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June 12, 2013

Miracle Horse Returns Favor

Two years ago, I wrote about a foal named “Moonstruck,” a colt who survived against all odds. While pregnant with Moonstruck, his mother, Catori, was crammed aboard a cattle trailer, bound for slaughter in Mexico, when the driver fell asleep at the wheel. The truck careened off the road. The grisly accident left only 17 of the 30 horses on board alive.

Catori was one of the survivors.

When our Oklahoma state director Cynthia Armstrong found out that the 17 surviving horses were again slated for slaughter, she worked with Blaze’s Tribute Equine Rescue and a few generous HSUS donors to secure safe haven for the horses. It was only then that it was discovered that Catori was pregnant. Ten months later, during the 2011 spring equinox – when the moon was closer to the earth than it had been in more than 20 years – Catori gave birth to a healthy, rambunctious foal. This miracle foal, born under the "supermoon," was appropriately named “Moonstruck.”

Moonstruck and Catori settled into their new life at Blaze’s Tribute, hopefully leaving behind a life of tragedy and danger. Their peace was short-lived, however. Just two months later, a major tornado hit Oklahoma and Blaze’s Tribute farm was destroyed. Miraculously, three of the 21 horses on the property survived: a blind horse named Fiona, Catori, and Moonstruck.

Moonstruck and Twister hanging out
Desiree Fees Walling
Twister and Moonstruck are now inseparable.

Once again, Catori and Moonstruck had beaten the odds.

In May, two F5 tornadoes, including one purported to be the largest tornado in recorded history, swept through Oklahoma, destroying nearly everything in their path. Out of the rubble emerged a two-day-old filly named “Twister.” Twister's mother was killed in the tornado. Work began immediately to find a surrogate mother to care for the little foal. Several horses were evaluated, but Twister totally disregarded them.

Twister was then introduced to Moonstruck, now two-years-old, and the two became fast friends. They shared a connection, a legacy of near-death and amazing survival that connected them in a way that touches us profoundly. It was as if Moonstruck was returning a favor, caring for a foal that had a story of survival not unlike his own.

There are times when the debate about horse slaughter can seem abstract or distant or impersonal. Moonstruck’s story of tragedy, survival and friendship reminds us of the personalities, the unique characteristics, and the will to live that all animals have.

This week, New Mexico’s Attorney General Gary King shut the door on horse slaughter in New Mexico. And on Thursday, the Committee on Appropriations of the U.S. House of Representatives is set to take up an anti-horse slaughter amendment. We hope that all the lawmakers understand what and who is at risk in deciding the fate of horses we’ve brought into this world and who we have a responsibility to protect.

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