Mindy Lovell, the Ontario woman who rescued top-earning racehorse and broodmare Press Exclusive, a Thoroughbred who was as good as dead in a kill pen when she intervened, and who has saved scores of other discarded racehorses, teeters on the precipice of financial ruin.
Earlier this week, Lovell issued a plea for donations to help support the herd of 43 discarded ex-racehorses, most rescued from the slaughter pipeline.
Citing a decline in donations and an uptick in the number of horses she has rescued—at one point she was single-handedly caring for 90 rescued Thoroughbreds—Lovell announced on Facebook that she needs help to keep the horses properly fed with good hay and grain through the coming hard winter.
“I could not have predicted the number of horses finding themselves headed to slaughter through no fault of their own,” states Lovell, of Transitions Thoroughbreds in her announcement.
Given the close proximity of Lovell’s farm to the slaughterhouse, and the weight on her psyche that she is the only chance for horses destined to die horribly in that nearby plant, Lovell states that though she has “no regrets” in taking in the enormous herd, and the sun-up-to-sundown care she willingly provides to the sick and injured, this last year has brought her to a crisis point.
And she has to ask for help.
Earlier this week, she launched Transitions Thoroughbreds Fall 2013 Fundraiser, that has already brought in approximately $1,700 toward the $10,000 overall cost needed to take her through winter.
Funds will be used for hay and grain as she re-doubles her ongoing effort to re-home her horses and aggressively seeks to thin the herd.
Her horses have subsisted on the generosity of donors through the years, most notably from Texas horseman John Murrell and Marlene Murray of R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc., and the addition of approximately 10 other individuals who donate consistently.
Lovell admits that she has too many horses and is working as hard as she can to re-home her herd.
“I had approximately 90 horses come through these doors. I currently have 43 horses in this program. That means that around 47 horses have moved on,” she states. “I’ve accomplished that in one year.”
Although the majority of the horses who come to her are not immediate candidates for new homes because of their physical and mental condition, she believes passionately that after years giving of themselves, they do not deserve to die in a slaughterhouse.
Press Exclusive, winner of more than $400,000 in purse money, and mother of nine consecutive foals, was rescued by Lovell in December 2012 at a holding pen, mere minutes from the slaughter house. (Please read an earlier story about Press Exclusive in Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com).
What that mare suffered on the truck ride to slaughter, after she fell on the crowded truck and thrashed in panic beneath the hooves of other slaughter-bound horses, was devastating, Lovell says.
Against the advice of a veterinarian, who wanted to euthanize the badly injured animal, Lovell took the mare, nursed her back to health, and re-homed her to a retirement facility of Equine Advocates in New York.
“That horse has become the poster child of slaughter,” Lovell says.
In an earlier interview, Lovell swallows tears and tries to compose herself before she describes that very special mare.
“She made $436,000 on the track and produced nine foals, one after the other, as soon as she retired. The last foal that was weaned off her just ran through the Select Yearling Sale at Woodbine and sold for $16,000!” Lovell says. “With a horse like that, with high earnings and nine foals, Jesus, God, that’s not what she deserves at the end of the day.”
Lovell’s concern now is in keeping her current herd fat and healthy through the winter. Admitting she is in no position to accept future rescues, she says she will hope and pray her new fundraiser is successful to get the herd through the winter, and that better times lie ahead.
“I have made many attempts to help bring in funding to help support these horses until new homes are found; I’ve contacted many people to ask for help to re-home these horses, and/or to follow through on offers made. The response has pretty much been silence,” she says, noting, “2012 and 2013 have been extremely difficult years … and (though) there were many, many offers to help, from offers to adopt horses from me, or to help with costs to support them … sadly, most of these offers never came through.”