A crippled and pregnant mare who was en route last winter to the slaughterhouse, before she was tracked down and rescued from a well-known meat buyer, gave birth last month to a perfect filly who’d taken that ominous ride with her.
In the early morning hours of May 21, Open Zipper quietly tucked her disfigured legs under her round body, lowered herself into the straw piled high in the foaling stall, and issued forth a “textbook perfect filly” named Faith.
“She was given the name by Kay O’Hanlon, who is fostering them at her farm in Goshen, N.Y.,” says Gerda Silver, owner and operator of Gerda’s Animal Aid. “And rescuing horses takes a lot of faith.”
Silver and her nonprofit charity oversaw the rescue of Open Zipper and a band of pregnant broodmares on Feb. 29. The mares, who were purchased at the New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania, were: Murphy’s Code, Lily and Ice, Lovely Ness and Stratacaster. Stratacaster was not pregnant.
Sire: City Zip
Dam: Nearctica, by Mazel Trick
Foal date: Feb. 3, 2006According to Silver, the horses were rescued with the help of numerous charities and individuals who offered aid, foster farms and who all helped in a frantic weekend to track down and buy back Open Zipper, already shipped to a holding pen operated by a meat buyer. (Please see earlier story here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2016/03/07/pregnant-horses-rescued-from-meat-buyers/).
After a touch-and-go several days, in which the whereabouts of Open Zipper was either in question or seemed hopeless, the chestnut horse was transported back from a holding facility, and sold to rescue workers in a plot twist that Silver never could have predicted.
“I don’t want to give accolades to the meat buyer, but his son did drive two hours to bring her back to us,” Silver says. “She was a dead horse walking up until he agreed to do that.”
But even after Zipper was safely ensconced at Kay O’Hanlon’s Goshen, N.Y foster farm, her survival was still uncertain. When rescuers tried to walk her on a lead rope, the mare appeared very unsound and they feared she would need to be humanely destroyed.
“We thought she was crippled in her hind legs,” Silver says. She explains that when the mare was clipped to a lead rope and walked with a handler, her back legs moved grotesquely. Observers at the time declared she was very unsound, and might possibly have to be destroyed.
It was only after the mare’s halter was removed and she was allowed to walk naturally, without a handler by her side, that it became evident that the mare was in fact pasture sound.
Left to her own devices, Zipper had long ago learned to amble along on all four feet, compensating for an injured front leg with swollen knee. Once rescuers realized this, all talk of euthanasia ended, and Zipper was able to continue on her journey.
The arrival of her foal last month and the robust good health both animals enjoy was the perfect ending, says Silver, who notes with pride that the filly is growing strong, by leaps and bounds.
“Open Zipper is a reminder to all of us that no matter what the disability, you can still have a quality of life,” O’Hanlon told Off Track Thoroughbreds.com in a previous story. “Every morning on turn out she greets the new day by cantering up the hill.”
Author’s note: Zipper and her filly are available for adoption to a very special home, Silver says. An application can be found at: http://www.gerdasanimalaid.org/