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Former Maine racehorse rescued from kill pen by woman that helped raise her

Meaghan Martin said she immediately recognized the branding when the horse, Saxy, popped up on social media and knew she had to save her from being euthanized.

GRAY, Maine — When Meaghan Martin was scrolling through Facebook earlier this year, she came across a post that stopped her in her tracks.

Martin, who lives in Standish, is a member of several groups on social media dedicated to saving horses around the country from kill pens and being euthanized. She said she instantly recognized the branding, which is essentially the identification number, of one of the horses being shared.

"That number is actually what saved her," Martin said. "I recognized that brand and said 'Oh, that's one of the babies that I worked with.'"

Martin was a teenager when she first met Saxy at a barn she worked at. The pair and their training were even featured together in a 'Young Rider' magazine article. Eventually, Saxy was sold and went on to become a racehorse. She competed at local fairs and Scarborough Downs but, Martin said, she only took home a few thousand dollars in winnings and never really made a name for herself.

Like so many others, when Saxy’s time was up as a competitor, she was sold to an Amish community in Pennsylvania. Martin believes Saxy was involved in a buggy accident that caused major damage and scarring to her neck and, ultimately lead to the decision to have her slaughtered.

"I’ve never come across one in this situation," Martin said. "It was always kind of my worst nightmare."

After she came across the post, Martin immediately felt compelled to help bring Saxy back home to Maine. Her close friend, Kendra Gorham, who manages Red Lion Farm in Gray felt the same way. She said after two days of staring at Saxy's post on Facebook, she had an idea.

"I just remember sending her [Meaghan] a message that said 'I will feed her, and I will board her, and she can stay here,'" Gorham said. "'I will help you pay her bed bills, and I will go with you. We can't leave her there. She has to come home.'"

The race to save Saxy was on. 

Within 48 hours of that message, Martin had received enough money and supplies to bring Saxy back to Maine. 

"People donated blankets, people donated brushes, people donated boots for her feet before we had shoes on her to keep her more comfortable," Martin said. "People were so incredibly generous with their energy, with their money, with their things."

When Martin and Gorham finally got to Pennsylvania, they said it didn’t take long for Saxy to recognize her former handler. 

"Meaghan walked up to her and she literally just sniffed her and wrapped her head around her," Gorham said. "I started to cry. It was a pretty cool moment."

"I don't know if she remembered me or not. My gut says there's something familiar there for her, and that she recognized me in some way." Martin said.

Once Saxy was loaded into the truck, it was time to come back home to Maine. It was clear the horse was going to need some extra TLC, particularly her hooves. Martin reached out to a trusted farrier. A farrier is a person who trims and shoes horses' hooves.

"They were in a little bit of a rough condition," Daniel Rand, the farrier, said. "She had some road founder, some thin souls. It's painful to walk on, you know. It's like having no skin on the bottom of your feet and then walking across hot tar."

After 15 years apart, Martin and Saxy are now inseparable. Martin owns two other horses, one of them happens to be Saxy's half-sister. She said she would love to reintroduce the two someday.

In the meantime, once she gets the training she needs, the goal is for Saxy to help others by becoming a therapy horse. Martin runs a small equine-assisted psychotherapy practice and works with people with PTSD and trauma. 

"I think that a lot of people would really relate to her story, really relate to the people that we're supposed to keep you safe didn't and, the people that were supposed to take care of you let you down," Martin said. "She's not ready to be in the program yet, but someday, if she's ready, she'll tell us. And if that's what she wants to do then that's what she's gonna get to do. Otherwise, she'll just get to be happy and safe and healthy."

Despite the hardships she has faced, Saxy is having no trouble fitting in at her new home, a reality that never would have been possible without lots of love and a little bit of luck.

"She's my horse legally, yes. And she'll be legally in my name for the rest of her life," Martin said. "But, I didn't do this. This was her whole community who brought her home. I just got to be the person that was lucky enough to make it happen."

If you would like to follow Saxy's journey to becoming a therapy horse, check out her TikTok account.

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