Help, good homes arrive for doomed mares

Empress Jones, 8

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.

Endless Storm, 20

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.

Karitsas Punch, 14

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.


5 responses to “Help, good homes arrive for doomed mares”

  1. sybil

    I agree that the TB people (which includes rescues, advocates and those who check the auctions) have pulled together yet again to save horses that should never end up even close to a kill buyer. Just don’t forget that TB people also sent them there, without even attempting to contact the good people obviously standing by to offer homes. It’s important to keep both in mind, the good and the not-so-good…and it’s unfortunate that over and over, the good people have to rush in at the last minute to clean up after the not-so-good. TBs are still ending up at auctions across the country each and every week…and most remain unknown as they quietly pass through. This was a GREAT save, no question about that! And so glad to see the three girls kept together as well!

  2. Cynthia

    Yeah to Twin Oaks Ranch. I would love to go visit one day!

  3. Paddy Head

    The TB people are the heroes of the rescue/rehab movement. No longer can the public use them as the villians. I’m doing everything I can to get the news out there and encourage other organisations, such as the AQHA, to follow suit. QH’s are now the number one breed going to the slaughterhouses.
    I hope Punch finds a good home. She is magnificent.

  4. deborah Ahrns

    Hello just want you to know if PUNCH needs a home I can give her one in OHIO just had to put down my 31 year old quarter horse Doc Bar she was a great horse and lived a very long life on this farm. She had bone cancer on her left jaw the growth was the size of grapefruit the vet said she would suffer more if we removed it so we just trusted him. She was a great 4H horse and trail horse for our family
    I have another Thoroughbred name Winter North from Northern Dancer he did not do well on the track and the owner gave him to the track vet and the track vet gave him to us He is a people horse and likes to “be friends” with the other horses so I can see why he did not make a good race horse. He is now a 4H horse and jumps very well working on having him become a trail horse . So if PUNCH still needs a home let me know the details and I WILL make her a home. call 419 305 2367 peace be with you and make a good day Debbie

  5. TBDancer

    The network that is developing among trainers, owners, breeders and handlers at the tracks across this country is nothing short of amazing and provides a safety net for horses such as these nine. Reminds me of the 40+ broodmares rescued from a feedlot outside Phoenix a number of years ago by a California-based TB rescue when the fate of these mares (ostensibly sold by the breeder to someone who “wanted to start a TB breeding operation” by jumping in with both feet, so to speak, and purchased from the breeders for pennies compared to the mares’ worth, THEN sold to the feed lot for a profit) became known. Lucky mares, these, and I’m glad the three old gals got to stay together. ;o)

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