She was blessed after her last indignity

Mintsonthepillow is ridden in a Pennsylvania feedlot. This picture was circulated on social media, triggering an outreach to save her from slaughter.

Mintsonthepillow is ridden in a Pennsylvania feedlot. This picture was circulated on social media, triggering an outreach to save her from slaughter.

Her face held tightly in check with a bridle cinched over a drab halter, the aging broodmare carried the burly stranger on her bare back in the last indignity of her life.

Curling her lip against the pressure of his strong hands, which pulled a little too tightly on the reins, Mintsonthepillow kept her composure as she walked and trotted for the man at the feedlot who would help ship her to slaughter as thoughtlessly as he rode her on the blacktop of a Pennsylvania feedlot.

And in that darkest hour, when it seemed nobody cared what happened to a racehorse who ran 44 times before being vanned off her final race at Philadelphia Park, somebody raised their hand and said, “We can take one more.”

Barn name: Blessed
Sire: Bates Motel
Dam: Maribot
Foal date: March 6, 1997
Earnings: $81,940, 44 starts
“I happened to see a post by (Thoroughbred advocate) Mindy Lovell about Mintsonthepillow … it was on the 28th of March, and on March 30 I found out who to send the money to, we found someone to transport her, and we got her to a quarantine farm,” says Bev Dee, executive director of Bright Futures Farm in Pennsylvania.

As the mare was waiting in quarantine at Stone Hollow Farms under the watchful care of Brittany St. Clair, word got around about the mare’s backstory, and pretty soon nobody called her by her race name. She was nicknamed Blessed for all she had been through, for her breakdown at the track, for the five foals she had given birth to, and eventually, the funny way life worked out for her.

“It took two days for me to secure her safety and I was beginning to think I’d never talk to the right person to get this mare out of that mess. But we did it. And I named her Blessed right after that. And the name really suited her, because before she even got to my farm (from quarantine) she was adopted by a lady who fell in love with her.”

Blessed did so well with her new  owner Eli Hess that she carried this other young rider over cross rails for blue ribbons.

Blessed did so well with her new owner Eli Hess that she carried this other young rider over cross rails for blue ribbons.

A lady and a professional pastor!

Elizabeth “Eli” Hess, a woman of the cloth and a riding student where Mintsonthepillow was laying up, says she saw the beautiful bay grazing out in the field one day and asked, “Who’s that?” She adds, “They told me she was a Bright Futures Farm rescue horse and that her name was Blessed. I thought that was perfect because I’m a pastor.”

In no time the two became friends and then one fortuitous day, Hess was offered an opportunity to take the rescue mare out for a trail ride. “I fell in love with her from the moment I started tacking her up. She nickered to me, and she was just so happy to be loved.”

The self-described timid rider clicked so perfectly with the rescue mare that on April 29, as a birthday present to herself, she offered to adopt her. And on June 6 passed papers to complete to process. A few weeks later the pair had wings as they took 2nd and 3rd place in walk/trot classes at the Thoroughbred Alliance Horse Show Series (TASS) shows, offered by the Washington Horse Council.

“She was incredible!” Hess says. “In our very first show, we got a 2nd for the model mare class and a 3rd in the walk/trot/ground poles. Here she is, an 18-year-old broodmare, and she acts like she’s been doing this her whole life. It’s like she’s rewarding us.”

“The thing that amazes me in the time she’s been in our life is that she has no lameness, no health issues, nothing,” Hess says. “People are skeptical when they hear about an older horse who was raced 44 times, and was also a broodmare, and then dumped in a kill pen. They want to know what’s wrong with her. I can tell you, this mare has never taken a bad step … this mare has a beautiful soul, and she’s the love of my life.”

46 responses to “She was blessed after her last indignity”

  1. Marianne Mantoen

    What a magnificent horse, to go through all that and still be churning out ribbons for Eli. I hope poor Blessed will get some much needed rest! Does Bright Futures have a signed contract for return of Blessed if Eli tires of her or is not her forever home? Thank you, Bright Futures, for doing such good work. I want to sponsor one of your horses.

    1. Bev Dee

      Marianne, she’s not churning out ribbons for anyone, and she’s no longer “poor Blessed” 🙂 She has a wonderful home with Eli and enjoys having something to do. All of our horses are placed under contract and are all welcome back at any time. I doubt that Blessed will be coming back to Bright Futures Farm. She’s got a wonderful home with Eli and wants for nothing.She’s happy.

  2. Christine Egidio

    I think this is an amazing story. And although for every one saved, MANY more are not, it doesn’t mean we should just give up on and not help any of them. The world was not changed by saving Blessed, but Blessed’s world was certainly changed, and that is something to be celebrated. In addition, when people read stories like this about Thoroughbreds, they see their potential to be something other than a racehorse – and that may save more lives as people realized what an amazing breed they are and choose to adopt one.

  3. Sue carter

    Ah, another save, so that those in the industry can point to and feel good about! For every one that is “saved” ( no pun intended Pastor Hess) many, many more go from the track to the meat man.

    1. Carolyn McDonald

      Exactly Sue! Couldn’t agree with you more.

    2. Bev Dee

      Yes, Sue Carter, and I made that point very clear in my post. If you or anyone wants to make this stop, do everything you can to encourage your representatives in government to get behind the SAFE ACT, and urge all of your friends to do the same. Read my reply here and you will see that I know what you say only too well. That said, I personally rarely read my newsfeed, and one of the days I did, this horse was there and I felt an overwhelming obligation to help her. I don’t know if you or many others will understand this, but sometimes an animal speaks to me and touches my soul and I can’t turn my head as much as it pains me to know that another took her place. Again, read my post here.

      1. Carolyn McDonald

        Bev Dee, thank you for sharing and providing factual information.
        And how lucky for Blessed that you read your newsfeed when you did. My heart breaks for the others…….. i cannot bear to think about it.
        This lucrative market is despicable.

  4. Zebra

    For all those idiots out there responding from pure ignorance…there are no words. I was the assistant forth is fully as a 3-4 yer old and I can tell you she looks beautiful and am so happy to see that after 15 years of our departure there is a happy ending. Don’t blame the horse racing industry in entire blame those that don’t care solely. She looks amazing now!!!

  5. Carlene Buck

    As an owner of a 1995 OTTB, I always love it when someone is able to find out the past history of these beautiful equines. I just wish i could find out my guys real papered name. My overly thin boy came to me as “Frankie” and he is the love of my life!! We have tried to trace his papers but can not figure out the last number on his tat but was told that he was raced as a two year old for 2 yrs and then bought by a lady in Seattle (for a very large sum) and she turned him into a dressage horse. After several more years she sold him to a lady in Onalaska and he also became an eventer. He was with this lady until he came to live with us and I we have had him for 4 yrs now. He just has to be a horse now with a mare to run and play with and lots of love from his humans:-)
    I love watching him change leads when he runs and the way he arches his neck, lifts his tail, and goes into what we call his, Pretty Boy dressage mode…lol
    Oh how I wish he could tell me his real name and all that he has accomplished in his life!!
    Thank-you Susan for telling the story of “Blessed “

  6. Ruth

    The final indignity and betrayal of being handed over to kill buyers is a good reason to mourn the recent triple crown winner. It seems that industry has no winning outcome that’s secured for the horses. Those that end up well are truly a happy accident of a miserable industry.

    1. Chrissy

      Well said, Ruth. I have no respect for the racing industry.

    2. Carrie

      You really need to educate yourself about the reality of the thoroughbred industry, and what horse registry actually sends the most horses to slaughter … the AQHA … 7 of 10 horses that go to slaughter are quarter horses. The Triple Crown winner will never end up at slaughter, and there are MANY thoroughbred rehoming programs around the country.

      1. Carolyn McDonald

        The reality of the thoroughbred racing industry is that the great majority of its horses end up in the slaughterhouse. It’s not only reality, it is FACT!

  7. Melinda

    She is beautiful! She glows with thankfulness and love.

  8. Stacey

    I have been Blessed to have Susan write about this mare . She did have a racing owner that cared for her once upon a time before she was claimed. The back story on how she got her name MintsonthePillow is a funny one I am so glad she was saved

    1. Carolyn McDonald

      Stacey, if a previous owner had genuinely cared about her then why was she put in Claiming Races?
      My daughter once bought a slaughterhouse bound ex- racehorse gelding at an auction, he was skin and bone. She traced him back to his trainer who was his sole owner and contacted him, he said “Oh i always wondered about him…. send me some photos….pfff!

      Funny isn’t it Stacey that previous connections to a racehorse come out feeling glad when they hear about one of their callously disposed of horses ended up in genuinely caring hands. Wonder what they feel about all the other horses that don’t end up like Blessed? I think we know the answer to that…. they couldn’t give a damn!

  9. Carol Plett

    This ‘story’ might very well be inaccurate! That rider on her back is probably responsible for saving her life. Check out H.O.R.S.E. (Horselovers Organizing Rescue of Slaughterbound Equines) on FB. Similar group that saves many horses. They get on the horses in the feedlot, video them, then post to FB in hopes of raising the $ to save them. Please don’t be so quick to judge. Often there is more to a backstory than an author is able to learn or convey adequately in a short report. And the reporter who wrote this piece is clearly mistaken in saying “Curling her lip against the pressure of his strong hands, which pulled a little too tightly on the reins, Mintsonthepillow kept her composure as she walked and trotted for the man at the feedlot who would help ship her to slaughter as thoughtlessly as he rode her on the blacktop of a Pennsylvania feedlot.” This is probably not an accurate portrayal of why this man is riding her!

    1. Carolyn McDonald

      With all due respect to you Carol, have a look at Blessed’s near (left) fore hoof – it’s in a shocking state. Have a look at that leg i see the stress from the pain in her foot running right up. Her mouth is displaying that she’s in pain. If a side on photo was available of her in this exact position, then it would highly likely reveal that her hoof is not in alignment with her leg. Her mouth says it all and so does her eye. And i cannot possibly agree with you when you imply that the story is inaccurate. Every picture tells a story – she is a very sorry sight, she is on her way to slaughter, it cannot get any more undignified than that!

    2. julia

      Unfortunately the rider on her back works at the kill pen from where she was rescued. If you look at H.O.R.S.E. you will see him in multiple photos and videos. He works at the pen. He is not the rescuer. If you watch some of H.O.R.S.E’s videos you will see how he rides the horses. He’s not cruel, but he is a forceful, no nonsense, if not somewhat detached and heavy rider. He could very well be more kindhearted then he appears, but there is no doubt that he works at the Kill Pen. Perhaps you have missed some information in your assessment of this article.

  10. LuAnn Kay

    Very happy this horse is “Saved”

  11. Frances Sherwood

    She knew where she was headed. She knew that she had been saved from a horrible death. She is grateful to her saviors and will thank them for it the rest of her life.

  12. Jon

    I have a 24 year old ex broodmare. She was a good stakes winning race mare and was abandoned in foal at my farm. She has turned out to be a great hacking buddy, with some retraining. She can be a small dragon when she wants to be. Her daughter is also safe at my farm. The daughter is now an eventer.

  13. Lisa Neely

    What a beautiful story of love and second chances … It feeds my hope for our world to know this happened… How beautiful …my tears are joyful

  14. Denise Smith

    Amen. What a wonderful story. Thank you to all of the angels who help these animals get their second chance at life 0:)

  15. l mel

    So glad to read of another saved! But I was crying through the beginning–that poor mare.

  16. Deb

    Shaun, aka Cusack found me through a post in Washington state. He was in a kill pen, had raced a very long time and just looked confused. Like someone had somehow forgotten him. He has the kindest soul I think I’ve ever met. Loves to chase deer and explore the many acres he now shares with his herd. So glad she was found, but I must think it was more, sent. That’s how blessing work, you know. They are sent.

  17. Beverly Hubbard

    Thank you for saving this beautiful mare and sharing her heartwarming story. I’m the proud owner of a 24 year old ottb/broodmare. Stacy (Girl State) has been nothing but sound and wonderful for the 11 years I’ve had her. She’s an awesome trail horse and I recommend broodmares to anyone looking for a good horse. Now I have to go get a tissue, I seem to have something in my eye 😉

  18. lisa

    great story with a wonderful ending !

  19. christine Egidio

    I have 2 horses adopted from Bright Futures, one is an off the track Thoroughbred. This is an amazing rescue that always puts the horse first and leaves their ego at the door.

  20. Glenys McNally

    Amen !

  21. bodsinbalance9

    Great story – thanks so much for the work you do. i have a 2008 TB who makes me smile every day!!!

  22. pmelanchthon


  23. Heather

    What a heart warming story! I remember watching the video clip of this poor girl being ridden by that “man?”, I felt just sick. Thank you for sharing her happy story.

  24. PonyPal

    This cruelty and indifference has to end. Boycott horseracing.

  25. Carolyn McDonald

    SHAME on the horseracing industry! The photo tells me that her feet were in a bad state, very dishy and I suspect she was not only suffering pain from the bit but pain from her dysfunctional feet. This poor darlin had many starts and produced 5 foals for the racing industry. They got rid of her when she was no longer a commercially viable commodity and she ends up on her way to slaughter, an unspeakable and inhumane death.

    Blessed was most fortunate to end up in very good hands and she is clearly now much loved – she looks beautiful!

  26. April Keedian

    Wonderful story. Blessed be the broodmares…

  27. Jeanne

    Beautiful story!

  28. Stephanie Morse

    What a story. Your opening paragraph had me in tears, sensational. And sensational ending, she is a beauty.

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