Since January 2010, I've photographed well over 2,500 horses in need. I volunteer my time, skill, and camera equipment, and I try to put a face to the "unwanted" horse population. In addition to local rescues and farms, I visit Camelot Auction in Cranbury, NJ every Thursday and photograph the horses who were sold to the feedlot the night before. A group of dedicated horse lovers networks these horses every week, sharing the horses' photos and descriptions everywhere from feed stores to Facebook. The grassroots volunteer effort has made an impact; since November 2009, no horses have shipped to slaughter from this auction. Over 2,800 horses sold privately and have been given one more chance to get out of the slaughter pipeline.
Although there is no way to track every horse and it is unrealistic to believe that they all found their perfect owners, there are countless success stories of horses who found appropriate homes. This is the story of one of those horses.
Tattoo research revealed that her name was Indian Delight, and she earned $134,560 on the track, running against the likes of Life At Ten, Sugar Swirl, Indyanne, Secret Gypsy, and Persistently. Her last race was in May 2010.
Thursday night, she was still available. Nervous about the mare's welfare, I called TDN Vice President Sue Finley, who assured me that together, we would find her a home. Friday morning rolled around, and the mare was still available. The TDN staff pooled their funds and together, we paid the purchase price for Indian Delight.
Many phone calls were made that week. Through the network of wonderful TDN readers, a few farms offered a home for Indian Delight. With the help of many horse advocate friends, the mare's transportation and a month of quarantine were scheduled. Horses who have entered the auction circuit are recommended to be placed in temporary isolation care to make sure they have not caught any diseases in their travels.
On Kentucky Derby Day, I visited Indian Delight in Pennsylvania at the isolation care facility. She had already picked up a little weight, and her shaggy winter coat was almost gone. The bay mare still had her doe-eyed expression, but this time she looked a little less bewildered by her surroundings.Fallbrook Farm. Although they were not the owners or breeders of Indian Delight, Mr. and Mrs. Randal generously offered to take her into their care.
The week before the 2011 Saratoga meet opened, I drove out to Kentucky to visit Indian Delight at Fallbrook. As I headed down up driveway, I could not help but smile at Fallbrook's gently rolling hills of bluegrass and beautiful barns. My smile turned into an ear-to-ear grin when I saw my friend Indian Delight peek her head out of her stall. Gone was her winter fuzz, and it was replaced by her gleaming summer coat, resplendent with dapples. She was the picture of health, a wonderful model for my photos.