In late February, four mares destined for slaughter were rescued thanks to Gerda’s Animal Aid, a rescue organization dedicated to giving horses a second chance at life. Owner and operator, Gerda Silver, was able to save the lives of the mares, three of whom were expecting foals, thanks to generous donations from supporters. But one mare, named Open Zipper, was not part of the rescue. Like the other mares, Open Zipper was pregnant, but in an unfortunate turn of events, she had already been sold to the horse meat industry by her previous caretaker. While her fellow horses and their soon-to-be newborn foals would have a life of freedom, it looked like Open Zipper and her foal would not be able to join them.
It took one frantic weekend to track down and buy back Open Zipper, but help came from the most unexpected source — the son of the meat farmer. He drove two hours to the rescue site and it looked like Open Zipper would finally have a life of peace. But the former broodmare’s struggle was not over. When her foster attempted to walk Open Zipper on a lead, her legs were unstable. The rescued mare would have to be euthanized, but when her harness was removed, rescuers were astounded when she was able to walk soundly in her new pasture.
In May, Open Zipper the former broodmare gave birth to a foal named Faith.
Without the son’s compassion, Open Zipper would have never been able to nurture Faith. They’re now being fostered in upstate New York.
According to Open Zipper and Faith’s foster mom, “Open Zipper is a reminder to all of us that no matter what the disability, you can still have a quality of life.” We wholeheartedly agree.
Faith and Old Zipper are now available for adoption to a loving home, but most horses aren’t this lucky. 80,000 horses are sent to slaughter each year, most of whom are ex-race horses, pregnant mares, or injured animals. To learn more about rescuers who dedicate their lives to helping save these horses from this horrible fate and what you can do to help, visit Gerda’s Animal Aid website.
All image source: offtrackthoroughbreds