Night was closing in as the terrified filly ducked and darted away from strangers in the muddy paddock outside the Jones Livestock Sale in Oklahoma; she waited for her turn.
Later in the evening of Oct. 23, after the farm equipment and tack had been bid on, the animals auction began. The goats, the cows and other livestock were sold first, and last came the horses.
It was nearly 10 p.m. by the time the un-tattooed Thoroughbred filly scampered through the indoor corral, nervously passing 100 onlookers, including meat buyers.
Nobody noticed her.
“The auctioneer had little to say about her, and even the meat buyers didn’t seem interested,” says Moriah Owens of Helping Hands Equine Assistance. “After she went through, she eventually wound up with a meat buyer, and I thought this was a horse who’d been given a raw deal.”
Unable to get the filly’s frightened look out of her head, Owens tracked down the dealer who planned to ship her to slaughter to strike a deal to purchase the horse. He told her he needed $500 to release her, and Owens began racing the clock to raise the funds and find a home for a horse with no name and bad luck.
“Sometimes you just listen to your heart, and I don’t know whether it was her eye contact, or her mannerisms, but this filly was scared,” she says. “She’d been done wrong by a human.”
And Owens set out to right that wrong.
Enlisting the aid of several Thoroughbred advocates working behind the scenes, she obtained a donation from John Murrell, a Texas oilman and philanthropic horseman who readily agreed to pay the filly’s “bail” and free her from the trip to the slaughterhouse.
“When I called John Murrell, he said to me, ‘Get her the hell out of there!’ and we made plans for him to transfer the funds to the Exceller Fund in Oklahoma, which facilitated the purchase,” she explains.
After that a stall was secured for her at the Rockin’ G Equine Sanctuary in El Reno, Okla.
By the time the scraped up filly, estimated to be about 3 years old, was put on a trailer and shipped to her new home, many advocates and horsemen had pitched in to help the unknown gray. The Exceller Fund and Jennifer Schroeder of Helping Hands helped facilitate the effort, which took a forgotten nobody and gave her a new beginning and a proper name: Journey
And last weekend, the animal who was so frightened of people that it took 90 minutes to put a halter on her head, started to understand that she is now safe.
“When she was at the auction she was so scared she lashed out with her front foot and got the vet in the leg,” Owens says. “Then, last weekend, I went to visit her at Rockin’ G and she was giving kisses to Deborah Gay. Her journey in life was so close to coming to an end, and now it’s just beginning.” ♥