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 have this 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, 1997O’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.”
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.
Author’s note—This was originally published on Aug. 9, 2013.
16 responses to “Mare goes from kill pen to show ring in 6 weeks”
So glad you were able to rescue her. Rescue horses rock – I have one. His Story is being shared on Horse Channel as “Cisco”. He is an amazing boy.
Great story! How wonderful for both of them. Who saved who? I wasn’t really clear on that! LOL
Purchased my first “project” while looking for an off the track horse for a friend of mine. The guy didn’t have anything but gave me the name of a guy a friend of a friend of his knew. I called him and he said he had four horses. I asked if I could see them that weekend and he informed me they would be sold by ten the next morning or they were going to the auction (frequented by kill buyers at the time). I asked the original gentleman and he did inform me that yes most of his horses went through the auction many with unhappy endings as most were racetrack rejects. I called him back and went to go see them. Three were in good shape weight wise. The fourth was a small mousy grey colt. My friend took the three that wouldn’t require much effort to turn but the gray was smaller, had chipped feet, thrush, and just looked horrible. I couldn’t leave him. I wrote a check, begged a trailer off a friend at college, loaded him up not really sure where I was going to put a colt. Just knew I wasn’t leaving him there. I was going to Midway college and in the equine program SK I did the first logical thing I could think of. Drove to the equine directors house. I knocked on her door and blurted out what I did at 930 at night. She looked at me for a long minute walked out to the trailer and said okay he can use a stall at the college but he must be gelded. The next morning he was gelded between classes in the indoor arena. A month later he was green horse under saddle and over poles reserve champion his first show. Sold at the show to the judge for her daughter. She rode him to khja horse of the year at 2’6 for three years. Outgrown he was sold to another junior as a children’s hunter a proven packer always in the ribbons. He is still out and about winning. So if you ever come across a cute barely 15 hand tb who is flea bitten and bears the name First Snow named for the first snow on the day or purchase say hi. He is a pretty special guy.
God bless you for saving this beautiful horse! So wonderful that you found each other and she knew you were her human! What’s happening to our horses is Heartbreaking! May she and you have a long life together!
What a heartwarming story. I am shocked that is the same horse after only 6 weeks. Good for you for being able to see some potential in such a neglected animal. I think it really does take an “eye” for that… although I would not have been able to ignore a mournful whinny either. 🙂 Thank you for saving her!
And I have to say this mare looks better then ever today.you should ask Ingrid to send the most recent pic you would be amazed.
This is a miracle story of good timing, intelligent horse(whinnying when you walked away) and a VERY good, loving heart (Ingrid)!!!! I LOVE it!!! God bless you both with many happy years together!!!! I HATE what happens to TOO many horses. It should not happen to ANY!!!
God Bless you both. My heart just breaks when I read how mistreated horses are !! Where are the original owners. I am new at reading this and don’t understand abandoning your horse. I hope all goes well and my St Francis bless all the animals with loyal owners and God bless the owners now and forever.
Tears of joy that her “voice” was heard. A long and quality life is my prayer for both of you!
What a beautiful story! And the fact that the little mare whinnied when you tried to walk away from her as if to say “please don’t leave me!”……WOW!
Thank you, Ingrid, for your “second sense” about this horse that made you go back and for your wonderful big heart. I know you have already been rewarded a hundred times over.
This is a wonderful story. Thank you to Ingrid for taking that second look back at this beauty. So glad she now has her loving forever person.
What a good story and then I glanced at the breeding. Far out East was a favorite horse I used to gallop for TJ Kelly many moons ago!
WOW. What an amazing story. God Bless all those who helped this dear mare
glad you found eatchother. 🙂
Clearly, she loves you and appreciates you, Ingrid. You should be so proud.
Joyful tears. SO glad she found her forever, true human friend…