With a heavy heart, Melissa Rudershausen, owner of Double Rock Thoroughbred Rescue, announced this week that Mascot, the top-earning racehorse she saved from the New Holland Auction last year, was euthanized.
Citing ongoing lameness problems stemming from incurable wear and tear on his stifle, Rudershausen announced that Mascot died Tuesday.
“My heart is broken,” she says.
Despite all her efforts to rehabilitate an animal who was in such rough shape the kill buyers weren’t interested in him, and Rudershausen’s proud history of turning rescued Thoroughbreds into competitive sport horses, poor Mascot, in the end, could not be saved.
“This is by far the hardest thing I have had to do in the rescue business yet, but, I know it is for the best,” she says. “I bought two extra bags of peppermints for him.”
Mascot, a son of Five Star day, earned $241,901 in 56 starts before Rudershausen stumbled across him at the New Holland Auction last August. Frightfully thin and standing on sore feet, the terrified animal broke his tether and ran into the A-Circuit equestrian.
The softhearted horseman took pity on a horse even the meat buyers didn’t want, and paid $60.
After which, she worked to bring Mascot back to health with months of intensive veterinary care and careful dietary adjustments to rebuild his depleted body.
In an earlier interview with Off-Track Thoroughbreds.com, Rudershausen said she hoped to train Mascot as an eventer.
But, in March, Rudershausen announced that Mascot was “too broken down” to fix, and that he would be permanently retired.
At the time the decision was made, he was pasture sound. But, even the pasture was too much for Mascot.
In her Facebook message announcement, Rudershausen explains that Mascot never truly settled down, and wanted to run constantly.
“As many of you know, he was a magnificent racehorse,” she wrote. “His stifle is just not holding up to his love for running.”
Mascot has been returned to Rudershausen’s Ocala, Fla. barn, where he will be fed all the peppermints he wants until the scheduled euthanasia.
“I will always remember Mascot for his greets as he always was the first one to whinny when I walked into the barn, and for his desire to gallop, and last of all, his beauty,” she says.
Rudershausen also expressed anger toward Mascot’s past connections for running him too much, and offered thanks to all who stepped up to help her rescue the terrified, skinny horse for whom she had so much hope.
“He was a wonderful horse. He was laid to rest this morning. Helping Thoroughbreds is my passion and I hope I can continue to help many more,” she says. “I think I have cried enough to fill the ocean at this point but he is at peace now.”