A photo, a miracle, saves 2 from New Holland

Cool Checkers, front, and Nature's Fancy were spotted at New Holland by CANTER Mid Atlantic's Allie Conrad. She took their pictures, posted it to Facebook, and the horses were purchased by Foxie G Foundation from the meat buyer who had them. Photo by Allie Conrad

Cool Checkers, front, and Nature’s Fancy were spotted at New Holland by CANTER Mid Atlantic’s Allie Conrad. She took their pictures, posted them to Facebook, and the horses were purchased by Foxie G Foundation from the meat buyer who had them. Photo by Allie Conrad

How two chestnut Thoroughbreds escaped certain death at a Canadian slaughterhouse after they were sold to a meat buyer Aug. 19 came down to a fluke, a photo, and a frenzy to save them.

The horses— 11-year-old gelding Cool Checkers and 10-year-old mare Nature’s Fancy— were run through the New Holland Auction and purchased by a meat buyer so fast that it was almost a miracle that Thoroughbred advocate Allie Conrad caught a look at them, and better than that, managed to take pictures including their lip tattoos, and put out an alert on Facebook page OTTB Connect.

“I hadn’t been to New Holland in 15 years, not since I bought my horse Phinny there, and started CANTER Mid Atlantic because of my experience,” Conrad says. “The reason I stopped by was that I wanted to see the impact we’ve had” with the widespread Thoroughbred re-homing efforts “because when I got Phinny all those years ago, there were about 40 percent Thoroughbreds at New Holland, racing fit, and wearing their racing plates.”

Cool Checkers
Sire: Rubiyat
Dam: Number One Cool
Foal date: Feb. 13, 2003
Nature’s Fancy
Sire: Valiant Nature
Dam: Flemish Fancy
Foal date: April 22, 2004
On this return visit, a fluke trip, she walked up and down the aisles and noticed the regal Thoroughbred heads of Cool Checkers and Nature’s Fancy, scared but noble, huddled together.

She approached the frightened horses, flipped their lips, took a picture of their tattoos, and posted it to Facebook. And though it seemed all hope was lost as Conrad snapped that final picture of Nature’s Fancy, who appeared terrified as she was paraded past auctioneers and finally sold, the photos caused an immediate outcry as it made its’ was through social media and beyond.

And to those it reached and touched, the response was overwhelming as they pulled out all stops to save the horses.

“People returned the information immediately!” Conrad says, explaining that as soon as she posted photos of their lip tattoos on Facebook, the horse’s names were found and also posted to Facebook.

Once the names were known, help came out of the woodwork.

Nature's Fancy walks into the auction. Photo by Allie Conrad

Nature’s Fancy walks into the auction. Photo by Allie Conrad

Laurie Calhoun, cofounder of Thoroughbred charity Foxie G Foundation, which had actually re-homed the gelding Cool Checkers as a yearling for breeders Joan and Dale Everett, stepped into the fray immediately. Shocked to learn via a phone call from Maryland horseman Andi Puckett that the chestnut gelding, who had a nice home for 10 years, had been sold at New Holland, she hopped on the phone.

First she notified the Everetts, who urged her to “get the horse back at any cost,” she says. Next, she called a local dealer, who has done yeoman’s work tracking horses and obtaining them from kill buyers, for Foxie G.

“This local dealer has done incredible work for us. He made some calls for me, and at one point we had the incorrect hip number, but he eventually found Cool Checkers with the mare. He asked if we wanted her too and I said of course,” she says.

Hip Number 272 and 271 were worn by the two Thoroughbreds who were saved. The rest of the horses in this group, which were not Thoroughbreds, went to slaughter, according to Allie Conrad.

Hip Number 272 and 271 were worn by the two Thoroughbreds who were saved. The rest of the horses in this group, which were not Thoroughbreds, went to slaughter, according to Allie Conrad.

Calhoun adds, “It was really intense. At one point I tried to find out if the horses had shipped to Canada already” and she feared the worst. Then, when the local dealer found the horses alive, and shipped them to her at no profit to him, she let out a deep sigh of relief.

Both horses are now in quarantine at a Foxie G Foundation barn, where they will be assessed and cared for until a decision is made about their futures.

Foxie G recently enacted strict contractual guidelines prohibiting adopters from transferring ownership to anyone, Calhoun says, noting that Foxie G insists on taking back any horse who does not work out, no questions asked.

Calhoun adds that she is eternally grateful that Allie Conrad decided to drop by New Holland Auction that day. And Conrad, who has re-homed many ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds for CANTER Mid Atlantic says the experience of Foxie G and Cool Checkers shows that even the best re-homing situation can go wrong.

“This can happen to any of us,” Conrad says.

40 responses to “A photo, a miracle, saves 2 from New Holland”

  1. Candy Chitty

    It breaks my heart that ANY horse (any animal for that matter) goes through the horrible experience that rendering plants put them through. The animal is terrified beyond comprehension for a long time before the lights go out. What a cruel world we live in.

  2. Beck

    I have it set up so my home is paid for therefore they will have a place to live upon my death. I have a friend named as benificiary of my home and animals and I also have multiple friends who would absolutely FIGHT to take my horses home with them 🙂 I can rest easy knowing my girls will never see the slaughter pen… I actually pulled 1 from there

  3. PirateFoxy

    Everyone who is saying “never put a healthy animal to sleep!” is unrealistic. Healthy dogs and cats are put to sleep every day at shelters because there are just too many of them. It happens. Do I want it to happen to my animals? Of course not. But I have had very serious conversations with the people who would be taking over if something should happen to me to let those people know that humane euthanasia is an acceptable option if a good home can’t be found. (As at the moment I only have small animals, the chances are quite good that they would simply live out their lives with my family or friends and not need another home found, but should something happen to change that after I’m gone, I want the people I am entrusting with them to know which options I consider acceptable. I’d far rather a dog with limited re homing potential be pts by a vet with a friend or family member there than at a shelter all alone.)

    One of the reasons I don’t have a horse yet is because I won’t get one until I have an emergency savings account I can set aside just for the horse that will provide for some period of care and training should something happen to me, to best position the horse for finding a good home. (I am being realistic. None of my family or friends are horse people and while someone might choose to keep my horse and essentially retire it in my memory, I am not counting on them to take on any expenses that might come from that should the horse live a long time or need expensive care at some point. I am also not so good a rider that I can be sure I won’t have given the horse some bad habits that I don’t mind, but someone else would. So I am allowing for a trainer to fix up bad habits that might have developed, etc.) If for some reason the horse is not considered at all marketable (and I’m not talking big money here, just out of kill buyer price range) and the money runs out for retirement board then there again, yes – humanely pts is much better than ending up run through an auction or in the hands of some nutcase “rescue” who is really a hoarder who can’t properly care for the quantity of animals they take in.

    I’m not telling anyone “no matter what, euthanize” – I am telling them that I understand if they end up with no good options and need to pick the one that means the least risk of suffering for the animals. That is the best you can do – you have no way of knowing things like what the horse market or hay prices will be like once you’re gone, factors that might mean a horse goes from certain to find a good home to couldn’t give it away for free (except to a kill buyer.) And issues like a bad market or high feed prices will hit rescues, too – they will be swamped by animals from people who haven’t made any kind of arrangements. Rescues do not have infinite funds and infinite space.

    You make arrangements, you try to pick people you feel will respect your wishes and understand what is important to you, and you have the realistic and difficult conversations with the people you are trusting to make decisions once you’re gone. That is the best you can do.

  4. Chris

    You can designate that your horses get money every month in your will, you can designate the money to a place or individual who is not a beneficiary of your will, and will only receive money for caring for them when they are alive. When the horses are no longer alive, the payments stop. This way the executor only has incentive for your horses to live, because if they die, the payments stop.

  5. ann fox

    I have rescued animals here that are here because no one else would take them…it was here or euthanasia. Not every animal can be fixed, tamed or re-homed. One horse here cannot be ridden as she will not tolerate ANYONE on her back…beautiful ground manners..but that is it…. do not put weight on her back…a total dangerous pasture ornament.We have lived here together for over 15 yrs. She is lead mare to my herd of 9 horses. She is what she is & I would NEVER put her through any other situations to cause her the pain & suffering that made her hate humans on her back. My horses will never leave this property. My wishes are a peaceful, dignified death on the property that they love. One dog I have had for 10 ys…the veterinarian was going to euthanize him because he tried to bite everyone… he has never tried to bite me…but he has warned EVERYBODY else who has known him…to stay away. This was the last stop & you have to take so many precautions to keep people safe from him & to keep him safe. He could go no where else. Bailey is a HUGE liability & responsibility …& yes he will be humanly euthanized if he outlives me. I owe him that….no more suffering or fear of suffering & abuse from anyone….Slaughter is not humane euthanization…I cannot think of anything worse for a horse than to be caught up in the slaughter pipeline…I have 5 of those poor souls here. You have to do what is best for each individual animal, based on your day to day dealings with the animals.

  6. Michelle Y.

    First of all, a huge thank you to Allie and everyone behind the scenes who came together to rescue these two TB’s.

    Secondly, I completely agree with those who posted they have stipulated humane euthanasia for their animals when the time comes. I am happy to see most of the comments are of this line of responsible thinking. Just the fact that Cool Checkers had a loving home for 10 years and still ended up at New Holland and almost slaughtered should convince anyone that once you die, your horse’s future becomes completely unknown. Why would anyone want to take that chance???

  7. cheri vaughan

    I am once again galled to my soul at how a human being can be a kill buyer, slaughterhouse worker, auctioneer, or whatever level of participation a human can have within such a cruel, gruesome, sickening industry that enables serial killers and cannibals. I feel ill.

  8. sylvie hebert

    I agree with PTS in case something happens….I have rescued horses,dogs,cats,birds and placed them in what I believed wonderful homes only to rescue them again years down the road…If you cannot care enough to PTS do you really think the next “caretaker” will care more than you?

  9. Maria

    Given the choice of my beloved horse having an uncertain future or a peaceful loving humane death, I will choose the later. So add me to all the others who have been labeled sick. After having viewed a video of horses going through the slaughter house, no not going to happen to a beloved 4 footed friend of mine. I have provisions made for my horse, but if for some reason those provisions can not be met, the option is humane euthanasia.

  10. Pam Mahony

    I have written 3 posts and get so emotional that I keep deleting and rewriting them. To all proponents of “keep them alive forever”, have you ever seen 28 year old poorly cared for horses? Have any of you been to a slaughter auction? Have any of you been to a pound and seen the dogs of all ages (yes, dogs are surrended even at 15 years old — and they spend their last days in cold cages, wondering where their people are, and why they are all alone.
    HAVE you seen these animals? Have you rescued them so they can live out their lives in comfort? Or have you hidden your heads in your moral superiority, spouting platitudes when you don’t know what the hell you are talking about? I have 3 rescue dogs and 3 rescue/retired horses. If they are old and infirm when I die, and if I have no friends who can give them quality homes, YES, I will put in my will that they be euthanized. Unless you people want to take them and have them sit on your sofa and sleep in your bed and love them, and THEN open your homes and hearts to all animals in need of homes and love. NO? You cannot find enough of these homes to take on all these beloved animals? I hope you will go to a shelter or to a slaughter house to see what becomes of them. THEN come back here and proselytize about your warm and fuzzy feelings and bemoan the fact that there are more animals than there are homes for them.
    Truly, will each of you who think that ANY life is better than a kind passing, give tell us your experiences and list the animals you have saved from fear, neglect and starvation? Perhaps you have the ability to take care of ALL of them. If not, then do not castigate those of us who care more about their animals than you seem to. Talk is cheap. Walk the walk before you call us names.

  11. Sarah Elizabeth

    It’s sick to NOT make provisions for your horses. Whether that is putting them to sleep or making arrangements for their care – FWIW, there is nothing wrong with euthanizing a horse that doesn’t have a better option. I’d prefer mine all get a humane death than run the risk of being run through a place like New Holland. It’s not about playing “God,” it’s about taking responsibility for your animals.

    My will specifies that one of my horses is never to be sold and there’s enough money in my retirement fund at this time to ensure he’ll live well for the rest of his life – with the woman that bred him, and with her blessing. If something happens to her, ownership reverts to my mother or her son. It also specifies that my pony may be sold to a home that is strictly approved by two people that I trust.

    That said – both of my horses are currently able to be ridden by others. If I had one that was only pasture sound and nobody I fully trusted with their welfare, my will would stipulate that they would be safely euthanized.

  12. Nancy

    @Lucy Kelly: Other people do care…yet we still have shelters overflowing with dogs and cats and auctions that are packed with healthy serviceable animals that end up in the slaughter pipeline. So please explain to us a solution. How can you guarantee placement, love and care til the end for the animal? IMHO the people that have actually taken the time to plan options for their horses are not the sick ones…it’s those who continue to assume someone else will take care of it. That’s how it works isn’t it. “I’ll just drop these kitten’s off at that barn, they’ll be fine” or “Let’s drop the dog over at X neighbor. Lots of kids there, someone will take him home”. Yeah, that has worked so well.

    Ppl who pts healthy animals are sick. They imagine only they care. Other ppl care. They are not some lone scraps of goodness. They are evil ppl who deny innocence life when it could live happily without them. Maybe thats their problem. The idea that anything could be happy without them. They may have ego problems.

  13. Laura

    The fear a horse must feel when jerked from its “home” (for whatever reason) and run through an auction, then jammed into an over loaded truck to be hauled and likely injured during transit (not to mention starved, overheated, dying of thirst) to be run through a slaughter house and feel the terror of other animals you are with being killed knowing you are next…..THAT is not an end any of us would want for an animal we have loved and cared about. However it is a huge reality. Until ALL breeders & especially the Racing industry are held responsible (decrease breeding or be prepared financially to provide for EVERY foal you bring into this world), ALL horses are microchipped for identification, and serious penalties are enacted again for horse thieves, and making it illegal to transport US horses over borders to slaughter houses, then so sadly…this is the reality. Euthanizing a horse with care seems sad but so much more humane. You can provide for them in your Will/Estate – but that is no guarantee that they will be taken care of unless your kids/relatives truly love them and have the knowledge and financial capability to care for them potentially for many years to come. This happens to dogs and cats all the time at the shelter after someone dies and leaves them to family. Thank you to those who spend their time, energy, and finances trying to help save even a few. Bless you.

  14. Kristy

    As a veterinary technician I have been witness to many equine euthanasias. Every animal was able to pass PEACEFULLY in familiar surroundings, with loving family members and familiar horses beside them. If for any reason I was to pass and there was no one who could take on my horses (one being a draft) I would certainly want them humanely euthanized where they can pass with dignity. I would certainly wish that above auctions, crowded hauling for hundreds of miles, being tired, hungry, thirsty, in pain until a captive bolt is placed in their skull, hoping they are actually dead before they are bled out and processed. It is a disgusting practice and to those of you saying a humane home euthanasia is disgusting, maybe you should educate yourself on what happens behind closed doors of a slaughter plant.

    1. Lana Marie

      Thank you Kristy….a wake up call indeed!!! A lot of people are completely clueless when it comes to horse slaughter. LOOK at the hidden video on http://www.defendhorsescanada.org taken at one of 5 plants in Canada. Or read what took place in plants while operating in Texas…only to have been documented by USDA/FDA themselves if you want to be blown away with the blatant cruelty on your own soil! http://www.kaufmanzoning.net/
      HOW anyone can mouth off, that horse slaughter is ‘what we need’ etc. is beyond my comprehension. In fact ANY slaughter for that matter. Slaughter is what the word means…never mind the horrific abuse, fear, cruelty a horse goes thru getting there, for starters an AUCTION!!!
      It is unbelievable what some of the human race in this predatory business is capable & allowed to do to an animal, unbelievable! NEEDS TO END NOW!
      There needs to also be more great rescues/shelters started up & SUPPORTED! With many shelters over flowing with animals…don’t you think it’s about time PEOPLE are held accountable, the breeder, the abusers, MAKE THEM PAY!

  15. Teresa Melnick

    Thank you, K. Webers, for getting out the word on lobbying for a change in the laws regarding horse slaughter. As someone who has done grass roots lobbying for animal welfare causes, I can say that as discouraging as it sometimes becomes, people can make a difference if they are persistent. Please don’t just complain; do something. These stories are so sad and rightfully make us angry, but we need to put that sadness and anger to some positive use. Get involved in trying to change things for horses. There are groups in every state that you can join.

  16. Canter Michigan

    Thanks to Allie for taking the time to not only go to New Holland, but follow through quickly to save these thoroughbreds.

  17. Sqdunning

    I agree with Joy H. You don’t know where they are really going unless you investigate. Would rather know they are in heaven then being neglected/abused.

  18. Lucy Kelly

    Ppl who pts healthy animals are sick. They imagine only they care. Other ppl care. They are not some lone scraps of goodness. They are evil ppl who deny innocence life when it could live happily without them. Maybe thats their problem. The idea that anything could be happy without them. They may have ego problems.

    1. Allie

      How many dozens of horses do you have standing in your pasture that you are caring for? Oh, you don’t have dozens? Nobody has ANY right to judge another human being for making a choice that is the ONLY way to ENSURE that horses do not end up in bad hands. There is nothing in a will that can protect a horse from abuse, auction or sales. If you don’t have a trusted friend to take a horse after your death, there really aren’t many other options.
      This story is PROOF that even rescues or the most conscientious people can have their former horses fall through the cracks.

  19. Christina

    You folks here who are calling the people who’ve stipulated PTS in their wills as a last resort “sick”–that’s a very immature way to have a discussion. The fact is that there are far more horses than there are homes (which is NOT an argument for slaughter here–clearly the breeding pipeline holds part of the blame as well as the use them up, throw them away mentality) and horse owners who’ve made this ultimate PTS edict in their wills may (unbeknownst to you) also have other plans and money in place to support choices that come BEFORE the PTS order, but the PTS is there as a backup.

    Time and again I’ve seen dogs and cats enter the animal shelter to live sad, scared lives after their owners have died because they had nowhere to go and no family to take them in…We already play “God,” as you put it, in running their lives, providing them food and shelter and medical care, and so that responsibility continues after our death.

    And it’s absolutely absurd to compare this to killing kids and suicide. Totally over the top and out of line.

  20. janine

    Being able to identify a horse makes all the difference in the world….The EquineRescueNetwork is working to promote others to microchip their horses so that someday all horses will be identifiable! Thank you for your great work!

  21. Joy Coldiron

    I’m not taking the chance of my ottb going to slaughter. He will be humanely euthanized if anything were to happen to me. He will never be tortured!

    1. Erika

      You could send your OTTB to Aiken Equine Rescue.

  22. JellyBunney

    Sorry Nuria, I agree with SpotOn and Nuria. This article is proof that you can find a wonderful home but what happens if that home doesn’t work out. You can’t use the comparison of a mother killing her kids right before she commits suicide that is a totally different scenario. I have the same stipulation in mine and know that very many of my friends have also done so EVEN ones that are heavily involved in Animal Rights groups including two separate individuals who do not even know each other but are totally over the top PETA people (no offense meant to PETA people, one of these over the top PETA people is one of my best best friends 🙂

  23. K.Webers

    Disgusted? Appalled? Didn’t know that 64,101 US horses shipped live to Mexico for slaughter there as of 8/28/14 this year? The export figures are comparable for US horses to Canadian plants.
    Conrad and Calhoun did the right thing, and not a minute too late for these horses.
    Everyone’s voices are needed so that American horses are not shipped to slaughter in Canadian and Mexican slaughter plants. As well as the US horses that ship live to Japan, for slaughter there.
    It’s worth little that we let ourselves get drawn in by the occasional media piece on horse slaughter.
    We need to drown out the pro-slaughter voices in Washington and gain a federal ban on horse slaughter for human consumption. Our failure to gain a ban is paid for every single day, by the horses that ship to slaughter.
    Actively support the current federal ban bills: S.541 and HR.1094.
    Find your two US Senators and one US Representative via:

    Ask all three to promptly support and become a cosponsor for S.541 and HR.1094 today, and be sure to tell them that you are their constituent. Thank them and let them know that you’ll check in with them again.
    We are failing America’s horses. All are needed now to bring change. Today.

    Info at:



    1. Maw

      Thank you for the info K.Webers! Will definitely take action!
      I hope anyone who consumes horse meat~chokes!

    2. Lana Marie

      Excellent comment….to that I will add, just like the story above in the picture of the ‘horse buts’ with tags on ‘The rest of the horses in this group, which were not Thoroughbreds, went to slaughter, according to Allie Conrad.’ THOUSANDS are killed in Canada, YOUR horses, as well as ones going to Mexico. Have any of you read the latest investigation from AA’s http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs161/1101655399670/archive/1118249399867.html or http://www.animalsangels.org/investigations/horses/terry-saulters-slaughter-horse-collecting-station-waco-tx-7-12-14


      To see the actual numbers, Canadian Horse Defense Coalitions flyer… http://www.animalsangels.org/investigations/horses/terry-saulters-slaughter-horse-collecting-station-waco-tx-7-12-14

  24. Nuria

    SpotOn, wow. I just read this, and quite frankly am appalled that anyone would do that. Instead of, right now, looking for a responsible home/rescue/organization that will take him/her you want this horse killed. I can’t imagine anyone patting you on the back for making a decision to kill a perfectly healthy animal.

    Sorry, that’s like a mother wanting killing her kids right before she commits suicide.

  25. SpotOn

    this is why I have it in my living will, that should anything happen to me, my OTTB be humanely PTS. That something like this could happen to him makes me sick.

    1. Cheryl Ann

      Me too…I have stipulated the same.

      1. JW

        Cheryl ann you are a sick individual too. Neither one of you are “God” to decide when they will die!!!

        1. Jon

          It is not playing God making sure your horse or any other creature you own does not end up being butchered or abused. Yes, one should have arrangements made to care for them. An insurance policy that provides funds for proper care, a plan with a policy so your animals can go to a rescue and be re homed without them being a burden on the already challenged re homing system. And last if nothing can be done to prevent them being abused or slaughtered, the kindest option as unspeakable as it is to some, may be the only reasonable option to make sure your creatures are not abused.

          So JW what you find as a horrible option, for others is a reasonable well thought out option than none of us takes lightly. You are out of line.

    2. JW

      Why don’t you designate some money for your horses welfare and designate a family member or reputable Rescue to re home NOT PTS as you put it!!!! I agree with Nuria….That is just “SICK” thinking Spoton !!!

      1. Faith

        JW, these horses were the lucky ones that day at New Holland.

        I’m curious about what plans you have made for your horses? Have you found a rescue that will take them if your designee is unwilling or unable to care for your critters?

        The short version of my story is that I have a savings account set aside just for use when I die or if something happens to me and I can’t care for my two horses, three mules, three dogs and three cats. No other members of my family really have the capacity to care for my herd. My daughter and I have had in-depth discussions about what she should/could do. We have explored many options and have some plans…but who can foresee the future?

        And how can I assume that anyone else would want to take on my rescue cripples and seniors? The option of a loving, humane death is far preferable than the assumption the “someone” will want them.

        Can you guess how many gussied-up ponies and horses are sent to auction by their innocent owners who believe their nice pets will be bought by other loving families? Please read K.Weber’s comments.

        My veterinarian hates to euthanize the pets of elderly patients who have died, but she is realistic about their placement possibilities.

        For my equines, the “last act of kindness” option is far preferable to the loading chute of a slaughter plant.

      2. Viktoria KS

        You are right…it’s so much better to have a horse end up on a feedlot or almost starved to death by the majority of people who care little about what happens to horses who cannot pick up the phone and call 911. I love how people call choosing PTS over risking an innocent animal in the real world all alone, “playing God”. No…it’s the breeders, who decide to MAKE THEM…bring them into the world, who are playing GOD. The caretakers/owners are their “guardians” and if you’ve NEVER really loved an animal that you would not want to end up in the horrific position of being sent to slaughter or suffering a neglectful or abusive owner, IF you had no way to protect it, then please don’t stand in judgment of others who would rather know the animal died a gentle and dignified death, without horrific fear and pain, then to RISK it to the real world of people WHO JUDGE OTHERS but don’t have a clue what these horses face.

    3. Nick Skias

      That is kind of selfish as you are saying that only you can take care of your horse. There are other adaption agencies that would take in your horse instead of “PTS”.
      My horse was from NH and was bought from a “killer” and 23 years later, he is still with me.

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