When The Equine Photographers Network did this assignment last year I wanted to participate but didn't know anyone who fit the bill. I vowed to keep my eyes and ears open to find a rescue organization or individuals who had rescued horses.
Fast forward to January of this year. While cruising Facebook, I discovered that a friend and client, Cathy Setzer, had rescued a Camelot Auction horse. I sent her a message and asked if I could come over and photograph her new horse. She was thrilled, but it took us a while to find a free weekend in which we were both available.
While waiting for our shoot date, she explained to me how she came about adopting her horse. Cathy had been looking to adopt a horse after losing her beloved thoroughbred of many years. She had gone to an auction at UConn and came home with a miniature horse to keep her aged gelding company. Still feeling the urge to adopt another horse, she kept her eyes open at the postings for Camelot in NJ.
When an aged Standardbred “gelding” came up, she felt this was the one and became “his” new owner. He seemed to be in really good health for a horse his age (late 20's) so Cathy was thrilled. Not long after, some better news came her way. It seems the tattoo on her new acquisition's lip had been misread and what she actually had was a 15 year old mare who had some very nice Standardbred bloodlines.
Francesca's real name is Energetica. She was foaled March 19, 1994 , was a pacer and won close to $300,000 in her career. Her sire was Energy Burner who won just over a million in his career. Her dam was Scenic Bid and it looks like she was primarily used as a broodmare because her winnings total just $6000.
I finally was able to meet Francesca in mid March and was surprised at what I saw. She was almost all shed out of her downy soft winter coat. Her summer coat though was a funny, almost yellow color. I thought it was odd and was anxious to see her all shed out.
Cathy explained that when she first arrived, she was a little timid and cowered in her stall. She came around very quickly and is a real love now, especially if you bring treats!
Our second shoot brought a big surprise to me. I almost did not recognize her. Francesca's “yellow” coat had been replaced by her beautiful dark bay coloring. There was no sign of the funny color I had seen just a few months earlier.
Cathy has future plans to fence off a small section of pasture and put up a run in shed. She would like to help out others who adopt and act as a quarantine before horses go to their new homes.
When discussing what I wanted the photographs for, I asked Cathy if she knew anyone else in Connecticut that had adopted an auction horse. She said she did and would contact her to see if she was interested in me coming over. About a week later, I heard from Deb Chisholm, who had adopted a coming four year old buckskin gelding.
Deb had been helping spread the word through Facebook and by donations for Camelot and the other rescue organizations. She had been also keeping her eyes out for that special horse. She had bid on one horse, but he found a home in northern New England. She kept searching and when Aslan came up, she knew he was the one. It seems he had an issue with his right eye, and it did not look good for him, even though he was young. Deb also has vision problems with the same eye, and she just knew they would do great together. While he was in quarantine, she was able to see him for the first time. He came right over to her and put his head on her chest, as if to say “This is my mom!”.
When I arrived to photograph them, their bond was evident. He was so well behaved and it was clear he really trusts her. Deb is taking it slow as Aslan is still young and has a lot of maturing to do, but she has ridden him lightly, and he is taking everything in stride.
Deb knows less about Asland's Background but she does know he was born on 5/28/2006 . The original owners name was Sharon Voller in Dubay, North Dakota. To the best of her knowledge, Aslan might have been kept as a stud to be used for breeding, but because of his injury, was gelded in 2008.
Horse auctions had been a part of American culture for a very long time. The fact that a lot of horses are shipped to Canada and Mexico for slaughter is a hard pill to take. I hope someday that this will all go away, but angels such as Cathy and Deb can change their lives, one horse at a time.
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Last edited by Judy Bosco
on Tue Jul 27, 2010 10:08 pm, edited 2 times in total.