Scribbles

ann

“Imagine finding your beloved horse on Facebook in a kill pen bleeding to death with a severed artery, when you though she was safe and happy in a loving home. That’s what happened to me.”

Brittany Wallace couldn’t believe it when she saw Scribbles’ face looking out at her from a Facebook post for a horse in urgent need of care.

Brittany Wallace and Scribbles had been together for five years. Brittany was only nine and learning to ride on ponies when Scribbles, a registered Paint (half Thoroughbred, quarter Paint, quarter Quarter Horse) showed up for sale at the barn where she rode. She and her family, who all ride. fell in love with the beautiful mare. Although Scribbles was a much more advanced horse than Brittany had been riding, the mare would let anyone ride her. So Kay and Scott, Brittany’s parents, purchased Scribbles for her.

The same day that the Wallaces bought Scribbles, they also bought Brittany a Peekapoo puppy from a breeder. They named the puppy Kona.

Brittany and Scribbles proved inseparable, doing everything as a team. Scribbles took Brittany from walk/trot to jumping 3’3” courses, with the occasional 3’6” fence thrown in.

With plenty of talent, Scribbles could have jumped higher. But while that was Brittany’s plan, it wasn’t what Scribbles preferred. Brittany and her family loved Scribbles, and wanted her to be happy, so they refused to push her.

Instead they took trainer Annie Menezes with them to search for a new horse, one that would enjoy jumping the big fences Brittany dreamed of. Since Scribbles was only 15.2, Annie suggested they look for a bigger horse, one that could more easily jump larger fences.

It was never the Wallaces intention to let Scribbles slip out of their lives. Although she was put up for sale, the right situation had to come up so that Scribbles could remain part of their family. Many people offered to buy the mare, but were turned down because it didn’t feel like the right situation.

As small children, Brittany and her sisters Emily and Abby were treated to pony rides at their house on their birthdays. The family who owned the ponies treated them, and the kids, with respect and kindness. Brittany and her family trusted them completely.

Brittany tried quite a few horses but none of them were the right fit. All of the horses had quirks which made them unsuitable. Then Brittany’s mom had an idea. Why not check with the barn which had provided the pony rides, just in case they had a big horse for Brittany? Although primarily a western barn with Quarter Horses, it turned out they had a perfect candidate.

When Brittany, her mom, and Annie arrived at the barn, the owners pulled out a 17.1 hand Belgian warmblood named Maybe. Formerly owned by an Olympic rider who competed with him at such prestigious venues as Spruce Meadows, the horse had all the jump and experience Brittany could want. Combined with the personality of a puppy dog and an instant bond with Brittany, Maybe was definitely in the “meant to be” category.

Just to be positive that Maybe was the right horse, Brittany leased him for a few months at the farm, which soon came to seem like a second home.

The family at the western barn asked Brittany why she was looking for a horse. Brittany explained about Scribbles, and how she didn’t want to push her. To Brittany’s surprise, the woman said she would be interested in the mare. She possibly had a client for her, or if not, Scribbles would be good in their camp program. She would be used lightly, and Brittany could come and visit her whenever she liked.

The Wallaces were very careful to sell Scribbles with a contract of right of first refusal. Should the family decide they no longer wanted Scribbles, the Wallaces were to be given the chance to buy her back before she was offered to anyone else. There was no question about this: if Scribbles were to be offered for sale, they would instantly buy her back.

Although the other offers to purchase Scribbles had never felt right, this one did. It appeared to be the perfect situation, and everything had been done correctly to keep Scribbles a part of the Wallaces’ lives, and to protect her.

It all seemed to fall into place. Brittany loved Maybe, and Scribbles loved her life as a western horse. The people who owned the barn became like family. Scribbles was sold to them in the late spring and all seemed well.

The switch was made, and Maybe became Brittany’s horse, coming home to live at the Wallace’s farm.

“He’s a perfect fit,” says Brittany. “He has taught me and is still teaching me so much. For me he is a true blessing.” Brittany continued to visit and ride Scribbles. It seemed almost too good to be true.

During Brittany’s young life, she had been the victim of several bullies. As a result she ended up with an eating disorder, a disorder that now landed her in the hospital for a month and a half. In that short time, her whole world changed.

When Brittany came home from the hospital, she discovered that her family had rescued a skeletal miniature horse with a parrot mouth, hoping it would help with Brittany’s recovery. It turned out to be a turning point for everyone’s lives: their introduction into the world of horse rescue.

But Brittany’s first move as soon as she was released from the hospital was to head straight to the barn to see her mare.

Scribbles was gone.

Although the family insisted that Scribbles was in a loving home, they had had no right to sell her to someone else. Their legal agreement was to let the Wallaces know first. They had breached that contract.

They also refused to tell Brittany what barn she was in. Scribbles was “with a family friend,” she was “in Connecticut,” she was in “New York.” The story was never the same.

No matter how much Brittany pushed, the family would not reveal Scribbles’ whereabouts.

When an injury sidelined Maybe, Brittany, looking for another horse to ride, began working for a relative of the family that had had Scribbles. The relative promised she would take Brittany to where Scribbles was. They would plan to stop on their way to a show, or on their way home. It never happened.

Brittany couldn’t understand it. The woman at the western barn had been so kind, so good to them. Brittany had completely trusted them. Now they stonewalled her. They had completely changed. It was so odd. Why the change? Why did the woman refuse to tell her anything?

Brittany went back to school; the relative went to Florida for the winter circuit.

Maybe remained out of action and Brittany, still looking for a horse to ride, learned about an auction in New Jersey called Camelot where people network horses needing rescue on Facebook. She and her mother rescued a warmblood/Paint named Tucker as a project horse. Tucker was chosen because his previous owner saw him on Camelot and alerted the Wallaces about him. Tucker, who was delivered from New Jersey to their Massachusetts home by a transporter named Lorraine, turned out to be an accomplished dressage and event horse.

Tucker immediately fell in love with Kay and became her horse, while both Brittany and her mother received an impromptu education on the horrors of horse slaughter. Lorraine explained that the horses on Camelot come from the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania, an auction attended by kill buyers.

The Wallaces, having recently extended their barn, had room for more horses. So Brittany asked Lorraine to bring her home another rescue, which she purchased with her summer savings. An emaciated four-year-old Friesian/sporthorse cross soon arrived at their home. She was christened Tidal Kingsbury, and over time was lovingly nursed back to health.

On a November morning Brittany’s beloved Kona died of kidney failure, after  beating the odds by living four years beyond diagnosis. Scribbles was gone from her life and now the dog who had come to her on the same day as Scribbles was gone as well. Devastated, Brittany needed to focus her mind on something else. Her exposure to horse rescues and Camelot had led to a firm belief in ending horse slaughter. Brittany felt that researching a paper she was writing on the topic would help distract her from the pain of Kona’s death.

She chose Facebook to begin her research. As she scrolled down, Brittany saw a picture that Lorraine shared of an injured horse in urgent need of help. The horse was in a kill pen at New Holland auction in Pennsylvania, ready to be shipped to slaughter with a severed artery.

Brittany clicked on the photo, thinking she could use it in her paper. There was a notation above the photo, “This happens every day.”

In the initial photos, all Brittany saw were pools of blood surrounding the horse’s leg.

Kelly Smith of Omega Horse Rescue was at the auction and noticed the badly wounded horse. Kelly pulled her from the pen and raced to get her urgently needed medical attention.

As Brittany continued to scroll through the pictures, thinking how awful it was, and wondering how anyone could do this to horses, she came across a photo of the horse’s face.

It was Scribbles.

Brittany was speechless. She yelled to her parents. “I think I found Scribbles!”

“How could that be?” they asked.

“No way!” exclaimed her dad. Looking at the photos, they saw a bony, dull coated mare. It couldn’t be their beautiful Scribbles.

Yet, maybe it could.

Brittany knew it was. “My heart stopped. I felt such a sense of security; I knew I would have my horse back. I felt such a sense of peace; it was like I would get to see my child again.” All the time that Scribbles had been lost, the Wallaces had suffered a gaping hole in their hearts. Someone was missing from their family.

Brittany wasted no time. Grabbing her phone she called Lorraine immediately about the bleeding horse. “That horse in the picture is my horse, Scribbles!”

As skeptical as the Wallaces had been, Lorraine assured her that it was not Scribbles. “There are hundreds of bay mares at the auctions. The possibilities of this being your horse are slim to none.”

Not taking no for an answer, Brittany pressed on. Scribbles had a distinct horseshoe-shaped scar under her tail. Brittany asked if Lorraine could look for it.

Lorraine did look. She didn’t text Brittany, or call her. Instead she sent a photo: of a horseshoe shaped scar.

Brittany burst into tears.

“She’s alive and I found her! It was a miracle. I was filled with joy and so grateful that Kelly had rescued her.”

The Wallaces had no hesitation about reclaiming their horse. “We have to take her back,” said Brittany’s mom, in tears.

Emotions rose and plummeted like a roller coaster. The joy of finding Scribbles clashed with the sadness of what had happened. This was a horse who was loved and wanted, was part of a family. They had done everything to ensure her safety and yet she had been subjected to hell and almost slaughtered.  They blamed themselves. How could they have let this happen?

Slaughter proponents try to claim that horses in the kill pens are old, sick and unwanted. Scribbles, like so many horses that end up there, was anything but.

No one knows for sure how Scribbles sliced open her artery. The fencing and troughs at the kill pen are all metal with sharp edges, so Brittany thinks one of those exposed edges may have been responsible. Scribbles, an alpha mare, would definitely have fought in the cramped conditions of the pen, where two to three times the number of horses that should be housed in the space are jammed together.

That wasn’t Scribbles’ only injury. She was covered in scars and scrapes, and the emotional scars of her trauma went far deeper.

Brittany’s dad says “It’s pretty amazing how it all came together. If we hadn’t gotten into horse rescue, Brittany would not have known Lorraine. If Kona hadn’t died, she wouldn’t have been on Facebook and found Scribbles.”

The Wallaces have raised their children with the idea of Karma, of everything happening for a reason, of giving back, of helping those less fortunate than you. Therefore it was no surprise to them that on the day of Kona’s death, only an hour after his passing, Brittany was led to Scribbles. It was divine intervention.

Scribbles remained at Omega for a month to heal from her injury. “Kelly Smith,” says Brittany, “was amazing. She updated us with pictures and phone calls as to how she was doing.” Brittany could hardly stand the wait that she had to endure to bring her horse home.

Although the Wallaces could have arranged for a transporter for Scribbles, they made the drive from Cape Cod to Pennsylvania on a frigid December night to pick up their mare. They felt that having a trailer that Scribbles was familiar with would help her feel secure, and they also wanted to thank Kelly for saving the mare’s life.

Brittany couldn’t wait to go pick Scribbles up! Arriving at Omega, she walked into the barn and “the beauty in Scribbles’ eyes took my breath away. Kelly had her all sparkled up, and had red bows on her just like a little girl’s dream Christmas present. My tears never stopped. Words can’t describe the magic in that barn.”

Brittany had taught Scribbles to bow when she was a child, and she asked her to bow now to show Kelly. “She just kept bowing and bowing down to us, as if to say thank you! She remembered me. She knew her family had come back for her.”

Scribbles literally pulled Brittany onto the familiar trailer to go home again.

But someone else was going home, too.

Kelly had found a sick kitten, and brought it back with her from New Holland with Scribbles. When she showed it to the Wallaces, they were amazed. It was the exact coloring of Kona: all black with a little white on the chest.

Brittany’s dad immediately said, “No way! We already have too many animals.”

Although Kay and Brittany used the pretext that they would find a new home for it in order to get the kitten in the truck, once she was on board, the kitten wasted no time in winning Dad over. Perched on the truck console next to him for the ride home, the little snuggle bunny took less than an hour to change his mind. He was head over heels in love.

The Wallaces were astounded by the similarity in personality traits between the kitten and Kona.

As the trailer pulled into the driveway, Scribbles was met by welcoming whinnies. The horses who had been there with Scribbles all knew she was back. And she knew she was back, returning their whinnies with her own.

Although thrilled to be home again, Scribbles was not the same horse that the Wallaces had sold in the summer. Painfully thin, she appeared little more than a skeleton. Months passed before she regained her normal weight. As she groomed her horse, Brittany constantly discovered new wounds and scars.

Brittany’s dad describes Scribbles as “a little Vietnam vet, she has flashbacks.” Her anxiety level is now so high that she can no longer live with other horses; instead she has a paddock with a shed all to herself, where Brittany can see her from the kitchen window. She is terrified of horses leaving on trailers, and gets anxious when she sees the trailer being hooked up. Scribbles has no intention of going back to where Kelly found her.

In her prior life, Scribbles would nicker to Brittany all the time. It took her eight months after arriving home before she would nicker again.

Brittany just rides her lightly now, taking bareback jaunts in the snow, going out on trails and occasionally attending a show. And Scribbles continues to let Brittany know just how happy she is to be home again!

Brittany says that she wishes this were the end of the story, but it’s not. Scribbles was lucky; she was found and came home. How she wound up at a slaughter auction remains a mystery.

Scribble’s experience has only increased Brittany’s quest to end the horrific practice of slaughtering horses. She constantly posts updates about horse slaughter on the internet and Facebook, working tirelessly to increase awareness and end slaughter for good. It never ceases to amaze Brittany how many people don’t even realize that it is going on. One Senator she spoke to, whose daughter rides, had no idea that horses were slaughtered in this country!

Brittany is a big proponent of the SAFE act (Safeguard American Food Exports Act), which would ban slaughter in this country and the transportation of horses for slaughter from the U.S. to Canada and Mexico. Horses are routinely given drugs banned for human consumption such as bute and furazone, which are poisonous to humans. Although horse and animal lovers want to ban horse slaughter to protect horses, this bill would have the most chance of saving horses because currently we are literally sending poisoned meat abroad. As one senator said, “If we tried to slaughter beef that had been fed these drugs, we wouldn’t stand a chance of getting away with it.”

Brittany says “It isn’t fair what we do to these animals. Horse slaughter is going on right now, to horses just like Scribbles. It could be your horse. I will not stop until every horse is given the chance to live, and avoid the tragic fate of slaughter. I hope you won’t either.”

Brittany has spoken on Capitol Hill against horse slaughter, and the second time she spoke, she broke down in tears. “These horses know what’s being done to them; they know where they’re going, and it’s so sad.”

Because of everything that’s happened I m now a vet tech for an animal hospital and want to become one for rescued animals. Tidal who I was planning on reselling is now part of the family and has taken my heart. She isn’t what I was originally looking for in a horse but she has taught me so much about unconditional love and trust. Scribbles still has PTSD but we have our good days and bad days just like anyone does. Scribbles has changed our whole family’s lives, and we will never forget what happened to her and how lucky we are. The whole family continues to support me in my mission of rescuing all animals.

The Wallaces own nine rescue horses, and help to find homes for other rescues. Scribbles’ story has saved many other horses. “There are probably 20 horses now on Cape Cod that came from Camelot, and were aware of it because of Scribbles,” she says.

Scribbles is safe, but that’s not enough for Brittany. She won’t stop until every horse is safe. “I want to do this for the rest of my life, to rescue, and help animals.”