A Thoroughbred mare with the kind eyes of a puppy, having been pulled last year from a livestock truck, rumbling unremittingly toward the slaughter pipeline, debuts next month at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover Show; all glossy and beautiful as she prepares for her comeback.
Mae’s Debut, a 7-year-old lightly raced mare, will compete in two field-hunter divisions and one handy hunter with all the grace with which she has weathered life’s storms.
“It’s horrifying to me that she was loaded on a trailer and headed to the meat buyer,” says her owner and rider Kim McVeigh of Factoryville, Penn. “This horse is so amazing. She just gives and gives and gives.”
Barn name: Mae
Sire: Noble Causeway
Dam: J Ps Afleet, by Northern Afleet
Foal date: May 5, 2009Last weekend, in fact, the liver chestnut mare won a 7-mile hunter/pace with flying colors. At the end of the show, when other horses might have flagged a bit, Mae cantered up a hill, jumped all the jumps, and seemed to be looking for the next test, the next challenge.
A year ago, the mare barely made it off a livestock truck destined for a well-known meat buyer’s yard, and ultimately, the slaughterhouse. A Thoroughbred advocate volunteering for Penn National’s re-homing program New Start happened to spot the mare, says Lauren Zagnit, program director for the HBPA’s Pennsylvania program. “There were two horses on a trailer, and we quickly figured out that she’d raced at Penn National. So I said to go ahead and get her out,” she says.
Mae was purchased and taken to a quarantine farm where she caught the attention of her new owner.
McVeigh had been asking around for a new Thoroughbred project horse to bring along when she was shown a picture of Mae. “When I saw her, the first thing I noticed was her super kind eye.”
Though she was forewarned that a slight pigmentation in the mare’s eyes may indicate a problem, a veterinarian quickly determined there was nothing to worry about, that the mare’s eyes would not impede a future career, McVeigh says.
In fact, Mae seems to be capable of accomplishing anything McVeigh puts in front of her. When McVeigh started training her, she had a tendency to rush into a canter. But the racehorse quickly learned to hold herself in the correct frame after building her hind-end muscles walking and trotting up hills. A “forgiving” green horse, Mae has taken everything in her stride, from dogs and chickens on the farm, to the difficulties of navigating the woods.
“I hate to say it, but it’s not even that surprising to me anymore when a kill-pen horse turns out to be phenomenal,” McVeigh says. “I have another Thoroughbred who nearly died, and who has turned out to be amazing. And Mae is no exception. She looks like a Quarter Horse, and I guarantee that whoever gets her after I sell her will be able to do anything with her. She’ll probably be one of those horses who goes western one weekend, and English the next.”
Mae will be offered for sale after the Retired Racehorse Project to make room for another kill-pen horse, she adds.
“Do I want to keep her? Yes. But, there’s another horse sitting on a truck waiting for me,” says McVeigh, adding, “I hope Mae helps to show that these horses are worth taking a chance on.” — This blog is brought to you by the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Please consider making a small donation to help the 840 horses in the TRF’s herd.