After a brush with slaughter, a journey home

Journey waits outside the Jones Livestock Sale in Oklahoma before she wound up with a meat buyer.

Journey waits outside the Jones Livestock Sale in Oklahoma before she wound up with a meat buyer.

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.”

Journey, as she is now named, arrives at Rockin' G Equine Rescue after she was saved from slaughter.

Journey, as she is now named, arrives at Rockin’ G Equine Rescue after she was saved from slaughter.

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.

Feeling safer now, Journey gives a kiss.

Feeling safer now, Journey gives a kiss to Deborah Gay of Rockin’ G, who made room for her at the sanctuary.

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.” ♥

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22 responses to “After a brush with slaughter, a journey home”

  1. Marie Moran

    I rescued a very thin quarter horse, four years ago. I also saw his beautiful face desperately running in the ring at New Holland sale. He was sold for 65.00 dollars to a kill buyer. I was haunted by his very kind eye. I searched for him, until I found him in a pen, with other horses destined for slaughter. The price for me to save this poor horse was 165.00 dollars. His name is now Toby, and he turned out to be a gorgeous horse. Toby is a wonderful trail horse, and seems to know that we will be forever friends.

  2. Moriah Owens

    I was blessed to meet John Murrell last year and I am glad I can call him my friend. Journey was saved because of a group effort and all the pieces came together for her thankfully. I handled things at the auction, Jennifer Schroeder reminded me of John Murrell when we were trying to locate bail money, John had me contact Leslie Hubble who is with Exceller Fund to get the bail paid in time because time was so limited to get her safe and Deborah Gay~Rockin’ G thankfully and graciously offered her a place at their facility. I was then able to pick her up from the kill buyer and deliver her to Rockin’ G but if any piece of the puzzle hadn’t come together then this story would have had a terrible ending. She would have been microchipped and shipped just that quick. As Jennifer mentioned earlier, there are people still helping to try to get her papers. I can say without a doubt that she was not stolen or missing and I am sure more information will be coming in the near future.
    Each Thursday (except holidays) I go to the local auction and I share on Facebook pictures and information on the horses that will later that night run through the auction ring. I do this to give the horses more exposure and hopefully someone will be interested in giving them a home instead of the kill buyers loading most of them at nights end. I have saved many personally as well as helped facilitate saves where the horses land safely at local rescues to be adopted out through their facilities.
    I know that we can’t save them all, but I pray for strength and guidance to save as many as we can. Please visit our website or find us on Facebook~
    Helping Hands Equine Assistance Inc

  3. Jennifer Schroeder

    Follow Journey’s journey on the Helping Hands Equine Assistance website. Currently many horsemen/women are working hard to obtain her papers to stay with her!

  4. Darcy Farrens

    With the obvious care this filly had prior to the sale, did anyone check out the seller? Maybe she was a stolen horse. There are websites that are devoted to listing missing and or stolen horses. Just a thought.

  5. Kaitlyn Swinney

    I saw Journey the night she was at the sale. She’s a gorgeous filly that just needed someone to take the time to give her a little TLC, not just look at her and then forget about her. I saw her before a lot of people showed up that night and she was definitely calmer. Moriah and her team do an amazing thing and I’m glad that she saves all the ones she can. She does everything in her power to make it where very few horses go to meat buyers. I’m glad to say I know Moriah.

  6. Elaine Brown

    This is the sweetest and prettiest little lady. I see exactly why you worked so hard to save her. Bless you both.

  7. Stacey DIeck

    Thank you so much for what you do to help these horses! Horses are highly sensitive and intuitive. She knew for fact she was in danger. I’m so happy for her and for her new “Journey” in life. It may not change the world, rescuing one horse at a time… but it changes the world for that horse. And that’s what matters most. She is beautiful and has a kind eye. I hope she has a beautiful life that she so fully deserves. Thanks to Moriah and John! <3

  8. cheri vaughan

    *Tears of happiness* Journey on, lovely girl.

  9. Suzanne Parent

    Would love to hear more about this filly; she is strikingly beautiful!

    1. Moriarty Owens

      She is currently at Rockin’G in El Reno Oklahoma. Deborah Gay is taking great care of her. Rockin’G has a Facebook page as well as I do if you would like to continue to follow her story.

      1. Moriah Owens

        Not sure why it misspelled my name but it should be Moriah not Moriarty lol

  10. Tony Swinney

    I know Moriah Owens personally. EVERY WEEK, WITHOUT FAIL, she is at the Jones sale, checking for tatooes, taking pictures, posting on FaceBook, and trying to save as many horses as possible. I understand that some horses need to be euthanized due to prolonged health issues, but, Moriah and her team do their best to save as many horses as possible that are candidates for rehabilitation and eventual re-homing. If you can help her in ANY way, I HIGHLY recommend that you contact Helping Hands Equine Assistance. She takes donations of hay, feed, medicine, and of course money. If you are looking for a horse that is suitable for you and/or your family, please contact Moriah and consider re-homing one of the horses that she and her network of friends and associates have rescued. This lady has taken money out of her own pocket to buy these horses in the ring, and even right off of the kill buyers trucks. SHE DESERVES YOUR HELP! She can be contacted on FaceBook. Every Thursday night you can find her in the barn at Jones sale. Just ask anyone that is in the barns, they can most likely direct you to her. You can also reach her at

  11. Barbara Wood

    Thanks be to God and all who helped. I am especially grateful that a fellow Texan came to her rescue.

  12. Karen Bastin

    Thanks to the people that saved this thoroughbred. So many of them are not so lucky. I adopted retired thoroughbred and although he can not be ridden because of racing injuries, he loves learning tricks and just being a horse. I wish I could save many more. Thanks to John Murrell and Ms. Owens this gal won’t have to suffer a horrible end.

  13. Rebecca Fetterman Vensel

    She does look like someone cared for her. You have to wonder, did a loving, caring owner die suddenly with no time to make arrangements for a beloved horse, and non-horsey family were left without a clue what to do…I can imagine a compelling horse story coming from this. Any novelists out there?????

  14. Lisa Melone

    Another saved–wish they could all have such luck. Thanks to Moriah and John!

  15. Michelle Y.

    I agree, she looks like someone cared for her recently. So sad that she ended up there. Many, many thanks to Moriah Owens and John Murrell for saving this beautiful filly’s life!

  16. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

    I would like to meet John Murrell and shake his hand…

  17. Cynthia

    Beautiful story and I’m so thrilled she may soon have a forever home!!

  18. ann fox

    I wish they were all so lucky…sharing…thanks Susan…you made my day ….

  19. SpotOn

    In that pic from the auction she looks well cared for. Her mane is pulled, and even. She is clean and in decent weight. How did she end up there?
    It’s obvious someone cared about her and yet she ended up there anyway. I just don’t get how some people think animals are disposable like this.

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