A respiratory therapist from Texas stepped forward last week to offer a permanent home to three of nine broodmares rescued earlier this month from a Texas auction that sells horses to kill buyers.
Carrie Barthen, a nurse and owner of Twin Oaks Ranch in Weatherford, felt compelled to help when she learned earlier this month that broodmares, reportedly belonging to the prominent Asmussen racing family, had been saved from the possibility of death in a slaughterhouse.
Their fates changed on a dime. A quickly executed plan to get the horses to safety was carried out by Thoroughbred advocates Deborah Jones of California and Donna Keen, owner of Remember Me Rescue in Texas, along with Texas businessman John Murrell, who funded the effort. In nine cases, Jones outbid meat-buyers to get the animals to safety, and a 10th mare was purchased at the auction by a good family.
After the horses were placed in temporary housing at Keen’s rescue, and a farm of a friend, the word went out that the animals would need permanent homes. Ones where they wouldn’t be bred, where they could live out their days.
After scanning the list of rescued mares, Barthen identified one she knew nobody would want.
Empress Jones, 8, who suffers a chronic ankle condition, would be the one she would take.
Who better, she reasoned, than a deeply experienced horseman and children’s nurse to administer the right combination of care and tenderness to the gimpy horse who stands as if she’s foundering.
What she didn’t figure on, however, was how attached her chosen mare was to two other mares, Adios La Cucaracha and Endless Storm. The trio had been together for many years, was sent to auction together, and were as close “as sisters,” Barthen says.
Upon seeing the tightly knit mares hang together like best friends, Barthen quickly decided to offer homes to all three.
“It’s taking on a big expense, but they deserve it,” Barthen says. “Especially Endless Storm. She’s a proven producer who deserves to live out her life to the end of her days.”
Barthen’s decision, combined with open doors offered by other “Thoroughbred people” underscores the goodness running through the horse industry, Keen says.
Immediately after news broke that the helpless horses had wound up at auction, Keen’s phone started ringing off the hook with offers to help.
In a matter of days, all but one had found a new home.
Valid Obsession is going to Mt. Brilliant Farm in Kentucky; Luxury of Time is going to Golden Eagle Farm in California; Rhododendron has several offers for a home; Our Revival is going to Old Friends in Kentucky; Ethel Is Best, who is pregnant, is staying with Keen’s friend in Fredericksburg.
The only mare still in need is Karitsas Punch, 14.
The quick action by Thoroughbred people to help their own is a reminder that many more good folks than bad, inhabit the horse world, Keen says.
“Thoroughbred people have such a great network. We work together to find them and place them,” Keen says. “I wish everyone would realize that Thoroughbred people are not the enemy. Programs like mine are supported by owners, trainer’s and breeders; we’re all a team.”
Update: Donna Keen of Remember Me Rescue announced last night that sadly, Karistas Punch was euthanized following a serious bout with colic. A Vet Care fund has been established in her name. Look for a story on this soon.