Mare goes from kill pen to show ring in 6 weeks

All My Robyns struts at a show ring just six weeks after she was rescued from a meat auction

All My Robyns struts at a show ring just six weeks after she was rescued from a meat auction

As the thin gray mare stood tied among other slaughter-bound livestock, Ingrid Messineo flipped the obliging animal’s lip to confirm she was indeed a tattooed ex-racehorse. Then carefully, and one by one, picked up all four feet.

Nice horse, she mused, as she patted the gentle animal’s neck and whispered, “I hope you find a good home.”

Turning her back, she walked away as the sad-looking creature’s eyes followed her. A moment later, before Messineo disappeared from view, the mare let out a mournful whinny.

“She seemed to look at me as if she was saying, ‘I can’t believe you’re going to leave me here.’ So I went back, patted her some more, and my heart felt like it broke.”

That’s when she rushed back out of the holding area of the Unadilla Auction, grabbed her friend Kay O’Hanlan, a seasoned horse rescuer who was trying to save four other horses, and asked her to please make room for one more.

Race name: All My Robyns
Barn name: Diamond
Sire: Robyn Dancer
Dam: East of Allemont, by Far Out East
Foal date: April 6, 1997

O’Hanlan agreed, and quickly raised the $130 “bail” money from horse advocates John R. Murell of Texas and Deb Jones of California to purchase ex-racehorse All My Robyns, she adds.

“Kay contacted Deb Jones in California and John Murrell in Texas to make sure she had funding, and then she bid against the meat buyers to buy her,” she says. “And after we had her, a friend who had brought her trailer was able to load her with four other horses.”

All My Robyns was transported two hours to O’Hanlan’s farm, and almost instantly, she seemed to regain her equilibrium and her form.

“She was so easy to put weight on, and gained it so quickly, that I had the vet come out to make sure she wasn’t pregnant!” Messineo says. “She’s eating a pellet grain and hay, and it turns out she’s just an easy keeper.”

And the mare quickly identified Messineo as “her person.”

She will only load on a trailer for her savior, not anyone else, and she proved more than willing to retrain for her new friend. “When I first started riding her, the only thing she knew was that if you got on her back, she wanted to run,” she says. “And she could pick up her left lead, but not her right.”

All My Robyns arrives from the Unadilla Auction in NY

All My Robyns arrives from the Unadilla Auction in NY

Catching on quickly, the mare easily learned to collect her gaits, and to execute her walk, trot and canter with such aplomb she was able to show off at her first horse show —only six weeks after leaving the kill pen!

At the Ulster County Fair in New York, the sweet-tempered lady, who isn’t “mareish” at all, picked up two 5th place ribbons in walk-trot and walk-trot-pole classes. “For me, who hasn’t been in the show ring for 28 years, it was a tremendous accomplishment,” Messineo says. “And for a mare who knew nothing, who was bound for slaughter, it was amazing.”

The snow-white mare’s timing couldn’t have been better. She arrived in Messineo’s life days before her prized 22-year-old gelding died of EPM, a rare and debilitating disease that attacks the nervous system.

“She came into my life at the right time, and I can tell you that she really knows I am her human,” she says. “One day my sister tried to load her on the trailer for me, and she refused. So I took the lead line and she walked right on. My sister said, ‘This is your horse.’ ”

How good it was that Messineo took a second look at the underweight disheveled mare when there were few friends to be had for a horse nearly out of time.

74 responses to “Mare goes from kill pen to show ring in 6 weeks”

  1. MJ

    I love reading your stories Susan. When ever I need a pick me up I read one of your lovely stories and I can’t help but smile. I’m glad this mare found her human.

  2. Elaine Burnett

    Thank you for this story. I could almost feel your horse’s love. It has been a rough week. This reminded me that love, unselfish caring is always a winning proposition. I cried, a little-I felt amazed and I needed that. Happy trails to you and Diamond.

  3. gloriacotton

    Great story of the healing power of love and that all living things feel, receive and give it. I think it’s shameful that people run horses and take care of them as long as they make them money and they treat them so horribly afterwards or if they don’t win big enough, often enough. There’s no love in that. Only greed. God help us.

  4. Barbara Coppins

    S’cuse me horseygirl, but this native upstate NY’er knows there’s NO green grass in NY in the winter. I’m guessing that the after auction photo was early spring in that part of NY…before there were even buds on the trees. My guess? Mid to late May NY has a pretty short summer….so when things decide to bloom or leaf out…they do it FAST..

  5. Mary Ann C (Letz) Golden

    love horses so much but cant afford one but saved this one,thanks lady.

  6. Judi Rhoden

    Beautiful story and lovely that you also formed an instant bond. I believe that GOD puts us in the right place at the right time…I know exactly where you are coming from-my guy is a formerly Amish owned 6-7yr old 17h American Saddlebred that was sent to New Holland and sold for slaughter after having a buggy accident. I rescued him in October 2013 -we rehabilitated his body and are now working on his mind. He was severely traumatized with an injured rear leg leading me to believe that he went from buggy accident straight to auction- and probably more than 1 before ending up at New Holland. We have taken things slow and steady -a lot of low pressure ground work and trust building – He is definitely a Mamma’s Boy- we are now training and he is progressing nicely. A horse with enough confirmation to be noticed by Lenny Matroni (American Saddlebred Grand National Judge) that parks out perfectly and is 5 gaited- almost ended up on a plate. It would have been a total waste!

  7. Equine Welfare & Horse Rescue Wrap Up August 2013 | Australian Horse Welfare and Rescue News

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  8. Ingrid

    I would like to thank everyone who has commented on Diamonds story. I appreciate all of them and will keep Susan Salk up to date with her progress, pics and all. Her next show will be Sept. 8th. She likes having a job and being spoiled. Just wish there were more people out there that can do the same for another OTTB. Trust me going to an auction is the most heart wrenching thing a person can endure, I went just to keep a friend company never with the intention of rescuing “All My Robyn’s” aka Diamond. I do not for one second ever regret doing that good deed for this animal, and if I ever had to do it again I would without blinking an eye. As a matter of fact I will be going back to the Unadilla camp horse auction on August 30th. That one is going to be a tough sale to attend. All those animals who have let children on their backs all summer long are now going to be thrown into this auction in hopes of finding there forever homes and not the pipeline.

    1. Patty M

      Oh how heartbreaking! Isn’t there a rescue organization that could try to find them forever homes first before they resort to having them murdered? I believe not enough effort is being made to get these horses adopted prior to sending them to slaughter. No one should have to endure this type of end to their life!

  9. Heidi Henry

    Debbie I will just end with this …. No matter what horsey22girl intentions were …it read on this forum as a… NEGATIVE.. people just need to get the FACTS and think before they write their thoughts down if they don’t want backlash from it…That’s all…SIMPLE.

  10. Debbie

    Horsey22girl may have simply been trying to emphasize that “Diamond” is an exceptional example of how quickly a malnourished horse can be reconditioned with proper care. She may have also been trying to warn others that the road to recovery for many other ‘rescues’ from the track or other places is not so smooth and takes much longer to get weight on them, longer yet to return them to a point where they can be ridden and trained again. Yes, she might have put it out there in a skeptical fashion but I don’t think she was throwing anyone’s efforts or intentions ‘under the bus’ or trying to discredit the rescue itself. Instead of everyone jumping on her in anger lets return to the incredible story of a horse brought back from the brink of a terrible death to a life of love and affection. Some horses are in fact easy keepers and her new owner herself was amazed and puzzled by Diamond’s ability to rebound. But honestly..many many other horses having gone through similar circumstances take much longer to rehabilitate and perhaps Horsey22girl was simply trying to remind us of that… and not to expect the same results for the majority of rescue cases- expecially those that are emaciated for unknown reasons at time of rescue. Let’s rejoice in Diamond’s story and not get sidetracked into something negative. 🙂

  11. Jon

    Horsey22girl needs to read and comprehend the facts of the article before jumping on a owner that has done the right thing for the horse. It is clear that the owner and the horse have a very special bond that allowed things to progress quickly.
    Some horses bought at auction are hard horses to deal with and bring back to good form. Many are not.
    Many of us here are seasoned horsemen and women. Be happy for the horses and people that have good outcomes. Try to prevent others from ending up in places like Sugar Creek, Unadilla and New Holland.

  12. The Mythical Unwanted Horse | Shedrow Confessions

    […] Maybe since most PSAs seem mostly concerned with wringing the last few dollars out of their companion animals, they can’t wrap their minds around the success of the horses we just featured.  I can understand how it would be hard for them to grasp that one horse in the right hands can basically become an empire maker or put a person on the map in a good way, when they seem to be so worried about a couple hundred dollars worth of blood money.  For that reason, I will talk about the horse pictured above.  She’s not famous and she probably never will be.  However, very recently she was standing in the kill pen at Unadilla Auction with her fate pretty much sealed.  Lucky for her, she was bailed out that day for the princely sum of $130 and a mere six weeks later was winning ribbons for her new owner ( […]

  13. Heidi

    I don’t understand for one minute why horsey22girl would even attempt to throw someone with such good intentions under the bus (so to speak). I dont recall her standing by our side when these pictures were taken. I don’t know if she has an agenda but this was not the incident to start with. This story is a complete success any way you look at it. Ingrid only went to the auction to keep a friend company,she had no intention whatsoever to acquire another horse but this skinny broken little mare worked on her heartstrings and ingrid caved. This mare and Ingrid were brought together for a reason as her other thoroughbred was diagnosed and succumbed to EPM just 2 weeks later. A horse she also rescued from a terrible situation 7 years prior. So for anyone to express publicly on this forum or any other before asking questions and hearing first hand FACTS about this case LISTEN UP learn the facts before you trash talk or voice such a pessimistic opinion. Thank you to all that have left such positive feedback and Susan Salk for getting all the FACTS and sharing with others.

  14. Dee

    Isn’t it wonderful to find your equine soul mate! I found mine many years ago and he is still with me in retirement. I love my old man and he knows that he is #1.

  15. Cpt. H

    Shoot I’m in no position to keep and care for a horse but $130 bail, thats it?

  16. horsey22girl

    This is a very sweet story. However, these photos were taken more than six weeks apart. The after-auction photo was taken in the wintertime and the show photo was taken during the summertime. This is important because in actuality, this kind of rehabilitation can take months or years of consistent work to achieve. A six week turnaround would be very unusual. Anyone interested in rescuing a horse needs to understand this. Still, congratulations to both Robyn and her proud owner!

    1. Ingrid

      Horsey22girl, I have to say that the pictures that were taken was on April 13, 2013 the day after she was brought home and the show picture was taken August 4, 2013. I understand the reason you feel that this was impossible to do. The mare is a very good keeper all she needed was to have a steady place to lay down at night, constant food source and someone who would take the time to care for her. This mare had put on all this weight in such a short amount of time that I had to have my vet come out and do a pregnancy test on her just to make sure she wasn’t in foal. She has the body type of a QH. I had a gelding who was the total opposite to where he wasn’t gaining weight no matter what I had given him until the day I had to put him down. I would not along with Deb Jones or John Murrell put something out there with their name attached to it that is not fact. I was ecstatic to see the difference my self when the pic of the show was posted on my facebook, that is why I forwarded the pics to Deb Jones and then I was contacted by Susan Salk. You should try not to discredit a fact without knowing the facts. Susan did here research and I am sure she would not have done this article if it were not true. Thank you for the congrats. If you need pics of her at 28 days after auction I will be more than happy to forward.

      1. Kristi

        Agreed, people who do not know the facts should not come on here and try to dispute them. It is too bad that you (Ingrid) had to defend the rescue and rehabilitation of your mare.

        That said, I rescued a mare a couple of years ago that was on the verge of starving to death. She was literally a rack of bones with all her hair falling out due to rainrot. She was picked up on April 20th. A month later she had gained enough weight to be started under saddle. Within six weeks most of her hair had grown back, her ribs were no longer visible and she had a BCS of 4.5. Given the correct diet and care, there is no reason an otherwise healthy horse can’t gain weight quickly.

    2. I love horses

      We have had many rescue horses it all comes down to the horse. People don’t shy away from rescuing these horse’s from a horrible fate. It doesn’t matter how long it takes too rehabilitate the horse in the end anytime or money you put in it will be more than worth it. Theirs always that one person who always try’s to rain on others parade. Great job

  17. Theresa LaBrecque

    Kill pens are dark places but I think the real issues are those who breed horses wantonly and those who don’t take horse forever ownership seriously. If we could change these two things there wouldn’t be kill pens. I have a ” throw away horse who is the best, sweetest, loving horse around.

  18. Patti D

    Dear Susan, Thank your this wonderful story… I have loved horses all my life, and wish I was financially secure enough to join your rescue effort, but alas, I am not,,I am appalled at the racing industry for abandoning these beautiful animals who have payed their way through life to be discarded like a worn out shoe..Please keep posting your stories..i enjoy them.. and best wishes to Diamond and Ingrid..maybe someday I will be able..who knows what the future holds.

  19. Karen Hewitt

    This story reminds me of Snowman who was rescued from being slaughtered in the late 40s. He was ridden as a “jumper” for five years before being retired. I’m so glad there are individuals who can rescue some of these horses and give them a second chance. Snowman proved how grateful he was.

  20. Rebecca A. (Dick) Harris Hill

    Dear Sue- Thank you for pulling together your Blogsite!!! I am so so glad this grey mare found her ‘forever person’. I have read most of your blogs today on Sat.Aug.10, 2013~ and this story is very heart wrenching like so, many! I have left another comment on the bottom of another blog! Keep up the great job of informing the rest of us of what is going on in the ‘unwanted horse world’at the New Holland & similar salesbarns! Stay safe, Rebecca Hill

  21. Rick I

    I’ve been ridden Thoroughbreds since age 3. Grandfather Ross Reid had colt I raised, never won a race. OTTB bought buy Rodney Jenkins
    found his true career winning Hunter class all over USA, Super Horse of Year 3 years. “TOUCH THE SUN” is missed.

  22. Zenwoman47

    Bless you for saving her. Rather like the legendary Snowman, there are such great horses going to horror and death.

  23. Maxine. Clarke

    What a blessing to have a horse pick the rider. Lots of love in this story. Keep up the great work everyone

  24. Maxine. Clarke

    What a blessing for the rider to have the horse pick. Lots of love in this wonderful story. Keep up the great work everyone. More horses to be saved.

  25. Margaret Weiss

    Reminds me of the similiar story about “Snowman” the 80 dollar champion that Harry found at the New Holland auction and bought, then won the National Horse Show in the early 50’s. This is great!!!!! thanks for bailing her out and seeing her potential,

  26. Patty M

    You are one in a million. So is your beautiful mare. Love and hugs to you both. I so wish each and every beautiful horse could have a happy ending story. I pray for the day when every one has a home. STOP bringing them into the world if there isn’t a home for them!!! Stop the problem at its source!!! It’s not rocket science.

  27. Candi

    Good job to both of you for finding the right ‘fit’! This reminds me of Snowman, a horse that was at slaughter, and found his human, and, as here, the human was responsive. Snowman went on to win every jumping category in the country. Another wonderful win/win situation. Congratulations to you and All My Robyns. Write this down in book form – people will want to read about you both.

  28. Matt Bailis

    Another great story, Sue. This one really pulled at the heart strings. Lucky mare, lucky lady.

  29. Bonnie Warner

    So glad there are at least some horses that get to escape that horrid fate. My last horse is gone now, would not mind taking one of these. Horses have always been in my life.

  30. Pattie

    Beautiful heart-warming story.

  31. Horse's Deserve More

    I really think that its a shame these animals are carted away to kill markets…to be slaughtered owners should be ashamed these animals are the reason they have fancy homes and fancy cars.etc…They should be made to take care of these horses for life…with all the money generated through horse racing they all should be made too open retirement homes for these animals in every state as many as it takes too care for these animals they have the money it should be their responsibility its sick to think anyone would think its ok to have these animals slaughtered when its them who made the money..I saw someone come up with petitions to make these people give back too these poor animals….Retirement Homes for horses petition they put a stop too greyhounds being put down and theres all kinds of laws that protect other animals where is the laws for these animals who make the money…Make the race industry give back to these animals.

  32. Jon

    They know who saves them. They know who loves them. All but one of the OTTB’s we have had have been great partners. The one was so mentally damaged that he did not even love himself. This mare knew who her person was going to be. It appears that she pays back the favor with unwavering dedication to her person. May they have many healthy and happy years together.

  33. Tammy

    Thank you for saving the mare’s life!

  34. Marion Mohrman

    All My Robyns reminds me so much of a show horse back in the 80’s called “The Bird” I’m so proud that you gave the mare a chance and listened to your heart!!
    She is very nice mover and she will be yours forever. Much love to you and your mare.

  35. lowrey jones

    Look forward to your column everyday! it renews my faith in the world of horses!!!

  36. Lora

    IT really is a travesty,,so many just like her DIDN’T get A second chance. So happy she DID!

  37. Pam

    What a great story! God Bless everyone who rescues and cares for abused or abandoned horses. Please send an email or make a phone call. The Safeguard American Food Exports “SAFE” H.R.1094/S.541 is the current bill proposed in the House and Senate to protect American horses from slaughter. PLEASE contact your legislators and ask them to co-sponsor and support “SAFE”.
    To find your legislators use these links: and

  38. Susan Crane-Sundell

    She is a beauty with brains. She wasn’t going to let you go Heidi, and she will show you this time and time again in the show ring and during private times too. They have such second sense that we don’t possess. Congratulations to you and Diamond on your partnership. It’s the most beautiful heartfelt story.

    1. Susan Crane-Sundell

      I’m sorry that comment was supposed to say Ingrid and also Heidi. I got so excited about Diamond I got ahead of myself.

  39. Tammy Lehrer

    Thank you for saving this mare and getting the word out that your next DIAMOND is waiting for you in the ruff, and don’t let it pass you by. Take a good look at those eyes. If you take the time to rescue them, they repay you everyday!

  40. pamela merkey

    I cried when I read this article. I have three rescues at my farm. Once they are ready I adopt them out to 4h girls in our county. We had a reunion cook out one summer and they all came for a visit.
    I have had a total of 6 come through my doors. Everyone as sweet as the next.
    My rescues love people, hugs , treats and especially children. People come and visit almost every day. Who rescued who??? They are my reason for life.

  41. Olivia

    I rescued my OTTB gelding from Unadilla auction last summer! Although he didn’t come along as fast as your mare (6 weeks?? Holy cow!) Leo, my drk. bay OTTB gelding has come along way and is also showing now 🙂

  42. Linda

    Thank-you so much for sharing,makes me happy to hear about great people like you.What a beautiful and heartwarming story.And thanks to everyone who helps.The horses thank you.We will stop this insanity,come hell or high water,we are not going away.Power to the people.Great work,love you all

  43. Gloria Stagmer

    Congratulations to the both of you. Thank you for saving her. These lovely animals are not throw aways. Th best to your both.

  44. Cathleen Trope

    We have two rescued ex broodies showing dressage right now – 11 year old Bridal Chatter and 20 year old Poke Along. I wish more people would give the older ones a chance. They are always such sweethearts!

    I made a Facebook group for those riding/showing ex-broodies – about time we had a place to showcase them!

  45. Heidi Henry

    This is my sister and her mare I have had horses for 30+ yrs the majority of my horses were from kill pens and they lived theirs lives out with me. I am so very proud that my sister has taken this knowledge and was able to rehab Diamond and bond with her like they have. Ingrid had another rescue horse prior to Diamond his name was Remi Red (George) who she absolutely loved and adored. he also was a throw away thoroughbred that no one would give a chance but Ingrid did and she went above and beyond what anyone would have for him with the best chiropractic help, the best feeds,hay , etc… So once again I must say how VERY PROUD I am of my sister …CONGRATS

    1. ingrid

      Thank you everyone for all your responses and Susan for doing this article on All My Robyns “Diamond”. she is a pleasure and am extremely glad I was able to save her from the pipeline. I will keep everyone updated. Thank you Heidi, Remi is looking down on me and Diamond and is smiling.

  46. Mike Richmann

    I’m just a guy amongst what appears to be a female-only response list, but I have to say that this story is just amazing, inspirational, and very emotianal for me too. I grew up around horses in rural Iowa and then went west to the big city and spent 45 years of my life without ever riding again or interacting with horses. I moved to Montana, met a great woman who raises Morgans, and I’m just so thankful for having her and for having horses back in my life. The horse-human bond is unlike anything else I’ve ever experienced.

    1. Patty M

      Are there any more like you out there, Mike? I love your heart.

  47. Debbie

    Oh my goodness I have Happy Tears reading this, SO SPECIAL, what a lucky lucky girl she is, so thankful you all helped her… SHE KNEW she really did, so she reached out and did it in a very bold way, SMART….. ALL the potential of all those that are Tortured for money, makes me so very angry, if people would STOP wanting the tainted meat, imagine that, HOW on earth can anyone eat this meat??? Just can’t imagine…. NICE NICE STORY loved it thank you.

  48. Mare goes from kill pen to show ring in 6 weeks | Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's Blog

    […] Please continue reading here. […]

  49. Christina

    Just a beautiful story. So happy for both this lucky mare and her lucky owner.

  50. christine

    This is such a beautiful story…it I’d the epitome of every proverb…hidden underneath a throw away a champion WOW hope this story goes viral

  51. LindaVA

    Another great happy ending!!

  52. Susan Galvan

    Such a great story… Please give your mare a few extra kisses and snuggles, from us!!! <3

  53. Gracie Royle

    I have 4 from the kill pen/kill lot. Each one knows! And each one has a special talent and personality. THANK YOU that this one is saved and her story shared

  54. Sunshine Farm Equine Sanctuary

    OTTB have the biggest hearts. I have two at our rescue and they are amazing! Thank you for saving a precious life and giving this beauty a forever home! This is what it is all about!!

  55. Angie Francart

    Awesome story and so sad to hear that TB’s are still ending up in kill pens when I was under the impression that owners can be face serious fines for allowing a TB to end up in kill pens. But maybe I’m wrong and just wishful thinking. Either way, it’s great to read the inspirational stories that Susan has put together. The work that we all do is making life better for these outstanding horses. Great job and loved reading this story. However, I must admit I always get a tear in my eye….I just wish we could save them all.

  56. Tara

    This literally made my day! Teared up reading that, I so wish ALL the horses slated for slaughter, had happy endings like this!

  57. franboxwood

    It is simple..that mare found you…. that is usually how it happens… meant to be.. Great story Sue… keep them coming… We love ya- from your friends at Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series….TASS

  58. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    Wonderful story. Absolutely amazing what love and compassion can do and the bond that can be developed between a human and a horse. Bravo!

  59. Christina

    What a lovely, lovely story. Lucky mare, lucky buyer. It’s heartbreaking, the route these animals follow from much-anticipated birth to ending up in a kill pen. So heartwarming to hear of the rescues.

  60. Arriba

    Thank you for lifting my spirits…that goodness does and can reign even in the darkest of times. So happy the mare found her forever home. But at the same time, my heart breaks for all the ones left behind to the kill buyers’ dirty deeds. Let’s pray for all equines in jeopardy. They know, as they stand in the tight corrals. They know.

  61. sharon

    How lucky for both of you. Hope you share many years together!

  62. Rachel

    Brings tears to my eyes. It is amazing how a horse can end up in your life at just the right time. Love the mares and their intelligence to pick their person 🙂

  63. Cheryl Ann

    What an amazing story! I have an OTTB myself and yes, I’m his person, too! Thank you for giving her a second chance.

  64. Sandy Gonyea

    I love, love, loved this story. Thank you for rescuing her and thank you for the courage to go to those hell hole auctions. I’m not sure I could ever do that and keep myself sane.

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