Saved from kill buyer, mare drops mystery foal

Venture Database was pregnant with her foal Mystery when she was discovered at the Cleburne Horse Auction last August. She was rescued by Donna Keen of Remember Me Rescue.

Venture Database was pregnant with her foal Mystery when she was discovered at the Cleburne Horse Auction last August. She was rescued by Donna Keen of Remember Me Rescue. Photo by Mary Cage

The whites of her eyes showed fear as the pregnant mare tracked every move of the woman who would ultimately save her.

“She followed me around that pen, she watched me and watched me,” says Donna Keen of Texas-based horse charity Remember Me Rescue. “It was like she knew that I knew that she wasn’t supposed to be there.”

How and why an underweight and dehydrated mare like Venture Database wound up the Cleburne Horse Auction last August, in a situation where her fate would be determined by nothing more than her weight and value as meat, is as much a mystery as the foal she carried. She had reportedly passed through many hands, and there are no records of which horse sired her foal. “For all we know, it could be a yearling, or a Shetland pony,” Keen says.

Venture Database
Sire: Mausalama
Dam: Grandmas Venture
Foal date: May 20, 2003
What was known was her name. Among the many horses, suffering in anonymity and unknowingly awaiting the butcher that day, this regal ex-racehorse had something none others had: underneath her rubbery upper lip, a readable tattoo. As soon as Keen saw it and identified the lightly raced Oklahoma mare, she stepped up to help the animal.

While simultaneously seeking pledges to help fund the purchase of the mare plus 14 days in quarantine, Keen convinced the meat buyer to sell her for what he’d paid: $400.

Venture as she appeared at the sale last August.

Venture as she appeared at the sale last August.

The dusty wretch was so thin and dehydrated that it wasn’t until she had regained weight and sparkle that she began to show evidence she was in foal. And after a blood test confirmed it, Venture was nurtured through a normal pregnancy until April, when she unceremoniously dropped her very small colt.

The smallest of all the foals on her farm this year, the petite colt was named Mystery.

It doesn’t matter that his breed and origins are unknown. What matters is where he is going.

Local horseman Linda Palma, a nearby friend of Keen’s, in an act that saves not one life but two, has adopted both mother and son. Palma will teach Mystery the rewards of being a riding horse, possibly in dressage. And both animals will receive an abundance of care and affection in a bucolic setting where they belong.


27 responses to “Saved from kill buyer, mare drops mystery foal”

  1. cheri vaughan

    Though we may never meet personally, I love all in this story with my heart and soul. I have no other words, well, maybe, bless all mightily!!!

  2. Sandy Carr

    Bravo…great job! Two lives saved is the most important part of the story. “Who” is the little guys’ sire is…is just a mystery! 😉

    I understand the curiosity though. I have a “grade” gelding who is a retired Mounted Shooting Horse. I have “met” one of the previous owners on FB and he doesn’t go into my horse’s breeding (WHAT is he?) or much. Some times it’s just better to live in the present I guess. I will take him for what he is to me today…not in the past.

  3. Teri Barrach

    Several years ago under cover of night someone tied a starving Thoroughbred mare to my front gate. It took me an hour to get her up my driveway and to the barn due to the horrific condition of her feet. After settling her in a stall I had my vet out who checked her over, took blood, and then suggested a pregnancy check. I thought there was no way this emaciated girl could be in foal, but surprise, surprise she was. The vet said the foal was small but very much alive and she was born uneventfully 7 weeks later. The filly, who we named Danica after the racing driver, was healthy, correct, and best of all 135 lbs.! It’s amazing what these mamas give to their babies! They both lived with us until the baby was weaned, then I found both of them lovely homes. Thank you Donna for all you do for these magnificent horses! If we all do a little it adds up to so much!

  4. AJ Buchanan

    Susan, another wonderful story of love! We rescued a mare, Tularosa, when a friend kept seeing her at her fence. Her leg was peeled down and a huge bump of proud flesh had already started growing. She was bone thin and always looking for water. We found the owner, got him to sign her over and drove out to my friend’s house to pick her up. She walked up to me, let me halter her and when I put my hands on her neck, I started crying. You could just feel the pain and suffering she had been through. It was heartbreaking. It took tow years for the wound to heal and she still has some fears, but watching her run with my horses and to see the joy in her eyes warms my heart every single day!

    Keep writing these heartwarming stories! They are inspirational!


  5. Nuala Galbari

    The photograph of mother and colt just melted my heart.
    Bless you for being there and for taking action.

  6. Kelly Bennett

    Thank you thank you thank you…2 lives saved from a horrendous end..I just bought a 21yr old ottb from a lowly and bones, caked in mud and lice..with either a worm belly or in foal..we will find out soon which it is..she is clean,groomed, dewormed and looks at me as if to say thank you…

  7. Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky

    God Bless you for being there for his mare and her colt

  8. susan Yates

    We had the exact same story here TB mare so thin bought at auction by Izzys Love Equine Rescue. So thin she sold for 15 dollars….turned out prego. Foaled early
    A bay colt unknown sire. Mare had no milk was adopted by one of my mares who had been nursing and is now 8 mo old…

  9. Daryl

    It is a pretty little foal she had, I hope it will be one that will be okay since Mom was not taken care of the way she should of been. What a lucky find, and how lucky the mare was to be saved from a horrible fate and give birth to a live foal.
    I love good endings, and this is a good ending. Take care Donna and can’t wait to see pic’s as you go along.

  10. amanda hvassman

    thank you for posting this beautiful story.

  11. Delrene

    Thank you Donna Keen and Remember Me Rescue! What a great ending for this beautiful Mom and foal. I have a rescue cat named “Mystre” as she is a mystery to me too. I just know they especially know they are in a good home and no worries about what might happen next. Thank you for this excellent outcome.

  12. Deb

    That’s a bit like how I ended up with my ottb. Saw his picture posted by a group that tries to save horses out of kill pens in Washington state. I saw him and it was like he was saying, “I don’t understand why I am here. I don’t belong here.” He happily races my Arabian about the pasture, through the woods and over the creeks and ditches. He’s in a herd of five and eventually learned herd dynamics, how to be a horse and be a peace with so much space. No regrets. He is a very special soul.

  13. Leona Stahl

    Always great to hear when a ex Thoroughbred race horse get another lease on life,to many end up in Feed lots and auctions sold for meat and literally thrown away !! Add she was pregnant and no one knew till later date,save two lives in the process. Hope more people get involved and save many more horses lives,they deserve it ,every last one of them. Great story !!!

  14. Tery

    I know very little about it, but would it be possible to do a DNA test on little Mystery? What a wonderful story. Many blessings to all involved.

  15. Amanda Morgan

    Donna Keen and everyone at Remember Me Rescue are all angels. I was so touched and blessed by the time I spent working for her and RMR. This is just one of the amazing stories of RMR and Donna. You can find more at

    Keep up the great work guys!

  16. Susan Blackburn Newman

    I hope that foal becomes a triple crown winner! Wouldn’t you have the last laugh.
    Makes me sick to my stomach what happens to all of these animals that don’t run fast enough, get pregnant fast enough, not to mention what gets pumped into them before races…I could go on and on. God bless all of you for the good work you do. I just adopt rescue dogs and try to donate when there are disasters and dogs/animals need help because it’s really all I can do, but what a noble thing you are doing.
    God bless,

  17. Susan Friedland-Smith

    I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry. That is such a touching story and hats off to everyone involved in saving these beautiful creatures! Awesome!

  18. majxmom

    It ought to be easy enough to find out about that foal if you know the mare’s tattoo. Once you have the mare’s name from the tattoo research, look up her progeny report and auction report online. I would contact the farm where the last stallion she was bred to stands. Ask if she was bred back to any of their stallions in 2013. Chances are that they didn’t think she took, and then they culled her. It’s important to be nice, just say you bought the mare and you want to think about registering and racing the foal if possible. As stallion owners, that would potentially mean income to them. Don’t say anything about rescue or abandonment, etc., or they can clam up fast. Often when a farm culls a mare, they want her to disappear. If they didn’t breed her, ask them if they have a record where she was shipped. It might have been to another breeding farm. Also the Jockey Club keeps a Report of Mares Bred, but I’ve never seen that list available to the public. They might tell you, I’ve never tried. I’ve always been able to suss out the info from the previous breeding.

    1. Kathyf49

      Are you ever on ABR anymore? I haven’t see anything from you in months!

  19. kathleen allen

    What a great story….
    What could have been a double tragedy
    Turned out to be a double blessing.
    Thank You Donna, you are my hero and
    I am sure theirs. Blessings to you, made
    And foal!!!

  20. Janet

    This is just a wonderful ending to a tragic story!
    Thank you for those who recued her and saved her life! And
    Thank you for their new adopting horse mom!!
    These stories pushed me even more to adopt
    A horse indeed faster than I expected. I just
    Adopted a handsome 16.2 gelding from the Standardbred
    Retirement foundation. He is a precious boy and I am so
    Lucky to have him in my life. I strongly encourage adoptions
    To those who are looking for a horse. They’re are so many
    Out their in need. Thanks to all out there who help
    and save these beautiful animals.

  21. Mack

    Donna- you did God’s Work that day. I wish you the mare and the colt all the best!

  22. amy cota

    Bless all who were involved in saving this mare and her baby.

  23. elvira

    What a great true story and the ending was outstanding. Good work Donna Keen from Remember Me Rescue!!!!!!

  24. elvira

    God Bless Donna Keen from Remember Me Rescue for saving Venture Database and her beautiful foal. It’s people like Donna Keen that makes the difference for these forgotten racehorses. Ms. Keen will be richly blessed for all her good work.

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