Rescuing a horse from a kill pen is not easy. Rescuing five at the same time is monumental.
This is the story of how a group of women, who did not know each other, came together across 2 continents and 5 states to do just that.
I was notified about a horse named Atticus Son who had less than 12 hours to be saved before shipping to slaughter. Nat Astell, an exercise rider in Switzerland, sent me a 911 on FB messenger. The kill buyers posted a video of him under saddle, neck reining, cantering across the concrete on old shoes with overgrown hooves. This sweet and willing TB had somehow been pulling Amish buggies for years. I fell in love immediately but I had never saved a horse from a kill pen.
His bail was more than $800 dollars and I had no idea what steps to take after that. I already have 3 horses that eat my entire paycheck, so there I was, alerted to this boy, with no plan for his future and a pit in my stomach.
Word of Atticus spread on Twitter like wildfire and before I knew it, one incredible woman after another seemed to be tweeting, planning, and moving towards saving him. Kerry, Mara, the famous Dina @EquineAltitude , Vikki, Trish, all in touch with each other talking about Atticus and rapidly adding other horses to bail out along with him. Most of these women knew at least one of the others, but we were all strangers coming together for this cause.
A beautiful white TB Mare, Royal Citadel, would be saved. Royal Citadel is a 2004 mare bred in Virginia with 12 starts. Someone, somewhere abandoned their responsibility to her and she was hours away from a horrific end. An 18 year old bay mare, in horrible condition with an illegible tattoo was coming with us…wherever we were going. And a bay gelding, identification unknown, got the attention of someone in our group and we were bringing him to safety too. It was all agreed between us, though we had no idea how to do it.
Four horses at around 800 apiece and less than 12 hours to raise that money. But then we need to quarantine all four. And ship them to quarantine. That’s 375.00 apiece just for the QT. We have to get them to quarantine, so that’s another 100 per horse. All of the sudden, that 800 bail has turned into 1200.00. And we had yet to set up a Youcaring.com account.
Somewhere along the way, four horses became 5 when Dina alerted us to BATALLA who was in a kill pen. Batalla is a 2011 PA bred who has 17 starts this year alone. 58 lifetime. And now, she too is hours away from slaughter. Shame on you whether it be her breeder, owner or trainer who mercilessly dumped this horse without a second thought. Lucky for Batalla, her jockey, Keivan Serrano was combing different equine rescue sights on FB and saw her. He called Dina in time for Batalla to hitch a ride with our 4 to freedom, quarantine, vetting and shipping to her former jockey.
Enter the magnificent Mara, a whiz with spread sheets and projections. Without Mara, this could not have been done. She created individual fundraising pages for all horses and the group of strangers set about reposting them on their own FB pages and twitter accounts. Enter Kerry, a horsewoman with such tenacity and attention to detail that this could not have been done without her. Days and days of trying to secure vetting, and farrier and bloodwork and shipping, she is a tremendous asset to us all. Kerry got a vet from New Bolton to look over all the horses and the group decided to name the ones we could not identify. Adeline and Aurelius.
As it was Atticus Son who grabbed my attention first, I kind of adopted him as “my personal rescue”. I was going to make sure he got out no matter if I had to raid my own 401K plan to do it. I needed 1200.00 and so many people came through to help it happen, my faith in mankind has been restored. Special thank you to Shelley Blodgette of @CaribbeanOTTB who is dealing with the destruction of the race track in Puerto Rico, but helped us tremendously. Her rescue does more in a day, with less money, than many of the bigger named organizations. Please consider contributing to her whenever you can.
If you have ever wondered what kind of heart you have, here is an easy test. If you need to look up the pedigree of a horse to decide whether it’s worth saving, a soul check may be in order. I know that sounds harsh, but a life is a life. It wasn’t until after we had the basic funds to save Atticus Boy that I decided to see who he was. My heart was broken when I did.
As the name implies, he is the son of ATTICUS, who is the son of NUREYEV and ATHYKA by Secretariat. This discarded boy has a royal turf horse pedigree yet was running the roads for the Amish for God only knows how long. How did this happen? Who threw away this horse as if he had no value at all.
The women in our group, especially Mara and Kerry, were working non-stop to save these horses and take care of every detail. We all decided we needed a name for this group and it was an easy decision to call ourselves “Piccolos Horse Rescue”. If you have followed Twitter recently, you know of the tremendous effort put forth by Dina Alborano to save Piccolo. Even with the best doctors available, his little body could not overcome the neglect that his humans forced upon him. In the end, his death sent ripples across the Twitterverse that were so strong, we all agreed to do this in remembrance of him.
All of our horses have been seen by the vet and the farrier at their quarantine in PA. Next week, all will be shipped to KY together. We are still short on shipping funds. We realized the YouCaring fundraising page takes fees that we badly need and so now we are just doing a paypal account. The great news is that all of our horses have forever homes waiting for them. We are all prepared to pillage what little we have left in our bank accounts to get these beautiful souls to their final destinations but we are not ashamed to ask for help.
To all of our donors who have helped us so far, we are forever indebted to you. To all of those people who helped facilitate this rescue in even the tiniest way, we thank you. To all of the small rescues across the country who do this heavy lifting day in and day out, we are your sisters in the purpose.
To any prospective donors, we make this promise…every single penny that you donate to us will go directly towards our horses. Thank you and God bless you.
We need around 1700.00 for shipping. Please donate through the newly established Piccolo’s Horse Rescue FB page.
See the story of Piccolo here: