October 2013 Issue - page 8

Page 8
October 2013
by Stephanie Shertzer Lawson
Kelly Smith of Omega Horse
Rescue in York County, PA, sees
heartbreaking and inspiring situa-
tions every day. So when she has
a story of an amazing horse, it
really is amazing.
This is the story of a horse
that saved his own life, then sur-
vived another near-death.
While talking with a kill
buyer this spring, Smith learned
about a horse that had jumped a
fence while being loaded onto
a truck headed to a Canadian
slaughterhouse. The horse had
been on the truck when it was
refused entry by Canadian border
guards because it was transport-
ing an injured horse. The driver
was sent to a feedlot on the New
York/Canadian border, where the
horses were unloaded and the
healthy ones reloaded via a ramp
with a very high fence on either
side to contain them.
“One little black horse, just
14.3 hands, saw an opportunity
and jumped the fence,” Smith
said. “The feed lot owner told
the driver no other horse had ever
jumped the fence, which he esti-
mated to be five feet high.”
The little black horse, who
had gone through an auction in
Tennessee before being shipped
to Pennsylvania and then onto the
Canadian border, eluded capture
Cheating Death Twice, Slaughter Bound Horse Finds a Home
long enough that the truck left
without him. He jumped into a
field with other horses, where he
stayed for two weeks, impossible
to catch. The feed lot owner even-
tually roped him from horseback.
He was loaded success-
fully this time and shipped back
to Pennsylvania to be retagged
for slaughter. USDA inspec-
tors inspect each horse, provide
paperwork and attach a tag that
indicates the horse is slaughter
bound. Another trip to Canada
was in his immediate future when
Smith heard about him in the
conversation with the kill buyer.
“I called the buyer in Penn-
sylvania who owned him to ask
that he sell him to me,” Smith
said. “After hearing a story like
that, who wouldn’t want to save
him? After several phone calls
he located the horse. He said,
‘Kelly, we are going to put a
halter on this horse and put him
in a pen for you’,” she recalled.
“Moments later he called again
to say they could not get a halter
on him. He had knocked one of
the workers to the ground and,
frustrated, they were putting him
on a truck headed for a Mexican
slaughterhouse. And he hung up.”
Devastated, Smith answered
a call an hour later telling her that
they had succeeded in getting a
halter on him and he was in a pen
waiting for her.
She found him a stall for 30
days of quarantine at Brandy-
wine Equine Veterinary Associ-
ates where she was finally able
to see him. He was covered in
scrapes and scratches, matted and
mangled. “He looked like he had
been through a war,” she said.
“He was somewhat friendly, but
standoffish, he was shy and un-
sure of people, for good reason.”
Trainer in Florida
Next on the agenda was find-
ing a place for him. A good friend
in Florida put her in touch with an
upper level trainer in Ocala who
was willing to foster, rehab and
train him. Carolina Vargas has
worked in South America and for
Margie Goldstein-Engle and Nona
Garson as a rider/trainer.
It was April, and horses
were shipping north from Flori-
da. Empty trailers were heading
south. Vargas posted the horse’s
story on Facebook, hoping
someone would help with ship-
ping, which ranges from $800 to
$1,200. Two days later, Hen-
nessy Horse Transportation LLC,
called and offered to ship him
for the price of gas, about $300,
if someone could get him to
I-95 in Mary-
land. Vargas
asked for time
to see if she
could collect
the money and
arrange for transport. Less than
a hour later, George and Cynthia
Hennessy, owners of the truck-
ing company, called back. They
had discussed the situation and
decided to commit totally to the
rescue of the horse Carolina was
calling No Name. They offered
to not only transport the horse at
no charge from Pennsylvania to
Florida, but also to pick him up
at the quarantine facility, know-
ing that multiple transfers would
be stressful to an already anxious
equine. The horse, amazingly,
loaded willingly up the ramp to a
stall in the front of the trailer and
by 10 p.m. on April 29, No Name
and George and Cynthia Hennessy
were heading south on I-95.
But the fates weren’t finished
with the little black horse. At a
rest stop, they moved the horse to
a stall in the back of trailer where
it was easier to water him. Later
that night, on Interstate 95 out-
side of Spotsylvania, VA, George
Hennessy, 79, who was driving,
suffered a massive heart attack.
The 2007 Volvo tractor ran off
the right side of the road and
struck a utility pole. He died the
following day at Mary Washing-
ton Hospital in Fredericksburg,
VA. His wife Cynthia, 57, was
seriously injured. The trailer
was a total loss. The little horse,
amazingly, was uninjured.
But he was even more
traumatized. State Police opened
the door and he charged at them,
teeth bared. They slammed the
door and called animal control,
which opened the door much
more slowly. Eventually they
were able to get him to a farm.
On May 1, George Hen-
nessy’s family called Vargas and
requested that they be allowed
to finish what their father and
mother had started as they could
think of no better way to pay
respect to their parents’ generos-
ity. The family paid the horse’s
boarding and vet bills. They
contacted J. R. Hudson, a family
friend, who had a tractor-trailer.
He readily accepted their request
for help and offered to transport
the horse for free. In honor of
George’s sacrifice and the Hen-
nessy family’s compassionate
determination, Smith and Vargas
asked if they could name the
horse Hennessy G.
“They were so wonderful,”
Smith said. “Not only did they
send a truck for him, but they
paid his vet and boarding bills
and made sure everything was
taken care of.”
Now Under Saddle
Four months later, Hen-
nessy G has a home and his own
Facebook page. AYouTube
video of his second day under
saddle, July 31, shows the little
horse with a small white star on
a lunge line, his dark bay coat
now unblemished and shiny. Re-
laxed, a little unsure, he learns to
walk with his owner/ trainer in
the saddle. Ears still relaxed, he
progresses to
a bit of a trot,
to Vargas’s
delight. In the
twelve minute
lesson he pro-
gresses from stopping, confused,
to trotting steadily under saddle.
“From day one, he has never
tried anything mean,” Vargas
said. “He’s very sweet, he trusts
and gets along with everyone.
He’s now walking and trotting
under saddle. I do two to three
minutes on the lunge line, then
hop on for a few minutes and hop
off. When I introduce new things
I first show him how it’s done on
another horse. He’s very smart.
“I don’t know what he is.
He’s rounded like a Morgan, has
a beautiful, muscled neck like a
stallion. Maybe a quarter horse?
He looks most of all like a petite
warmblood,” she said.
“The original idea was to
give him some training and move
him on, but now he’s our pet.
He fits our family well – it was
my husband’s idea to give him
a forever home. He lets you do
anything to him except I had to
sedate him to have his hooves
done, which were in terrible
shape. I don’t like to have to
sedate him so I bought a rasp and
I am trimming them myself. He
loves warm baths so I hose his
legs while trying to pick up his
feet, which he’s starting to let me
“Other than that, nothing
really bothers him. I don’t know
what the future holds. He has a big
stride and he moves well,” she said.
And, obviously, he can
Hennessy G, four months after multiple trailering incidents, is now
safe and happy with owner Carolina Vargas.
See Hennessey G’s
online video at
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