So, the economy's in the toilet, half the people I know are out of work and life is scary. I think it's time for a happy ending story and fortunately I received one in my e-mail this week! Cheree decided to go to the New Holland auction this Monday and her story is not an unfamiliar one. I've edited a bit for length but the important parts of the story are there.
I was looking for an Arab, luckily for my new guy, there were none in sight... I walked the aisles over and over again.... looking at all these poor horses... Some of them nice, some very neglected, too thin, cuts, scars, and a lot of draft horses....I saw a young filly, who was obviously scared to death with her eyes bugging out of her head, pull back on her tie, as something spooked her, she was pulling back and going crazy trying to break free, and some people came and took a cattle rod to her rear, and scared her even more, and she finally reared up and flipped over cutting her back up.
It wasn't long before the horse I was meant to save chose me to save him... His number was 388... he was a gorgeous 16 hand bay thoroughbred. He turned around as much as he could and starred at me, locked eyes, and held it for a good 30 seconds or more even, without reading too far into, his eyes most definitely were pleading for my help... He was so nice looking, I thought for sure he'd be out of my price range, he was the nicest horse at the auction, and the locked eye contact touched me, as all the other horses were either too busy biting and kicking each other or so scared the kept their faces buried in their hay... This one was special.
Five minutes later my friend Rita arrived and I took her to see him... and he was gone. Never being to New Holland before, I am very confused... "Where could he have gone?" "The auction didn't even start yet?!" Rita new where he had gone...he was in the kill pen... purchased privately by a meat buyer before the start of the auction.... We found the broker who brought him to the sale and proceeded to find out which dealer bought him and if he was in fact in the "pen."
We met much resistance to say the least. I had five good ol' boys at once telling me "You don't want that crazy son of a bitch, that horse will hurt you, he is CRAZY!" "I'm not gonna sell you that horse, he deserves to be slaughtered, that crazy son a bitch got loose in here, and it took five of us to catch him, we had to rope that crazy a$% horse, you do not want that horse!" I politely asked and stated "what makes him so crazy?" "If I got loose at a scary auction like this, I would run too and you could bet no one would catch me!" I then asked "is this crazy horse broke to ride?" They said "yes, he's a real nice riding horse, BUT he's crazy as sin, real head shy won't let you touch his face, if the wind blows he'll rip our arms off, again lady, YOU DO NOT WANT THIS HORSE!"
Rita and I then walked back to the kill pen, and there he was... with about 25 other horses, he was more scared than any horse I have ever seen in my life, he was bleeding slightly on the face by his left eye, and has been kicked in the cheek and was all puffy, his eyes were big and blood shot, he was so scared... I gave him a treat through the bars and he snatched it up... I walked away with Rita... we were very sad....as we were walking back to the barn... the reality set in and I realized, that I had given that horse his last treat... the last treat he'll ever have.... How can I let this happen to such a young, beautiful and so called "crazy" horse??? I couldn't.....
We headed back to the barn to find the meat dealer who had his fate sealed... Rita was coaching me along the way.... I was scared to death to have to go head to head with the meat dealer trying to make a deal for a horse I know he didn't give a damn about.... Rita stood back, and I approached the man pointed out to me.
He said "You're back? You still want that crazy horse, don't you?" I said "What do you want for him?" He said "How much you really want him?" I said "It's not about how much I want him, it's about what he' worth, how much?" He said "500.00" I said "NO WAY 350.00", he laughed in my face, and said AND I QUOTE "Shit no, I'll get more to slaughter that SOB, they'll give me at least 700.00 for a horse that size, then he raised his voice, his face got really grim and mean and said "NO DEAL" I looked over to Rita, she was holding up three fingers as to say "No more than THREE HUNDRED" and I agreed...I walked away.... (FHOTD in: Good for you, Cheree. We don't really help the horses when we let these guys take us for much more than the horse is worth)
Rita and I looked at some other horses, but I couldn't get it out of my mind... The locked eyes earlier, the scared eyes in the kill pen, did I really feed this horse his last treat? I decided I would approach him (the meat guy) again.... He had a smirk on his face this time, but was still very mean....I told Rita my plan was to poke holes in what the horse was worth, by asking it's age, and is he registered, etc.... I walked up to the meat buyer who is standing with the broker who sold him the horse... He laughed at me and said "back so soon?" I said "How old is this horse?" Broker said "5" I asked if he was registered broker said "should be, he got a lip tattoo, he's off the track, they don't race sh*# horses, although this one's crazy, and that's why he's here." The meat dealer then said "You got cash? I said "yes, but not 500.00", he said 400.00" I said "350.00" he said "375.00, let me see it" I took the money out and put it in his hand and he said to me "now look, you gotta go get the horse out of that pen, I ain’t goin' in there with all those other crazy horses, and I ain’t touching your crazy ass horse, and when this horse hurts you, I don't want you comin' up to me next auction cryin' about it, it's buy at your own risk, and you just did, ( as he shoves the money in his pocket) now go get your horse out of my pen, and good luck to you, cause you're gonna need it!" I then heard him mumble under his breath as I was walking away “crazy ass broad."
Rita and I went back numerous times to check on him to make sure some auction worked didn't throw him back in the pen, by accident... I eventually got so paranoid, I went back and made a sign that said "SOLD! DO NOT LOAD THIS HORSE" When I went back there to put the sign on his stall, I noticed three more kill pens, three total, all full.... There were such nice horses in the slaughter pen, some had brand new blankets on, new halters...I wonder if their owners knew what happened that day at the auction, and where they were headed... It was hard... to say the very least.
I slipped in my pen with the new "crazy" horse, that "won't let you touch his face" and in less than a minute, I was scratching inside his ears, took his halter off to adjust the size, put it BACK ON... The horse although still very stressed, was as good as could be, his eyes softened, he listened when I spoke to him, he let me rub his face, and feel the lump on his cheek where he was kicked, I brushed him with my hands, feed him treats.... Rita walked back and said "Yeah, he seems reallllllly crazy doesn't he?" We both laughed, he surely wasn't crazy....The kill buyers thought he was a "crazy SOB" because he escaped at the auction and was running for his life, he didn't want to be caught, because he has a will to live!! To me and Rita, that's a smart horse fighting for his life, not a dangerous one...
I confirmed my address with my shipper, and I waited until most of the kill pen horses were gone to make sure they didn't try to sneak mine back into the herd and take him! I headed home.....My new OTTB was about 45 minutes behind me... he arrived, safe and sound... The most defining moment for me was when he stepped off the trailer and was heading toward the barn, and I was leading him... he let out this huge **sigh** and his eyes became as soft as they possibly could... He relaxed almost instantly.
I led him back past the barn to the QT round pen, and put him in there, I went and got a blanket, tied him which the meat buyer and broker who sold him said COULD NOT BE DONE, "YOU CANNOT TIE THAT HORSE HE'LL TAKE DOWN THE BARN" I tied him to the fence of the round pen, and brushed him and put his blanket on, and he was wonderful, I put medicine on the cut by his eye, wonderful....He didn't even threaten to drag me, pull me, spook at being tied up.. He is very certainly NOT a crazy horse. I have named him "Nic" short for "Nic of time" because I literally got there just in the nick of time to save him….
FHOTD back in: No problem. Now she is! And thank you for saving Jazz, he is ADORABLE!
This week, I had the honor of helping deliver another ex-racehorse Theycallmecolonel, to a truly wonderful foster home that may turn permanent in the future. Colonel is a multiple stakes winner whose knees show how hard he ran. You should have seen his face when I led him back into the sort of elegant barn he grew up in, and I hear the look on his face when he heard the crinkle of a peppermint wrapper again was priceless!
That's what makes it all worthwhile. Keep up the good work, all of you who are out there doing this, and if you can't do it hands-on, please shoot a few dollars to those who do. $3 buys a generic dewormer, so every little bit helps and counts!