Girl gets broodmare out of kill pen; ‘I promised’

Emma, 11, walks with the broodmare she saved from auction last summer. "I promised her." Photo by Kay O’Hanlon Myruski

Emma, 11, walks with the broodmare she saved from auction last summer. “I promised her.” Photo by Kay O’Hanlon Myruski

A lumpy-legged Thoroughbred broodmare escaped death in a Canadian slaughterhouse last summer after a young girl, who had befriended the animal in her last hours, pleaded with adults to spare her.

The deal had already been made; the old mare dubbed “Ruby” was set to ship to a Canadian slaughterhouse when the last human to touch the mare’s soft black-and-tan muzzle turned out to hold all the cards in the fate of this one horse.

“I call my daughter Emma my tiny, little horse whisperer,” says longtime horseman and rescue volunteer Kay O’Hanlon Myruski of Goshen, N.Y. “She’d honed in on this mare right from the beginning and they formed a fast connection. Emma sat in a hay manger all day feeding her hay by hand and kissing her. The mare was obviously a used-up broodmare who’d been thrown away.”

Tied with bailing twine to a long, oak feed manger, Ruby stood sweetly on severely cracked and malformed feet while frightened horses tethered nearby bit and kicked. Ribs showed against her big, broodmare belly, and yet the mare’s beauty still showed on her face and her gentle manner toward young Emma.

Ruby's lip tattoo, which appears to read: J21608. The mare has not yet been identified.

Ruby’s lip tattoo, which appears to be J21608, is not confirmed. The mare has not yet been identified. The owners are trying other letter and number combinations to determine her identity.

And Emma, 11, was delighted with her new friend as she promised her aid. “I told her I’d get her out of there, and that no matter what happened, she’d be safe,” Emma says, noting that she gravitated toward the broodmare, who stood at the end of the line of horses, not eating, and trying to back away from their frightened kicks and bites.

“I stood with her because I was kind of scared for her. Every time a horse kicked she tried to get away, but she couldn’t.”

Balancing her time between babysitting the mare and running back to check in with her mother, the frenzy of the sale took hold and suddenly Ruby was gone.

“I went back to find her and she wasn’t there,” Emma recalls. “So I looked around until I found her” in a known kill-buyer’s pen.

The sickening discovery sent Emma into a tailspin. Even though she’d seen horses saved and horses not saved, she couldn’t quite grasp that this beautiful black mare was beyond her reach.

The pair formed a fast bond in the auction house.

The pair formed a fast bond in the auction house.

“As soon as Emma found out she’d been sold to a kill buyer she started crying hysterically,” Myruski says. “So a friend of mine, who also volunteers at the auction, approached the kill buyer, who was luckily one of the ones who is very nice to us, and my friend explained that there was a little girl in tears who wanted the mare. He just kind of shook his head, and let us have her.”

Having no idea what the mare’s background was, what her tattooed lip revealed about her past identity, and even in spite of her injured leg and cracked feet, flattened with wear; they took her anyway. To their Goshen farm, where for four generations animals and humans have worked together in harmony.

“We’ve had horses in my family going way back. Our farm is in the trotter capital, and my father, Derek Horne, spent years campaigning in Ireland against the transport of live horses out of Cork, on boats, to slaughter. I think some of my father rubbed off on my daughter, who has been coming to the auction at Unadilla with me ever since I could strap her into a car seat.”

The love story has continued with Emma and Ruby. The mare has grown strong and her kind spirit is in tact. “She’s a lovely, lovely mare. A lot of broodmares can be rude and aggressive, but not this mare,” Myruski says. “She’s so good that we’re going to start training her under saddle in the spring. She’s such a beautiful mover and I’m hoping that Emma will able to use her as her equitation horse.”

But more important than equitation and horse shows is the good work that her daughter is learning at a young age.

“This child gets up at 3 a.m. to go to the auction with me,” Myruski says. “She’s the future of horse rescue.”

75 responses to “Girl gets broodmare out of kill pen; ‘I promised’”

  1. Tonya LaFarr

    Has her identity been found yet?

  2. Louise Leister

    Beautiful story, one
    brave girl that will grow up to be a strong beautiful woman. I love your spirit Emma and I am so happy for your Ruby she will always be grateful for your love.

  3. Jerre George

    Young ladies like Emma show there is great hope for the future for all horses. Thank you, Emma.

  4. Liz

    The consumers of these OTTB’s need to know that their horse burgers are filled with banned chemicals!The providers of these horses tell lies and produce false documents in order to collect on their pounds of flesh.
    People other than activists don’t care about horse welfare but may take notice when their health is at risk.
    Way to go Emma

  5. Lori

    I’d love to know if she’s positively I’D! Good luck to her and her wonderful rescuer, Emma 🙂

  6. Petrene Soames

    After reading all the comments its been said already,
    only to add so Happy for you Emma and so Happy for the beautiful horse wish you many many happy years together..Hugs.

  7. Jody

    Any horse that is loved by a little girl has indeed been blessed.

  8. peggy desautels

    Great job emma,i have rescued many horses in my life.I will hope for our future generations to do the same.I just wish we could save them all..

  9. Cynthia

    Congrats sweetheart.I wish I could be so lucky.

  10. Gail West

    Many years ago, we rescued a Nubian goat from the same fate that Ruby was facing in a Unadilla ‘kill-pen’. She was paper thin, had sections on her torso that lacked hair, with black skin there that was peeling, her beautiful head hung down, but still she was regal. She came home with me and was named ‘Ester’ since she was to be killed at Easter time. She was so starved that i could only let her have handfuls of hay at a time, but often. It took weeks to bring her up to full rations, and alot of worming, but eventually she blossomed into the beauty that she was meant to be. Then one day, I realized that she carried a tattoo! How exciting! I couldn’t wait to track her history and find out who she was. I found that her sire still held national production records! WOW. ‘Ester’ was very loved for her remaining years, and during her last summer with us, we decided to take her to the show ring, winning her class, breed, and best of show. She was eleven years old and the judge said that he had seldom seen a senior doe that was so stunning. Hard to imagine the poor soul that was standing in line in the kill-pen that day! Wishing that I had a picture to share…All of the best to you both, Emma and Ruby!

    1. Tonya LaFarr

      Gail my parents used to raise champion bred dairy goats when I was little. One of our does we called Cocoa won Grand Champion Dairy and was featured in the local newspaper. She was my favorite out of all of your does and one of 2 bucks we had.

      Am so glad your doe had a long loving lore after you nursed her back to health. Being 11 years old and still won her class is such a wonderful story to your beloved Nubian.

  11. Isabelle L

    Couldn’t have woken to a more beautiful story here in Oz….. Also interested in a follow-up story in the future.

  12. Marlene Boegli

    Good for both of them! Racing and Premarin (and I’m sure many more) have a lot to answer for. Emma, if Ruby has problems with her feet (most throwaways have seedy toes and thrush, and it’s really hard to clear up) let me know. I can help!

  13. New York Horse Center

    Beautiful story. Hoping to meet Emma and Ruby at the New York Horse Center’s Rescue Horse Challenge show later this year!

  14. Lynne Jones

    Emma and Ruby! May you have many years together with fun and love in your relationship. Ruby is gorgeous. I would have picked her also, even in her not so good condition. Keep up your love for these animals and your support for them. THey need all our help and, hopefully, one day we will not have auctions as we now know them and only to find new GOOD homes, with follow-up support every six months to a year following that adoption, with legal consequences if they are not at that residence. Again, God Bless You and your mother and all who work to save these animals. Race track breeders are the ones putting all these beautiful animals in this situation. THey are breeding way too many that will never be on the track.

  15. cheri vaughan

    To be involved in horse racing from any angle is to know profound joy and profound sorrow, often within seconds of one another. House of Vaughan applauds mightily the young Miss Emma for her bravery and Ruby, too.

  16. rose churchill

    great parenting….its people like you who raise generations of kids to give life hope…..its a love story with the beautiful mare and your daughter and of you setting a standard people should try and uphold…im sure your love and your daughters love filters through everyone you touch. Im a racehorse trainer so thankyou for doing what you do.

  17. marijke

    RESPECT VOOR EMMY een meisje met een groot hart voor dieren.

  18. Rachael

    I am 100% positive the numbers are as you think-j21608. I eoyld be surprised if different.
    What a beautiful story. What a beautiful horse and an amazing girl. A follow-up story is very much needed. Thank you for sharing

  19. Justine

    If the last number is changed to a 5 there is a mare by the name of Simple Western who comes up. She’s listed as dark Bay and has raced in New York and New Jersey.

  20. benjerman vanderburg

    Yes I woukd like to hear a follow up on this story it put me in tears.. the girl has a beautifyl spirited soul as the brood mare. The importance of this story is love can move mountians . Hope and miracles are possible.

  21. Lisa

    thats not a J. You can see where faded or not complete but the hook of the j goes up to be a w,o,u or possibly a D. If you can get hold of a black light in a dark space at night the letters will glow- but I’m seeing a D

  22. Cat Wolf

    Could she not just be a companion horse, instead of a working riding horse? It seems her body has withstood enough, given enough, at the demand of humans.

  23. Rachel Randazzo

    Sorry Beth. That’s not true at all. In forty years of TB training I’ve had two true black horses. One had a blaze and the other ha one white rear stocking. Jockey Club standards on colors are not the same as other breeds. Muzzle must be devoid of any other color except black to be registered as such.

  24. beth

    No matter how dark a thoroughbred is, if they have ANY white on them, they cannot be registered as black.

  25. Rachel Randazzo

    She’s definitely NOT Bag O Glitter. TB color is determined by muzzle color at time of registration. And yes, the jockeys club is extremely accurate with markings. I’ve been forced to retake marking photos hundreds of times while registering my foals for accurate identification. I will guarantee that she is, in fact, Lady Daisy. For the little girl who rescued her, bless your heart. You are an angel❤❤❤

  26. Mary Hughes

    Emma, you are one gutsy and compassionate young lady. You will be a strong advocate one day-you are already a leader!

  27. Rachel Randazzo

    Sire. Sorry

  28. Rachel Randazzo

    According to Equibase Lady Daisy was born in 1997. Sure was Notebook and she’s out of a Kaskaskia mare. Her earnings where registered at $47,000

  29. Linda

    Brought tears to my eyes. I’ve been there many times and now operate a rescue in my Mothers name “Ruby”

  30. Esther Sjoerdsma

    Lovely story! Hope all the best to Emma and Ruby, may you have many happy trails together! It may be just my eyes, but it seems to me that the last digit of her tattoo is a 2, making her # J21602? Don’t have a way to check myself, perhaps someone else could, tho?

  31. C D E BLAKE

    What a special little girl, so sensitive and bright to make the world better. What a great family to raise her and to share her with us. All best for all!

  32. l. melone

    Brought tears to my eyes. Thank the world for girls like Emma! Yes, a follow up story would be nice.

  33. Catherine Belles

    An average horse has a lifespan of 20 years-some much older 25+, I understand a horse is not mature til 10 years old. Therefore, the racing industry is putting “babies” at risk of injury or death to make owners rich. Once an animal can no longer produce profits, they are just useless objects. In my area there is a mare about maybe 30 years old. She was rescued & helped rehab children for a couple of years til even giving gentle rides became too much. So she’s fully retired now.

  34. Nancy Merritt

    You are a very special young lady, Emma: compassionate, courageous, persistent and dedicated to good. May you and Ruby live long together and prosper! May the Lord bless you for caring for His creation! As for Ruby’s former owner who simply got rid of her when he/she was done with her…..

  35. Suzie Birks

    Good for you, Emma. What a strong, kind young lady you are. The horse industry future belongs to young people like you. Best of luck and I look forward to updates.

  36. Suzanne Alderton

    Wow what a beautiful story of an amazing young girl with a huge caring and loving heart. Emma thank you for rescuing the gorgeous Ruby and it is obvious what a wonderful bond there is between you. I hope you are able to train her for Equestrian (which I think is beautiful) as you will have a lovely time doing it and I am sure whe will enjoy it. I also think she will repay you for saving her by doing the best she can. You certainly are destined to become a horse rescuer. Thank you and have a great life with Ruby.

  37. Laura

    Bag O Glitter has Bold Ruler, Round Table and Mr Prospector in her pedigree according to

  38. Cynthia Marquis

    Wonderful I would love to do the sam

  39. Susan

    Well done Emma. Please don’t stop being an advocate for the horses…they need us!

  40. Michelle Y.

    Emma is definitely special!! Great to see she will follow in her mother’s footsteps as a compassionate crusader for the horses! And she and Ruby look very happy together!

  41. Colmel

    God blessed Ruby and Emma with each other. Congratulations to mom, Kay, for raising such a great kid and for allowing her to be the young lady she is meant to be. May Emma and Ruby have many, many years of happiness together. If the tattoo information is correct, this is only a 9-year-old mare. She should have many, many years ahead of her. I hope we’ll hear follow-up stories in the years to come.

  42. Jane Johns

    My own OTTB is dark bay in the winter and lighter in the summer. Bag O’Glitter have a great life with your new little girl. It is very special to have your one and only human. I think her registered name would make a fine show name for a hunter. Enjoy her!

  43. Julia

    She ran 3 times and won once at Louisiana Downs.

  44. Stephanie Morse

    These stories about young people lately are so uplifting. So glad this young girl is surrounded by adults who care. i hope she wins all the big eq classes.

  45. Susan A

    God places special “angels” where he needs them to be….God bless you Emma!

  46. Kelsey

    I looked up Bag o’ Glitter’s win at Louisiana Downs on the Horse Races Now app. They did a close up of her at the end. She’s got a big star and she’s definitely bay, not dark, so it can’t be her. The last digit is a little funky, so maybe that one’s not an 8. I bet it’d be easy to look her up with her markings and that many clear tattoo digits though!!

  47. Jon

    She is a Louisiana Bred 04/26/2006
    Breeder: Picard Thoroughbreds LLC
    She was nominated to the Breeders Cup
    3 Starts 1-0-0 for $7890.

    I hope this helps them know more about their horse.

    Another great young person looking out for horses.

  48. Kim Lepore

    So glad she was there to rescue this mare. Lucky for her that killbuyer had a heart! This is the darkside of breeding horses, when their perceived worth is over.

  49. Tracy

    The Jockey Club isn’t always accurate with registering colors; I’ve seen bays and dark bays who were jet black. And they still registered many greys as roan.

    1. Emma Brady

      She could also be Lady Daisy, if that’s an “A” and not a “J”. 1997 dark bay/brown mare, markings described as “Narrow diagonal star pointed to left; few white hairs to right at eye level. Median cowlick at eye level.” Neither mare has any registered TB offspring.

    2. Alex

      I think that “Black” wasn’t a color option until more recently. Most blacks were registered as bays. That’s what someone told me when I was doing a search not too long ago.

  50. Crystal W

    What a great story! Best wishes to Emma & Rudy. Emma you are that horses hero!!!

  51. Laura Pines Stahl

    Wonderful and moving story! Blessings to this young lady! I’m proud to know she’s a Goshenite ..(as am I)!

  52. Linda McDowell

    Another wonderful story! Goodluck Emma!

  53. Cynthia Minchillo

    Great story and you go Emma!

  54. Edie

    There is a lump in my throat and warm fuzzies in my heart!!
    Sending good wishes for Emma & Ruby.

  55. Joyce

    If the number is correct, she is only 9 years.. Same age as my mare! I have a tear in my eye.. What a beautiful story! Wishing Emma and Ruby many, many happy years together!

  56. Victoria Racimo

    Once again, not only a true story but a truly touching and beautiful story. Emma affirms there’s hope not only for today but for the tomorrows to come. Her generation must take up the mantle and carry on the work in the equine world that continues to cry out for humane actions and advocacy. Thank you for posting.

  57. Tina

    Would love to hear a follow up on this story too

  58. Jo Anne Normile

    Once this mare’s identity is confirmed, a follow up story is needed as it is far more pertinent to know this mare’s breeder, her race record and produce record (and where are her foals now?, any racing owners, and the owner at the time she was a broodmare that dumped her for pennies on the pound. That’s the real story we need to hear if we are going to awaken a conscience in the racing industry. We all rejoice that she was saved but all I can think about are the others left behind hungry, thirsty, possibly in pain, certainly in fear, biting and kicking out of a need to flee as cited above. How did they get there? Where is the responsibility? Since there is total failure of the racing industry to provide money for lobbyists, Congressional testimony or show strong support of any legislation that would end horse slaughter, and these stories reinforce that there is kindness and compassion that is not found in the racing industry as they have failed since inception to stop their horses from entering the slaughter pipeline. When will the industry provide an emergency easy access fund that provides any compassionate person or formal rescue entity with the money needed to purchase, transport, pay for any needed veterinary care and provide at least one month’s board for their horses at the time it is needed unless someone with the purse strings of money to help retired racehorses does not think these people in this article are a worthy home? If anyone believes I’m picking on the racing industry when well over 150,000 horses go to slaughter, please, consider that Thoroughbreds are the second highest breed sent and the Thoroughbred industry pretends to oppose slaughter whereas the QH industry openly supports it yet the end result is the same for each of their horses. A quote comes to mind: “Your actions speak louder than your words.” In addition, this blog is entitled Off Track Thoroughbreds not All Equines so we need to stay on topic. What about the other racehorses that day and all the others that end up slaughtered? It’s okay with the industry that the only ones there for them are individuals, a few rescues who cannot possibly attended every auction or peruse every feedlot and now they are not ashamed that a courageous 11 year-old girl did their job? I can’t fathom why the racing industry thinks these are stories that will promote racing. I doubt this child is the future fan generation they are hoping for.

    1. Teresa Melnick

      These stories are beautiful and touching and Emma is a wonderful girl, but we cannot turn a blind eye to the people responsible for such callous and inhumane throwing away of horses. They should be held accountable, as should the entire racing industry.

      A bill to end the transport of horses from the US to Canada and Mexico is on the floor. Here in New York we are lobbying in Albany on March 24 to let our representatives know how we feel about horse slaughter. You can all speak up to end this.

  59. Fran

    Emma is amazing!! I wish we had many more “Emmas” out there to help our Thoroughbreds! Great story!!

  60. Samantha

    Can’t we get an update? A website to follow or a Facebook??

  61. Crystal

    I looked up the mares tattoo incase they wanted it and haven’t gotten it yet. Hope it helps. =)

    Horse Name Bag o’ Glitter
    Tattoo J21608
    Year of Birth 2006
    Dam Name Honey’s Money
    Color Bay
    Sex Mare

  62. Elizabeth

    Beautiful story- what a special kid!

  63. Emma Brady

    If that tattoo is right, she’s Bag o’ Glitter, a 2006 mare by Texas Glitter and out of Honey’s Money. That mare is listed as bay on the Jockey Club website, though, not dark bay. So it might not be her.

    1. Emma Brady

      Does this description fit? “Large slightly diagonal star, pointed to left on top and connected short narrowing stripe, ending in a point slightly below eye level. Left hind: pastern and part of ankle white, lower on outside, higher on inside. Cowlick slightly to left at top of eye level.”

      Can’t see her left hind in these photos, but that’s the description of Bag O’ Glitter’s markings.

      1. Kay O'Hanlon Myruski

        Hi Emma, She doesn’t have any white at all. The only white markings are on her face. My friend Deb is researching her too and this is what she has come up with so far as a possible match:
        Possible A21608 1997 Lady Daisy Narrow diagonal star pointed to left; few white hairs to right at eye level. Median cowlick at eye level. Horse Name Lady Daisy Tattoo A21608 Year of Birth 1997 Dam Name Captured Emotion Color Dark Bay or Brown Sex Mare
        Thanks for looking her up. I’m dying to know who she is and this seems like the best match so far with regards to her star.
        Regards, Kay.

        1. Katie Kitchings

          Do you have an estimated age for her. It looks like she’s most likely Lady Daisy. The color could be listed as bay. I have a mare that bay bit registered as a dark bay/brown. It’s all about the color when young. I hope to hear more about this girl and her horse.

        2. gerie

          can’t read the first letter but the rest all say is what you posted except for the last, could that be a 2?? so, ?21602

  64. tbdancer

    Best of luck to Ruby and Emma. Hope to see an update soon (hint hint) :oD

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