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Room for Rescues

The plight of unwanted horses is the passion of Cami and Mike Kanner

Five-year-old Saddlebred cross Luma, left, visits with Mustang mare and herd boss Kimmy over the pasture fence. New arrivals are integrated slowly into the group.

Five-year-old Saddlebred cross Luma, left, visits with Mustang mare and herd boss Kimmy over the pasture fence. New arrivals are integrated slowly into the group.

Horses evoke images of freedom and beauty, but there is a hidden side to the horse industry. More than 100,000 of the animals that helped settle this country as essential partners to man’s ambitions are falling through the cracks each year at mega auctions. At Cami and Mike Kanner’s farm in Vero Beach, the couple is making a difference, one rescued animal at a time. 

“We bought these two as a bonded pair,” says Cami, pointing to two Haflingers — sturdy, small horses originating in Austria and primarily used for light draft work, in harness or under saddle. The two, named Simi and Fina, poke their faces out of their stalls when they hear Cami’s voice. Their chestnut coats and blond locks shine, making the matched pair look as if they have spent their whole lives being valued and loved, but in reality the couple purchased them at the last hour from an auction in New Jersey well known to be frequented by brokers for Canadian slaughterhouses. Similar auctions in the south result in horses being shipped to Mexico for processing.