As a large truck idled nearby like a predator lurking to take unwanted horses to slaughter, a young woman approached a skittish gray mare hiding in a paddock corner.
Frightened and evasive, Perfect Love held her head down and kept her posture low until out of the corner of her good eye, she spotted an attractive young Connecticut woman approaching with a lead rope.
Desperate to get the lovely gray ex-racehorse as far away from danger as she could, Acacia Courtney stepped boldly, but quietly toward the mare. And the animal turned to her new friend, allowing her to clip on the lead rope—an acquiescence she had not made for anyone at the feedlot, and walked willingly toward the waiting van.
“Clipping that lead rope to her halter was a big moment in my life,” says Courtney, 21. “There were so many horses who wouldn’t make it out of there, and there was a big trailer backed up to a loading ramp, ready to take them to slaughter. It was very chilling.”
Foal date: April 2, 2006Like fleeing a battle zone on the last flight out, Courtney walked the mare to her family’s horse trailer and led her on.
Sherrie Courtney, who often describes her daughter as Snow White because animals and children flock to her, watched the exchange and worries the animal might spook or bolt. But she didn’t. And the mother gladly paid $50 above the meat price to buy Perfect Love for $417.
With the animal safely aboard, the door closed and locked, they both hopped into the front seat of the truck, and made the two-hour journey home to Connecticut.
By the time they unloaded the mare and peeled the meat label from her hind end, two lives had changed. For the mare, a life of comfort and love awaited as she was retrained to be Courtney’s riding horse.
The mare took a lot of patience. For months, she stood at the back of her stall as though willing herself to be invisible, Sherrie Courtney says. “She wouldn’t look at me when I came into her stall, but she really seemed to have an affinity for my daughter,” she says. “Acacia was the one who broke through to her by loving her, hugging her and spending about two years working with her.”
The younger Courtney also saw her life altered from the experience.
The tall, slim young woman who has competed for and won pageant titles as well as equestrian awards —she was named Miss New York City last year—has embraced horse-welfare advocacy as a central mission.
When she was 18, Acacia Courtney started a small nonprofit Racing For Home, Inc., and successfully rescued and rehomed 15 horses in three years. It is work she is proud of, so important that when she competes June 28th for Miss Connecticut, she plans to discuss her experiences at Camelot and her life spent helping horses like Perfect Love.
The Fordham University communications student hopes to use the platform to discuss the urgent needs of unwanted horses.
“There are so many horses who need a home,” she says. “Some of the most rewarding moments I’ve had with my horse have been in the show ring, when I tell people that this beautiful horse who looks so flashy is a half-blind ex-racehorse we rescued from a feedlot.”
21 responses to “Camelot T-bred is muse for Miss CT contestant”
So excited for Perfect Love and Acacia and will be watching the show! Thank you for bringing this need to the attention of the audience.
I found the article and was really surprised that the slaughterhouse was in NJ and the owner is claiming to sell to zoos.
From the article:
” In 2012, Governor Christie signed a state law banning horse slaughter for human consumption in the Garden State and Mr. Merola says the horse meat produced at Bravo is sold exclusively to zoos to feed big cats and other carnivores. He declined to be interviewed on camera, but said he’s doing nothing wrong at his company.”
I believe there is an Iowa horse slaughterhouse that is allowed to sell to zoos and there could be a slaughterhouse in NM. It is no wonder that zoo animals fed this meat don’t live long.
I would like to pass on some information about a horse slaughter plant in Canada.
This place is the number one plant that kills US horses for slaughter. This is one of the plants that was filmed with a hidden camera a few years ago that really exposed the cruelty that goes on in one of these places. Animals Angels a organization that works tirelessly to stop horse slaughter just got word last week that Bouvry just lost a huge contract with Migros Switzerland’s largest retail company and supermarket cancelling its contract to buy horse meat from Bouvry. It was caused by Animals Angels European contacts showing Migros photos of the pens and feed lot of Bouvry showing horses that appearing ill, and a number of complaints. The company had been watching Bouvry since last year about the cruelty to the slaughter horses. This was one of their major contracts that was lost. The killer buyers can’t go to auctions and buy horses to sell to slaughter plants if the plants don have customers for the meat. I’m hoping this catches on in Europe as that would shut down most of the plants in both Canada and Mexico. Have to wait and see what happens about this.
Barbara, thank you for this news!!
This is such fabulous news that you are able to help these poor horses that feel like why is this happening to me! Its horrific in fact that humans are just so evil for a quick buck to take these once great horses to their deminse! May you have much luck in your endeavors young lady for all your beautiful effort and hope that you give back to these lovely horses!! Thank you for your caring 🙂 O btw, I love hearing that her Sire was saved and that todays winner for a Belmont race was no other than “Nonnas Boy” pretty sure LOVIN NONNA was his dam too!
Thank you for taking on Horse Slaughter. And also for rescuing that beautiful mare. I can’t bring myself to go to places like Camelot and others because I can’t stand to see these rejected horses. God Bless you and Horse Rescues and people that go to sales and rescue these beautiful babies from these heartless people that go to Canada and Mexico. I wish I had unending funds so that I could help.
Beautiful story. I am continually amazed at the transformations from the grim feedlots to comfortable homes. I think it happens now more than ever, but we still have so far to go…
Her sire Perfect by Affirmed was recently rescued too. He is a nice stallion and was a gentleman when he was here with us before going to Equine Rescue of Aiken. Glad it was a good ending for both.
How can horses from New Jersey still be taken to slaughter? I thought i read where the state signed legislation outlawing horse slaughter and the transport out of the state for the purpose of slaughter? Am i wrong?
hmmm…appears as if a law was signed in 2012. Must be a loop hole.
on the other hand, New Jersey has this slaughterhouse
Lauren, she got her ottb in 2011, so maybe that’s part of it.
Awesome to see a young woman saving those horses that end up at auctions like Camelot. Applauding you Acacia for using your pageantry to bring this horrible issue to so many that have really know idea & what they can do!!!
There is the SAFE Act that many are hoping will get passed (contact your reps) & get them on board to co-sign. Many organizations/websites out there for information on this issue.
As well, SHARE with family & friends to END this horrific journey & end of life. This will stop the buyers for feedlots/slaughter plants from transporting horses to Canada or Mexico for slaughter!
What a heartwarming story! Acacia has made all the difference in the lives of many horses already in her young life and her mare Pearl is stunning! Thank you Acacia and Sherrie and I wish you good luck on June 28th Acacia!
You should be very proud of the work you have done to save horses and fight horse slaughter!
No horse’s life should end this way. We need to express this concern nationally – as 80%
of Americans oppose horse slaughter.
thanks for another good story. A bit confusing though, since I thought horses couldn’t be taken to slaughter houses in the US anymore. Hasn’t that ruling gone into effect yet?
She got the horse three years ago. I’m not sure when any transport changes went into effect.
They are still sold for slaughter in the US. Many are taken to Mexico and Canada
As of this moment, horse slaughter is illegal in the U.S. because of a ban on funding for horse slaughter inspections by the USDA. But, horses are still being taken to slaughter outside our borders. Both Canada and Mexico accept our horses for processing.
What a beautiful story!
Thank you Acacia, for taking on the plight of unwanted horses. You have a perfect venue to get the story out there.
I can’t imagine the scene at the lot where you found Pearl. Thank God she saw through her fright ; that here was a chance for a new life.
Good luck to you in the pageant as well as in the show ring. I can certainly see two winners here.
Thank you, Susan, for giving us this story .
I have helped move rescued horses out of Camelot as a member Fleet of Angels. It truely is an awful place if you are a horse. One can see it in the horses eyes and body language. They know they are not in a good place. Some seem to know this is the end for them. It is very sad. Of the many I have moved, none hs ever hesitated when getting on my trailer to get away from that place. Even ones labeled bad loaders. I hope one the future we see the end of places like this.