Inside Track: Second Chances
by Esther Marr
Date Posted: 1/26/2009 9:26:46 PM
Last Updated: 1/29/2009 2:02:27 PM
courtesy of Shannon Hahn
When Windswept Lady arrived at Shannon Hahn’s Argyle, N.Y-based Double L Stable Equine Rescue and Sanctuary near Saratoga Springs with her newborn foal, the outlook looked grim for the granddaughter of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
Emaciated and weak, the mare had abscesses in both front feet, and her four-month-old colt was more than 100 pounds underweight and suffering from pneumonia. Hahn acted quickly, calling her veterinarian to provide the necessary care for the injured and starving horses, never thinking at the time that their story would someday educate others via a display in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame.
“Our goal is for (Windswept Lady’s foal) to make a personal appearance at the museum this year,” said Hahn of the colt, who was later named Willie. “Here is this Thoroughbred baby that was supposed to be a big moneymaker (he was a maternal great grandson of Seattle Slew and a paternal grandson of Conquistador Cielo), he almost dies, and ends up here—nobody’s sure if he’s going to live, and now he’s working with at-risk youth and handicapped kids. We’re hoping he will be an ambassador to show people that Thoroughbreds can do anything, especially when they’re done racing.”
Unfortunately, after two years, Windswept Lady’s condition deteriorated and she had to be euthanized. The silver lining is that her situation is now being further studied to help future horses with her same condition.
“(Windswept Lady) is missed everyday here,” said Hahn. “I never met a stronger mare with so much determination in my 10 years of rescue work. She had a true mother’s love as she was fighting to stay alive for her foal.”
Hahn, a specialist in equine neglect and abuse cases, explained how the mare and foal first came to reside at her farm.
Windswept Lady had gone through a small, local auction while carrying Willie and was purchased by a person who recognized her pedigree and thought he could make a profit selling her foal.
After discovering the mare’s breeding paperwork had never been filed and being unsuccessful in negotiations with the owner of the stallion (Hammer), however, the buyer, who has been charged with corrupt practices involving animals in the past, apparently stopped caring for the two horses.
“The mare had abscess in both front feet, and the vet refused to treat her,” said Hahn. “Instead of the abscesses blowing out the back like they normally do, they ate up into her legs and ate the bones out of her feet.”
After being bought by a third party, who had heard about the cruel situation, Windswept Lady and her foal were sent to Double L.
Hahn’s veterinarian did the best he could to treat the two horses, along with reporting the abuse.
Willie, who is now in training to work as a therapy horse, is featured along with Windswept Lady in an exhibit called “Ride On” at the Racing Hall of Fame Museum. Dedicated to racehorse injury and recovery research, the exhibit was inspired by 2006 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) winner Barbaro, who succumbed to laminitis in 2007.
Hahn expressed how Double L had been unable to rescue as many horses as usual lately because of the dismal economy. To help keep her operation going, she is asking for members of the horse industry to send a Valentine’s card to its rescued horses with a $1 donation enclosed to LLSERS, 9 Tilford Rd., Argyle, N.Y., 12809. The cards will be hung in the barn for visitors to see, and in March a winner who will receive a $25 gift card to Tractor Supply will be drawn from the card senders.
Hahn explained how 15 of the horses at Double L live permanently at the sanctuary. Local handicapped adults, as well as at-risk youth help do the barn work and care for the equine residents.
“Everything we do here is based on gifts and donations,” said Hahn. “We have no paid staff. Every cent we raise goes right into the horses’ care. It’s rehabbed horses, rehabbing people. It is a great full circle program.”
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