By Susan Kayne
For Capital Region Independent Media
In the serene embrace of dawn at Unbridled Sanctuary, a day of profound reflection unfolds.
It’s Jan. 15, 2024, a day etched in the heart of Lucky, a Thoroughbred mare whose eyes hold stories deeper than the scars of her past. This date marks her “Savaversary,” a term we at the Sanctuary lovingly use to celebrate the day a life was saved from despair.
It’s the anniversary of Lucky’s rescue from the slaughter pipeline, marking her rebirth into a realm of compassion and love.
But this Savaversary, marking the sixth year since her liberation, holds a deeper significance. It’s not just the tale of Lucky’s salvation we commemorate, but also the heartrending rescue of her half-sister, B’s Wild Rush.
Their stories, intertwined by the blood of their mother, DrivingMissBertie, and a near tragic fate, are heartrending reminders of the unspoken demise that many Thoroughbreds suffer in pain and silence.
Born into the echelons of racing royalty, Lucky and B’s Wild Rush descended from a lineage graced by speed and agility. Lucky’s journey at Unbridled began on Jan. 15, 2018, when she was saved from shipping to a slaughter plant in Canada.
Before Unbridled rescued Lucky, her life was marked by triumph and turmoil:
Picture her elegant figure, draped in a fiery red coat, commanding the spotlight in every post parade. Her beautiful face, distinguished by a striking white blaze, shone beneath her blinkers. Imagine her triumphant return to the Winner’s Circle — adrenaline pulsating, sweat glistening, nostrils flaring — her neck arched in the sweet victory.
Lucky’s brilliance on the racetrack led to six victories, amassing $117,500 in earnings. Yet, her racing career took a toll — arthritis, damaged cartilage and bone spurs are residual reminders of her sacrifice. To compound the physical insults she endured while racing, a botched upper airway “tie-back” surgery, a procedure to increase airflow, left her voiceless to express her discomfort or needs.
At the age of 16, drained of her spirit and vigor, Lucky faced a grim fate. She was taken to the New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania, where she was bought by a horse meat broker. Skinny, bitten, bruised, and sick, coupled with the infirmity of a huge, fused and calcified ankle, Lucky seemed destined for a tragic end.
However, Lucky’s life was about to change. Thanks to the generosity of Unbridled’s supportive community, funds were raised to rescue her. Her arrival at Unbridled marked a new beginning. With abundant love, skilled care and nourishment, she transformed from a dispirited and weary horse to the lively, joyful mare now known as “Miss Independence” and “The Snack Queen.” Her favorite treat is Ricola Herbal Cough Drops!
Over five and a half years into her safe, celebrated, and protected life at Unbridled, Lucky’s once tired eyes now sparkled with a zest for life. As Lucky reveled in the security of her peace and protection, the life of her little sister, B’s Wild Rush, was in trouble. Deadly big trouble.
On Nov. 1, 2023, the dire circumstances of B’s Wild Rush turned Unbridled’s attention to an urgent appeal of fundraising to rescue the 19-year-old mare. With the inspiring legacy of Lucky’s successful journey before us, Unbridled set forth to extend its embrace to save B’s Wild Rush.
Weakened from the auction circuit and exiled from the powerful energy that had carried her through 19 starts and six victories, B was reduced to a barcode. Despite winning $163,365 herself, and producing offspring who earned another $500,000, B’s worth equated to what little weight remained on her bones.
Her successes did not shield her from a harrowing fate. On the broker’s lot she was emaciated, wounded, and tied to a piece of equipment. For B’s Wild Rush, who once charged down racetracks with fierce courage and determination, and nurtured foals with her own life, this was a cruel end.
On Nov. 2, 2023, B’s Wild Rush entered the protection of Unbridled. Upon arrival, our hearts sank. This majestic mare was a mere shadow of her former self. Frightened, lacerated, lame from hoof abscesses and starving, her plight was a stark reminder of the neglect she suffered.
Under the dedicated care at Unbridled, her journey of recovery is taking flight. Her coat, once lackluster, is regaining its sheen; her eyes, once clouded with despair, now glimmer with rejuvenation. Her transformation stands as a vivid illustration of the Sanctuary’s commitment to care, healing and renewal.
The saga of Lucky and B’s Wild Rush transcends mere survival; it challenges us to confront and rethink the destiny of countless Thoroughbreds like them. Their rescue underscores an urgent need for systemic reform to hold the Thoroughbred industry accountable for the lifelong protection of horses like Lucky and B’s Wild Rush. Their stories, though marked by triumphs, too often culminate in tragedy.
At Sanctuaries like Unbridled, where second chances bloom into lives of dignity and care, contributions, be it through donations, sponsorships or spreading awareness, can pivot the fate of these noble creatures, ensuring a life of respect and love beyond their racing and breeding days.
As Lucky and B’s Wild Rush rest in the peace and tranquility of Unbridled, their reunion is more than a touching moment; it symbolizes the enduring mission of the Sanctuary. Their story is a testament to the boundless compassion of those dedicated to the protection and welfare of these gracious animals.
From the depths of my heart and echoing the silent voices of Lucky and B’s Wild Rush, I invite you to join Unbridled in this crusade for change. Your support can ignite a movement, transforming the narrative of Thoroughbreds from forgotten athletes to cherished souls.
Together, let’s champion the inherent worth of every equine as sentient beings whose lives are as precious as our own. Join us in this journey of compassion and transformation at Unbridled Sanctuary.
Susan Kayne operates the horse rescue organization Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, on the border of Albany County and Greenville.