When the broodmare Quiddich, whose name was derived from the Harry Potter books, delivered a delicate gray filly, her breeder Danzel Brendemuehl knew that life wouldn’t necessarily be a fairy tale for the little foal she named Silver and Smoke.
Because the proprietor of Classic Bloodstock Farm knows that bad things can happen to racehorses, before she lets any of her horses go to sale, she staples a card to the horse’s Jockey Club papers with a clearly printed message: If the horse does not work out, the note states, Brendemuehl will pay double the meat price at a livestock auction, and cover the shipping cost to return the horse to her Florida farm.
And so she wound up taking back Silver and Smoke shortly after the filly injured herself as a 2-year-old. She rehabbed her and sold her again. Then in early August, as Brendemuehl enjoyed the races at Saratoga, a friend called to inform her that Silver and Smoke’s picture was all over Facebook: The mare had been discovered by the Miami-Dade Police Department and the South Florida SPCA, living in horrific conditions.
Silver and Smoke
Foal date: March 5, 2010Locked in a filthy, ramshackle facility in the NW area of Miami-Dade Florida, Silver and Smoke and two other Thoroughbreds were found in conditions so inhumane that they were seized immediately.
Low, sloped roofs prevented the horses from lifting their heads fully, and stall floors were covered in thick waste, preventing them from lying down. South Florida SPCA Director Laurie Waggoner said in an earlier article in Off-Track Thoroughbreds that conditions were so atrocious that she wished she could lock responsible parties in the same stalls for 24 hours. “It was just disgusting,” Waggoner said earlier. “Nobody had cleaned those stalls for a long, long time. And the horses had a body score of 1.”
Brendemuehl was stunned when she saw the photos on Facebook.
“It absolutely shattered me. I spoke to Laurie (Waggoner) right away, I can’t remember if I called her first, or if she called me,” she says. “I wanted to come get her right away … this is a living, breathing animal I brought into this life, and this is my fault.”
She adds, “I’m a careful breeder. I may breed four horses a year. And I feel we have a responsibility to our animals … who can’t defend themselves.”
As soon as Silver and Smoke was deemed fit to travel, Brendemuehl and her sister raced to the South Florida SPCA to retrieve her. It was even worse than she expected. “People at the SPCA wanted me to stay and take photos, but I was too devastated. I just wanted to get her home,” she says.
She has since placed her in a paddock she can see easily from her house, which sits near the front gate, in full view. “I don’t want people to see her looking like this, but in a way, it’s a reminder to all of us what can happen. It’s a reminder to find out about their horses,” she says.
Though it’s too soon to tell how Silver and Smoke will do, the disconnected look in her eye has started to fade as she has begun to take an interest in Brendemuehl’s track pony, Cooper. “I’m not sure if she’ll thrive. But she’s starting to make eyes at Cooper,” she says.
As the filly recovers, the Miami-Dade police are pressing charges against Joyce Ivory, 69, who is believed to be Silver and Smoke’s last owner, Waggoner says, and who has now been formally charged with confining a horse without sufficient food, water or shelter.
In her decades of work with the South Florida SPCA, Waggoner has seen many things. But until last weekend, she had never seen a rescue horse’s original breeder come back for their horse.
“She’s the first one who ever stepped up to the plate,” Waggoner says. “As soon as she saw that horse on Facebook, she notified us that she was the original breeder and that she’d be down to pick her up.”