Breeder takes starved T-bred home, in tears

Danzel, pictured on her track pony Cooper, staples a card to the Jockey Papers of the horses she sells: If the horse doesn't work out, she will pay twice the meat price and shipping to bring the horse home.

Danzel, pictured on her track pony Cooper, staples a card to the Jockey Papers of the horses she sells: If the horse doesn’t work out, she will pay twice the meat price and shipping to bring the horse home.

When the broodmare Quiddich, whose name was derived from the Harry Potter books, delivered a delicate gray filly, her breeder Danzel Brendemuehl knew that life wouldn’t necessarily be a fairy tale for the little foal she named Silver and Smoke.

Because the proprietor of Classic Bloodstock Farm knows that bad things can happen to racehorses, before she lets any of her horses go to sale, she staples a card to the horse’s Jockey Club papers with a clearly printed message: If the horse does not work out, the note states, Brendemuehl will pay double the meat price at a livestock auction, and cover the shipping cost to return the horse to her Florida farm.

And so she wound up taking back Silver and Smoke shortly after the filly injured herself as a 2-year-old. She rehabbed her and sold her again. Then in early August, as Brendemuehl enjoyed the races at Saratoga, a friend called to inform her that Silver and Smoke’s picture was all over Facebook: The mare had been discovered by the Miami-Dade Police Department and the South Florida SPCA, living in horrific conditions.

Silver and Smoke
Sire: Mountbrook
Dam: Quiddich
Foal date: March 5, 2010
Locked in a filthy, ramshackle facility in the NW area of Miami-Dade Florida, Silver and Smoke and two other Thoroughbreds were found in conditions so inhumane that they were seized immediately.

Low, sloped roofs prevented the horses from lifting their heads fully, and stall floors were covered in thick waste, preventing them from lying down. South Florida SPCA Director Laurie Waggoner said in an earlier article in Off-Track Thoroughbreds that conditions were so atrocious that she wished she could lock responsible parties in the same stalls for 24 hours. “It was just disgusting,” Waggoner said earlier. “Nobody had cleaned those stalls for a long, long time. And the horses had a body score of 1.”

Brendemuehl was stunned when she saw the photos on Facebook.

“It absolutely shattered me. I spoke to Laurie (Waggoner) right away, I can’t remember if I called her first, or if she called me,” she says. “I wanted to come get her right away … this is a living, breathing animal I brought into this life, and this is my fault.”

Silver and Smoke was seized by the Miami-Dade Police Department in early August, and turned over to the South Florida SPCA. When the filly's breeder found out about the situation, she raced to the SPCA to take the horse back.

Silver and Smoke was seized by the Miami-Dade Police Department in early August, and turned over to the South Florida SPCA. When the filly’s breeder found out about the situation, she raced to the SPCA to take the horse back.

She adds, “I’m a careful breeder. I may breed four horses a year. And I feel we have a responsibility to our animals … who can’t defend themselves.”

As soon as Silver and Smoke was deemed fit to travel, Brendemuehl and her sister raced to the South Florida SPCA to retrieve her. It was even worse than she expected. “People at the SPCA wanted me to stay and take photos, but I was too devastated. I just wanted to get her home,” she says.

She has since placed her in a paddock she can see easily from her house, which sits near the front gate, in full view. “I don’t want people to see her looking like this, but in a way, it’s a reminder to all of us what can happen. It’s a reminder to find out about their horses,” she says.

Though it’s too soon to tell how Silver and Smoke will do, the disconnected look in her eye has started to fade as she has begun to take an interest in Brendemuehl’s track pony, Cooper. “I’m not sure if she’ll thrive. But she’s starting to make eyes at Cooper,” she says.

As the filly recovers, the Miami-Dade police are pressing charges against Joyce Ivory, 69, who is believed to be Silver and Smoke’s last owner, Waggoner says, and who has now been formally charged with confining a horse without sufficient food, water or shelter.

In her decades of work with the South Florida SPCA, Waggoner has seen many things. But until last weekend, she had never seen a rescue horse’s original breeder come back for their horse.

“She’s the first one who ever stepped up to the plate,” Waggoner says. “As soon as she saw that horse on Facebook, she notified us that she was the original breeder and that she’d be down to pick her up.”

32 responses to “Breeder takes starved T-bred home, in tears”

  1. Barbara S

    If I found one of my horses in this condition, not only would I take her back, I’d be after the person who did that to her.

  2. MP Clark

    With horse slaughter still unlegislated in the USA due to Congress and its corrupt pols, it is impossible to sell any living equine and sleep at night. Breeding is dangerous for the animal and the money involved makes this just about impossible to regulate for the animal’s sake.

    No matter what you do to protect and defend your equine family member, you will know that the loopholes exist and that any valuable friend can be sold or tortured by anyone who was trusted with that equine. The same is true for any non-human sold.

    When my healthcare coverage was removed for no reason in 2001, I got busy immediately and placed my OTTB back with his original “owner”. I would not waste time seeking money for my dear friend. I refuse to consider the idea that I would sell my friend for money. That thought never crossed my mind. I had to get him safe and that was it.

    I am relieved to say that he made it. He was then sold by the original owner to a very good home in Ohio and to my knowledge is still there and still esteemed as he should be.

    Horse slaughter makes sales impossible. There is no way to ever make sure that your friend is safe or treated normally. People lie and stuff happens.

    When I placed animals, I handed out my phone number and told people to call me and I would take my rescues back immediately, no questions.

    All the work and expense of saving rescued animals can be undone by one idiot liar. I don’t tolerate that well and neither does anyone I know who does this kind of unpaid work.

    Help end the longtime scam of horse slaughter in the USA: hammmer Congress through
    We need The SAFE Act and The PAST Act passed now. We have no time left. These bills are being obstructed in Congress by special interest funded office occupants. We need these bills passed now. Every 5 minutes, another dear equine friend dies for no reason except payoffs to Congress members. Act and tell your contacts to act now. We must persist in this effort. If we do, we will win.

    1. Lana Marie


  3. Herb Moelis

    I know Danzel for many years and she certainly is a responsible breeder and horse owner. I think it is time for the Jockey Club to make this type of request more formal which would make it much more effective. There should be a provision imprinted very clearly on the foal registration papers. This provision should clearly state that it is breeder’s responsibility for welfare of the horse. It should give the info Danzel gave in an attached note but in a form that cannot be removed from the papers.

  4. robert clamage

    I am a man. I was an owner, trainer, groom, hotwalker etc. The real solution is to establish a fund that would establish a nationwide center(s) to care for all unwanted registered TBs until rehoming.
    This can be done by establishing a breeder’s tax, where you cannot register your TB until a fee is paid. Also, every time a horse is sold, an additional fee would be earmarked. And, a .1% (one tenth of one percent) addition to all nationwide handle can be added.
    Problem solved.
    Then, any conviction of animal cruelty can be rewarded with mandatory jail time and lifetime ban of owning or breeding a horse, and no further affiliation with any horses would be allowed.
    It is time to bring the hammer down and establish valid deterrents to prevent this from happening ad naseum.

  5. Rosemary homeister

    Why do we only see women commenting here? Are they’re any compassionate men anywhere trying to save our animals or do they only destroy them?

    1. Sandy Carr

      Rosemary….I think it’s simple. Women are blog readers. Guys, not so much so. It doesn’t mean they aren’t just as involved in horse welfare…just not in the limelight as much.

  6. Lana Marie

    I understand & agree totally with ALL the comments above! Just wanted to add, horrible findings of horses happen everywhere, but the fact this horse was in ‘MIAMI-DADE COUNTY’ & is yes in bad shape but VERY LUCKY TO BE ALIVE! There is a serious situation there with the black market slaughtering of horses & stolen horses to sell the meat!
    Very admirable of the breeder to learn of this & come forward for her….BUT this shows us that it does not matter one bit WHO or the price of a horse or WHATEVER info is attached to a registration, they can & DO end up in some horrible situations. Horse slaughter is a predatory business – NO HORSE IS SAFE & no horse is safe from landing in the hands of someone like the woman who had this horse.
    I wish her all the best & a speedy recovery!

  7. LES

    While this breeder may have good intentions and did act responsibly toward this horse, LinBro makes a valid point. As long as thousands of horses are slaughtered every year, we should not be breeding that many horses. It’s a numbers game and the horses lose.

  8. Debbie

    I am so proud of this breeder, and I am sure with lots of love and care her special horse will do wonderful… I am praying for just that….. SO MANY end up like this or worse sent to slaughter… TO MUCH BREEDING,,, little or no responsibility.. Horses are a wonder to the world, they are to be treasured,, majestic beauty’s that deserve better from us all…. WE NEED to PASS the SAFE ACT to end horse slaughter to end the dumping grounds for irresponsible owners…. I commend this owner immensely, and I respect her for her morals and love for her horses…

    Please keep us up to date with how all is going… Bless YOU and your beauty to be…

  9. marta falco-ainley

    I stopped having my own horse when I knew I couldn’t know that I would always be able to keep it, to protect it. I don’t see giving a horse a home or a dog as any different. A relationship of trust is created between both animals and I feel very sad when I think of how ponies and horses are passed from one place to another with no regard for the horse bonding perhaps with other horses.
    There’s enough horses being sold at auction for meat and, as I understand it, perfectly good horses. This lady does take some responsibility but it was only luck that she saw this horse on Facebook and was then able to save it.
    I wish that everyone would stop breeding and just take care of the horses, ponies, dogs and babies that need parents and homes. The problem is that we humans love to leave our mark , make a bit of money.

    1. Barbara S

      Marta, If all breeders stopped breeding, and rescues spay,neuter or geld all animals, then in one generation, there would be no more animals. That is the animals rights agenda. Is that what you want – no more animals in our lives?

      1. Lana Marie

        With the NUMBER of horses slaughtered here in Canada per year & over 60% coming from the U.S. I don’t believe that if the breeder’s stopped breeding for a year or two or backed off by 50% that there would be NO HORSES AVAILABLE. Remember the FEEDLOTS are full…those numbers are only what is killed here, never mind the thousands that go to Mexico.
        Shortage of horses…I don’t think so & that’s a day I would like to see ie. not a one standing in a feedlot or driven to slaughter!

        1. Lana Marie
        2. Barbara S

          A lot of breeders have already backed off. My concern is about regulatory action that would put breeders permanently out of business.

    2. Mary Dugie

      I don’t think breeding Four horses a year is an irresponsible number.

  10. Sandy Carr

    If all breeders could be like Danzel…and all horses as lucky as Silver and Smoke. It would be a good world.

  11. Sharon

    Once I wipe away the tears of joys from my eyes, I may be able to comment. Hold on a second…

    It is so wonderful to see a breeder taking responsibility for the animals they are bringing into this world. Hopefully others will see this as a shining example of how it should be done. When more breeders jump on the bandwagon of doing the right thing and taking responsibility for their horses after their primary career has ended, the stigma against horseracing and breeding will end.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful, touching story. Very, very well done to Danzel Brendemuehl and Classic Bloodstock Farm!


  12. sylvie hebert

    We do take back our horses when we can find them but some always fall tru the cracks. People that have hurt or abuse a horse are often too ashamed and would rather loose the cash and send the horse to the killers than face us. We sold a barrel horse in 2005 that we bought in the kill pens of New Holland some years back and even after telling the buyer that anytime we would gladly refund 100% of her money to get the horse back, calling every year asking how he was doing we still found the horse in a sorry state with another owner last year 2000 miles from us and we bought him back and paid his shipping from NM to Quebec. He was in a starving state, horn that grew and folded over the shoes, dull coat and lame. He is back home playing uncle with our 2014 babies. This lady always pretended she still had him even after selling him barely a few months after buying him… We got a call from Washington state about a filly we raised ,same buy back contract, the lady had just bought her from a feed lot ID her from tattoo, we sold her to Texas in 2004….People are simply irresponsible.

  13. stacey

    I have known danzel for.13 yrs. She is a wonderful, caring person with all of her animals. Kudos to her for standing up and doing the right thing.

  14. Michelle Y.

    Thank goodness for responsible breeders! I think that is a great idea Ms. Brendemuehl has to staple those cards onto the papers. And kudos to her for acting so quickly and getting her mare back.

  15. Judi

    Lovely to hear there are such responsible breeders out there and wish every breeder took responsibility for the animals they bring into this world. We picked up a rescue OTTB 2 years ago. She had been successfully raced until she bowed a tendon. She was sold to a breeder who went bankrupt and gave away all his horses to whoever showed up to take them. I was looking for a horse for my 15 year old daughter, a jumper with lots of experience. A gal my daughter knew told her about two horses for sale that had “potential” Against better judgement we went to look. Electra was standing out in a mud pen, underweight, cracked hooves, no shine to her dapple gray coat. She tried to bite when my daughter was tacking her up. It was obvious she had no other training besides racing. And she was a mare – my daughter had always liked geldings. I was all set to walk away but ended up buying her that day. It turned out these two bold, tempermental girls had made an instant connection. Two years later Electra is a head-turner. She has a shiny dapple-gray coat, lovely muscleing, and loves eventing. We’re told we could get at least 10x what we paid for her. Her original breeder would have been smart to take her back. She has a ton of potential that is really starting to shine through. But we’re thrilled to have her now.

  16. Crystal Mills

    I remember seeing this article not too long ago. I, too, saved an OTTB from starving conditions with a body score of 1. She is a beautiful, kind and mellow TB. These horses give so much for their owners and trainers and many are just discarded once they are retired from the track. I hope with social media now available, more of these horses will be rescued. What an awesome story of the breeder taking her horse back!

  17. Kathryn Defranc

    So awesome,that is one super breeder!! Thanks for thinking of your horses lives,the time before,during and after the track,wish there were alot more like you!! Thanks for keeping my faith in humanity alive! Best of luck to you and your horses!

  18. elvira

    It’s good to know that Ms. Brendemuehl cared enough about her horse and brought him home. God bless both of you.

  19. TBDancer

    It’s a common thread in dogs–being a “responsible breeder.” Danzel is doing the right thing with her horses. I hope we get updates on Silver and Smoke. I know my fingers are crossed.

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