anything here, but my understanding is they were Patsy's horses, she passed away unexpectedly 3-4 years ago and the fate of the horses has been more or less in limbo since then.

I agree there was a lot more to this very local story and am disappointed in the Pilot for avoiding it, especially since they wrote several articles about Patsy when she was alive. Their silence here is deafening.

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spidermite 2 years, 8 months ago

Phoebe. Kill buyers purchase unwanted livestock. This is not uncommon. Their presence does not suggest the animals were abused. Rescue groups are comprised of people that love aminals. If they attend an auction it also doesn't indicate abuse. Due to the age of several of these animals they would be less desirable to buyers. The rescue group wanted to make sure all the animals had a home. Animal abuse is against the law. If this law is broken the police would be involved not an auctioneer. Mr. Wilhelm's reputation has not been tarnished but now everyone knows the family is involved in a "nasty will dispute"!

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spidermite 2 years, 8 months ago

sedgemo, I didn't realize it took me sooo long to post. This is why my comment is basicly what you've already stated. However you did miss the "nasty will dispute".

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bigfatdog 2 years, 8 months ago

when is this country going to realize a regulated slaughter market is needed OR, like since the ban, we will continue to see abused and neglected horses and horses being dumped on public lands.

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sedgemo 2 years, 8 months ago

Spider, it's none of my business speculating on the internal issues of the family involved, I'm not related and don't know them. It changes nothing about why the horses were on the block, which is what I focused my comments on.

BFD, I understand your point but rather than open up more slaughter plants I think we need to look at the supply side first, and produce fewer horses which are not sound, sane, useful or wanted.

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spidermite 2 years, 8 months ago

sedgemo, I didn't need a reply. It was my attempt at humor.

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