Shipping Horses


During the late 40's and early 50's when the "stock yards" were in full swing on the Union Pacific, horses were frequent "travelers" as they were shipped to the dog-food plants (and some for delivery to France where horse meat was - and presumably still is - considered a delicacy). In the little town I was raised in a few miles west of Omaha was a Union Pacific built stock-yards of fairly good size and shipment of horses were a common site. The yard-hands would "scour" the horse cars (as well as the cattle and sheep cars) for "young-uns" that would have been born enroute. Since they weren't part of the count, they were "mavericks" for the taking. Many a yard-hand had a fair size herd of cattle that was "developed" that way, as well as a horse or two. The first colt I had came from one of those shipments.

It was also common practice to have a few old crow-baits that could be exchanged for one from the consignment. If the "new" one didn't work out, they would just hold him until the next shipment, and make a "swap". I can recall some pretty good cow-horses being "acquired" that way.

And, no, they were no stalls, lines, halters or ??? to keep them in place...they were just loaded "loose" and shipped that way. Unfortunately, many colts were DOA at the Yards as a result of being trampled during shipment as well as older horses the simply fell down and were unable to get up.

Jack Hanger

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