A pregnant and crippled kill pen mare, who eluded death in the slaughterhouse only to face possible euthanasia, now romps around a Massachusetts farm with a joy that defies her physical condition and astonishes her owner.
“My vet says she’s the worst case he’s ever seen,” says Christina Sawelsky of her rescue horse Open Zipper. “For a mare who people said should have been euthanized, she’s incredible. The second I take her halter off when I lead her out to her paddock, I have to stand way back because she bucks and spins and takes off running across the paddock—she’s just awesome.”
And in a flash of chestnut, the 10-year-old broodmare lets her inner racehorse fly free, on legs bulging at the joints, and a body twisted from old injuries.
Sire: City Zip
Dam: Nearctica, by Mazel Trick
Foal date: Feb. 3, 2006“She’s a mess. Her back juts up around her hip like a cow’s back, and her knees are in horrible condition. But she doesn’t limp,” Sawelsky adds. “She has really learned to cope and adjust” to the cards life has dealt her.
Despite having been dumped at a livestock auction with a band of pregnant broodmares, sold to a meat buyer and rescued by the skin of her teeth by Gerda Silver of Gerda’s Animal Aid, (please see earlier story: Pregnant horses rescued from meat buyer), Open Zipper cavorts with a miniature horse named Midnight like she’s the queen of the castle. “She canters over every morning to greet her three “boyfriends,” our OTTB geldings, and then spends her day with our 35-year-old mini.”
Zipper has become the poster-horse for Sawelsky, who plans one day to open a sanctuary in Massachusetts, which would welcome people with disabilities and veterans with post-traumatic stress. “She’s such an inspiration to be around,” she adds. “After all she’s been through, and her own disabilities, she has coped so well. She has the best personality. She loves people, greets me at the gate, and follows me everywhere.”
Nearby, Zipper’s weanling Faith, who is already 14-hands, is proving to be as smart as she is beautiful. A “very bold” young filly with a large, white diamond on her chestnut face, Faith is already proving to be the show horse in the family. “She’s just so beautiful. And her attitude is like, Here I am! She runs up to every paddock like she’s saying Hello! Hello! Hello!
Though Faith will never be raced, Sawelsky hopes to register the filly with the Jockey Club with the name Leap of Faith.
She adds, “It took a huge leap of faith to save these horses.” And, now they are both safe. A mother who will grow old on the farm as her foal blossoms into a beautiful riding horse, far from the slaughterhouse.