Overgrown teeth so sharp they ulcerated the mouth of the racemare, were the last things to be made right in a life gone so wrong.
Before she had her mouth probed last week by a veterinary dentist, Press Exclusive had endured pain and suffering that few horses could, and still survive.
Sold to slaughter after earning close to a half million on the track and then producing nine successive foals, she had fallen in the overcrowded truck racing toward Canada and was trampled beneath the hooves of other frightened horses.
Her story of survival and of her rescue at the 11th hour from a feedlot where the meat buyer had already started to process her paperwork is history. And her struggle to live after Mindy Lovell of Canada rescued and nursed her to health— her only friend it seemed — is read by visitors one and all, who come see her now at her retirement haven in upstate New York.
Sire: Press Card
Dam: Fleet Nasrullah
Foal date: May 5, 1996
Earnings: $436,810Since her arrival last September at Equine Advocates sprawling 140 acres, Press Exclusive has been a horse whose beauty and story continues to draw admirers.
And last week, as one final detail of Press’s health was attended to, a speculum was placed in her mouth and in the light could be seen a “mess” of a mouth that must have pained her so.
“She had a huge hook (tooth) that looked to be about two-inches long,” says Susan Wagner, president of Equine Advocates. “It was hitting her gums and her cheeks, which were ulcerated.
“Our vet said it must have taken years for her mouth to get to this point. She also had fractured teeth, probably from being stepped on.”
Dr. Kraig Kulikowski of Equine Sports Medicine confirmed that Press’s teeth appeared to have grown, unaddressed, for five-to-seven years.
But the good news is, with regular care, her mouth should recover and become much more comfortable, and her overall prognosis is for a good and happy life at the sanctuary, Kulikowski says, noting, “She’s definitely in good hands at this point. The folks at Equine Advocates are religious about managing her health care.”
Mindy Lovell of Transitions Thoroughbreds in Canada rescued press Exclusive in December 2012. A slaughter-bound truck full of horses had been temporarily offloaded at a holding facility for processing, when Lovell heard that Press was down, and so badly injured a veterinarian insisted on euthanizing her immediately.
But Lovell successfully pleaded to be given a chance to save her, and over the course of many months, the former broodmare and race mare was restored to health under Lovell’s care.
Then Susan Wagner stepped up and offered a permanent retirement home after Marlene Murray of horse charity R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc. contacted her, and told of Press’s plight.
“When I heard about Press, I became very angry,” Wagner says. “I felt that … a lot of people made money off her, and she’s made a lot of money, and yet nobody who profited from her offered to retire her.
“How this horse ended up on a truck bound for slaughter after all that she’s done really got me angry, and when Marlene told me about her, and that she’s a Kentucky bred … I thought that if any horse deserved a nice retirement, it was Press.”
Since Press arrived at her sanctuary for horses of all breeds, the charismatic beauty has been a star, attracting fans like a starlet.
“People are just drawn to her. She’s just a gorgeous animal, and among our horses, she’s one that has this indefinable star quality,” she says.
If you look closely at Press’s eyes, or at her legs, small scars still show evidence of the trauma on the slaughter truck. But her sheer beauty and presence overshadows all that now, as the people-loving animal makes new friends among those who will never hurt her.