Willie Nelson, 86, is showing no signs of slowing down. The singer, songwriter and activist, who owns a farm in Texas, is one of the co-founders of Farm Aid, an annual benefit concert that raises money for family farmers in the US who are in danger of losing their properties through mortgage debt. The first Farm Aid concert was held in 1985, and Nelson has performed every year since.
Now, the country artist is shifting his attention from farmers to horses. Namely, 70 horses that were destined for the slaughterhouse over the last few years. Nelson has been rescuing the equines and giving them a forever home at his 700-acre farm Luck Ranch, which is located in Spicewood, 30 miles from Austin. According to Nelson, who ensures that the horses are hand-fed and allowed to roam freely, “When you’re here, you’re in Luck, and when you’re not, you’re out of Luck.”
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Nelson, who wrote the song “A Horse Called Music” in 1989, filmed a video four years ago titled The Love of Horses, which received the People’s Silver Telly Award. In the documentary, the singer, who says he enjoys filming his videos on his ranch, so he can ride horses, spoke about the number of horses that are sent to slaughter each year in the US. He also met with members of Habitat for Horses, who are working to end the slaughter of horses through legislation.
In the US, the average age of a slaughter horse is 4 to 6 years old. 92.3% of these horses are reportedly in good to excellent condition with no behavioral problems according to a USDA study. In addition, only 4% of horses slaughtered are over 9 years old. In a recent poll by the prestigious Lake Research Partners, 80% of Americans say they are opposed to horse slaughter.
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Nelson’s love of horses has been passed on to his children. His daughter Amy appeared in The Love of Horses and spoke of her memories of growing up around horses. Also, Nelson’s son Lukas is an active supporter of Habitat for Horses, like his father, as well as Saving America’s Horses, an educational multimedia project and lifesaving initiative under The Wild for Life Foundation, (WFLF) a nonprofit 501 c3 charity dedicated to saving, protecting and preserving equines through education, sanctuary and rescue.