See the moment this former racehorse destined for the slaughterhouse realized she was truly free

July 31, 2017 11:34 am Last Updated: November 16, 2017 2:41 pm


Visiting a livestock auction house might be a bit overwhelming to those who are not accustomed to it. Livestock are corralled into a warehouse setting, where potential buyers bid on the animals. Some animals may go on to live a happy life, but the harsh reality for many is they will be sent to a slaughterhouse.

Jamie Castano, owner and founder of Freedom Farm Animal Rescue in New Jersey, recently visited a livestock auction, where he planned on taking photos and videos of what it’s like at an auction house. Castano wanted to make people aware of the life or death situation so many animals face.

“I planned on spreading awareness and possibly pulling a goat or a sheep and saving it’s life,” Castano wrote on the animal rescue’s Instagram.

Jamie Castano had no intentions of rescuing a large animal when he visited the livestock auction house.

Castano then spotted a horse with a certain number written on its neck. The number was “25,” and while to most that might not mean anything, Castano took it as a sign.

“I actually have the number 25 tattooed on my arm as a memorial for my uncle who had passed away,” Castano told The Dodo. “So when I happened to see her, I was like, ‘Oh my god.’”

The animal activist also noticed the horse had many “pin fire markings” on her legs. According to Castano, they are used on racehorses to temporarily mask the symptoms of an injury. Castano said his vet told him about four or five pin firing marks would be considered normal, but this poor horse had 18 on each leg.

“It’s pretty much like a shot of acid to freeze the tendon or muscle,” he told The Dodo.

When he saw this horse, he knew he had to save her.

Castano had to do something—the horse was in a “direct ship pen,” meaning that once it was bought it would go straight to a slaughterhouse—so he reached out to the Freedom Farm Animal Rescue’s followers on Instagram and asked for help. Within a few hours, online followers raised the $700 needed to rescue the animal.

Once the organization completed the purchase, they loaded the horse—they named her Joanie—onto a trailer and took her away from what would have been certain death. When they arrived at a facility where Joanie would be put into quarantine and looked after, Castano and other staff recorded Joanie’s reaction to her new life of freedom in the video below:

If the horse could talk she probably would have said, “Thank you for saving my life!”

Castano told The Dodo that once they brought Joanie home, he and the staff figured out a little more about her background, and it was heartbreaking.

She was reportedly born in 1999 and lived a long and prosperous life as a race horse, however, once she grew too old to race she was sold to someone who used her to pull an Amish buggy. After a short stint pulling the buggy, she was sold to a livestock auction house.

After spending three weeks in quarantine, Joanie is living her best life.

Castano described to The Dodo how scared Joanie was when he met her at the auction house. He could barely get close to her, but now it’s a different story. She can barely stay away from Castano and the animal rescue staff.

I put my hand out to pet her and she flinched and threw her head like she was terrified of me — she didn’t even want me to touch her. But now she’s been in quarantine for three weeks, you can walk up to feed her, she runs up to the gate and she’s all in your face. She definitely knows she’s no longer on her way to slaughter.

After spending 21 days in quarantine, Joanie was introduced to the rest of the herd at Freedom Farm Animal Rescue. She has been thoroughly enjoying her freedom with the other animals and even found a special friend in a mini horse named Star.