A hellish trip saves 8 from Bastrop Kill Pen

Kay Hanlon Myruski and her 12-year-old daughter Emma rode from New York to Louisiana, and back, to save 8 slaughter-bound horses.

Kay Hanlon Myruski and her 12-year-old daughter Emma rode from New York to Louisiana, and back, to save 8 slaughter-bound horses.

A New York woman and her 12-year-old daughter drove over 3,000 miles, running on fumes and stolen cat-naps, to rescue eight horses from the Bastrop Kill Pen in Louisiana.

Stepping up last week to do the long-distance haul after plans fell through with their shipper, Kay O’Hanlon Myruski and her 12-year-old daughter Emma drove from their home in Goshen, N.Y. to pick up a large horse trailer at Gerda’s Animal Aid in Vermont, before driving south through blistering heat and difficult conditions, all in the name of saving horses who would otherwise ship to Mexico to be slaughtered.

“It was a no brainer,” says Myruski, a longtime Thoroughbred advocate and horse rescuer based in Goshen, N.Y.

With only four hour’s notice that shipping arrangements for the assorted mix of horses had fallen through, she and her daughter jumped in the truck last week to drive 3,000 miles round trip in an odyssey fraught with problems.

It was so hot in the trailer that Kay was forced to smash out the windows with a hammer. And horses were doused with water every two hours.

It was so hot in the trailer that Kay was forced to smash out the windows with a hammer. And horses were doused with water every two hours.

The pair swung into action after Gerda’s Animal Aid, on which Myruski serves as a board member, initiated a rescue effort to save a seven-month-old filly. After the filly was purchased, arrangements were soon made to save seven more horses, including a beautiful pair of white driving horses, a Tennessee walking horse, a Standardbred and some minis. Because the Bastrop Kill pen no longer sells Thoroughbreds to rescue organizations, none were obtained on this trip, Myruski says.

“It’s getting harder and harder to get these places to open their doors” and allow rescue workers to intercept Thoroughbreds in the slaughter pipeline, she adds.

By all accounts, this was a hard journey. Besides the gut-wrenching experience of leaving behind Thoroughbreds, and knowing that as quickly as eight horses were saved from the pipeline, their places would soon fill with other horses, the journey in and out of the sweltering south was plagued with problems, she says.

Emma, 12, has saved many horses with her mother. But this was the longest trip she has made.

Emma, 12, has saved many horses with her mother. But this was the longest trip she has made.

As soon as they crossed into Ohio, the pair was delayed when they were forced to stop to get malfunctioning trailer lights repaired. And when they finally rolled into Louisiana, temperatures and humidity were so high Myruski says, “You’d break a sweat if you bent over to tie your shoelace.”

It was so stifling in the trailer that in desperation Myruski broke the windows with a hammer in order to get cross ventilation, she says.

And after the horses the horses were loaded and they were en route home, the heavy trailer burst a tire, forcing them to backtrack to make repairs.

“The tire dealer didn’t want to do it. So I pretty much begged. I explained that I had eight horses on board, and a 12-year-old daughter with me. I pleaded and the man finally agreed,” she says.

When they finally got back on track, Myruski and her daughter worried because the sweating, scared horses refused to drink from water buckets. “It is so true that you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink!” she notes.

Stopping every two hours for fuel, the pair poured buckets of water on the horses to cool them down. And just when they worried that the animals would become completely dehydrated, they slowly started to drink. And by the time they made it to a quarantine farm in Virginia, the herd had downed 250 gallons!

This horse was nicknamed the "babysitter" because he could kept the others calm.

This horse was nicknamed the “babysitter” because he could keep the others calm.

Each horse is now doing well, according to Gerda Silver, head of Gerda’s Animal Aid, and the organizer of the rescue.

She notes that the young filly that started the whole effort has been officially adopted, and that every horse will have a place to go, whether to a foster farm, or stalls in Vermont.

“Normally we’d never try to do something like this. But, I had some really good adoptions recently, and miraculously I had the room to take in more horses,” Silver says. “And we’ve got this network of people to help. We have a friend in Virginia, a Navy veteran, who wants to open a facility, and she’s planning to keep some. We have some minis who are going to Long Island to be gelded and fostered, and we already have people interested in adopting the others.”

But the three-day rescue effort, which concluded over the weekend, was bittersweet, the women say.

“The saddest thing, for me, was that when Kay drove away from the lot, she looked in the rearview mirror and she saw the most beautiful Thoroughbred still standing there. It’s the ones you can’t help that really make you cry,” Silver says.

Myruski agrees.

“For as many as we take, the slots of those saved horses are immediately filled with many more” slaughter-bound horses,” Myruski says. “I don’t blame the dealer or the holding pens. I blame all the people who send their horses there, and the ignorant backyard breeders. We’ve just got way too many people producing horses.”

53 responses to “A hellish trip saves 8 from Bastrop Kill Pen”

  1. SaunieInDiego

    Our wild horses are endangered every day by those who are supposed to ensure their survival.

    The most important thing we can all do is tell people what is happening. The general public have no idea, as media does, or will not cover.

    Keep caring and keep spreading the word.

  2. zebras7

    call all the TV stations and news organizations – editors are always looking for a good news story <3

  3. iloveamericanpharoah

    Beware of Maria Borell reported in June to be in Fingerlake to obtain horses. A warrant is out for her arrest for abandonment of horses in Kentucky. Her father Chuck has been arrested.

  4. Tonya

    So glad 8 were saved. I don’t understand Bastrop on not letting rescues take te OTTB’s. Commercial breeding has got to slow down, thousands of their offspring are dying every year at the meat plants. I cringe hearing about how these
    Beautiful animals are an used or taken to kill lots. No horse
    Should be killed, I could understand if it is really sick or lame but not just for a few $$’s. I wish I could rescue a few ottbs. I take in stray cats and dogs when I can when we lose one we go rescue another to live out it’s life. So proud of Emma and her mom for helping 8 more beauty’s.

  5. Virginia White

    i can say a lot but what a say is not very nice words to thoughs who are cruel like that so i’ll just say hope they stop them boogers we would love to take in more but we just can’t we took in four a few years ago and we still have them because we are afraid where they might go plus we already have 20 head of horses . so we just can’t do anymore i am afraid. we only have 90 acres and 21 head of horses

  6. Nancy

    worse yet are the scam rescues who show pathetic horses in emergency situations then pocket the money and abandon the horses. aka Pam Vivirito Equine Angels

  7. Cheri

    I have sent this article to The Paulick Report.

  8. lisa

    Bastrop KP makes my blood boil. The news that they no longer want to deal with rescues is just terrible. I can’t keep up with sharing and trying to help rehome the number of OTTBs I see in all the KPs and auctions Facebook pages around the country. The fact that trainers are dumping horses from tracks where there may (or may not be) a no-kb policy makes this all the worse. The racing industry as a whole needs to take a long hard look at the poor policing they have done thus far. The plethora of OTTBs, especially those right off the track, in LA, AR, TX, and OK kill pens is heartbreaking. I reach out to rescues every day via FB in hopes they can save one more life. I guess the flip side is, that those of us trying to save these horses need to not lash out at these trainers once a horse’s identity is discovered, as the outcome is may be a policy of “no rescues” like at Bastrop. But we need to keep our cool and the gates open to us so we can get theses horses to safety.

    1. Cheri

      Yes, Lisa. Agree 100%.

  9. Gina Austin

    Hmmmm I would be willing to go in as an individual and aquire TB’S for rescues if needed 🙂

    1. Gina Austin

      I live very near where much of this is happening. I have two OTTB boys myself and am thankful to have these great guys!!!

  10. Barb

    We need to get both the House and the Senate to act on the Safeguard American Food Exports (SAFE) Act (S. 1214 & HB 1942)This bill would make US horse export for slaughter illegal. Both versions of this bill have a ton of co-sponsors but never get out of the Ag Committee for a vote. https://awionline.org/content/safeguard-american-food-exports-safe-act

    1. Leigh Christensen

      And what do you propose be done with the tens of thousands of horses deemed unsuitable for racing? Outlawing horses being slaughtered is no different than trying to outlaw abortion. Trainers, owners and others will turn to killing the horses themselves and it won’t be pretty. There are too many being bred, and not enough places to put them. I myself purchased two that I thought I was saving from slaughter. Was told they were healthy and sound. Both are lame, beyond help. Both will have to be put down by ME. So, after spending 2,500 bucks, I get to pay for a lot of vet bills to diagnose, and now have to pay to euthanize. I think the regulations should be that verifiably sound horses off the track are sold, if not sound, they have to be slaughtered. And, we need to reopen slaughter houses in the U.S. instead of torturing these horses with horrible rides across the border to slaughter houses with no regulations. Unless you eat no meat and wear no leather, you have no argument against the slaughter of horses. And sometimes, it IS the compassionite thing to do

      1. Niko

        They should be humanely euthanized , not slaughtered . They aren’t suitable for consumption and they don’t deserve such a horrid death. You are an immoral horrible sadistic prick for suggesting that they be slaughtered .

      2. zebras7

        No Leigh Christensen – for the same reason we don’t slaughter the over abundance of dogs and cats. If there really is no choice there are humane ways to euthanize an animal without the brutal horror of slaughter plants. Of course with horses, dogs, cats we need to also address the problem at the source. We need breeding regulations so it isn’t a free for all with the result of so many homeless animals.

  11. Barb

    This KB also sold two pregnant TB’s at NH to Gerda when my buyer thought they had gone privately. As Kay stated he is NOT the one who puts them in the slaughter pipeline. This guy is honest, treats women and his horses with respect. He’d probably rather sell all horses to homes but there are not enough homes. My experience is that people write and criticize and judge but not enough step up with money and a home offer, even if the home is temporary. Hopefully everyone can provide a home for a rescue horse, TB or not. There is a great need for more Kay and Emmas.

    1. Cheri

      No, no, no, no. How is it that a human can honestly and respectfully send magnificent equines to their deaths, a death so horrific it is illegal in this country? Anyone who has anything to do with equines meeting their end in this manner is in league with Satan. This is not the same as not enough folks with the resources….

      1. Leigh Christensen

        It is not illegal because it is horrific. Cattle are slaughtered in the U.S. every day. It is illegal because activists that are outraged at the idea of horses being slaughtered, fought to outlaw it. For the same reason that we don’t eat dogs or cats, even though millions are euthanized every single year. People are hypocrites. People that wear leather, eat meat, will scream about an animal that they associate with “companion”. But, outlawing slaughter in the U.S. has only made it worse, MORE horrific. They endure hours or days in trailers to cross the border where there IS no regulation of how they are slaughtered. Why do we judge people that eat horsemeat when we eat chicken and beef and fish? What can possibly be done with the tens of thousands of race horses bred every year when only 10 to 15% are race worthy? This is a by product of the racing industry. Things need to change from the bottom up. Mandatory programs to re-home these horses BEFORE they are sent to slaughter. Stop the back yard breeders. Mandatory health histories and guarantees of soundness so people are not scared off from purchasing an OTTB. That would be a start. But, you have to live in reality. Anyone that thinks that the slaughter of thorobreds will end is not living in reality.

        1. Jan

          Leigh, Horses are not cattle, They do not react and are not easily killed in a cattle slaughterhouse, Horse slaughter plants use cattle equipment! So they are hit over and over again until unconscious and often are hung by one back leg and gutted while still alive and regaining consciousness! Their meat isn’t even fit for human consumption so no! Slaughter is never the answer! Do the research! If they can’t be rehabbed to enjoy a new career, they need to be humanely euthanized, a kindness we owe them!

  12. Suzanne

    Isn’t Emma the girl who saved the Thoroughbred broodmare that they named Ruby? I believe Emma and Kay have had several write-ups on your blog. They certainly deserve to. They do wonderful work. Emma and Ruby’s story is one of my all-time favorites. More power to Kay, and kudos to her for bringing up Emma to be the compassionate you woman that she clearly is.

    1. Barb

      Yes! And Ruby is doing hunter paces with Emma and they are taking good care of each other.

  13. Gina Austin

    I am in Lucedale Ms near Louisana. If you need to come by and cool down horses water…..let them out for the night or anything else I can do just let me know. I have three rescue horses of my own. Two are OTTB’s

  14. Rose Kroll

    omgosh I am in tears, what a wonderful effort you two girls went thru to save those horses… Made me cry when you looked in the Rear View Mirrow, happens all the time… God bless you ….

  15. Mary McLeod

    Thank you Kay, Emma, and connections for your courageous and kind acts of heroism, down to breaking out the windows. Three whinnies and high hooves all around!!!!!!!! xoxo to ALL, Mary in Boone

  16. Judy Gifford

    Finger Lakes Race track in Farmington NY has a “second chance rescue” right at the race track where they do adoptions and have dedicated personnel to do fundraisers. I don’t know if anyone works with them, but it would be a good contact to have. Thank you so much for your rescue. If you have a place to make donations, I’m sure many would help if you ever had to do it again.

    1. sj Johnson

      WARNING. Maria Borrell was reportedly trying to get horses around Fingerlake in June. Warrants for her and her dad, Chuck Borrell were issued in Kentucky for abandonment of several horses. Chuck has been apprehended. Beware SO that these two DO Not obtain more horses. Call police if you know Maria’s whereabouts.

  17. Nancy Walker

    Ladies, you made my day. Thank you for your hard work in saving the equines.

  18. awfirestone

    Good work Gals!!! Thank you!!!!

  19. Barb

    Kay and Emma are not tough. They are so tenderhearted that they do valiant heroic adventures that would overwhelm an average person.
    Bastrop does sell a few TB’s who are not right off the track who are sound. They used to sell TB’s off the track but too many people made an issue about them. The owners are repeat providers. If the TB’s could be sold with no repercussions, they might do it.
    The dealer ships loads of horses every week. Beautiful,ugly, sound, unsound, fat, not so fat, they all could use a good home.
    Kay acted on her passions for horses and a love for Gerda and her mission. May many blessings follow them all.

  20. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    Kay you are one tough lady. Thank you Kay and Emma for making this long journey for the sake of the horses. So glad you all arrived home safely.

  21. M. Hoppenrath

    Why can’t the rescue thoroughbreds be tattooed as prohibited to race again? Then they could be rescued and no previous owners would get in trouble?

    1. L Grayson

      Because trainers can be traced on the TB’s and many tracks would take legal action against them if it could be shown the trainer knowingly turned a TB over to kill buyers, like Bastrop. So what does Bastrop do? They feed the slaughter pipeline and send horses with known human carcinogens into the human food chain (all horses are full of drugs, just more in racehorses). The horses that leave the U.S. for slaughter reenter as filler in ground meat and snack products — potentially killing and sickening adults, children and pregnant women. Save your dollars, Bastro, because your heirs may face a class action law suit down the road for the poisoning/murder of other humans, animal cruelty notwithstanding. If readers want to make a difference, contact your U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate leaders — call them and tell them to pass two identical bills, H.R.1942 in the House, and S.1214 in the Senate. These bills are food safety bills that prohibit the export of horses for human consumption. You can find their contact information on Congress.gov. Only 1%, give or take. of the horses in the U.S. are sent to slaughter every year — enough to poison humans but not too many to be reabsorbed/rehomed/adopted or simply euthanized by a vet. One horse owner in every 13,000 horse owners would need to step up and take a horse every year — hardly a daunting task.

    2. Kathy C

      The problem is that people who own the racehorses don’t want others to know they are discarding the horses after they are no longer profitable, subjecting them to possible slaughter in Mexican slaughterhouses. They are afraid it will cause backlash against the racing industry.

  22. holly weyforth

    Thank you for your love and devotion, may you be blessed for doing this, my heart cries, for all these beautiful souls, and as much as compassion runs thru my veins for these animals, hatred runs thru them as well for these heartless, compassion-less, so called human beings. I have 2 horses, and am talking my husband into selling our home in order to purchase a bigger parcel of land to try to save a few more, but even then it wont be enough, for there are so many needing saved. If you ever need a rest stop you are WELCOME at our home, in Gettysburg PA. God Bless you! Holly

  23. Louise Leister

    Why doesn’ Bastrop sell to Thro Rescue groups? There are several of them there now and many last round and before that. So many I asked a trainer of two of them how they would up there. Trying to get help for these and answers you can send my way would be great .thank you

    1. L Grayson

      From what I’ve seen, they are interested in the easiest way to make a buck. Morals don’t appear to enter into their business transactions, otherwise why would they contaminate the human food chain with drug filled equines and subject animals to intense suffering?

    2. Amy Latka

      My guess is that its because TBs are traceable. Pull one out of a kill pen, read their tatoo and its easy to find out who sent them to the kill sale. Many tracks have publicly stated that they will not allow trainers to race if they sell horses on to the kill buyers. If the kill buyer sells a TB and it becomes known publicly (like here, on the internet), then the race trainer can loose their license, which means they no longer provide horses to the kill buyer. So in order to ensure that the trainers continue to feed horses into the pipeline (and everyone benefits — except the horses), the kill buyer is no longer letting TBs be rescued. What a bunch of #$%@^#.

      1. lexi63

        you are correct , these savages are MONSTERS

    3. Jon

      The Bastrop pen owners are in bed with the lowlife trainers. So many tracks will bar trainers from the tracks if their horses end up in kill pens. They are essentially protecting the lowlife trainers.

  24. Cheri

    God smiles on the ladies who made this happen against the odds. This humanitarian trip deserves worldwide recognition. How can we make that happen? Seriously, I have never heard of such a rescue effort by two women in my life…. I am sure others would feel the same. If this pair of earth angels do no other good works for the rest of their lives, this work eclipses all else… to me, they are exalted to the highest order of humanitarian equine rescue. A heavenly triumph tempered by a haunting image… what can be done for the Thoroughbreds remaining in the house of Satan? My God, please, what can we do?

  25. Kathy

    Yeah — why won’t Bastrop sell TBs to rescue organizations any more? They’re stupid enough to turn down money?

  26. Sybil Miller

    They don’t sell the tbs because the horses can be traced to their trainers who might lose track privileges if they race at tracks with no-slaughter policies. Just another example of how exploitive and heartless the slaughter industry is, as they make money of the horses and protect the guilty. Most tbs from the track that go to slaughter now do so in secrecy.

    1. Kathy

      Sybil, thanks — it looks like we posted simultaneously.

      What an utter disgrace. It just gets worse and worse.

  27. Gerda Silver

    Thank you Susan for helping open people’s eyes, believe it or not this awful horror is news to SO many!!

    1. Susan Salk

      Hi Gerda,
      It’s an amazing thing she and her daughter did. Gutsy.

      1. Cheri

        This story needs to be shared world wide.

    2. Gayle Andriani

      Gerda. I admire your dedication and strength making that trip. I know you had heart pangs leaving the others behind. You did what many of us wish we could do. Thank you and your daughter Emma.

  28. Deb Barry

    ” Because the Bastrop Kill pen no longer sells Thoroughbreds to rescue organizations…” Why not?

    1. lexi63

      because they dont want the lash back when the thoroughbreds are identified ( via lip tattoos ) and the owners & trainers are tracked down & crucified , it costs the killers their almighty $$$$$$, , so they make sure that doesnt happend by just slaughtering every single thoroughbred as quickly as possible before they can identified. the bastards .

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