Farmington — The compassion Lacie Bizzell feels for horses is evident as she guides her Appaloosa quarter horse around the backyard of her Farmington home.

Bizzell, 17, grew up around horses and said she sees them as pets, rather than as animals to be slaughtered to produce meat for human consumption.

"They're companions," Bizzell said. "They can feel every little thing that you do with them. They know if you're upset or if you're happy."

She opposes slaughtering horses and is organizing an awareness event Thursday to educate the public about the practices surrounding horse slaughtering and why horses should be valued as pets.

The event will provide an opportunity for people to interact with horses and to see the companionship they provide, she said.

Bizzell started speaking out against horse slaughtering and the facilities that produce horse meat after developments surrounding Valley Meat Co. For the past two years, Valley Meat Co. has been caught in litigation after announcing plans to open a horse slaughterhouse in Roswell.

Last month, New Mexico Attorney General Gary King secured a temporary restraining order against the company, once again delaying the slaughterhouse's opening.

"When I heard about all these horse slaughtering plants trying to open here in the state, I was scared for the horses, and why would we want to start this?" Bizzell said.

As part of the event, participants will walk or ride horses along the River Walk from the parking lot on Browning Parkway to Berg Park and back.

Bizzell plans to ride her horse, Little Bit, and encourages participants who own horses to ride as well.

For those who do not own a horse, they can bring their dogs or walk solo and join the group, she said.

"I figured why not try to get people to understand two different points -- from the horses' point and from our point," she said.

IF YOU GO

What: Horse slaughter awareness ride

When: Noon on Thursday

Where: Meet in the parking lot off Browning Parkway, near the new Farmington Regional Animal Shelter

More info: Lacie Bizzell, lacieconyers@yahoo.com

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 and nsmith@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter @nsmithdt on Twitter.