NOTE: The following is written by Jamie Barnes Saxon. Many of you know her as a successful realtor at Oklahoma Country Homes, and Wellston neighbor. She posted on Facebook the following heartwarming and inspiring account of her effort to add three new members to her farm menagerie by saving not one, but three horses bound for slaughter. She gave permission to share it with The Luther Register. Thank you Jamie! We look forward to hearing more about Sundance, Rosemary & Buttercup.
But I can save that one.
Nine hours and one flat tire later I finally arrived back to the farm to give “1600” his forever home. It’s funny how things fall into place. I try to listen to my intuition, I look for things I can do to make a difference even if a small one. Somehow I randomly ended up on a Facebook group for a horse rescue out of Texas. That’s not REALLY a big shock since I donate to ASPCA every month, and it’s a well-known fact that I pick up lost or stray animals regularly and they usually end up living at my house, and we all know Alexa is spying on us – ha ha.
But I saw a post a month or so back about horses going to slaughter and people trying to save them. I’ll be honest I ignored that one. I didn’t want to see it! I mean who does? This isn’t something you want to see or look at or experience, especially if you’re not in a position to do anything to help. Fast forward to Monday of this week, the post came across my Facebook again from her group. I decided to read it. It’s a tough read and I looked at it and I looked at the deadline for some of the horses and wondered if there was anything I could do.
Would (husband) Jason kill me if I decided to go get one of these magical beasts that don’t deserve to be treated the way that humans treated them? So I went about my work and set it aside but it kept gnawing at me, nagging at me to read it again; to do something.
I went back to the post and I started messaging the person on the other end of this border horse slaughter rescue page. She was very patient while I asked question after question. After about an hour of back and forth conversations I had to make the decision if I was going to drive to Bowie, Texas. I knew there was a risk I was going to bring home a problem horse. Out of hundreds of horses I chose “1600” and I decided to go for it.
So the lady with the horse rescue calls the kill pen to put them in contact with me so I can post his “bail.” Shortly after I get a call from the Bowie Kill Pen office. The lady on the other side says “so I’m calling to collect the balance to Rescue 1600 – the rescue paid the first part.” I was shocked. She didn’t even tell me she was doing that! Donors on her page send money to help save the horses when they can’t take them in. Everyone coming together for a common goal each doing their part. So inspiring to be a part of it.
When I walked into the barn to pick him up, he had a look of defeat. His head hung down and he looked like he had given up. Covered in cuts and scrapes and road grime – limping from a short hoof. He loaded easily but his eyes became wild as you could see the trauma. He was shaking uncontrollably from all the trips and places that hadn’t been so kind. I whispered to him – “we are going home, buddy, I promise you it’s going to be okay.”
Headed to his forever home
When I was ready to pull out of the barn, I looked down and my back driver’s side tire was almost totally flat. I was very lucky it hadn’t blown pulling the trailer to get there. Luckily they had an air compressor to get me by long enough to head to the local tire shop. As I waited, I reached in through the trailer and petted him. He finally started to release some tension and his ears unpinned. It was a long ride home and I felt terrible because it was rainy and cold and even though he was in a partially enclosed trailer with a top I knew the wind would be a chill on him.
Arriving home in the dark, with a mess of animals and noises to greet him, I wasn’t sure how he would take to his new surroundings. Turkeys gobbling, cattle bawling, horses whinnying, guineas squawking, chickens clucking, ducks hissing and a red headed wild child blabbering and running around. Jason was concerned all these sounds would spook him. I told him, “He should be fine – he’s been a rodeo and hey day horse. He’s used to noise and worse than this!”
He handled it like the champ he is. We walked him into a stall and filled his trough with feed and hay. He jumped right in like he might never see another meal. As I stood and watched him eat, I ran my hands over his neck and gently over his scars and talked to him the whole time. Still nervous as he should be, untrusting of humans, but also it was evident that he was willing to give me a chance.
Day Two: Bringing Home Rosemary & Buttercup
Day Two – and planning a trip to Stroud Kill Pen to pick up two more I posted bail for. I went out to greet 1600 whom I have now decided to call “Sundance.”
Sundance was eager to see the feed bucket for sure. I really didn’t get a feel that he understood how this place was any different than any from the past but I filled his feed and hay trough, patted him down and talked to him calmly for a while then went on to get the day lined out to pick up the other two. Picking up the two in Stroud felt like a breeze compared to the Texas trip! It may have been because I wasn’t as tense as a “hooker in church” for hours because of the shorter drive, or it may have been that I had already accomplished getting one home.
I chose a pretty red roan mare and a blonde pony to come live with us. The red roan was labeled “Tabitha” and the pony labeled “Rosemary.” I say labeled because when I arrived, I asked the lady running the facility if that was their “actual” names and she said “No, that’s just how we identify them to the public.” So I already knew on the way home what their names would be. I gave the name Rosemary to the red roan mare and it fits her so well. I gave the blond pony the name Buttercup because she looks like a little fluffy cup of butter.
Buttercup was actually the most skittish upon arrival at our place. She didn’t quite know what to think of all the noises. Rosemary just seemed sad but would do as she was led. I could tell right away she is going to steal my heart. We led them both to their own stalls and filled their feed and hay. Again both acted like they hadn’t been fed in a while even though Buttercup could be named Butterball! She hasn’t missed many meals. I’m not sure how she ended up in a kill pen – maybe just her age. I was told all three horses aged somewhere between 16 and 20 years old.
Day 3: Sundance, Rosemary & Buttercup are Home
Sundance greeted me with a nicker and walked toward me as I came to his pen. You can tell he was severely mistreated and over-used. He has a terrible limp right now that will have to be addressed. This boy has just been overworked and is tired but today he doesn’t look defeated. He showed signs of relief and contentment.
Today was the day to get everyone out and brush their coats, manes and tails, powder them with fly repellent and doctor their wounds. One by one, I went to halter them. Sundance wasn’t sure that was what he wanted to do, so he made me use my juking skills to corner him. But once I wrapped the halter around, he conceded to my requests. I started brushing him off and all anxiety left his body. He stood there and drifted off as I brushed away the dirt and grime and combed out his pretty grey mane and tail. He was covered in sores and scratches, so after I patted him down with fly repellent powder, I doctored each spot with a dab of Furacin. I walked under and around and behind him gently as we got to know each other. I lifted his feet to check them all around and under and he allowed me to with no hesitation, no fear and no anger of what others had done to him before me.
When in front of him, he lifted his head to my face and let me kiss his nose and he closed his eyes.
We are going to be very close.Jamie & Sundance
Rosemary walked straight to the halter and seemed eager to go when I entered her pen. She basked in the attention as well as I cut off wads of mane and tail entwined with cockleburs. She unfortunately looks like she had a really bad hairdresser and has a spikey Mohawk for now, but she loved having her hair and body brushed. I was shocked at all the scabs and sores that covered her. How does this happen? She got the same royal treatment as Sundance and seemed like she didn’t want it to end. I love her already!
Buttercup is still a bit more on edge. She doesn’t trust people yet and the noise is now less scary to her, but you can see her watching. She brushed out beautifully and really seems like maybe not that long ago someone loved her. Maybe because of her age, they just threw her away. I know she will get better every day and she is sweet, just a bit timid. I’m looking forward to seeing what she does. She did let Jaxon ride on her with no hesitation while I pulled her around for a few minutes. But she isn’t here for us, she is here for her so we kept it short.
Dreams Come True
I had a conversation with my Mom about this. I know a lot of people think I’m crazy but she and Jason have always supported my crazy ventures. I told her of the poor conditions and sad things I saw. It’s hard to choose. You do want to take them all, or more anyway. I said “but you just can’t save them all.” To that she said, “but you can save that one, and that one and that one” referring to the story of the little girl that was throwing starfish back in the ocean. Why? Why when she couldn’t make a difference or save them all she said, “but I made a difference to that one, and that one, and that one” as she gently tossed each starfish back into the water. This is a dream come true to me. I have wanted my entire life to save animals. When I was young I wanted to open a no kill shelter. This was before no kill shelters were really a thing. My dreams and goals and idea of success were to be able to give beyond comprehension. Animals, if you know me and my life, are not my only passion to help, but they are VERY important to me. They love and forgive without conditions. To be able to do this is truly realizing a lifelong dream!
And with that – I want to say THANK YOU! Thank you to my Momma and husband for always loving me just how I am. For allowing me to BE – and DO who and what I feel led to. Thank you so very much to Border Horse Slaughter Rescue for sharing the post to get me started on this journey and saving all the ones you help save! Thank you to the donors on her page that may not be able to take one home but send money or do what they can to help. Thank you Jennie Smith for answering all my questions before and after without judgment! Thank you Wendi Walling Marcy also for answering all my questions and the suggestion to check out the Stroud Oklahoma Kill Pen Horses That Need Saved, and also for never saying “don’t do it,” just offering good solid advice. Thank you Jenn Butler, you are one of the sweetest people I have ever met. Your offer to drop everything and come help, bring a trailer, drive to get them, whatever I needed means more to me than you will ever know. Thank you Paul Whitnah for allowing me the use of the trailer and dropping what you were doing to get it ready for me to take on short notice! This was a group effort and I am so very grateful! I will continue to post updates and we may start a YouTube Channel or something so you can see their progress! And if any of you are in a position or considering this I will gladly help you walk through it step by step.