Melissa Rudershausen’s hand shot up through the stale, fetid air, as the smell of frightened livestock hit her like a blast of bad wind.
Tearing up from the stench that clung to her clothes, the smart, young rider raised her hand at the New Holland Auction last Thanksgiving, and with the small gesture offered a moment of mercy to a Thoroughbred who would be saved that day from the possibility of slaughter that awaited the hogs, goats, and other livestock.
Just $25 bought the depressed-looking Thoroughbred stallion, whose price had dropped like the Stock Market on a bad day.
“I don’t remember my hand going in the air,” she says. “But, nobody wanted this horse. Stallions are hard to sell because it costs so much to geld them, and his price kept dropping and dropping until the auctioneer finally said, “Somebody take him for $25.”
For Rudershausen, an equestrian and professional Thoroughbred trainer well used to the conditions, the pressures, the sense of urgency at New Holland, her impulsiveness surprised her.
Ordinarily the proprietor of Double Rock Thoroughbred Rescue of Ocala, Fla., an impressive A Circuit rider with a knack for turning the most woebegone kill-pen horse into a handsome show horse, is methodical in her approach.
Sire: Carson City
Foal date: Feb. 20, 2003“I normally have a plan. I’ll go first and look over the horse; I’ll run my hands down his legs to see if he is clean-legged, and I’ll check his feet. I like to know what I’m getting. But this time, my hand went up in the air, and I owned a strange horse.”
She never had a chance to do much more than glance at Tomtomjim when she spotted him in the sales arena, so clearly a Thoroughbred that his look and attitude “just screamed Thoroughbred.”
As his price plummeted, she acted on impulse. On heart.
“It was like my hand went up in the air, and my mind engaged after it,” she says. “And suddenly I owned a horse I knew nothing about. I was a little nervous. Afterwards, I went over to see what I had bought, and he was a complete sweetheart.”
So kind, in fact, that without hesitation, she was able to fearlessly toss a western saddle on his back, mount up, and ride that skinny, good-natured stallion around the New Holland property!
His placid demeanor held, even after he was fattened up on good grain and hay.
Initially, Rudershausen planned to train him herself, but when her alma mater Delaware Valley College contacted her in search of a project horse for its senior-level horse-trainer program, Tomtomjim went off to college for four months.
“They called to ask if I had any horses, and I said that I had a great horse, and he was stabled two miles up the road from them,” Rudershausen says.
In the program, he developed a well-muscled topline, and learned some basics, so that when he returned to her in May, he was looking more like a happy show pony than the dejected stallion she met in Thanksgiving.
After entering him in a local unrated show, she soon discovered he could not only win ribbons, but he could handle himself in the loud, hustle bustle of a bigger atmosphere.
And his good fortune continued after Rudershausen posted pictures of her handsome New Holland graduate on her Facebook page. Immediately he caught the eye of a woman who hadn’t ridden in 20 years, but saw in Tomtomjim a horse she could love.
“She was so excited to come meet him that she drove four-and-a-half hours to visit him,” she says. And soon after, the woman agreed to purchase the quiet gentleman and offer him an easy life, taking trail rides and teaching a re-rider to regain her confidence in the saddle.
“For a $25 horse,” Rudershausen says, “he turned out to be worth way more than I expected.”
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19 responses to “$25 New Holland stallion granted new life”
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Every horse that ends up in those God forsaken auction houses should have this kind of happy ending….it’s to bad they end up there in the first place. Thank you for saving him, he is certainly a beauty.
i dont know exactly why…but this story has me in tears. the pride of a young stallion should never depend on the cost of gelding him…god i wish breeders would stop for two years. let the world catch up. thank you for giving an unconscious protest to one souls misery and making life for the both of you happy. xoxo
Good story, I wish we could help them all to have better lives.
We cant save them all even though we wish we could but the ones we do will touch our hearts
ok.. now you got me tearing up.. I so feel for all the ones that are not saved.. its horrible.. thank you for sharing this one.. and I agree with Marge Mullen.. the prayer that they will be delivered from the cruel hands that sent them to this place to a home of those that will love them.. for what they are.. The wind of heaven is that which blows between a horses ears.. a Arabian Proverb
May this horse be delivered from the hands of those who didn’t care into the hands of someone who will love and hold and provide.
It is that prayer that is being answered. It is that miracle for which I am truly grateful.
The stars lined up the day you saved him…for you and for him! So happy to see the love and concern the OTTB’s are getting. They give so much and only ask for life. God bless them all…
Thank goodness you were there. What a loss. Look at this beautiful boy. Much health and happiness to come.
What a wonderful story and what a difference a little love and care can do. The 2 pictures tell his story.
Cheers to you and what you did for this amazing horse and the many others that end up in “kill pens” and get saved – it makes me so sad to hear. It is very difficult for the stallions and I’m so glad to hear of his success and your inspiration to OTTB’s. Thank you for all the hard work and dedication to TB’s everywhere.
Sleeping Fox Farm Thoroughbred Rescue.
Happy ending for another OTTB; horses saved from New Holland auction are always winners!
Wonderful story, this just shows that these horses can do a second job and should be given that chance.
What a wonderful story! This is the kind of horse “old” folks like me dream of finding. I hope that they have a world of fun together. I fully expect that they will.
Same thing happened with mine – bought/adopted them without ever seeing them.
Just the right thing to do and they are wonderful.
Best gamble I ever took
I rescued an OTTB mare from Camelot Auction after Frank bought her from New Holland. She hadn’t sold @ Camelot, was in the #10 pen, and was vulnerable to go to slaughter. So, my sister and I, who hadn’t planned on buying a horse (hadn’t ridden in 40 years) bought her for $200.00 plus tax. Bought her sight unseen. Our mare had issues – and people were actually afraid to ride her. Fast forward to a natural horseman in Thurman, NY… who had her fording the Hudson River, herding cattle, trail riding where there are bears and hunters, and wintering in a run-in shed in the Adirondacks. Our mare also got chiropractic help, and now more training in Newtown, CT (where she presently boards) with a natural horsewoman. I rode our beautiful OTTB (for the first time) on the second anniversary of purchasing her. The ride was perfectly uneventful. These stories of OTTBs are amazing, and, to OTTB owners, I do not think these stories are unusual. The horses really do know that you’ve saved them! It is worth it, and it changed my life for the better.
Thank you so much for saving this beautiful horse. Your heart is full of love and you saved an animal that no one cared about. As an animal lover, I truly appreciate your kindness and generosity. Thank you, thank you…
A real touching story. I salute you for all you do. Sending caring thoughts, Suzie