The mare’s bandaged feet oozed with abscesses, useless to deflect the blows that rained down upon her.
One sharp kick, and then another, came without mercy from a band of frightened horses who tore at the tattered coat of the weakest among them.
As she lay in the soft mud of the Hermiston Auction in Oregon last February, her life spiraled away.
“There were a couple of mares who stood guard over her, but the alpha mares were pretty relentless with the attacks,” recalls Mary Lei, founder of local rescue Rescuing Equines in Need(REIN), who watched in horror as the silent animal seemed to accept her sad fate.
She’d been dumped in the Oregon kill pen and left to cower, and to eventually stumble and fall as some onlookers laughed.
It hadn’t always been this way for the once-beautiful chestnut filly, Selleria.
A granddaughter of Storm Cat, she was born in Kentucky in May 2009. She grew to be glossy coated and full of promise, and she sold a year later at the fabled Keeneland Sale for $24,000.
Barn name: Ria
Sire: Van Nistelrooy (Storm Cat)
Dam: She’s Mahogany
Foal date: May 12, 2009She began racing in 2012 at Santa Anita and a year later in September, after a 3rd place finish at Golden Gate, she fell off the radar and reportedly passed through several hands. Five months later she landed in the auction lot to face attack, ridicule, and certain death.
“When she was run through the ring … she was trying to hurry and she fell. People were actually giggling and pointing and laughing at her,” Lei says. “Though we’d intended to euthanize her there at the auction, I thought this was a pretty cool horse who deserved to be put down in a better environment than that.”
So Lei and her team bought padding for their horse trailer, and the young mare, despite her obvious pain, hobbled onboard.
It was, for Lei, one of the most emotional encounters she’s had at an auction. “Ria was gross, covered with ticks and lice and rain rot, and standing in eight inches of mud,” she says. “I said to her, ‘you’re pathetic,’ and hugged her neck, and she dropped her head over my shoulder to pull me closer. And for the first time since I’ve been doing rescue, I started bawling.”
In the months that followed, Ria surprised one and all with her bravery and determination to live. In spite of her pain, she approached each day with a bright eye, her ears forward, Lei says. “I’m so impressed with this horse, and that she never gave up when a lesser horse would have,” she says. “Even covered in all that mud, that horse still believed she was some level of royalty.”
And possibly even a star.
Ria, her hoof ailments healed with careful care by farrier April Wolf of The Savvy Hoof, has been entered to compete in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Showcase later this year in her birthplace of Kentucky.
Under the gentle training of Oregon horseman Stacey Riggs, Ria has been started on a path to learn dressage, freestyle trail riding, and other disciplines. “She’s a super sweet and very kind horse, and my goal is to work on a connection with her, and building back her strength at a rate she can handle,” Riggs says. “Ria beat the odds and recovered and the next step of her life has begun.” — Originally published on Feb. 27, 2015.
6 responses to “Trampled kill-pen mare readies for show”
She’s actually the 1/2 sister to AU Moon, talk about an unlucky family. Looks like Selleria is in a good place now though!
The thought of these beautiful animals suffering from pain and hunger is almost too much to bear….I can barely read the beginning of their stories…but oh what happy endings….makes my heart smile through the tears!
In addition to my above comment, the people laughing when she fell shows one thing. The worst thing God put on this earth is the human being. They can be heartless, inhumane, appear to be your friend while stabbing you in the back. God was with this beautiful animal and wanted her to survive or she wouldn’t have gotten the lovely people that saved her. May all her dreams for a lovely life that she has fought for, come her way. I wish all of them were so lucky. I don’t see how God lets his beautiful animals that end up getting killed end this way, but whom am I to question it.
God bless all who worked to save her. I hope she recovers fully and enjoys her new life. I save horses but only to love and care for them. I’m in my seventies now and wished I would have had their companionship when younger. I remember seeing horses in the pasture when I was young and couldn’t even pronounce “horse”, but I loved them and hounded my parents for one but it was not be until I was determined at sixtyish to finally get “that horse”. I haven’t regretted it since, and wish I could afford to save more. May this beautiful animal get the love she deserves. I would take her in a heartbeat. Again, God bless all who gave her a new life. She, Just as all the others, who don’t deserve all this injustice and many times a horrible end, should have a happy life and loved by a human being that really cares about them as a family member, thru all trials and tribulations.
I hope this sweet mare is doing well now. Bless all those who were there to help her
As an organization that has pulled many thoroughbreds out of the kill pen, these thoroughbreds like Selleria and so many others have such a will to live and overcome tremendous odds to recover from the horrific abuse they have suffered. It is a disgrace that any thoroughbred ends up at auctions like this or any horse for that matter. And for people to be laughing when this mare fell in the auction ring. How can some people be so void of empathy or compassion? Shame, shame on them. Thank goodness Lei and her team were there that day to rescue this beautiful mare. Bravo.