Willow, the Final Chapter (chapter 1 here; chapter 2 here)
by Joy Aten
Willow, a recently-raced mare when found starving in October of last year, was humanely euthanized on June 24 with Laura, her rescuer and forever home, at her side. Willow’s severely damaged ankle could no longer support her, nor would it respond to pain management. Although Laura knew Willow’s life would be cut short because of what racing did to her, she had longed for more time with this sweet mare who had learned to trust, and been so easy to love.
Laura’s goodbye: “It was the hardest, yet at the same time the kindest, thing I had to do for Willow. She went to sleep peacefully. Duke and Bart [Willow’s herd mates] came to say goodbye to her, so they knew what happened to their beloved Willow.”
Willow was eight years old; her “forever” with Laura was 230 days.
Time for Parading – “Willow” – found injured and starving nine months after her last race:
Willow shortly after arrival at Laura’s November 7:
Willow enjoying her limited time with one of her mates, Duke. Although Laura was able to bring the starved mare back to a healthy weight, her damaged ankle continued to deteriorate:
Promising Willow she will always be loved:
Willow, a casualty that this vile industry will neither acknowledge nor record. But we will here. Goodbye gentle soul…
People need to see for themselves what the horse racing industry is really all about & that is money. The horses’ lives mean nothing to them otherwise and are discarded. It’s quite despicable and needs to stop. Now.
Gina O’Brien, perfectly said. I have said numerous times on this site, I cannot look at pictures of the foals…because it breaks my heart,because I know what kind of life they are in for (literally running for their lives,because,in this ‘industry’ you’re always a step away from slaughter).
Laura, thank you for being such a great role model for us all. Willow was lucky to have you!
Why can’t we destroy the people who do this to these sweet creatures. The people who do this should have the same thing done to them and banned FOREVER from every owning or racing again. RIP sweet Willow.
I agree with you Carol. How can anybody abuse such a precious horse and then neglect it through using it in horse races. If I had a horse like that, I would spoil it and make it part of my family.
Thank you so much for helping Willow through her difficult journey; you gave her love & peace.
People who do this to these horses should be put in jail! These races should be put out of business!Hope you people who abuse these horses die of the covid virus!
You’re an INCREDIBLE HUMAN, Laura, to be with Willow & give her So MUCH LOVE in her short time with you❤️❤️❤️🥰
There are people in Willow’s live who allowed this to happen to her. May what happened to her, because those who should have cared for her and did not, happen to them. I don; t know about Karma but apparently Karma is a bitch. If you failed Willow…
I’ve never liked horse racing because I love horses and know that to the owners they are nothing more than a way to make money!
This horse was so lucky to be loved for even a short time, and the folks who took her in were lucky as well. I just found out about Derek Campana, who started Bionic Pets. He makes prosthetics for animals, including horses and even cows. Someone sent me a video of a horse that was using one of his prosthetic legs. It was amazing. The horse could even run. And his prices do not make such a step unattainable to the average person. I feel like everyone should know that this is an option and that “no leg no horse” isn’t a death sentence. Campana made prosthetics for people but saw such a big need for animals and knew he could help.
Thank you for everything you are doing. I never realized these beautiful horses were being so wickedly murdered after people make money gambling over their gift from God. This horse is so beautiful. God bless you for bringing the truth & I support everything you stand for 100%. I promise to spread the message to others. Thank you for loving this horse & taking all the photos. I will never forget Willow. This is completely horrifying.
Tears! She was beautiful. Thank you for giving her a time to heal and trust before she had to leave. My fervent prayer is that the rotten horse racing industry will fall down and die like the scores of innocent horses it has heartlessly killed. RIP Willow
None of us will ever forget you, Willow. You made this world a better place with your gentleness.
This harrowing story should be in every newspaper and magazine to show the public just what the real cost of horse racing is….
Willow experienced care and kindness for the last few months of her 8yrs. on this earth thanks to Laura.
She lived approximately 1/3 of her life span and those years were spent in misery, pain, and then extreme starvation. It is hard to believe there was no accountability for such outrageous cruelty. This fact says nothing good about our society and our laws.
Racing assumes the “right” to use and abuse the horse for a few years of it’s life and then when the horse is no longer useful to the business it takes no responsibility for him – the animal is dumped into a bad situation and there is no accountability.
“Rights” without responsibility /accountability never works and racing is a prime example of this imbalance.
It takes an army to try and right even some of the wrongs of this situation.
The only way to end this horrible overwhelming cruelty is to end racing
These people have no souls. Thank you for giving her days days a time of comfort and love. This absolutely breaks my heart.
stop these horse races, it is so cruel
Animals need more protection from humans
My sympathy to you – we always have a special bond with any animal we rescue from dire circumstances. TY for making her last days comforting and loving for Willow.
Thank you Laura, for loving her and showing her kindness. Its all we can do, is be there to pick up the pieces after they have been used and abused❤️
thank you for your kind heart and taking her in. And showing her love. She was beautiful. It’s so sad she had to go through pain. Your very kind. Hugs and prayers ❤❤
Bless her dear sweet innocent soul thank u for taking care of her x
I’m crying rite now. This is so sad & makes me so mad! Horseracing neexs to go away. Hoses should only run when they want to (in open fields).
I read some articles about a horse that had been caught in a hurricane, in Florida a few years ago. The horse was standing in water, as the area had flooded. Apparently, down south, there is a bacteria that thrives in swamps, and this horse was infected through a foot cut. The horse was rescued, but unfortunately, after, I think, months of treatment for the infection at an equine hospital, didn’t make out so well. The horse had to undergo surgeries on its foot, and casts were applied. When the last cast was removed, the hoof came off with it
The vets had been so impressed by the horse’s calm personality and patience during his treatment, the way he put up with the pain and enforced confinement, that they decided to try a prosthetic. After a temporary prosthetic was figured out, and it was apparent that the horse was understanding and accepting of it, and wasn’t hesitating to walk on it, they had some prosthetic experts come in, to make ups permanent prosthetic.
This horse now has that prosthetic. He runs about the pasture, goes through all gaits without hesitation. He’s happy!
His owner couldn’t afford all the horse’s treatment, so he gave up ownership to the equine hospital, I think. I don’t know how they funded the treatment, especially when they developed the prosthetic.
This horse is now a therapy horse, doing excellent work with child amputees.
I hope he lives a happy, long life-and I hope that more owners and vets will look to his case. I’m hoping that if more horses are judged ok for a prosthetic, that the technology will improve.
I’m really sorry, but I can’t remember the name of the horse, or where he was treated. All I remember is that he is a quarter horse, that all this happened in Florida and not all that long ago.
I am wondering if you’re referring to a bacteria that lives in swamps or any body of stagnant water that never freezes. If so, the dreadful infection it causes in horses is called ‘Pythiosis’ and many horses can still die from it even after a lot of treatment and care.
R.I.P. SO SORRY WILLOW. U S ARMY VETERAN, MERCY FOR ANIMALS MEMBER & MANY OTHERS!!!!
RIP angel :((
I am so sorry for your loss. Willow was so lucky that you found her when you did. People need to know what happens to these beautiful creatures when they are no longer useful to the people who are supposed to take care of them. Rest easy Willow. You will never be forgotten.
Horribly sad. My question is, why do the laws against cruelty to animals not apply when a horse is found in this condition? Why were the owner/trainer/stable not prosecuted in this case? Please help me understand this. Are there no animal right lawyers willing to take on these case?
Horses are livestock. Laws don’t apply.
I am endlessly amazed about this. Starving an animal (even ones labelled “livestock)” isn’t operating by “standard industry practice”, under which it seems many other cruelties are perpetuated.
I do not know the best way to go about getting this abuse to stop but I will contact a few orgs like Mercy for Animals and see what they’re up to regarding rights for livestock as that is their focus. Certainly the Animal Welfare Act excludes livestock but it has been amended many times. Maybe it can be amended again to include livestock. I imagine there would be a huge uproar from certain segments but times are changing!
I’m not sure about any charges being brought against the last known person or persons who were the ones that left her abandoned (?) and starving. I did not see a follow-up on that part of this story. Her owner was also her trainer and, instead of getting her the proper veterinary care that a normal person with scruples would do, he gave her to someone who did not have whatever it would take to get her proper basic care or veterinary care as far I could comprehend after reading the posts about Willow. As far as the person who received her as basically a gift, this person did not have enough money to own a horse. As far as scruples go, I guess it would be logical to assume that person had none. Otherwise, I think that person could have handled this whole situation much differently.
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