Mascot didn’t even look good to the kill buyers.
Skinny, limping and filthy, he went for a mere $60 at Monday’s New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania.
In his career as a racehorse, he earned $241,901 for his owners, working right from the start with some of the sports’ most talented trainers. But those glorious moments in the winner’s circle were now far behind as he stood gingerly on his sore feet, trying to avoid the desperate kicks of other horses, tethered unnaturally close.
Finally, when instinct and adrenalin combined to provide the sheer strength to do it, he broke free. And where did he run? Well, straight into the arms of A-Circuit rider Melissa Rudershausen, his rescuer.
Rudershausen was visiting family in Pennsylvania when she decided to make a stop at the New Holland sale, where she had purchased horses in the past.
And just happened to walk near Mascot as he hit his limit with the kicking herd, and busted free.
“He ran right to me and I caught him,” Rudershausen says. “He was in horrific shape, but he had the most wonderful expression.”
She was Mascot’s only bidder.
Race name: Mascot
Sire: Five Star Day
Dam: Bunny Club, by Slew o’ Gold
Foal date: Feb. 10, 2003
Earnings: $241,901“He was led through at the very end of the sale,” she says. “The meat buyers weren’t interested for a few reasons. He didn’t have much flesh, was very lame, and he was a stallion, which is harder to transport without injury.”
Rudershausen waited with him until 7 p.m. for a horse trailer to arrive. Visiting from Ocala, Fla., where she currently resides, she hadn’t thought to bring a trailer with her to New Holland. And she certainly didn’t dare leave him while she arranged for transport.
When transport finally arrived, he was carefully driven for 45 minutes to her barn in Pennsylvania, where immediate veterinary care was obtained.
The news was good.
Aside from an abscess in a foot, which was drained by a veterinarian, and a few other issues, such as low body weight, his health is actually fine, she says.
“In just two days, he’s doing much better. He’s walking more soundly already,” she says. “Even though he’s a stallion, he’s a sweetheart. He doesn’t pin his ears or bite, but he does stick his tongue out for peppermints!”
Mascot is being given all the hay he can eat, and a handful of grain, at morning and night. And, he is grazing on a hand-walk, as he is still too lame to be turned out on his own.
Already, he is relaxing.
“The first day, his eyes were huge and he was so nervous,” she says. “But, he’s going to be OK.”
She should know. Rudershausen has rescued seven horses from New Holland over the years, and in a relatively short time, has helped them blossom into wonderful Sporthorses.
Two of her prior rescues, Body Rock and True Rock, turned out so well that she has named her fledgling Thoroughbred rescue after them. This week, she filed an application to certify Double Rock Thoroughbred Rescue in Ocala, Fla., as a nonprofit.
True Rock, who she sold to a friend, is competing at Training Level Eventing, and Body Rock is one of her favorite mounts.
And, when Mascot is well enough to travel, he will be moved from Pennsylvania to her Florida base, and trained as a hunter/jumper.
“Underneath it all, I can see that Mascot has a true Thoroughbred look and will be a really beautiful horse,” she says.
She only wishes more people would consider the auction houses when looking for their next horse.
“I feel that the auction is actually the best place to look for a horse to buy. It is easy to determine their attitude about new surroundings and you can actually put your hands on the horse to check for any major flaws,” she says.
While Rudershausen nurses Mascot back to help, she will get some help from an unexpected source.
Andrea Pollack, co-owner of Mascot’s father Five Star Day, has offered to pay for his veterinary bills.
Pollack was introduced to Mascot’s new owner via Thoroughbred advocate Deborah Jones of California, and promised to send a check to cover the horse’s medical care.
“This horse earned $240,000 on the track, and I remember seeing him race and admiring his ability,” Pollack says. “When I heard he was in dire straits, I wanted to help.
“You know, Five Star Day is a magnificent animal, and if this horse is anything like him, he has the potential to be really beautiful, again.”