After long struggle for health, Mascot euthanized

Mascot enjoys peppermints Tuesday before he was euthanized for injuries

Mascot enjoys peppermints Tuesday before he was euthanized for injuries

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, 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.

Mascot, as he was last year, after New Holland

Mascot, as he was last year, after New Holland

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.”

18 responses to “After long struggle for health, Mascot euthanized”

  1. Tonya Lafarr

    I just read this article about Mascot, for every horse who is saved one meets our creator. Wish more people would help save those.who are sold at kill pens and all horses could live safe and happy.

  2. Elizabeth

    Such a very sad story to a very sad ending. RIP Mascot. Hope to ease your mind by saying he (and all animals) know when they are in caring and loving hands, even if they still struggle to trust those that have saved them from a horrifying end.

    I also say a prayer for the OTTBs that have been given a second chance at a new life/career off the track. Not only are there some people in the racing industry, but also in the sport horse industry that treat their TBs like a machine and not a living, feeling being. There are many people that buy OTTBs that simply don’t know how to properly handle these horses and consequently the poor horse gets shuffled on to the next potential owner. It’s important for anyone buying a OTTB to do their homework and educate themselves about the life, care, handling and training of a TB race horse.

  3. T. L. Palmer

    Thank you for letting him know love & kindness before he left this world too soon… *hugs*

  4. Nuala Galbari

    Melissa, Susan,

    This is truly heartbreaking for so many of us. Mascot was a great spirit with the kindest eye — a warrior in his own right.

    Thank you for all your attention and care. Mascot must have known he was very much loved in his last days; that is all that matters. You gave this angel find his forever home and he is free now.

    Bless you.

    Nuala Galbari

  5. Jon

    We should give Melissa a ton of credit here. Look at the face of Mascot after being rescued from New Holland. His eyes are scared and his face is tense. Look at the picture of him enjoying his peppermints. Soft eyes, a soft expression in his face. It appears like he wants to be around people. This is what the love and care Melissa have done for him. In the few months with Melissa he got the love he needed and deserved. Well done Melissa!

  6. Judith Ochs

    Thank you for your care of Mascot. I was a physician and the hardest thing to “learn/accept” was that I could not save everyone. Sometimes the kindest thing is to let go. He at least had caring and good people at the end. There is truly a special place in hell for those who abuse and overuse and injure these amazing creatures.

  7. Susan Crane-Sundell

    It’s such a terrible tragedy when these things happen despite the valiant efforts of committed advocates like Melissa. He was beautiful and regal and deserved so much better care from his last owners. I love the industry but my heart always goes dark when I visit a third and fourth tier track and see the records of those TBs running in claiming races completely at the mercy of fate and the intentions of people who are as down on their luck as the horses. I believe that trainers and owners who run horses into the ground and then unfeelingly throw them away need to be held more accountable to the industry and to the fans. Thank you Dreamdancer for finding his last trainer and calling him out. We need a wall of shame. Rest well and long Mascot… and Melissa, you did everything that you could and more. Our thoughts are with you.

  8. Jon

    I look my older OTTB’s. One 27, one 25 and one 22. They want for nothing. If they need a new blanket, they have it. If they need special feed, they have it. They receive the finest care I can give them. I give them this and more because of what they have given to me. If Mascots connections had just thought about the horse,I fault the owners and the greedy trainer, this noble horse could have gone on to a long career as a pleasure or sport horse with tons of love and peppermints.
    I know my horses will not be around forever, But I will be with them until the very end. And in the end, as I have done before, I will be right there to let them know they are loved.

  9. Delrene Sims

    For every Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra there is a tragic story like Mascot’s . Thank you Melissa for giving this wonderful boy alot of love and care in his last year of life. It is always sad, but so obvious in this case the right path was chosen for him. So heartwarming to know he was loved and cared for and got a major overdose of peppermints and hugs right up to his last breath. He was quite handsome and heartbreaking to know someone ( owners/trainers ) just almost ran him to death and then discarded him. Thank you for being his angel of mercy. Rest in peace Mascot. Thank you Susan for sharing this sad but important piece of horse history. I agree, hopefully those that abused him will answer to a higher power.

  10. Jeanne Mirabito

    Prayers for his people.

    Godspeed, Mascot, see you on the other side.

  11. Louise Ferro Martin

    I am so, so sorry, Melissa! I don’t have the right words…..I feel horrible. You are so wonderful for these horses that you save and I know he spent his last days feeling safe and loved! I send my prayers and love, you take care…Love, Louise.

    Thank you so much Susan, although this is such a sad ending, you have helped to bring these horrible situations for all to know……..

  12. Jon

    I did not even know Mascot and my heart is heavy. This should not happen to any horse! No horses should ever get to this point. Melissa did for Mascot what his connections should have done, care for Mascot and help himfind a loving home. It is clear his connections had no heart or soul. Rest in peace War Horse.

  13. dreamdancer

    I’m so saddened to learn about the loss of this gallant horse at the young age of ten years. Checking Equibase, he was owned and trained by Jerome Palumbo from 10/20/2010 until his last race on 1/5/2011. In this brief period of only 2.5 months he was raced five times , once having only 5 days of rest between races (11/3/10 and again on 11/8/10).
    Rest in peace, sweet Mascot. You at least experienced love and care during your final days. To the trainers who treat horses so callously, my only hope is that you have to answer to a higher power someday.

  14. Martha

    My eyes are filled with tears as I read of the loss of Mascot after all the effort you made to rehabilitate him. You must think of the happy, safe days you gave him which allowed him to enjoy the time he had left. He knew you were his saviour and must have been so grateful that you took him away from a terrible situation.
    You will transfer that love and determination to another needy horse–thank God we have people like you who are stepping in where those who should be responsible are dropping the ball.

  15. Donna

    Thank you so much for your kindess to Mascot, and for giving him a peaceful end when it was what he needed. I am sure he felt joy in your care. Each horse that comes into our lives has something to teach us, and we walk away much the richer for it.

  16. Jennifer

    This is a sad story, and it’s true someone who made money with him as a racehorse should have been looking out for him better at the end of his career. To be fair to racing, however: according to Equibase, this horse’s last start was in January 2011. Where had he been between then and August 2012?

  17. Maureta Ott

    My heart goes out to you on the loss of beloved Mascot. I know of no greater hurt than the loss of a much loved horse. Thank you for being there for him!

  18. TBDancer

    For every horse that has a happy second career, there are the Mascots and others that will live on as a symbol of why racehorses must be cared for and retired before they become so broken down they cannot be repaired.

    It’s called “being a good steward,” and while some racing connections think only of the money, they forget there is a living, FEELING soul behind those tired eyes, sore muscles, and aching bones.

    Godspeed, Mascot, and my sympathies to Melissa Rudershausen and others who loved him. He did not die in vain.

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