It is with great sadness that we have to announce the passing of Bear, our 18 year-old Thoroughbred gelding. Bear was a registered Thoroughbred, bred by Ogden Phipps Mills. His official name was My Secret Brush, and he was a Secretariat progeny. He was raced 39 times, with no wins and only a handful of places, before finally being retired. We don’t know what happened to him between being sold by the racetrack and before we got him, but it was not pleasant.
Bear came to us last February because he had been sold to a killer buyer and was slated to be sold for slaughter. This was the second time Bear was in danger of being sent to the slaughterhouse, as he had been in a similar situation a year before. The killer buyer contacted a local rescue, and they were told that they had 24 hours to purchase him or he would be sent to Mexico for slaughter. We offered to take him and the other rescue raised the money to save him from a horrific end.
It was obvious that Bear had not had adequate care for a long time: his feet were terrible and were shod incorrectly and he had a great deal of damage done to his legs and tendons. Besides the physical neglect, however, there appeared quite quickly to be some neurological issues, and we had him assessed by our vet. Bear would sometimes act erratically for no apparent reason, and when eye issues were ruled out, we worked with our vet to try to create a program that would help with his issues and help to prevent him from degrading further.
Bear was doing relatively well and we were hopeful that he would continue to improve. On his good days, he was good for the volunteers and was used in our veterans program as well. Unfortunately, Bear would sometimes exhibit bizarre and odd behaviors throughout the months, sometimes acting out in his stall, sometimes in the arena, and, at times, when volunteers were working with him. He was sometimes unpredictable, and there was no rhyme or reason as to how he would act, although until this week we would not necessarily consider his behavior as threatening. Unfortunately, this week the behavior turned dangerous and put an individual in danger. Thankfully no one was hurt, but after consulting with our veterinarian, we had to make the difficult decision to put Bear down before he did actually hurt himself or others.
We were heartsick to have to make this decision, but we could not afford to put anyone in danger. Our vet supported the decision, as we had exhausted all of the options that would help to alleviate his neurological issues. Unfortunately we could not send Bear to another rescue because then they could possibly be in danger as well. Even putting him in a pasture would not be 100% safe, as he would still need to be handled by farriers and veterinarians.
There is no way to know exactly what happened to Bear before he came to us, but if his injuries and condition and neurological issues are any indication, it was frightful and cruel. We cannot be sad to have rescued Bear from a horrific end in a Mexican slaughterhouse, however. He had a year of having people care for him. He had a year of being fed well. He had a year of getting treats and carrots on a regular basis.
He had a year of being safe and loved.