Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Diamonds for Remi Safe from Slaughter

This is a story about a horse saved from slaughter by her previous owner who is now disabled.  Even though she did not have much money, she still wanted to save her horse.  This story proves, once again, that there is no such thing as a unwanted horse!  ~Declan

Horse rescued from slaughter is home safe near Citra

By Carlos E. MedinCorrespondent
Published: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 at 5:50 p.m.

Former racehorse Diamonds for Remi was days away from slaughter when the 18-year-old thoroughbred mare was spotted recently by a horse rescue worker in Watertown, N.Y.
A few phone calls later and the horse's breeder, Remi Gunn, was located at her Gunn Farm near Citra. Gunn was desperate to save the horse from the slaughterhouse, but did not have the money to buy back the mare and ship her to Florida.
Gunn, a jockey who was paralyzed in a riding accident in 2003, has struggled to keep her farm going. Fortunately, the North American Thoroughbred Aftercare Coalition ponied up the nearly $1,000 to reunite the two.

The horse arrived at the farm over the weekend and has settled into her former home nicely.
"I am so happy to have her back. I worry about the 30 other horses I had to get rid of after my accident and how many of them have gone to slaughter," Gunn said.
Stacy Ferris is part of the coalition that helped save the mare. The group is working on becoming a non-profit organization.
Diamonds for Remi was foaled in 1994. She made six lifetime starts between 1997 and 1998, with Gunn as her jockey. She never finished better than fifth and earned less than $500 in purses, according to Equibase, which maintains an extensive database on North American racehorses.
Gunn eventually sold her to a family whose daughter was participating in hunter/jumper activities. After that, she lost track of the mare and continued to breed and race and ride as a jockey.
Gunn rode professionally for eight years. She mostly rode her own horses or her friends' horses and had a habit of singing "Oklahoma" to her mounts as they came down the stretch.
In 2003, in the midst of her most successful year as a jockey, she was thrown from her mount during a race at Ellis Park in Kentucky. The spill fractured several of her vertebrae and severed her spinal cord, leaving her paralyzed from the chest down.
During her recovery, she was forced to disperse her other horses, but was determined to keep her farm, which includes a 3/4-mile training track. She has survived by leasing barn space to two other thoroughbred trainers and raises one or two horses of her own. She has help from her children, but struggles to make ends meet.
"With the economy the way it is, it's hard. I can't get what I paid for the farm and I can't charge what I used to. It's a really tough time," she said.
Gunn just recently recovered enough from a bedsore to get around in a wheelchair. The wound kept her bedridden for nearly two years.
It is Gunn's love of horses that has kept her going. She fell in love with them as a 2-year-old when she rode a Shetland pony at an Easter festival. She remembers getting in line time and time again for hours to ride. 
"It was hot and the ponies were sweating and smelled, and the leather creaked. There is nothing like it. I loved that smell. It's hard for people to understand," she said. "We'd go on vacations during the summer and I would always feel I was back when I got to the barn and breathed in that smell."
Gunn later competed in equestrian events and got involved in the thoroughbred industry in the early 1990s.
On Tuesday, Diamonds for Remi munched on her feed in a large stall. She is still a little skittish, but has started to calm down.
"We were really fortunate with Diamonds, because once they are on the kill van, the buyer usually won't take them off," Ferris said.
Horse slaughter is a controversial issue in the United States. In 2007, the last slaughter house in the country was closed. However, horses from the U.S. are shipped to Canada or Mexico for slaughter. The majority of the meat is exported to Europe or Japan for human consumption.
Back at the farm, Diamonds for Remi also was reunited with her "nanny," Homer, a 23-year-old gelded thoroughbred that has served as a companion for all of Gunn's young horses and pregnant broodmares.
"People say they don't remember, but I think somewhere they do," Gunn said of the equines.
"I just want her to eat grass, relax and have nothing expected of her for the rest of her life," she said of Diamonds for Remi.