Painted Pistol, aka Pistols and Roses, had been on stall rest for a sesamoid fracture; the vet’s advice to let his ankle heal and then be as good as new in a few months. He was a talented racehorse; winning $268,327 in earnings with 17 wins, 12 places and 12 shows. He had last raced on Feb.07, but by June 07 had turned up in a New York killpen, the letter ‘N’ sprayed in red along both flanks of his body, the designation for the last name of the killbuyer who purchased this 10 year old grey gelding for slaughter for sale as horse meat for human consumption in Europe.
Painted Pistol’s story, however did not end at a Canadian slaughterhouse as he seemed to be destined. Unlike 17,000 thoroughbreds annually, whose bad luck, neglectful, uncaring trainers and greedy owners, Painted Pistol’s story defied the odds. Shortly after his last race and his fractured ankle, his owner had just left Pete ( as he became to be called) on the farm until a breeder in northeast, PA offered to trade Pete for a thoroughbred weanling. Off Pete went, but didn’t stay long at the new farm and was soon brought to the Unidilla, New York auction. He was privately purchased but for unexplained reasons, less than 2 weeks after that, once again wound up at the same sale. Again he was purchased by a private party, but returned to the same auction a third time, however Pete’s luck, apparently ran out. There were no private buyers this time bidding on him, and he was tagged for purchase by a local killbuyer, a contract buyer for a horse slaughter house in Canada.
Pete was shuffled off to the designated holding area for ” kill” horses, but on that same day a local volunteer for a horse rescue had been involved in rescuing a different thoroughbred gelding. As she was leaving, the killbuyer shouted to her from his house. “Hey, Lisa, can you take that grey too?” He told her that he had the papers to that particular horse, and the horse had won a lot of money as well as being kind and very quiet. ” He’s too nice of a horse for meat,” the killbuyer commented, so in Lisa went to the kitchen while the killbuyer laid out the paperwork of the grey gelding’s life. And there were Pete’s Jockey Club papers, stakes placed horse, multiple allowance winning horse and one who had run in the Woodlawn Memorial against Fusaichi Pegasus.
Within days, his bail was raised and Peter started his rehabilitation at a PA rescue, Another Chance 4 Horses. He was bathed to remove the red paint designating him as meat, he was vet checked, pampered, fed and when his ankle healed, he was worked and retrained. He loves clover to nibble on, but unless the small purple flowers are attached to the stems, he just grabs at it, turns his head away and tosses the stems haphazardly on the ground. Whenever Pete sees Christy, co -founder of Another Chance 4 Horses coming with the flowers, he calls out with a loud whinny, crinkles his upper lip, snatches the flowers out of her hands and happily munches away.
His sesamoid fracture has healed. He loves the attention of visitors; his once matted coat with the red “N” is shiny and sleek. His former owners never blinked an eye to help Pete, but he doesn’t seem to be phased by his past. Pete lives in the present, just like all horses, and it is the humans who have brought him this far that promise him a safe and cherished future.