Crippled kill pen horse has foal named Faith

Faith, a filly born to kill-pen mare Open Zipper, was born safely last month.

Faith, a filly born to kill-pen mare Open Zipper, was born safely last month.

A crippled and pregnant mare who was en route last winter to the slaughterhouse, before she was tracked down and rescued from a well-known meat buyer, gave birth last month to a perfect filly who’d taken that ominous ride with her.

In the early morning hours of May 21, Open Zipper quietly tucked her disfigured legs under her round body, lowered herself into the straw piled high in the foaling stall, and issued forth a “textbook perfect filly” named Faith.

“She was given the name by Kay O’Hanlon, who is fostering them at her farm in Goshen, N.Y.,” says Gerda Silver, owner and operator of Gerda’s Animal Aid. “And rescuing horses takes a lot of faith.”

Silver and her nonprofit charity oversaw the rescue of Open Zipper and a band of pregnant broodmares on Feb. 29. The mares, who were purchased at the New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania, were: Murphy’s Code, Lily and Ice, Lovely Ness and Stratacaster. Stratacaster was not pregnant.

Open Zipper
Sire: City Zip
Dam: Nearctica, by Mazel Trick
Foal date: Feb. 3, 2006
According to Silver, the horses were rescued with the help of numerous charities and individuals who offered aid, foster farms and who all helped in a frantic weekend to track down and buy back Open Zipper, already shipped to a holding pen operated by a meat buyer. (Please see earlier story here:

After a touch-and-go several days, in which the whereabouts of Open Zipper was either in question or seemed hopeless, the chestnut horse was transported back from a holding facility, and sold to rescue workers in a plot twist that Silver never could have predicted.

After being sold to a kill buyer while she was heavily in foal, Open Zipper survived and gave birth to a filly named Faith.

After being sold to a kill buyer while she was heavily in foal, Open Zipper survived and gave birth to a filly named Faith.

“I don’t want to give accolades to the meat buyer, but his son did drive two hours to bring her back to us,” Silver says. “She was a dead horse walking up until he agreed to do that.”

But even after Zipper was safely ensconced at Kay O’Hanlon’s Goshen, N.Y foster farm, her survival was still uncertain. When rescuers tried to walk her on a lead rope, the mare appeared very unsound and they feared she would need to be humanely destroyed.

“We thought she was crippled in her hind legs,” Silver says. She explains that when the mare was clipped to a lead rope and walked with a handler, her back legs moved grotesquely. Observers at the time declared she was very unsound, and might possibly have to be destroyed.

It was only after the mare’s halter was removed and she was allowed to walk naturally, without a handler by her side, that it became evident that the mare was in fact pasture sound.

Faith stands along side her mother's crooked front leg.

Faith stands along side her mother’s crooked front leg.

Left to her own devices, Zipper had long ago learned to amble along on all four feet, compensating for an injured front leg with swollen knee. Once rescuers realized this, all talk of euthanasia ended, and Zipper was able to continue on her journey.

The arrival of her foal last month and the robust good health both animals enjoy was the perfect ending, says Silver, who notes with pride that the filly is growing strong, by leaps and bounds.

“Open Zipper is a reminder to all of us that no matter what the disability, you can still have a quality of life,” O’Hanlon told Off Track in a previous story. “Every morning on turn out she greets the new day by cantering up the hill.”

Author’s note: Zipper and her filly are available for adoption to a very special home, Silver says. An application can be found at:

22 responses to “Crippled kill pen horse has foal named Faith”

  1. Tiana

    Open Zipper is one of only two of my mare Nearctica’s foals.
    I have been hoping to find her. If anyone has any leads to where this mare is please email me at (ironic I know, I love my mare lol)
    We would go great lengths to bring Open Zipper home to Ontario.

  2. Tiana

    Open Zipper is one of only two of my mare Nearctica’s foals.
    I have been searching for her. If anyone has any leads on how to track down this mare please email (Ironic I know I just love my horse).
    We would go to great lengths to bring Open Zipper not only home to her momma, but to her forever home. I hope I am not too late.

  3. Tiana

    I have been trying to track down this mare as she is one of only two of my mare Nearctica’s foals. If anyone is able to give me any leads my email is (Ironic email I know lol I LOVE my horse).
    I’m located in Ontario but would go great lengths to bring Open Zipper home to myself and her dam.

  4. Heather Brown

    Heather Thomas: Here’s an idea, why don’t the winners of all races pay a small 5% of what they win to a foundation for all horses. Injured, old, orphaned, etc. ALL HORSES! After all these people that race these earthly angels won’t miss 5%. Make it mandatory and collected at the time the prize money is paid. Then, we as humans will be taking care of at least one thing right. That is a tax law that would do some good. Tax the winners only!

  5. gerda silver

    Thank you Sue for bringing awareness to this horrific practice. For all your readers… it looks like ALL the mare will be adopted along WITH their foals! Four of them are staying with their foster families
    never to be bred again and the foals will never be registered so they will never race.

  6. Patty in Dallas

    And the wonderful John Murrell is at it again! Thank you to all who saved these gorgeous horses that some would just throw away.

  7. A R

    What I think is interesting is that this Kill buyer couldn’t have gotten in big trouble for shipping this horse. USDA regulations say that the horse must bear weight on all 4 legs and cannot be crippled in anyway as well as not blind. He should be really lucky that no USDA inspector saw the horse the way that she is and should be watching his back for any circumstances like this in the future. It just shows how crooked these people really are.

  8. Sandy Carr

    Perfect….restores some of my “faith” in humanity. Thank you Susan.

  9. Cheri Vaughan

    I have no words for this article, only a feeling of happiness for the precious, precious lives saved…and unbridled rage for those who put these precious lives in peril.

  10. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    Great job Gerda. Bravo all ended well for these two and the others.

  11. Denise Mosimann

    I want to see the TB mares owners names made public and action taken by the TB racing commission to punish them for placing them at Hew Holland.

    1. Barb

      These mares were sold by the breeder months before they ended up at auction. The shipper told me they HAD to go to an auction. Neither I nor TB advocates could buy them beforehand. That makes me think it was a legal issue. One mare was bought privately and Gerda and I bought the rest. Hers with help from her wonderful supporters and John Murrell. My buyer let Open Zipper go and Barbara and Gerda got her back. Two others went to Stanley Bro. buyer and my buyer ( who thought they’d gone private) was able to get them for Gerda.

      1. Lorey gillam

        Hi, so there were actually 3 that were bought by kb’s and you got 3 back? Thanks

  12. tlhopkinsTina Hopkins

    I hope they are adopted together and not separated.

    1. Justine myruski

      They wont be seperated, they will be adopted out together.

  13. Belinda

    Thank you so much for all you are doing. I wish I could do the same for these beautiful horse.

  14. Ginger carpenter

    So happy and proud for her.

  15. Patricia Diers

    Thank God both were saved…I get sick when I think of all the ones who slip through the cracks–who does this to a pregnant animal…I would like to get a good look at them-

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