Now that everybody is good and pissed off after the past few postings, I thought it would be a good time to talk about something `lighter’ and feature a rescue horse again. The PSAs are still whining about rescues that take in old or crippled horses; ones that can’t be fixed and adopted out. I find that puzzling, because they also scream and cry foul when rescue charges an adoption fee according to a horse’s potential. The call it low-end horse trading. I guess, in the land of PSAs, you need to forcibly remove horses from danger and then give them away once you put them back together. Clearly, you must also be in possession of a money tree to afford to do all this because high adoption fees and asking for donations are bad too. However, if you support slaughter, you can go ahead and do whatever it is you want as a `rescue’, because you’re one of the good guys. Whatever. The horse I’m going to talk about today was another one the PSAs would have told you to shoot or can, due to his age and condition. This one is pretty close to my heart.
Taylor’s Special shouldn’t have been able to do what he did. He was not the most royally bred horse in the world and he certainly didn’t have a pedigree to run long. Yet, he ran long and short and he won. In a career that spanned 5 years, he found the winner’s circle 21 times and made over a million dollars. Among his wins were such graded stakes as the Louisiana Derby, The Bluegrass Stakes as well as wins in The Isaac Murphy, The Black Gold Handicap and too many others to mention. He still holds the track record on dirt at Arlington going 6 furlongs. He’s also in the Hall of Fame there. His young, unknown trainer credited Taylor’s Special for putting him on the map. You may have heard of the trainer, his name is Bill Mott and he went on to train Cigar, Royal Delta and many, many more. He has gone onto multiple Eclipse awards and is now a Hall of Fame trainer. Mott credits Taylor’s Special with spring-boarding his career as he was the first horse Mott had on the Triple Crown trail. You would think a horse like this would be `safe’ from the slaughter pipeline for life, but he wasn’t.
As often happens with breeding stallions, Taylor’s Special found himself falling out of favor. He did have some successful babies, but nothing approaching his own success on the track. The word was they weren’t precocious enough and were better horses as they matured. So began Taylor’s odyssey. After beginning his stud career in Maryland, he soon ended up in Canada where he stood a number of years. When he first went to stud, not everybody had the internet and it wasn’t as easy to keep track of where horses ended up. For Taylor, it meant he eventually ended up in Washington State. Not exactly the Thoroughbred breeding hub of the world. Still he did not have a bad life, covering a few mares every year until 2002. It was sometime after this point that his elderly owners passed away. I’m not sure how it exactly came to pass, but Taylor’s Special ended up abandoned and fending for himself. It is estimated he was `homeless’ and wandering for at least six weeks before being rescued. In September of 2004 the executive director of Hope for Horses received a call about a large horse wandering around Granite Falls, WA that wasn’t in very good shape. Not knowing who he was, the rescue called him `Nigel’ and said he was skin and bones by the time they found him. After much research and using digital photography enhancements for his lip tattoo, his true identity was finally discovered.
Thankfully, the director of Hope for Horses had the foresight to check that faded tattoo. Through some cooperative efforts, Taylor’s Special was returned to Kentucky to Old Friends Retirement in May 205 where he became a beloved tourist attraction. His floppy ears and kindness endeared him to the many visitors to this rather unique sanctuary. When his old trainer Bill Mott found out about his situation, he sent a contribution towards his continuing care in thanks for what the horse had done for him. Sadly, Taylor’s retirement did not last as many years as it should have. In September of 2006, Taylor decided to jump out of his paddock. While his injuries from that were minor, the following day, while being hand walked, he jumped and fractured his femur. Old bones are brittle, especially after recovering from neglect and starvation. Taylor’s Special was able to live his last year out with dignity and affection, and when the time came, he was given a peaceful and loving passage from this world with full honors. He was laid to rest among other greats in the cemetery at Old Friends and I have never been there when there weren’t stones or flowers on his grave, usually both.
So, that’s the story of another horse the PSAs don’t think deserve to be saved. This is exactly the horse that the UH’s Rescue and Rejuvenation Program would fatten up and slaughter. Thankfully, real horsemen didn’t agree. Old Friends is home to a whole bunch of horses just like Taylor’s Special. Most of them are pensioned stallions and none of them will ever be up for adoption. Yet, people come in droves to see them all. They exist on fundraising and donations. Many of these old horses have connections that will send money to support them, but certainly not all. Not every horse at Old Friends is famous or even a winner on the track. It is an entire farm of `useless’ horses if you’re a PSA. Thankfully, to the Thoroughbred industry, it’s a place to visit old favorites and an example of giving something back to horses that have supported so many people throughout their careers. It’s the right thing to do. Taylor’s Special is especially dear to my heart because I owned one of his sons. From one of his earliest crops, he was a hard luck horse that never came near to accomplishing what his sire had. Yet, he had paid the rent when he was right and lived his entire life with me, eventually becoming a wonderful saddle horse. Had he been owned by somebody else, he likely wouldn’t have been so lucky had he ended up in the slaughter pipeline as he came off the track with a fairly serious injury. Lucky for him, a PSA didn’t get their hands on him and he was rehabilitated to live many more happy years. He eventually passed much like his sire; unafraid and in loving arms. Like they all deserve to go. After all the happiness he had given to me, his death didn’t feel like a waste because he wasn’t sent for slaughter. Some things you just can’t put a price on.
The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.