As seven dead horses lay strewn like garbage among the tall cane choking the desolate East Everglades property, Moon’s Treasure was lifted from hand to caring hand, as if on a magic carpet.
And from the bowels of horse hell he was transported on a new path to becoming: a show horse.
The Florida-bred chestnut stallion who was vanned off the Calder Race Track after a July 8, 2011 race was found wasting away on a putrid property where a paralyzed dog lay barking in the field, and a dead horse lay sprawled near the front door of a desolate farmhouse, says Laurie Waggoner of the South Florida SPCA.
Standing among the dead and the dying on a badly infected leg, the stallion, just six years old at the time, was emaciated and unremarkable in the overall picture of want and decay.
Sire: Skip to the Stone
Dam: Moon’s Appeal, by Migrating Moon
Foal date: April 23, 2006“He was in an area of the East Everglades referred to as the eight-point-five. There were seven other dead horses that we could find and the house on the property was boarded up. My daughter who came with me kept hearing a dog barking and we finally found him, lying paralyzed. We figured out how to construct a makeshift muzzle so we could get near him,” she says. “And at the same time, we removed 11 horses. Moon’s Treasure was one of them.”
With the South Florida charity too swamped to accommodate the stallion, Waggoner shipped the starving animal, crossing her fingers he’d weather the ride, to Celia Scarlett, a horse rescue advocate who at the time worked for Florida TRAC.
Under Scarlett’s care, Moon’s Treasure filled out on a healthy diet, and his deep puncture wound healed with weeks of flushing and attention, she says. “He was in really bad shape, but he rebounded pretty quickly,” she says. “It’s a nice story. I knew him as a racehorse on the track; he was absolutely stunning. For him to show up like that a year later, it’s just sad,” Scarlett says. “Down here in South Florida it’s easy for a horse to wind up in a bad situation if you’re not careful. He definitely wound up in the wrong hands.”
But just as suddenly as his life fell in tatters, he was found and lifted by right hands.
Joyce King was all set to purchase a horse—she was already paying board on a waiting stall—when the equine she had her eye on failed the vet test, she says. Eager to find another candidate, a friend put her in touch with Florida TRAC, and soon she was sitting on Moon’s Treasure, taking him for a test ride.
“At the time, I had only been riding for two years and I wasn’t terribly confident,” she says. “But I got on and rode him in an open arena near a road with potholes and three Jack Russell terriers who were chasing each other and barking. Moon never batted an eye.”
On a second ride, King brought a check with her and told the re-homing charity that if Moon “didn’t throw her in a ditch” she wanted to adopt him on the spot. The agreeable animal went one better than that. “While I was riding, a mare and her foal charged us at the fence line and he just went on with our ride as if to say, ‘so what.’ He’s been my buddy ever since.”
And now he’s turning heads in the show ring!
Though they’re just beginning in intro level dressage training, Moon’s Treasure recently cleaned up at the Parkland Horse Association show, earning six blue ribbons!
“He’s really such a lovely horse,” she says. “He’s so sweet that I can throw my 4-year-old granddaughter on him.”
In the world of horse rescue, both Waggoner and Scarlett have seen too many horses wind up in peril. But the Moon’s Treasure odyssey helps blunt the pain of seeing the stream of discarded, abused horses who pass through their barns.
Says Scarlett, “So many move through and are now doing great things. He got lucky to be moved to a dressage barn where they could see his true potential.”