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 knew that bad things could happen to racehorses, she stapled a card to Silver and Smoke’s Jockey Club papers promising to the horse back.
As she had done with all her horses, she also promised in the note to pay double the meat price at a livestock auction, and to cover the shipping expenses to return the horse to her Florida farm.
The protection only went so far, however.
Though the filly was returned safely to Brendemuehl after injuring herself as a 2-year old, the note afforded the gray Thoroughbred no protection later on, when the Miami-Dade Police Department seized the starving animal from ramshackle and squalid shed.
Silver and Smoke
Foal date: March 5, 2010Silver and Smoke was found locked in a low-slung, ramshackle facility in the NW area of Miami-Dade Florida in early August 2014. The stall was so tight she couldn’t fully lift her head. The stall floors were thickly covered in waste so deep it prevented her from lying down.
“It was just disgusting,” says South Florida SPCA Director Laurie Waggoner, who accepted Silver and Smoke into her rescue. “Nobody had cleaned those stalls for a long, long time. And the horses had a body score of 1.”
But despite all she had suffered, the mare still had someone on her side.
Her breeder, shocked and sickened by the story, reached out immediately to make good on the promise of the card she once stapled to Silver and Smoke’s papers.
“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.”
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. — This story was originally published on Aug. 21, 2014.