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.
“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.
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.”