Sweating in fear, Midnight ran as though the demons of hell bit at her heels.
Bursting from the murk of another mysterious Thoroughbred life gone wrong, she raced in the night, putting as much space as she could between herself and a terrifying past.
As she streaked through the East Everglades like a warhorse avoiding death in a battlefield, she towed a 150-gallon plastic planter, which had been tied to her halter.
The large object, which must have bounced and crashed as it trailed out beside her, and gouged at the earth, only driving her onward.
She ran with fear as she ran with purpose until every ounce of energy was sapped.
Finally, Her chest heaving, her body slicked wet with sweat, Midnight lied down on the gravely ground and waited for whatever fate would bring.
Dam: Tuxedo Parade
Foal date: Feb. 6, 2007And if name is destiny then this horse got lucky at birth, because at just about midnight on Nov. 14, 2013 help arrived.
The Miami-Dade Agricultural Patrol was first on the scene. And quickly after came Laurie Waggoner of the South Florida SPCA. Together they worked to untangle the horse and help the weakened animal to her feet.
“She was so tired from running—we don’t know how far she ran or for how long—that we had to get her up twice before we could get her on the van,” she says. “And when we got her to the farm, she lied down again.”
With rest and nutritious feed Midnight (Jockey Club: Midnight Parade) rebounded quickly, Waggoner says. In decent condition overall, the 7-year-old mare was advertised for adoption on the SPCA’s website and on April 9, 2013 she was handed over to the competent hands of SPCA volunteers and equestrians Celia Bunge and her talented daughter Daniela.
“I saw her beautiful picture on the website and started reading her story, and she just looked so beautiful. I told my daughter we needed to go take a look at her, and we quickly decided to put her on our trailer,” Bunge says.
With the idea of training her to be a Hunter/Jumper prospect and lesson horse for their riding program, the pair soon learned that more than ground work and lessons, Midnight needed reassurance.
“She was very stressed at the beginning and sweated so much that we called the vet because we were worried; she’d get all foamy and we didn’t know why,” she says. “She couldn’t relax. If she tried to trot, she broke into a weird Paso Fino (horse) trot. And if she was in a canter, she wanted to gallop.”
Mother and daughter decided that the first lesson Midnight needed to learn was that she was safe, she was loved, and they would not harm her, Bunge adds.
After waiting weeks for her to adjust to her new home, and to trust, Daniela Bunge began working very slowly with her under saddle. So slow that the second the mare gets something right, the lesson ends, and she is returned to the pasture to be with her friends.
“Something really clicked for her about three months ago,” Celia Bunge says, noting that the beautiful animal is now so trusting and trust worthy that she will soon join a string of lesson horses at her riding facility, the Miami International Riding Club.
Since racing like hell from the East Everglades last November, the once terrified mare has finally stopped running. Her fearful habits have quieted and she now stands at the mounting block, proud and ready. Her gait has smoothed from frantic to calm as she knows now that she’s finally safe.
As a new member of the Bunge family’s herd, she’s arrived on the other side of darkness. And Midnight has found her new morning.