MD’s New Beginning
When the phone rang, I thought to myself - do I really want to answer THIS call?  I knew it was probably about a retired Thoroughbred (TB) and I knew I really did not need another project right now.  I reluctantly answered and it was the same story I have heard time and time again - another TB hurt on the track and needed a home.  Her owner can’t afford to fix her, can’t afford to rehab her and doesn’t know the first thing about horses in the first place besides they run and make money for them. So I found myself going to pick up the 3 year old filly the next day.
MD was a beautiful racehorse at one time.  She has amazing bloodlines and someone paid a lot of money to bring her into this world.   But horses need to eat and so do the people that own them, so she was sold as a 2 year old in-training in April of 2009.  To prepare a horse for the 2 year old training sales, they are breezed and galloped way beyond what their young bones can handle - all so they can run the fastest time possible.  The faster the time, the more money you’re horse is worth.  MD was sold for less than a third of her sire’s stud fee.  She needed almost 6 months off just to recover from the training sale.  
When she finally did race at the end of her 2 year old year, she was the 62-1 longshot.  Coming out of the final turn in a four horse duel, she took the lead. When the 5-2 favorite surged in front to take the lead, MD dug in down the stretch and gave everything thing she had left to the race.  It was a photo finish for place or show.  MD came in second.
Her next race was several months later.  Making her debut as a 3 year old, she was the favorite now.  It was a tough field among the 11 horses.  MD bobbled at the start and never recovered.  She finished in 6th place and was vanned off the track in an equine ambulance.  
The x-rays revealed a chip in the right knee.  Surgery can be done to remove the chip but it is expensive and requires a lay-up.  Many owners cannot afford to pay for a horse that isn’t making money so surgery was out.  With time and stall rest, many horses recover quite nicely without surgery but again - that requires time and means that the horse isn’t making money.  So, MD’s owner decided to breed her.  So after 30 days of stall rest she was shipped out.  
When she arrived at the breeding farm, the farm owners took one look at her and said there is no way that she could be bred.  She could barely walk on her knee, let alone support a stallion’s weight during breeding.  And she was severely underweight.  So after discussion with the owner, he decided to abandon her.  He had no use for this baby anymore.  This once beautiful horse who gave everything for him, was now a beat up, finished filly who had nothing more to offer him.  If sale prices were up at the slaughter auction, he might get a few hundred dollars.
I saved her 3 days before she was scheduled to be shipped to the kill pens of New Holland.  This wretched place is a dirty little secret in Lancaster County, PA.  Every Monday, hundreds of horses are brought here for sale.  It is a terrifying place for a horse and unfortunately, for most of them, their journey only gets more terrifying before it comes to a very inhumane end in a slaughter house.  Racehorses are not supposed to end up there.  The industry pretends it is doing something about it, but every Monday, there are TB’s there.
MD is a scared, thin, hurting horse.  I am sure she has never known a human that didn’t expect anything from her in return but love.  So now I begin my journey with her, to teach her manners, to teach her love and to teach her trust in me.  
The Daily Dose
Friday, March 26, 2010