Papiese family builds barn for Texas rescue

The lumber arrives to build a new barn for Remember Me Rescue. Photo by Donna Keen

The lumber arrives to build a new barn for Remember Me Rescue. Photo by Donna Keen

The decision by Midwest Thoroughbreds owners Richard and Karen Papiese to build a 20-stall, state-of-the-art barn for a horse rescue in Texas, which is run by a woman they did not know, arose from two simultaneous emergencies with colic.

On the same late July evening that the 2011 Eclipse Award finalists for Outstanding Owners were racing to save one of their own, sparing no expense for surgery for their sickly racehorse, a small but valiant nonprofit called Remember Me Rescue of Texas, was making the sad decision to euthanize a hard-luck broodmare they’d only just rescued from the slaughter pipeline.

With no emergency veterinary funds to handle the seriousness of the colic case that felled beautiful chestnut mare Karitsas Punch, the painful decision to euthanize her was made by Remember Me Rescue’s owner, Donna Keen.

Shortly after one horse was saved and the other perished, the worlds of the top-tier horse racing organization would be joined with that of the bootstrap horse rescue.

Keen typed a brief and sad note to her Facebook fans that the mare, for whom so many were praying, had been put down. And Papiese, who rarely read or kept up with online notes like these, happened to read Keen’s sad words.

He picked up the telephone.

“He called me and said how terrible he felt, and that he had a horse with colic the same day,” Keen says. “He had the resources to save his horse, and felt terrible that we didn’t.”

Papiese immediately wrote out a $10,000 check to the charity, and in her grateful enthusiasm, Keen told him she could use the money to build a modest barn for her ex-racehorse.

The foundation of the new barn. Photo by Donna Keen

The foundation of the new barn. Photo by Donna Keen

“I started telling him how we had to keep some horses outside, and they’re cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and before we got of the phone, he said, ‘I’ll build you a barn.’ ”

About 10 days ago, the trucks rolled in and work crews got busy, transforming her modest facility in Burleson into something she’d previously only dreamed of.

Crews reworked the dirt on about a half-acre of the property, rearranging the earth for proper drainage.

And shortly thereafter, six concrete trucks arrived with a crew of about 20 to pour the foundation.

The trusses, rafters and wood arrived this week, and the gates and windows arrived earlier.

“The whole thing should be done in about two weeks!” she says.

The state-of-the-art facility, which is built to the same hurricane-resistant specifications as Papiese barns, is a godsend, she says.

The solid structure will offer shelter in heat and cold for horses who previously stood in the open, outside, in small paddocks. And, it will also provide a safe environment for volunteers, she adds.

For Keen, a racehorse owner who started the certified nonprofit rescue in 2008, the kindness of others in the horse industry is never a surprise.

Donna Keen of Remember Me Rescue gets a 20-stall barn

Donna Keen of Remember Me Rescue gets a 20-stall barn

But the barn took the cake!

“Rich Papiese didn’t want anybody to know about the barn at first, but we convinced him that people need to know that people like him, the real champions of racing, are out there,” Keen says.

Keen and longtime supporter Maggi Moss, a winning race owner who has pledged to help with Remember Me Rescue’s future veterinary emergencies, urged Papiese to let the story be told, she adds.

“We are super thankful for this,” she says. “I’ve told people we’d be happy with a tent. I was keeping horses outside in little paddocks. They got wet when it rained, and were so hot in the sun that we had to bathe them three times a day.

“Thanks to Rich and Karen Papiese, our horses will have a solid roof over their heads, and Remember Me Rescue will be able to take in more horses in the future.”

16 responses to “Papiese family builds barn for Texas rescue”

  1. ann fox

    Just when you think the all world has slipped down the slippery slope…thanks for this….nice story….

  2. Mitzy Tait-Zeller

    Thank you for this uplifting story. It is salve to so many wounds inflicted by the horror horse stories I have read lately. God Bless Rich Papiese and Remember Me Rescue!

  3. Linda Moss

    Susan, you’ve made my week with this story! So happy for everyone that is benefiting from this, including those readers that are on the fence about helping out these wonderful creatures in need.

  4. Dave Foster

    What a magnificent gesture by Richard & Karen,to do this.
    In the midst of their sadness,to help the charity,warms the cockles of my heart.
    Still some good apples in the world.

  5. Delrene Sims

    What lovely folks. There is some good in the world. Hoping for more wonderful horse folks that can help with the less fortunate will step up and follow their lead. Such an uplifting story. A wonderful new barn for the horses to have for shelter. High hoof!!!!

  6. sylvie hebert

    That made my day….and gave me hope again…

  7. Carole Founder of 501 c 3 New Hope Therapeutic Equestrian Center & Rescue

    What a Blessing. Our program had to shut down because of the lack of people like Rich and Karen Papiese, If their are others out there willing to help rescues, more places like ours could open back up. God Bless the Papiese!

  8. Dr. Cate Wines

    It’s wonderful to see a story about TB race owners who are so responsible and generous. I hope Ray Paulick picks up this story.

  9. melissa thomason

    keep up and taking care of the rescue horses.

  10. Martha Foster

    Another wonderful story on a dreary Sat morning!

  11. JSmith

    What a wonderful end to this story, I’m glad the Papiese’s did not remain anonymous. This should be mandatory reading for anyone considering investing in a horse. There are good owners out there and they should be applauded. We forget this sometimes when faced with negative news, especially the news from Oklahoma that they are trying to open a horse slaughter plant. I believe they vote on it this coming week.

  12. Skip Ean

    Really happy to read such good news amidst all the bad news about horse abandonment, abuse, negligence, what the BLM has done to our wild horses and burros, and, of course, horse meat in food and the ultimate–the slaughter pipeline. This story is such an antidote to all of those terrible realities and i am so thrilled for Donna.

  13. NLReagan

    Met these folks when they were up at Arlington and yes, they are very genuine and down to earth. Know someone who works for them in Florida and they say the same. Wish there were more folks who would step up and help out. Maybe this will light a fire under some.

  14. Laureen

    This story enables me to still believe in mankind. Yes, with all the horrific things that are happening to horses around the globe, from Nature’s Child in Australia to the slaughterhouses in Mexico. What a wonderful thing these people have done! I just hope and pray that the new bill being introduced to illegalize slaughter in the US AND shutting down its borders for shipping horses out of the US for slaughter will be strongly supported and pass.

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