Deemed useless, spent from delivering progeny to sires such as Saffir, a mother and daughter stood like the others, unremarkable and the same as every other horse bound for slaughter that day.
Their last foals were gone; the soft muzzles now absent from udders that hung full of milk. And the broodmare Thoroughbreds were left with nothing but a hay pile in a bleak Ottawa holding pen, as they grasped mouthfuls of hay before taking their final ride to a meat-processing plant.
Sire: Bright Launch
Dam: Healing Touch
Foal date: March 11, 2005Reiki was pregnant at the time, but she was too thin for her condition to be noticed. And standing with her mother Healing Touch, the pregnant mare was among six broodmares bought by meat buyers at the Olex Auction on a late September afternoon last year.
“What stood out to me the day I saw them was, to be quite honest, that they were in very, very poor weight and that their udders were still full, as if their foals had just been pulled off them,” says Mindy Lovell, a longtime horse rescue advocate who patrols holding pens, week after week, searching for castoff Thoroughbreds bound for the slaughterhouse just 30 minutes away.
“These horses were sound, they were just tired,” she adds.
Lying down in the dust and shavings, Reiki could no longer hold on to the foal she carried, and she aborted the unborn foal sired by Saffir.
“She was in the holding pen when she aborted. She couldn’t pass the afterbirth though, because it was caught up inside of her, due to her poor weight,” Lovell says noting that as soon as the spent creature was brought to her farm, along with Holding Touch and four other discarded broodmares, Reiki was given immediate veterinary care to induce labor and help her expel what could have been toxic to her.
But even with the extra care, which included antibiotics, dental work to make chewing her food easier, and booster shots, Reiki did not bounce back.
Listless in her stall, she only picked at her food.
“She’d gone through so much and I think she was just worn out. These horses were starved already, and she’d just had a foal weaned, then she went through the trauma of a kill auction, the transport to the holding pen, and within a week she aborted the foal she was carrying,” Lovell says. “She would eat. But it took her a long time to finish her grain.”
As the routine of feeding and care continued, Reiki began the touching habit of putting her head in Lovell’s arms. “She was a very kind, sweet, and gentle horse” throughout her recuperation.
And after 30 days of quarantine and rest, Reiki began rejoin the living.
In a small paddock, she started “coming back into herself” and to Lovell’s astonishment, she moved with big, floating strides as if, underneath it all, she was a dressage prospect waiting to be discovered.
And as she filled out to a better weight, her beauty also emerged.
Her unusual coloring and facial markings include black at her ankles, which typically, in other horses reaches to the knees, and a jagged white blaze, symmetrical and lovely.
Now fully recovered from her harrowing journey last year, Lovell says that of all her fine candidates for a new home, Reiki’s beauty combined with her gentle demeanor and natural movement would make her an ideal prospect.
And she is offering for sale for $1,500 with the hopes she will go to a show barn to learn Hunters or Dressage.
Reiki is the last mare left of the six Lovell saved last September. Even her mother Healing Touch has moved on to be a companion horse.
“She’s a lovely mare. She’s been no trouble whatsoever. She’s never pushy, and she’s very quiet and sensible,” Lovell says. “It would be my dream to see her go on to do hunters or dressage because she is so striking, and such a beautiful mover.”