Saturday, February 11, 2012

Be Bop Baby: A Gentle Soul

When Be Bop Baby flashed across the finish line at Philadelphia Park a neck in front on July 3, 2000, no one could have predicted her future. No one would have wished that future upon her, either. It was a future no horse deserves, but unfortunately for Be Bop Baby, she faced that future anyway.

The aforementioned victory was the only time Be Bop Baby ever won in nineteen starts. She ran at six different tracks, all in the northeastern region of the United States. Yet somehow, she found herself in Louisiana over ten years later on a farm owned by Charles Ford.

Among her were over sixty other Thoroughbreds, most of them broodmares. By early January of 2012, over twenty-five horses had died on the farm as a result of neglect. Of the surviving mares, Be Bop was in the worst shape.

While waiting for the results of a horse judging contest with my mother and teammates on January 7, I saw the pictures Remember Me Rescue had posted on Facebook from the Many, Louisiana horse seizure. My friend, Donna Keen, was at the farm in Many, serving as part of the massive rescue effort. The pictures were heartbreaking, but the picture that threatened tears the most for my teammates and me was the picture of Be Bop Baby.

Be Bop Baby
Photo: Donna Keen
She was incredibly thin and I immediately thought that she would not survive. She was one of the most terribly malnourished horses I’d ever seen before. In simple terms, she was skin and bones. Yet the trainer at the farm - Bill Young - had labeled her condition as "not that bad." In reality, she was emaciated and had patches of rain rot on her body. She was the opposite of "not that bad."

Miraculously, Be Bop survived. Although Donna Keen wanted to bring her to Remember Me along with the first set of horses that would arrive at the Burleson, Texas rescue, the fifteen-year-old mare was in too bad of shape to travel five hours. Reluctantly, Donna left her behind with hopes of soon retrieving her.

Be Bop Baby was able to arrive at Remember Me Rescue on January 23. She was still in terrible shape, but Remember Me was determined to bring her back to health as soon as possible. After getting her teeth floated and obtaining good food in her system, Be Bop continued her journey to better health.

I had the opportunity to meet Be Bop on February 5. Even beneath the blanket she was wearing, tears filled my eyes at the sight of her. She was like a walking skeleton.

When farm manager Lilly Armstrong pulled the blanket off of Be Bop, I could feel my jaw begin to drop. It dropped even more when my mom commented to Lilly that the mare looked better than she had about a week earlier. I could tell that Be Bop had improved since the first picture I had seen of her about a month prior, but the condition she was in was still heartbreaking.

Other than noticing her terrible condition, my first impression of Be Bop was that she was an incredibly sweet mare. She seems to know what she has gone through and also appears to be grateful to all who have helped her. Upon meeting her, I stroked her nearly-white face, overwhelmed with sympathy for her. She just gazed back at me with kind eyes, standing serenely as she allowed me to stroke her.

She is without a doubt a fighter and I know that those at Remember Me will strive to make her healthy. She is already improving drastically and is clearly much happier.

Be Bop Baby was not a superstar on the racetrack, but she is as much of a superstar as any horse I’ve ever met. I greatly admire this mare for her will to survive and the fact that she still trusts people despite what she has gone through. It is a miracle that Be Bop survived and I am so very glad that she did. There would truly be a void on this earth if she had not.

Be Bop Baby at Remember Me Rescue
Photo: Terri Cage

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  1. I just sent a few dollars your way! Keep up the fantastic work!!!

  2. Be Bop Baby is now living at our farm in central Virginia. In the two weeks she has been here at her forever home at IdleBrink Farms, she has trained 3 cows and 2 humans. We're do grateful for her presence with us. What a gift!