Friday, February 27, 2009

Another one doesn't bite the dust!

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.

"My day was off to a rough start before I even left the house. I set my alarm for 5:00 am, but didn't sleep a wink, I was up all night tossing and turning, just dreading the day ahead of me.

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 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….

The next day...We found out who Nic is, he is "Jazzercised"off the track with some small earnings of 9700.00 He had 20 lifetime starts, placed 2nd in one race and 3rd in another... and that's it... His lip tattoo reads G25589... He is home and doing well. He has bonded with me so fast (faster than any horse I have ever had) that I am certain he knows I have saved his life, he runs to me in the pasture and lets out a huge whinny at the sight of me. I love him to death, and will not be re-homing him. He is grateful and I am in love....

My angel Rita, tracked down the last recorded trainer/owner... Kelly Bailey, by
calling the Maryland breeders assossiation for racehorses. She said "I am looking for Kelly
Bailey, about a horse named Jazzercised. Kelly called back almost immediately, excited
to speak to Jazz's new owners and ready to tell them all about her baby, his history,
what he likes, what he does not like, etc... The news Rita was about to deliver would devastate
her, and it did....

Rita gave Kelly the short version of what happened at New Holland, Kelly was
heart broken, distraught and shocked, she couldn't believe it..... She told Rita she
would call me at 8pm on her break and she did, at 8:00 sharp last night my phone rang... There
was a very unhappy, and heartbroken woman on the other end of the line. She allowed me
to share Nic's story, I could hear her crying when I proceeded with details of the kill
pen, and seeing Nic AKA "Jazzie" in there.... She was horrified to save the least.. Kelly
is also a huge anti slaughter supporter.. she saves horses from the track herself... so how did
this happen???

Kelly worked for the man that bred Nic, he had the most beautiful racing ranch
in Maryland, 100 acres on the water of the Cheseapeake Bay, she raised/trained
Nic from a baby, the man, who was a multimillionaire passed away, and had a huge herd
disposal, the horses sold for major bucks... except Nic, no one wanted him because he was
a 3 year old gelding, not yet started on the track... so she took him home to her
ranch... Nic didn't have the mind of a racehorse, she said he was too people friendly and too sweet, and not at all competitive... she decided though, that Nic was too nice of a horse with
too much potential to be a pasture pet, so she took him to a prestigious Dressage farm,
who are known for getting Thoroughbreds, not cut out for racing from the track, training
them dressage and selling them to fancy, big money homes. She took Nic to this woman,
and told her to try him for a few days... the woman loved him, thought he had tons
of potential for third level dressage and bought him for 5,000 with papers in
October/Novemeber of 2008 according to Kelly.

Shortly after, a friend of Kelly's who works with her at the track in Maryland
started doing some work with this dressage barn that Kelly sold Nic to. Kelly told her friend
that her "Jazzie" was there and asked how he was doing... The friend mentioned that
"Jazzie" had been sold to a supposedly "great home" two weeks ago... Kelly felt good, and was
hopeful about his future as a show horse....No need to worry or ask questions, right?

After receiving the phone call from Rita and then after talking to me, Kelly
knows that Nic did not go to a good home, but that he was dumped for slaughter... she hung up
with me and called the dressage barn... She told the woman she sold Nic to, that he was
pulled from the slaughter pen at the New Holland auction by a woman looking for a save
that day... The woman said "That's too bad" and proceed to say, that Nic just wasn't
working out for her schooling program, and that she had GIVEN him away for free to a guy
whose daughter had just lost her horse to colic and wanted a three day eventing
horse... RED FLAG #1- Who pays 5,000 for a horse and then GIVES IT AWAY??? And Kelly had a buy back clause, so why wasn't she given the option of buying Nic back???? Kelly
then asked WHY Nic wasn't working out for her schooling program, the woman said he was lame
in the back legs... RED FLAG #2... He was lame in the back legs, yet she gave him
away to a three day eventing home, where they JUMP horses??? AND if he was lame, wouldn't
this woman call Kelly and say "Hey you gave me a lame horse, I want my 5,000 back"
????? Nic is not lame, I watched him rip around the pasture for hours yesterday and he's
doing the same today.... No sign of any lameness at ALL. Obviously she is lying.... here
comes the next big RED FLAG.... Kelly tells me that she is heading over to the dresssage
barn to go get Nic's papers for me asap... I said "They still have his papers?" They do...
Okay... so let me get this straight... This woman paid 5,000 for a horse a few months ago, and
then GAVE IT AWAY to someone she didn't know, because he wasn't working out for her
schooling program, because he was lame, so she gives him to a JUMPING HOME, who
wants to do thee day eventing, which you need registration papers to do, which
she did not send with Nic, because SHE KNEW he was going to auction and did not want to
be traced back to the horse..... Kelly was very upset, as we pieced this together
she knew the woman was lying to her, and was upset that the woman didn't seem at all shocked
or upset that Nic was in a kill pen in PA... obviously this woman never called
Kelly like she promised she would to come get her horse back, IF THINGS WEREN'T WORKING OUT...and never gave her the option of buying Nic back as agreed upon in her buy back
clause... why not? That will remain a mystery....

Kelly offered to take Nic back from me right away, but I said no. I assured her
he is safe here and I am going to be keeping him forever, because he's very special to me,
and he is my first true, blue, slaughter save, straight from the pen, it means too much to
me... She was happy at that, and is coming to visit him, registration papers in hand.

It was confirmed today, that Kathy Hargess of Equilibrium Horse Center in MARYLAND, sold this horse to a meat dealer named Rich Lowe, who then traded the horse for some hay to a meat dealer that sells direct to slaughter. Many people have stepped forward since hearing Nic's story to say this is not the first time, nor the last this woman will lie her ass off and continue to dump more horses, very nice, very undeserving horses... I think she should be exposed!

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!