Elizabeth Reeves Smith of Lexington, Ky., had been painfully unemployed for 11 months when she first laid eyes on the son of racing superstar Point Given languishing, all beat up and tired at the end of the line.
Orchard Point was 250 pounds underweight, and was about a day away from shipping from the New Holland livestock auction to a Mexican slaughterhouse, when Smith spotted his photograph and an appeal by horse rescuer Mindy Lovell.
Lovell, a well-known horse advocate who patrols feedlots and auction houses for ex-racehorses in need of an 11th hour reprieve had seen the golden-red beauty, whose coat had faded beneath caked on dirt, in a group of horses who all wore bright identification tags bearing three-digit numbers.
With the clock ticking down to what could be his last hours alive, Lovell made an appeal for funds on Facebook to buy him from the feedlot, hoping someone would give him a home.
On July 16, 2012, Smith saw that message and threw caution to the wind.
“I said a small prayer, and then I sent Mindy a Facebook message,” Smith says. “It took her all of 30 seconds to call me.”
Three hours later, she received a follow-up call: Orchard Point was all hers.
Race name: Orchard Point
Barn name: Opie
Sire: Point Given
Foal Date: April 16, 2005A lot of people might have asked Smith what she was thinking; no work, no income, no certainty ahead. In fact, there are still some in her family who have no idea she saved an ex-racehorse.
“At the point that I made this decision, there was nothing on the horizon as far as employment, and it was really something I can’t explain,” Smith says. “But, I just knew that come hell or high water, I was going to make it work.”
Before the lovely golden-red gelding arrived at the boarding facility Smith had selected it already felt as though they were knee deep in both hell and high water.
Orchard Point came down with a bad cold while in quarantine at a holding facility, and then contracted Strangles.
Transportation problems also plagued the entire process to the point that Smith says she thought she’d have to drive to Pennsylvania and ride him home.
But eventually the roadblocks cleared, Orchard Point regained his health, and on Oct. 12, a transport trailer carrying her underweight warrior arrived in Kentucky.
“As soon as I heard the engine of the truck, I started bawling,” Smith says. “I just couldn’t wait to meet him and start to take care of him. He had been neglected for so long, I knew he would really need help.”
It’s unclear where the lackluster runner had been before he landed at New Holland. The last people connected with him had sent him to a layup facility after he’d run poorly in his last race, she says.
From there, the animal was sent to a rescue, which had been researched and vetted, and from there, and as far as anybody knew, the horse had been placed in a new home.
It wasn’t until Jen Roytz of Three Chimneys farm called his connections to let them know he’d shown up at New Holland that his whereabouts was discovered, says Smith, explaining that Roytz got involved with helping the horse, the son of a Three Chimneys stallion.
Regardless of how he wound up at New Holland, or where he spent the months prior, life took a turn shortly after his discovery, and the woebegone animal adapted quickly to his better lot.
After a week spent settling in at his new farm, time spent figuring out, Smith says, that he is, indeed home, the former racehorse quickly assumed his new role as gentle pet.
Nicknamed Opie, for his initials O.P., the gentle ham is so good with people that Smith trusts him with her twin daughters, who are 13.
“They are not horsey girls, but he’s so good with them that they can feed him and brush him while he just stands there, eating up the attention,” she says.
He has regained about 200 pounds while soaking in his new, pampered existence.
And in him, Smith has fulfilled a dream she has had for many years, to rescue a horse from a kill pen and give him a better life.
But as she waits to ride him out on the rolling, picturesque trails near the farm, Smith will have to cool her heels a bit during the day. For she’s now found work once again, in the employee benefits field.
Seems like good fortune comes in pairs, and giving and getting go hand in hand.
Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com thanks the 1,400 readers who have stopped by the blog today (so far!), and the 31,000 readers who viewed us in November!)
22 responses to “Jobless woman rescues Point Given’s son”
In a world becoming less civilized by the day, this is indeed a heart warming story. The compassion shown by all those involved in this story is heart warming.
I am Canadian, and in this context ashamed to be. If more people were aware of the horrific conditions these companion animals are transported in through Canada, and the unspeakable manner in which they die in Canadas slaughter houses, they would rise up against govts who support this barbaric industry.
Wonderful story and so happy for everyone involved.
Glad to hear of these wonderful stories. My heart aches, though for those that could not be saved.
Hay Mindy. I know your tired, but don’t worry. Someday your ship will come in and U will be at the airport! lol
Seriously, though I like to believe that most racetrackers are waking up and finally realizing,to the general public and animal lovers, horses are not just marketable product to be shipped.Everyone that cares about the afterlife of racehorses have to keep writing and convince government,slaughter must stop in Canada.OHRIA has to live their words- Racehorses are not just disposables by wealthy owners and farmers.
Thank you for this story, I so enjoyed it and also enjoyed the writing. When I read this, it brought tears to my eyes and that is somewhat hard to do. Certainly admire Elizabeth and Mindy both. Hero’s in my eyes……here is to more and more stories like this until one day, they go away for good, and owning a horse will become just a way of life for everyone.
This is a wonderful story. New Holland isn’t too far from me. It just gives me the chills when I think of those poor horses.
I remember seeing Point Given at Three Chimneys Farms a few years ago. He was such a beauty and seemed like such a nice horse. I see his son, Orchard Point follows in his hoof steps.
Kindness has a way of coming back to you! Fantastic feel good story!!!!!
When I got my boy I was working as a home day care provider.. which is touch and go money wise. Since then I have been back to working in an office envoronment and laid off twice. I am currently un employed and am making do with the pittance I get from unemployment assistance. While there are jobs on the horizon for me. None of us can say with out doubt that we will always have the steady income needed to care for our horses and pets. I have been lucky. But in reality that is all it is for all of us and our horses.
Partnership, I agree with your philosophical outlook. Nobody has a crystal ball, and we don’t know what our financial picture will be down the road. I just spoke with another new OTTB owner who worked 25 years in her field. The day before she was scheduled to meet the OTTB of her dreams, she was laid off. After a lot of consideration and discussions with her husband, they took the horse anyway. I’m doing a story about her next week.
Lovely story. This sounds like something I would do! So happy for him!
What a touching,tearjerking story.The outcome could have been so tragic and God stepped in and said enough!.I believe they were meant to be together and it really gives us all hope. What a blessing.I hate that these gentle souls are sold down the river for slaughter. I would do all I can in aiding in abolishing this.Where can we start???
Who can we contact to block the shipping of these horses to Mexico and Canada? Can you imagine the ride from SE Pa to Mexico? That horse would have died on the ride. It makes me crazy. My horse was also rescued from New Holland.
That’s what happens when people with
**no means** take horses from “rescues.” Hopefully he never winds up in a pen again.
I need to keep a box of tissues handy when I read your blog, Susan. What an amazing step Elizabeth took–good karma, she found work and Opie is safe. She and Mindy are very special people.
That’s such a huge compliment, about the box of tissues. There are some facts of stories that stick with me, like a friend who bid $10 more over a meat-buyer to get her OTTB, or the Secretariat stallion who was confined to a stall for six years; this is another one of those stories that I find so moving. I bet the few sentences I wrote only capture the tip of the iceberg too.
This is a great story, and it makes me cry happy tears. Thank you Elizabeth for stepping up and taking him in, thank you Mindy for looking out for the TBs @ auction, and kudos to Three Chimneys for stepping up. It is my wish that the stories of all the OTTBs ended up this happily. Carry on horse warriors!
What an uplifting story in the midst of all the heartwrenching things we read about slaughter-bound horses. Elizabeth followed her heart and it has led her to positive things all around, let alone what it did for “Opie”! And Mindy Lovell, well, she has become one of my heroes. 🙂
Fantastic story Susan! Thank you Elizabeth, for giving this special boy a new lease on life, and thank you Mindy…you did it again…being instrumental in saving him! They say it takes a village sometimes, and looks like it was true in this case. Opie is a gorgeous, lucky boy! And congratulations on ur new job Elizabeth. I like to call that Karma: the goodness you put out there, came back around to you. 😀
yay! so glad to see this story, and proves that you must follow your gut!
Orchard Point (Opie) set a record in timing – I swear, less than 5 minutes after I posted him to fundraise for his costs, the money was there. I actually had trouble keeping up with telling people to STOP sending money!! He had lots of people stepping up for him – he is a VERY lucky boy!! 🙂
There are so many stories like this that need telling, I’m glad you have this blog, Susan. It makes me happy to receive news of another posting in my email box ;o) Racing is a game of chance for every horse and jockey in the field. No guarantees. But for Opie and his new family, as your blog proves, everyone wins.
Wow. Another feel-good story to start my day. I love these stories. They go well with my morning coffee!
And THANKS, Elizabeth! You won’t regret your sacrifice. Opie will see to that.