Texas oilman John Murrell saves another one

Hip Number 521 is safe and headed to Vermont farm for TLC

Hip Number 521 is safe and headed to Vermont farm for TLC

Unremarkable as the coat of fur he wore like a brown paper wrapper, the plain bay Thoroughbred passed unnoticed and unremarked upon from the New Holland Auction to the hands of a meat buyer.

While he stood meekly in a Pennsylvania kill pen, awaiting transport to the slaughterhouse, someone who keeps an eye out for slaughter-bound racehorses noticed.

Working quickly for SunDew Saves Horses, an intermediary organization that connects horses purchased by meat buyers to rescue organizations, the woman gently put her hands on the horse’s soft, rubbery muzzle, and peeked underneath his lip. Revealed in an instant was the telltale blue serial number, a gateway to the horse’s identity.

Although the tattoo itself was unreadable, and could offer no name other than what the poor animal was being called at that moment—Hip Number 521, the fact that the number existed at all meant that at one time, this was a Thoroughbred racehorse. And a new deck of cards was soon dealt.

After a photograph of the sweet-faced gentleman with large, brown eyes was Tweeted and shared on Facebook, his plight caught the attention of Gerda Silver, a Vermont-based horse rescuer with a herd of 16.

“On this particular week, I had managed to raise several thousand dollars to rescue three horses, and by the time I saw this horse, I knew there was no way I could squeeze another penny out of my donors,” says Silver, operator of 501 (c) 3 nonprofit Gerda’s Animal Aid, Inc.

Lone Star Lucky, as he was discovered by SunDew Saves Horses

Lone Star Lucky, as he was discovered by SunDew Saves Horses

“But one of my volunteers told me she was haunted by No. 521, and I wanted to help him.”

Wracking her brain to figure out how to come up with the $1,000 necessary to first buy the horse back from the meat buyer, and pay to transport him from Pennsylvania to Vermont, she sifted through old letters and contact information of people who had helped her in the past.

When she came across paperwork connected with a rescue she had done a few years back, she remembered the kindly Texas businessman who had helped her rescue a Thoroughbred from Unadilla Auction.

John R. Murrell had been so helpful then, and so she picked up the phone and called him again.

“I thought that it couldn’t hurt. The worst he could do was reject the request,” she says.

After speaking with Murrell’s secretary, she learned that Murrell was on a flight somewhere, but that he would be apprised of her phone call.

Wasting no time, Murrell called her as soon as his plane landed, and agreed to pay the bail on the horse. And when no further funding was raised for shipment, he agreed to pay that too, she adds. All totaled, Murrell paid $992 to save the horse and get him on the road to safety.

Murrell, who frequently assists nonprofit rescues in their efforts, says his decision was easy. “I did it because he could not help himself,” Murrell says.

Gerda Silver of Gerda's Animal Aid, Inc., poses with a friend

Gerda Silver of Gerda’s Animal Aid, Inc., poses with a friend

Once the animal arrives in Vermont, every effort will be made to read his tattoo through advanced technology, and finally learn the horse’s name and history, Silver says.

But, in the meantime, Murrell has given him a new name. He is henceforth known as Lone Star Lucky!

Says Silver, “This horse was really at death’s door, but the way the cards fell for Lone Star, I believe he was meant to be saved, even though the cards for stacked against him.”

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25 responses to “Texas oilman John Murrell saves another one”

  1. Pami

    Thank you to all you Angels who look out for these poor defenceless souls.

  2. KIM


  3. Paula Carew

    You are a great man John Murrell. All the horse rescue lovers in Australia love and praise you.
    Greta’s Animal aid is doing a wonderful job. Keep up your work. We praise you.

  4. Helen

    John and Gerda ROCK! Thanks for the good work you do!

  5. Marie-France

    There always people who inspire others to do generous and compassionate things. Often, if is easy to stay angry at an industry that uses and abuses these precious animals. However, the rescue stories are truly what makes human beings special and shows just how forgiving horses really are. For all those who help rescue these animals, we love and appreciate all you do. We support you wholeheartedly and you continue to inspire us to do the same. Thank you!

  6. Bo

    So thankful that there is a man like Mr. Murrell that cares about the horse! There is no question that God will surely Bless him!! Thank you!

  7. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

    Only kindness has the strength to overpower greed…thank you to all those involved in the rescue of this meek soul. And thank you Susan for another great story and reminder of the need there is for all to do what we can.

  8. Nicki Hale

    Thank you so much kind sir and thank you for all the dedication and hard work that goes in to saving a horse from slaughter! God will bless you all!

  9. Gail Coady

    The world needs more ‘Mr. Murrell’s’.

  10. Rosanne

    John you are a HERO, your compassion and kindness speaks volumes. Gerda thank you for what you do with these gifts from god. May you all enjoy a wonderful life filled with good health knowing that you have made such a difference in Lucky’s life. We need to work together to stop slaughtering of horses.

  11. gerda silver

    We hear so much about how bad humans can be, and it’s wonderful to know that John is out there doing good! It’s a huge inspiration to know that compassion and goodness IS in our world! Thank you John Murrell for stepping up to help the horses live the life the were given!
    With gratitude and great respect,


  12. Delrene in Carlsbad, California

    Great way to start off on a Monday with this uplifting story of two wonderful, giving horse rescuers. It will be nice to know his “racing name” . He looks like a real sweetheart. Thanks to all who helped him to a wonderful home in the beautiful state of Vermont.

    Guess I don’t understand the point of the lip tatoo if it wears away with time. Why would micro chipping like my dog and cats not be a reasonable forever way to identify racehorses/thoroughbreds or any horses for that matter.

  13. Linda Poignant

    Greetings from Canada,
    Simple Acts of Kindness are needed in this world.
    John Murrell and many others are making a difference. Thank you again for saving another horse and sharing your love.

  14. Susan Crane-Sundell

    John Murrell is the most compassionate, empathic philanthropist on the planet. He has been the “last resort” for countless numbers of thoroughbreds. The man has an endless heart and no and that can’t be done are not in his vocabulary.
    Thank you Mr. Murrell for everything you do for horses. We can never thank you enough for your contributions. No award could ever represent your generosity.

    Thank you a million times over!

    Thank you Susan too. And Thank you Gerda for caring for your herd of 16!

  15. Michele Murphy

    if only there were more decent human beings with the means to help would step up to the plate this world would be a better place. so Mr.Murrell …On behalf of the horses, and of course me….Please accept our most gracious Thank you….

  16. Gina Vetro: Equine LVT

    Thank you for your generosity JOHN MURRELL!!!!! : )

  17. Susan Swart

    John Murrell is responsible for horses that have traveled through reruns doors as well. He is passionate about aftercare and an excellent example of a decent human being in the tough horse industry. Thanks John for stepping up to the plate!

  18. Kathy

    THANK YOU Mr. Murrell!!! And thank you to everyone who donates, rescues and assists in rescuing horses!!

  19. Beverly K Lowrey

    I would like to say a very sincere THANK YOU to Mr. John Murrell and friends of Gerda Silver at Gerda’s Animal Aide for saving another beautiful horse! Without your help, he would most certainly not be among the living horses today. Thanks to everyone who works so hard to help with horse rescue! You dedication is very appreciated!

  20. Bridget Phillips

    Thank you to John Murrell and my SPECIAL friend Gerda who seems to tirelessly fight for the rights of animals. I proud to have known you.

  21. Nancy

    What a guy!! Thank you!

  22. Aileen

    Thank you John Murrell and friends. This story has been a good start to my week. We rescued a TB several years ago from an AI lab where the horses were going to a kill buyer. She needed love so badly and turned out to be a beauty. The need is endless. Thank you Mr. Murrell, such a generous heart.

  23. beth

    What a kind and classy gentleman!!!

  24. NLR

    Please post the name of the horse if you ever get it.

  25. Deb

    Mr. Murrell also helped our rescue with a tb that was at the New Holland sale on memorial day 2013. He is a very generous man that has a big heart for tb’s.

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