Moe was sweating hard by the time he reached the Unadilla Auction.
Soon he was tied to a wall and left to stand next to a pony so unnaturally close that only fear and the urge to flee animated him.
Already separated from his pasture friend, he was so scared standing alongside a desolate row of strange horses inside the western New York auction, that he “nearly pulled himself free,” recalls longtime owner Anne Feltt of Saratoga.
“He seemed so lost. I felt terrible for him,” Feltt says.
Barn name: Moe
Dam: Watchmyspot, by Forever Casting
Foal date: May 15, 1994
Earnings: $148,610 in 21 startsHer feelings were compounded by an unusual twist. She had actually gone on the trailer ride that brought Moe to this terrible place.
Asked by a friend about 10 years ago to accompany her on a trailer ride to drop off a horse at the Unadilla Auction, Feltt figured she’d do a little horse shopping while Moe found a new owner.
It wasn’t until she saw the beautiful chestnut gelding reduced to a nervous wreck that the reality of the situation started to sink in. Though there were some fine horses available for sale, some with thousand-dollar price tags, Moe (JC: MG Actor) was not among them. Those horses were stabled in another section of the auction. This poor animal was tied in a row of lower-value animals, some in poor condition, she says.
As her alarm rose, an older gentleman friend tried to reassure her that the horse was fine. But Feltt was having none of it.
“I remember yelling, ‘No, they’re not fine!’ Moe was tied with bailing twine with his nose five inches from the wall,” she says. “And I said we had to help him.”
Though she wanted to jump in and grab the horse back the instant she realized he was in trouble, her attempts to reach him were thwarted when the panicked animal flattened his ears and raised up his head, in his panic nearly pulling down the boards off the ramshackle wall, she says.
So she waited on pins and needles until the bidding began and won his freedom for him for a mere $25.
“I couldn’t wait to get him out of there so I asked if we could take him out and, as crazy as this sounds, we tacked him up and my friend’s child rode him around. And after all that, for a scared, green horse, he was really pretty good.”
From that moment on, Moe became a lifetime pet in Feltt’s family with worth beyond measure.
Prior to taking that fateful trip to the auction, her daughter Leah had jokingly asked her to bring back a chestnut Quarter Horse with four white socks and a white blaze. But when it was time to reveal Moe to her daughter— an adorable horse-savvy 7-year-old —the child turned to her mother and said, “I hope you didn’t think you were buying a Quarter Horse because he’s a Thoroughbred!”
For months Feltt encouraged her daughter to ride her new “Quarter Horse,” until one day the lightning fast OTTB ran away with the youngster. And the jig was up!
“One day he took off running and Leah came back sweating and said, ‘Mom, he’s a Thoroughbred. Somebody lied to you!’ ”
Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse, it made no difference to the Feltt family. What mattered was that Moe turned out to be the best horse they ever owned. Her daughter, now 19, rode him for years in 4H, and when the Feltts traveled to Florida the horse traveled with them.
Always more Anne’s horse than her daughter’s, the attentive gelding would keep an ear trained on the lady who saved him when Leah rode him in the lesson ring. “It was funny. She’d be trying to get him to canter and he wouldn’t listen, so I’d say, ‘Moe, pick up your canter!’ and he would do it. If he was on the wrong lead, I’d tell him to fix his lead, and he would.”
“I love to tell his story. He was the horse (possibly) going to slaughter … I was actuality going to (Unadilla) to look for a horse for my daughter; I thought maybe I could find an older horse, or one who needed a job.
“Little did I know it was the Thoroughbred I was actually traveling with, and his new job would be to take care of my little girl and become my best friend!”