Mare loses foal at feed lot, but gains new life

Reiki was in foal as she tried to nourish herself last September on her way to slaughter

Reiki was in foal as she tried to nourish herself last September on her way to slaughter

Deemed useless, spent from delivering progeny to sires such as Saffir, a mother and daughter stood like the others, unremarkable and the same as every other horse bound for slaughter that day.

Their last foals were gone; the soft muzzles now absent from udders that hung full of milk. And the broodmare Thoroughbreds were left with nothing but a hay pile in a bleak Ottawa holding pen, as they grasped mouthfuls of hay before taking their final ride to a meat-processing plant.

Sire: Bright Launch
Dam: Healing Touch
Foal date: March 11, 2005
Reiki was pregnant at the time, but she was too thin for her condition to be noticed. And standing with her mother Healing Touch, the pregnant mare was among six broodmares bought by meat buyers at the Olex Auction on a late September afternoon last year.

“What stood out to me the day I saw them was, to be quite honest, that they were in very, very poor weight and that their udders were still full, as if their foals had just been pulled off them,” says Mindy Lovell, a longtime horse rescue advocate who patrols holding pens, week after week, searching for castoff Thoroughbreds bound for the slaughterhouse just 30 minutes away.

“These horses were sound, they were just tired,” she adds.

Healing Touch, Reiki's mother, stands near her daughter

Healing Touch, Reiki’s mother, stands near her daughter

Lying down in the dust and shavings, Reiki could no longer hold on to the foal she carried, and she aborted the unborn foal sired by Saffir.

“She was in the holding pen when she aborted. She couldn’t pass the afterbirth though, because it was caught up inside of her, due to her poor weight,” Lovell says noting that as soon as the spent creature was brought to her farm, along with Holding Touch and four other discarded broodmares, Reiki was given immediate veterinary care to induce labor and help her expel what could have been toxic to her.

But even with the extra care, which included antibiotics, dental work to make chewing her food easier, and booster shots, Reiki did not bounce back.

Another view of Reiki in her emaciated condition

Another view of Reiki in her emaciated condition

Listless in her stall, she only picked at her food.

“She’d gone through so much and I think she was just worn out. These horses were starved already, and she’d just had a foal weaned, then she went through the trauma of a kill auction, the transport to the holding pen, and within a week she aborted the foal she was carrying,” Lovell says. “She would eat. But it took her a long time to finish her grain.”

As the routine of feeding and care continued, Reiki began the touching habit of putting her head in Lovell’s arms. “She was a very kind, sweet, and gentle horse” throughout her recuperation.

Feeling much better, here she has a little fun

Feeling much better, here she has a little fun

And after 30 days of quarantine and rest, Reiki began rejoin the living.

In a small paddock, she started “coming back into herself” and to Lovell’s astonishment, she moved with big, floating strides as if, underneath it all, she was a dressage prospect waiting to be discovered.

And as she filled out to a better weight, her beauty also emerged.

Her unusual coloring and facial markings include black at her ankles, which typically, in other horses reaches to the knees, and a jagged white blaze, symmetrical and lovely.

Now fully recovered from her harrowing journey last year, Lovell says that of all her fine candidates for a new home, Reiki’s beauty combined with her gentle demeanor and natural movement would make her an ideal prospect.

Looking much better and ready for a new career

Looking much better and ready for a new career

And she is offering for sale for $1,500 with the hopes she will go to a show barn to learn Hunters or Dressage.

Reiki is the last mare left of the six Lovell saved last September. Even her mother Healing Touch has moved on to be a companion horse.

“She’s a lovely mare. She’s been no trouble whatsoever. She’s never pushy, and she’s very quiet and sensible,” Lovell says. “It would be my dream to see her go on to do hunters or dressage because she is so striking, and such a beautiful mover.”

Those interested in Reiki may contact Mindy Lovell at Transitions Thoroughbreds by clicking this link.

31 responses to “Mare loses foal at feed lot, but gains new life”

  1. Heather

    I copied and pasted the story of their facebook page…if everyone who read this story did the same thing maybe somebody would take notice of what really goes on!!

  2. Laureen Godin

    She is so lovely! I wish I had a large place so that I could take her. Currently I board my 2 horses. The world can be a big and cold place. Thank goodness we have people like this lady who helps with what she can!

  3. faye

    i dont see the link the article mentions???

  4. julia

    these stories just break my heart.. using living beings as only vessels, commodities, with no value other than what can be taken from them then discarded. anyone with any sense can see how much they feel..

  5. Barbara Griffith

    Susan, I do know about the pee line foals and the mares that spend their lives not able to move around, starved for water. As far as I know at this time China has started their own pee line with numerous small horse owners tying up horses and fitting them with the collection containers. The US big Pharma outfit that had moved their operations to China may lose some of their so called business because of this. The lady that runs the website “Tuesdays Horse” is where I found out about what China is now doing. The mares used in China won’t have a chance at all of finding any home after they are used up. They will all be sent to slaughter along with any stud colts that are born. The fillies will be used as replacements just like what was done here for the past 60 years. In that country very little can be done for the horses unless the drugs produced with the horse pee start to cause breast cancer and other ailments like it has done here in the US. But that could take years to show up.

    1. Susan Crane-Sundell

      Yes Barbara I thought you knew,just don’t want them to be excluded or forgotten. Instead of stamping out this heinous practice it seems it is expanding.Where is humanity heading when every living creature and every element of the environment is just considered another commodity with sort term us minimal respect we used to have for life and our planet has eroded completely?

      1. Susan Crane-Sundell

        Well sometimes i type too quickly that previous reply was SUPPOSED to read:

        Where is humanity heading when every living creature and every element of the environment is just considered another commodity with short term use. The minimal respect we used to have for life and our planet has eroded completely.
        My apologies.

  6. Susan Crane-Sundell

    You know this story is absolutely haunting.I just looked up Healing Touch’s pedigree and she is two generations back by Dr.Fager. What is wrong with these neglectful cruel people? She is a part of racing royalty and why no one could grant her at least that minimal respect and award her a noble and dignified retirement is disgraceful. To dump both her and her progeny broodmare “daughter”at a feedlot to die at slaughter is basically pathological. Add their name to a “Racing Hall of Shame”.

  7. Barbara Griffith

    This is exactly what I have been leaving comments for a long time about just what happens to the thousands of brood mares needed to produce the 30,000 TB foals that are born in the US each year on these farms. Nobody knows what happens to these horses that are bred to death and then dumped for one reason or another. If the yearlings sold at the up scale auctions don’t work out as race horses they are sold over and over to different buyers hoping to make a buck off of them. Many end up used as brood mares until their bodies give out never being allowed to rest and recuperate from the many births over many years. This is as bad as the nurse mares that are bred every year at the same time the more expensive mares are bred to make sure there is a “nanny mare” that’s what I call them, about to give birth to a foal at the same time. This means that the expensive mare’s foal will have a lactating mare to be put on so the expensive mare can be taken to be bred again. In the US according to the Jockey Club rules no mare can be artificially inseminated it has to be bred by natural means. The foals that the nurse mare or nanny mare has is discarded either to die or some are bought by rescues and raised by hand. Also some are taken by people that kill and skin them to make expensive shoes and purses with the hides sold to high end manufacturers. All of this information is on google so I would educate yourself about a lot of this cruelty that you may not know about. The hide is called pony skin. The nurse mares or nanny mares also end up sent to slaughter. The more of the public that knows about all of this the better the chances of changing things.

    1. Susan Crane-Sundell

      Yes Barbara and also consider the PMU foals that are ripped from their mothers (mostly in Canada)and sent to slaughter or discarded immediately upon birth. This horrific practice so that pregnant mare’s urine can be used to formulate Premarin is beyond disgraceful and a complete disregard for life. The “Pee-Line” as they call it consists of mares tethered to a wall with their heads facing in towards cement walls with troughs where they are minimally fed and watered. They aren’t allowed exercise and they stand there on hard surfaces pregnant and immobilized while their urine is collected in vessels. When they birth their foals are ripped away from them and immediately killed. Some rescues are trying to take PMU foals in but their survival rate is way under 40%.There are alternate sources for making HRTs and we need people to realize that HRT Therapy is a terrible form of animal abuse and that pharmaceutical companies and their sub contractors need to be held accountable for these horrendous practices.

  8. Kathryn

    Made me cry Mindy – thank God for you and your work. I will tell remind OUR girls of that at evening feed.

  9. Kathie Teal

    Perhaps this wonderful story should be shared with this facebook page:
    After all, it certainly looks like a club for the elite and the Thoroughbred racing business is the sport of kings. Let’s share…

    1. Susan Crane-Sundell

      Can’t say I don’t second that idea!

    2. GASafeHorses

      Done and shared … dirty business…horse racing

    3. Laureen Godin

      Let’s do it! I am going to cut and paste this story and post it on their site!

      1. Susan Crane-Sundell

        Hi Heather: Let’s make absolutely sure that we have a correct source and I will also endorse that we confront this breeding farm manager regarding his refusal to help get his broodmares off of the feedlot/slaughter pipeline. I think that asking a fair question is not out of line. We must also respect Susan Salk’s considerations of mutual cooperation and respect for those in the racing industry who do value their horses and do right by them.

        I have found working with great owners and trainers to be fruitful relationships that benefit the welfare of the horses.

    4. Heather

      how do you share this story on the Kentucky Thoroughbred’s facebook page? I want to post it so everyone can see what horrible conditions their throwaways are!!

  10. Kate

    The owner/breeder of these mares were told these mares were at the kill lot and he did nothing to help them. This pox of a human being was named Kentucky Farm Manager of the Year, 2013. He sold a filly in January for 1.5 million dollars and not a cent he spent to help his starving horses and pregnant horses at the lot. Nuckols is a disgrace.

    1. Sharron R

      The ex-owner now has to deal with KARMA. There is no amount of money or hiding to get away from Karma.

      1. Susan Crane-Sundell

        That is good to know. Thank you for sharing that information.

  11. Lisa Melone

    So glad to see she’s bounced back. I can’t imagine the trauma she must have gone through. Mindy Lovell does such amazing work; yet it must be so hard to see these tragic cases, week after week. My hat’s off to her–I just wish I had more $ to send her way.

  12. cheri vaughan

    Wow. I am speechless.

  13. janice strain

    Note Riki has the magical one white foot. “one white foot magical foot. Two white feet best to buy. Three white feet leave alone. Four white feet fit for a king.” An old gypsy saying per King of the Wind. If you start to look, it appears that a lot of outstanding TB,s have that one white hind foot. A picture of foundation sire Eclipse show the distinct white hind sock There are such things as genetic markers and I believe that the white sock is possibly one–especially the shape. I so agree with Sue Livingston.

  14. Susan Carter

    If only those who bet at the races, could see behind the scenes. Thank You, Susan Salk, for presenting this touching story. I will watch for more from you.

  15. sue

    fink.suzieq@gmail.e have had for many yrs a TB rescue named heal thyself out of cure the blues. Your horses relatives sound very similar. I have his papers. I wonder if they are family. He is such a sweet.boy and 25 now born in 1988.

  16. NicosMom

    She is beautiful! What a comeback! 🙂
    Where is she listed for sale? Is there video available? There are a few great OTTB Facebook groups – OTTB Connect is a big one where you can post her for sale.

  17. Sue Livingston

    Heartbreaking. I always have questions when I read these types of stories. Who had these mares last? Why were they dumped at the auction? Did someone fall into a bad financial situation and have to unload these beautiful animals? And if so, why didnt’ they give them away instead of sending them to a horrible fate? I feel that when we breed horses, we have a responsibility to have a “care plan” for each horse. A care plan or plan of action of what to do with each horse after its raced, bred or whatever, needs to be a part of breeding and ownership. Just my humble opinion.

    1. Sharron R


    2. SusanA

      And AMEN. I just don’t understand how this happens. How do these people who do this to these animals that give their all, sleep at night?

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