To a horse rejected by meat-buyers come riches

Mascot in his beautiful, new home

Gone is the look of terror, and so too, the tufted, matted coat that once hung on the skinny frame of a quarter-million-dollar winning racehorse who was mere steps away from slaughter.

To look at him now, standing regally in his European-styled stall in Florida, Mascot looks more like a prized stallion than a charity case who, by chance, ran into his savior at the New Holland auction as time was running out.

Saved on Aug. 6 by A-Circuit rider Melissa Rudershausen, who just happened to walk past the lame, frightened animal as he snapped his ties and bolted toward her, the mangy animal who looked like a poster child for unwanted horses is now living the good life.

On Sept. 18, Rudershausen drove Mascot from Pennsylvania to her gorgeous, eight-stall barn in Ocala, Fla., where he has been recuperating.

Filled out after a month of eating 60 pounds of hay a day, his once-tattered coat shines in good health, as he walks in dappled sunlight and with confidence, toward his new life.

Awaiting him after the two-day trip was a stall so fine it looks like nothing less than the accommodations of a top Thoroughbred-breeding farm.

No “jail cell” rails for this guy. His new home features a European-styled front with curved iron railings that allow him to freely stick his head out of his Race name: Mascot
Sire: Five Star Day
Dam: Bunny Club, by Slew o’ Gold
Foal date: Feb. 10, 2003
Earnings: $241,901
stall. And opposite of his refined doorway with brass accents is a quaint, arched window through which he can poke his head to gander the outside world.

“I’m such a fan of horses being able to stick their heads out of their stalls,” Rudershausen says. “And, it’s so much cooler because all the openness allows a breeze to blow through the whole barn.”

Rudershausen designed her “dream barn” with the goal of making the comfort of the horse central to her operation, the Double Rock Thoroughbred Rescue.

And a horse like Mascot, who earned a quarter-million dollars on the track before being dumped at New Holland, lame, and thin and most likely destined for slaughter, deserves the best.

Prancing in the lush grass

To show just how much he agrees with her assessment, Mascot arrived at the stable like a rock star. Prancing and whinnying a challenge to the other stallion at the farm, he has been kicking up his heals and romping with the best of them.

“When we first got him, and he was at my mother’s farm, he was dead quiet,” Rudershausen says. “But since he got to Ocala, he’s decided he’s feeling better, and that he’s a stallion.

“We had quite a time getting him in and out of the paddock the other night because he was challenging another stallion, and letting him know that he’s the dominant one.”

Mascot should feel good.

He has been fed high quantities of good hay mixed with alfalfa since he was rescued Aug. 6. And has regained weight easily.

And while several abscesses in his right, front hoof, have required a “medical plate” that seals off his frog, the treatments he has received seem to be doing the trick.

“He’s 95 percent sound now,” she says. “I have a farrier coming on Monday to check him.”

Once Mascot is 100 percent, Rudershausen will slowly start him under saddle.

So far, Mascot has shown to be one resilient horse.

Mascot, days after he was rescued

He was in “horrific shape” and scared the day she encountered him at the New Holland auction. Frightened and weary of being kicked by other horses tethered too close to him, he broke free just as she passed by.

“He ran right to me and I caught him,” Rudershausen says in an earlier interview with

Later in the day, when he was run through the auction, nobody, not even the meat buyers, was interested in Mascot. He was too sickly looking, even for meat buyers.

But Rudershausen saw a brave expression and the look of eagles beneath the rough exterior, and so, she snapped him up.

So many horses are not as lucky as Mascot. The unlucky ones go from the feed lots to livestock trucks, often crammed into overcrowded vans with other terrified horses, and, deprived of food and water, they ride for hours of even days to meet their death in Canadian or Mexican processing plants.

Rudershausen can’t help them all. But, one at a time, she hopes to save the life of horses like Mascot as she turns her bucolic farm in Florida into the very best kind of safe house.

Mascot enters new home

“I know, realistically, that I cannot help all the Thoroughbreds in need,” Rudershausen says. “But watching Mascot, along with all my other rescues, blossom into successful sport horses after surviving the slaughter pipeline inspires me to continue to help as many as I can.

“Personally, it is so important to prove to people that the Thoroughbreds that end up at these slaughter auctions are not useless and with a second chance they can become wonderful horses.”

16 responses to “To a horse rejected by meat-buyers come riches”

  1. Honor Mindnich

    It was obvious from Melissa’s first post that Mascot was in dire need of care and rescuing. Alot of us donated cheerfully hoping to see this magnificent result. Mascot looks great and very well cared for…it is shameful that OTTB’s are treated with such disrespect and indifference after they loose their winning streak….so many are sent to their deaths. It is what most would term a crying shame. Good work Melissa!

  2. Andrea Young

    Juli, Your Son has a good point. Perhaps an even small percentage of a TBs winnings could go into a fund for supporting the retirees? If it were only that simple. We adopted two lovely hoeses from New Vocations this summer and only wish we could afford more. It is so fun to watch them change, develop their personalities and come into their own after a life on the racetrack.

  3. Juli Mohan

    We took in a ottb a few years ago and when I told my then 12 year old son this horse won over $300,000 on the track in less than 3 years. My son ssked “Why didn’t he get to keep any of that money? He’s the one that won it.” True.

  4. Jae

    I’m so happy to see this follow-up. I’ve been thinking a lot about Mascot for the last few weeks and am thrilled to see him doing so well. I can’t believe he’s the same horse!

  5. Kim Rigolini

    Thank you Melissa. The world is a better place because of people like you.

  6. kstacy

    Such a wonderful story….Too bad there can’t be more happy endings!

  7. Georgie Lin Schneider

    The Horse racing industry already Polices all Racehorses. No trainer or owner is allowed to send any racehorses to auction and slaughter. If caught dumping horses a trainer will lose his license and owners a hefty fine. The Jockey Club and HBPA’s also have programs for retiring horses. So please dont knock the only industry that has taken active action against sending horses for slaughter.
    In this horses case the kill buyers did not take him BECAUSE he was a Thoroughbred, because of the above regulations and problems that arise , and also 2 Meat Processing plants in Canada (Quebec and Manitoba) are closed to ‘Thoroughbreds’ from the USA. Also when the horses come up here they are in feedlots for 12 months before going to slaughter – EVERY HORSE. They can be bought from these lots depending on who has them. Just go to the Food inspection Canada (dont remember the exact name and site) all the rules and regulations regarding horses and processing for slaughter are there. They are very very strict. Basically this horse was in no danger from KIll BUYERs ever.

    1. OneSpot

      If you believe that this catches ALL the Tb’s that are out there and end up being sold off. You are mistaken. There will ALWAYS be unscrupulous people. So the American TB(and other breeds) will ALWAYS be in danger of ending up in Canada or Mexico. It’s a sad fact.

    2. Nancy

      You are obviously in the “kill”industry, and your defenses are full of holes. First off, go ask the Assmussen family how much they were fined for dumping TBs at a kill auction this past September- not a dime. The JC and the HBPA do support some retirement programs, but you are dead wrong about the industry “policing” horses. The JC does NOT police one single aspect of the off the track horses- don’t believe me, call and ask them. They will direct you to the state where the violation took place. you need to take your propaganda and lies elsewhere. you do not have a clue.

  8. LNorman

    Thank you Melissa for saving horses from the hellish slaughter pipeline and an even worse death.
    The racing industry needs to be held accountable for their breeding practices, and disposable horse mentality; same goes for the AQHA.
    THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR CONGRESS NOT PASSING BIPARTISAN HR2966 & S1176 Anti-slaughter & transport bills as 80% of Americans strongly oppose equine slaughter. WE OWE EQUINES OUR STEWARDSHIP AS THIS NATION WAS BUILT ON THEIR BACKS.

  9. CC

    Beautiful story, wish more horses could be saved like Mascot. Wish also this story could be reported on tv news to inspire more who have the money to rescue or support groups that rescue.

  10. Lezlie

    I’m sorry I missed this story the first time around, glad I caught it this time with the followup. As a person deeply involved in this industry, I abhor this practice of horses, who have given their lives in service to human livelihoods and entertainment, are rewarded so atrociously. I think we must work diligently to rid the world of this plight, anything less is unacceptable.

    I suggest we start by making the well being of the horse the number one priority of our national racing industry’s governing body (I suppose we need to create that organization). Then, through unlimited brainstorming, come up with options of creative solutions resulting in horses like Mascot experiencing preferable ends to their stories.

  11. Whitney Mulqueen

    To Melissa……I am moved and have tears in my eyes……all I can say is bless you and thank you. Wish there were more folks out there like you that could rehab these horses that end up in terrible places. You are an angel in my eyes.

    Thank You,

    Whitney Mulqueen

  12. Fran

    Kudos to Melissa for stepping up. If everyone just took one horse we wouldn’t be seeing over 130,000 going to slaughter. And this year alone the numbers of horses shipped to Mexico to slaughter is UP 60% per the USDA- And trust me that one horse you save can make such a difference in your life…they know what you have done to help them! Great story Sue!!

  13. TBDancer

    A followup to the followup ;o) Excellent. Went back and reread from the link in this entry. Guess I missed that the first time around (shame on me) because it is wonderful to know that Mascot is “coming sound” and will be living the life of a “Double” Rock star ;o)

    Best wishes to Melissa and Mascot.

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