Tansy, the story of an ex racehorse

This is Tansy with me moments after winning her at auction at the Gympie sale yards in 2011. I went head-to-head with ‘the dogger’ (slaughter man), who was very keen to win her as Thoroughbreds have a high level of muscle tone and therefore get the doggers more money by weight at slaughter. My husband stood beside me. ‘Again, again,’ he kept saying, his eye firmly on the dogger. There were hundreds of horses there that day; we couldn’t take them all. But she was lucky. She got us; and we got her.

in sale yard with me

Every year, I like to share her story. You can see by Tansy’s face just how defeated she was that day. She was dripping in sweat, having been standing in this yard for many, many hours, with barely a drop of putrid water for relief. We had no idea how long it had been since she’d eaten.

Tansy doesn’t particularly like people but, bless her, she is one of my most well-mannered horses. Her training was good but the racing system broke her.

She is a thin horse because she has now lost all her front top teeth so can’t graze well. She lost her teeth due to neglect. The racing industry is there to make money, not to love and care for horses. If they can get away with not spending some money on dentistry they will do it. Now, I can fatten her up if I hard feed her twice a day but it’s really not good for her gut so we walk a fine line of watching her weight slide down, then up again as I put more hard feed into her, then stabilise, then slide again.

Last year, I thought we’d have to euthanise her. Her off-fore fetlock had ‘blown up’ a couple of times since I’ve had her, but then it blew up and stayed that way and she was terribly lame. X-rays revealed an old fracture–a racing injury for certain, according to the vet. He said she would have been stabled for a while to see if it would come good, then when it didn’t they would have tried to breed from her, and then she would have been discarded to slaughter.

This is the reality of racing. This is the story I saw over and over again as I literally pulled horses out of slaughter yards in my three years running a horse rescue charity.

As it turned out, a cortisone injection helped her fetlock through the worst of the pain and now the joint has fused she is more comfortable.

I don’t blame Tansy for not having a lot of time for people. People clearly let her down over and over again.

She now grazes as best she can in our ten acres and she will be loved and cared for for the rest of her life.

But I know for certain–because I saw it firsthand–that the majority of horses in this country are not lovingly euthanised and buried under a gum tree. They enter the cycle of horse slaughter, often with terrible, painful injuries and illness, and spend weeks being trucked around, fed rubbish food, kept in pens where other horses attack them, live in fear and die that way.

I know you don’t want to hear it.

Trust me, I don’t either.

Racing for Brilliance

Have you ever joined a writing race?

Ned Kelly 1946 | Sidney Nolan
Ned Kelly 1946 | Sidney Nolan

I am a fan of writing quickly. Racing to get thoughts on the page opens doorways to potential greatness that our inner critics might otherwise keep firmly shut. I remember once listening to an interview on ABC Classic FM between Margaret Throsby and the curator of an art gallery who had put together an exhibit of Australian artist Sidney Nolan’s work. The curator explained that Sidney Nolan’s philosophy was to paint quickly; so quickly that he left behind some 35,000 works!! Nolan’s belief was that it was only in painting quickly that he was able to go beyond the rational and into the mystical. And sometimes he hit brilliance.

I’m certainly not saying your words won’t need editing; they will. But write for your life first.

Nolan is often criticised for leaving behind many thousands of ‘dud’ paintings and ‘only’ a few dozen or so masterpieces. Well gee… if I reach the end of my writing career with only a few dozen masterpieces I think I will be resting in peace.

The Australian Writers Marketplace holds regular online writing races that you might like to check out. Or you could always set the clock and race yourself.

Either way, race on writers… brilliance is just a few thousand words away.