Sonja Meadows reached carefully through the slats of the dingy, white horse van and gently grabbed the lip of the frightened-looking Thoroughbred.
Working quickly, she flipped the chestnut’s lip, revealing the bright pink flesh underneath, and a tattoo identifying him as a racehorse.
Snapping a picture of the partial serial number, 1-2-8-2, Meadows worked quickly from the parking lot of the New Holland Auction, a livestock facility where horses are routinely sold into the slaughter pipeline.
The seconds ticked as she placed an urgent call to California-based Thoroughbred advocate Deborah Jones. Standing in the parking lot near the trailer that housed three unfortunate creatures, Meadows outlined the scenario to Jones.
“I was walking through the parking lot of New Holland on Oct. 3, 2011, at about 11 o’clock in the morning, when I spotted a trailer that belongs to a known” shipper in the slaughter pipeline, says Meadows, executive director of Animal Angels, Inc. “I was able to flip lips and take partial pictures of tattoos.”
Race name: Hawser
Dam: Homme de Loi
Foal date: March 7, 2005As soon as Jones received the call, she went immediately to work trying to identify the bay. First, she verified the gelding’s name through his lip tattoo and visual markings, and she backed up her findings with conformation from the Thoroughbred Research and Protective Bureau of Maryland.
The horse was identified as Hawser, a six-year-old who last raced in two claimers at Gulfstream Park.
Because of the valiant efforts of both Meadows and Jones, Hawser was returned to Kim Boniface, his previous trainer, and ultimately delivered to Dodon Farm, where Steuart Pittman agreed to retrain him.
According to a video posted on Pittman’s Dodon Farm website, Boniface believed she’d found a new owner for Hawser, when she learned that her horse was pretty far from a good home.
“She thought she had found him a good home but he actually ended up on his way to New Holland. When she got word of that, she got him back,” Pittman says. “And now she’s putting money into having him trained, so he can find a good life.”
Pittman agreed to retrain Hawser about six months ago, after Boniface contacted him, he says.
“Every year at the Maryland Millions Auction fundraiser, I donate a month of training for your favorite ex-racehorse,” Pitman explains. “She bought the package and said she had just the horse, that he’d been found on a trailer.”
When Hawser arrived at his farm, however, he was fat and healthy, Pittman reports. He notes that the good-natured gelding has also proved to be easy to work with.
“He was very brave and good on the trails,” he says. “And, I took him on a hunt, and he had a good brain.”
After working with the eager student for many weeks, Hawser was found to be a “little off,” however. A further investigation of his condition found that he had some cartilage loss in his ankles that would prohibit him from strenuous competitive sports, Pittman explains.
But that doesn’t mean Hawser wouldn’t make a great pleasure horse, he adds.
Already training well in dressage, he has been a promising student. And on the trails, he is fun, and not at all spooky.
Hawser is listed on the Dodon Farm website for free; however, Pittman and Hawser’s connections want to make sure he goes to a very good home.
There has been some interest in him, but thus far, no takers.
As Pittman waits to see if Hawser will find a new home, he plans on keeping him on his farm. In the meantime, he says, Boniface continues to contribute financially to his veterinary care.
It took a lot of teamwork to get the unassuming bay to where he is now, and they’re not about to give up on him.
“This is a horse that a bunch of people have gone out of their way for,” Pittman says. “He’s hard not to like.”
Meadows was glad to be in the right spot at the right time to help the likeable guy.
“It’s very fulfilling work,” Meadows says. “We’re hoping that through exposure of situations like Hawser’s, we can raise awareness and help these horses find loving homes.”
*Those interested in adopting Hawser should contact Steuart Pittman via his Dodon Farm website.
12 responses to “Hawser exits New Holland trailer for good life”
In reference to the last post having first hand gone through the experience of having a horse that was in my family saved from a most assuredly on his way to Mexico by if they had not purchased him at auction. Then having had to give him away with first chance if he did not work out for them when things were very tight financially. The next step having them realize what a real prize they were given he was sold to someone without former owners given the first right of refusal.So Net Posse was enlisted in the securing of this horse back through much trial and networks of friends he was located thanks to his tattoo and further checks with the american jockey registrations he has been returned to the first off track owners where he proves daily his worth as a saddle horse, and companion to a small herd of horses. Thankyou Net Possee and friends of horses everywhere.
Sometimes former owners do due diligence and STILL their former horses eventually end up in bad situations. I rescued a New Holland TB mare and in researching her background I discovered that a previous owner had gone out of her way to make sure the mare ended up in good hands..and she had a contract in hers . Some people are unscrupulous and downright dishonest when presenting themselves as a potential caring and appropriate new owner.
[…] was such a good story about you and a horse named Hawser. What made you go over to that particular trailer that […]
Wonderful that Hawser has beat the odds. Thanks in tremendous part to a very courageous lady–Sonja Meadows. I don’t think people realize the burden that people llke Sonja carry, day in and day out. She’s dedicated her life to help end the horrific slaughter trade. I am ashamed that far too many members of Congress are cowards, refusing to take a strong stand against horse-slaughter and pass the Horse Protection Act which would end the torturous journeys that slaughter-bound horses are forced to endure. I get physically sick hearing so-called horse people say we have to have horse slaughter–what else are people to do with horses they can’t feed and care for? Well, dammit! Why’d they get horse to begin with? You don’t get rid of your kids if you lose your job and house. You figure out a way to take care of them. It gets real old hearing people say that horses are only animals and people are more important than animals. Well, if these same people continue to behave with such indifference and irresponsibility, I’ll take the animals anytime over people! Frankly, we’re nearing 7 billion people on this planet. If there are too many horses, what does 7 billion people mean to an earth that is already beginning to break down? There are only so many resources. May all those heartless brutes who treat animals with such indifference end up in Hell forever.
Amen to every word you put on here👍🙏 And, guaranteed, those that treat these animals with indifference and disdain and hatred WILL end up in Hell!! The Bible shows this quite CLEARLY!!
Thank you Sonja for the love and caring. You are the voice for the animals in the slaughter pipeline. Hawser looks wonderful. Erin, you are doing a great service to this wonderful horse. Too bad he isn’t closer, he might fit in right here:) We love those sweet ponies:)
Hawser is lovely under saddle with a great temperment and moves nicely. He would make a great junior hunter, maybe more….so many wonderful horses are lost to the slaughterhouses.
Hawser is such a sweet horse! I’m the one that took the photos of him fox hunting and he really did great – took everything in stride. Was alert but didn’t jig, calmly joined the field when the left to follow the hounds. Here’s a photo of him without his winter coat – he looks so handsome: http://warmbloods-for-sale.com/images2012/33174-ID_3.jpg
Thanks, Susan, for postings his story!
Thank you for writing in! It’s such a great thing you and your husband Steuart are doing, and I hope Hawser finds someone because of all your hard work!
Once again an Angel comes to the rescue. Sonja Meadows is phenomenal and remains steadfast in her goal to protect these beautiful, intelligent and innocent equines. She certainly was in just the right place when she found Hawser on that trailer! Sonja is instrumental for countless discoveries made during investigative work on behalf of the horses these laws are supposed to protect. Good fortune smiled on Hawser that day.
I watched him in the video and saw how natural and adaptive he is. His personality seems mild-mannered and I think he is gorgeous. Thanks to the quick actions and generosity of Sonja, Deborah, Kim and Steuart.
Indeed this very fortunate horse is a prime example of what is happening in the horse world. Equines of every breed are placed into such terrible peril and now people are not sure who to trust when it comes to selling their horses. We must act in order to get our government to pass the American Horse Slaughter Protection Act.
This is truly a feel good story with a happy ending. I am positive Mr. Pittman will make sure Hawser finds a loving forever home. Thanks to all and Susan … your article made my day! 🙂
The American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act!
Praising Sonja Meadows for her courage and wit in a critical moment , she is a hero!!! We all should follow her example and shame on the owner (strangely not named) who let him end up in the trailer. There should be registration on the race horses so that ownership is tracked and accountability can be held!! Poor thing could have been on a dinner plate if it wasnt for the great deed of Sonja!!!!