A 2nd chance for rescued mare & new owner

A week after the South Florida SPCA rescued six Thoroughbred broodmares, including Hope, a friendship was made.

A week after the South Florida SPCA rescued six Thoroughbred broodmares, including Hope, a friendship was made.

Her coat bleached red in the Florida sun, her body sapped from starvation, the mare was tired when she rested her head against the chest of SPCA volunteer Susie Martell, and made a friend for life.

“Something just drew me to her. She was the skinniest of all the mares the SPCA had rescued in June … and there was a sweetness in her that I was taken with right away. Every time I went out to her paddock, she would walk up to me and rest her head on me,” Martell says. “I fell in love with her right away, and I made a promise to myself that as soon as I found out she was healthy, and that I could ride her, she was going to be mine.”

For a kindergarten teacher who swore off horse ownership 20 years after the devastating loss of her cherished Thoroughbred, the decision to risk her heart again to another T-bred was not made lightly.

“Earlier in my life, I vowed never to own another horse. When I lost my Thoroughbred mare Chancey when she was in her early 20s, I was distraught. This horse had come into my life when I was a teenager. She represented a part of my life that I could never get back” that was lost when she died, she says.

Now in her mid 50s, Martell says having the mare she named Hopefully Mine come bursting into her life feels like a second chance at something she never thought she’d have again.

“I’m not a particularly religious person, but I do believe in fate,” she says. “I was starting to think about adopting a horse, but I’m a Thoroughbred person, and the SPCA didn’t have any horses I was interested in. And I remember that a friend of mine said she wished the SPCA would pick up some Thoroughbreds, and the very next day I got a text from Laurie Waggoner of the SPCA telling me she’d just picked up six.”

Hope, who the South Florida SPCA has tentatively identified as The Graceful Saint, meets Martell.

Hope, who the South Florida SPCA has tentatively identified as The Graceful Saint, meets Martell.

From the moment in early June that those horses arrived at the South Florida SPCA, Martell spent as much time as she could with them.

And the one mare, whose body is so sunken in that beneath her tail it looks as though a cavity has opened up where her hind quarters should be, sought out the teacher every time. With her ears pricked forward, and an eager look on a face still beautiful despite the ravages of starvation, she followed Martell around like a loyal dog.

Despite the skin issues, and the hair loss, the horse Martell named Hopefully Mine possessed the refined head and carriage of the beautiful Thoroughbred she was, and reminded her of the Thoroughbred she’d lost years ago. In fact she named her after her first horse, whose race name was Elm’s Hope. “I wanted part of Chancey’s memory to be connected with her,” she says.

Hope now goes for short rides to build up muscle as she regains weight.

Hope now goes for short rides to build up muscle as she regains weight.

As Hope puts on weight and regains her strength, she is proving to be as sweet under saddle as Martell first suspected. Piling on saddle pads for cushioning, Martell has ridden the mare very lightly to help her regain muscle. And while sitting on her new horse, who becomes more beautiful and healthy with each passing day, Martell is grateful to have a second chance to recapture her childhood joy.

“This has been a very emotional thing for me, a really big deal,” she says. “I did not think this would happen for me again.”

20 responses to “A 2nd chance for rescued mare & new owner”

  1. Carol Fleer

    Love, love, love this story! Yes, you can be ‘chosen’ by a horse. Horses are honest by nature. Intelligent mare….she read you quickly. Brought me to tears…please keep us up-dated.

  2. Holly Daum

    It honors your first horses memory that you would adopt another. You never replace an animal but new ones do help fill the hole left in your heart

  3. Cathy Ann Savino-Kedzierski

    “….another magical story of the beginning journey of this incredible “team of two”, Susie and Hope. Although it’s always encouraging to hear about finding homes for Thoroughbreds when their life on the track has come to an end, there’s just something about a tale of a neglected horse that’s taken in by someone like Susie, somehow it makes you feel like anything’s possible!” The best of luck and happiness to the two of you and Susan, thanks for continuing to tell our stories, your work is very meaningful and much appreciated!”

  4. Delrene Sims

    Such a great story. So glad these ladies made a lasting and loving connection.

  5. Paula

    One chapter closes and another one begins! What a beautiful story, enjoy your journey together, you already have such a special connection to this horse, it can only grow:-)

  6. cheri vaughan


  7. Krista

    Hope looks so great after such little time!!! Amazing what some groceries and someone to love you can do!! Enjoy your new girl Susie.

    1. Susie Martell

      Thank-you so much everyone for the wonderful comments and support. I appreciate each and every word! Hope is a very special horse. She is as sweet and loving as she is beautiful. She has made amazing progress in 2 months and her first week in her new home has been wonderful. Can’t wait to see how she looks in another 2 months when she puts on more weight and builds muscle. I absolutely adore her! Thanks again to Susan Salk for sharing our story as well as so many others. I will send updates on Hope’s future progress:)
      Thanks again all!

  8. LYNNE w

    Wonderful story!! Thank you Susan for sharing these with all of us!

  9. Cynthia M.

    What an awesome pair! I really love this story.

  10. Shannon

    I love these stories, they really make my day. What a happy ending for this beautiful mare. I love my own OTTB so much that my heart almost aches sometimes. I am so happy for Susie, that she opened her heart again to that feeling. Great love always carries great risk, but it’s worth it. Thank you for bringing us these wonderful stories. We need more positivity in this world.

  11. Diane Prophett

    Know how you feel, she will give back to you threefold, they are so grateful. Happy days ahead. Such a beautiful testimony. God bless you and all at SFSPCA, a magnificent organization.

  12. Michelle Y.

    This is a great story. I am so glad Hope chose Susie, to show Susie she could love another T-bred. And it sounds like Hope will have the best forever life now with her newfound friend!

  13. Colmel

    So glad to read that at least one of those poor starved horses has found a forever, loving home! Way to go, Susie! When we lost our thoroughbred mare (and in utero foal) to colic in the late 1990s, I swore off owning another horse. Now that I’m in my early 60s, I wonder if I could regain some of the joy of my younger days on the back of another. You’ve given me something to think about.

  14. Susie Martell

    Susan Salk… Thank-you so much for sharing the story of Hope and I and for telling it so beautifully! You said it all! I love this girl so much and it was absolutely an instant connection from the minute I looked in to those sad but kind eyes of hers. Nothing else mattered from that point on but figuring out a way to bring her home. It was not an easy task and I am just so grateful that I was able to make it happen along with great support from all of my friends at the SFSPCA. Losing Chancey left a huge hole in my heart and life and I am overjoyed to have the opportunity to love a horse of my own again. A second chance for sure! She has a ways to go but she is doing great! Thanks again Susan and to all who have left comments. My heart is filled with great joy!

  15. TBDancer

    Life is all about doors opening and closing and “carpe-ing” the “diem.” What seems at first to knock us down for the count often becomes the very thing that lets us step to a higher level. I bet this is going to become a very beautiful new chapter in everyone’s life. Great entry, Susan!!

  16. Pam

    This could almost be my story. I, too, lost my beloved horse much earlier in life. It is devastating. But as life changes, you find yourself ready to seek out that which you have always loved. I’m so happy for Susie and Hope. I’m not in a situation right now to have a horse again, but this story gives me inspiration and hope that it will happen. Please keep us posted on Hope’s progress.

  17. Whitney Mulqueen

    OMG I have tears in my eyes…..bless you and your sweet mare. Best of luck…..it sounds like she “Chose” you and yes, I believe in Fate too 🙂

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