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Andrea Brow helps to find new adopters for horses, like Mystery, who have been retired to Cranbury Horse Auction, in danger of being sent to slaughter through networking. (Photo by Nathan Hughart/The Sound | Buy This Photo)
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Andrea Brow has been riding horses since she was two years old. Now, she helps to rescue those horses who have finished their working lives.
Growing up in East Haven, Andrea’s parents took her for a pony ride at Montana Farms in Branford and she has been working with horses ever since.
“They put me on a little pony and that was it,” she says. “The rest of my childhood was spent riding, showing, and I didn’t understand what happened to [horses] when they weren’t needed anymore.”
When horses are no longer wanted, they’re usually put up for auction, decreasing in value every time they’re not purchased. Eventually, these horses end up in the feed lot, where they go on to be exported to countries where people consume horses.
At Cranbury Horse Auction in New Jersey, this happens on a weekly basis.
Andrea rescued her own horse, Grace, in 2002 as a foal from a medical practice that harvests pregnant mare urine for an estrogen replacement drug. The practice produces thousands of unwanted foals who are either adopted or sold to the slaughter industry.
“I found out about that and that was my first rescue,” Andrea says. “It just opened my eyes to…what went on with horses in this country.”
Andrea had built a little barn in her yard for Grace. Years later, when she learned about the feed lot in New Jersey, she brought another horse from Cranbury to Grace’s old barn for quarantine before it could move on to a rescue farm.
“This strapping, gorgeous thoroughbred stepped off the trailer,” Andrea says. “I was like, ‘What were you doing there?’ That’s how that started.”
She started volunteering for Cranbury Rescue Horses, which focuses on placing Cranbury feed lot horses with new adopted owners. Now she runs that Facebook page.
“I network horses that are in the feed lot, that have run through auction. Essentially, they’re homeless [and] in grave danger of shipping to slaughter,” she says.
With Cranbury Rescue Horses, Andrea connects these at-risk horses with horse rescues and adopters around the country.
Usually, this means traveling to Cranbury, New Jersey, to take pictures and riding videos of the horses in the feed lot to post on their Facebook page. From there, a community of horse adopters and rescuers often purchase them from auction.
“I just highlight the horses that are there for that week,” she says.
The success of Cranbury Rescue Horses relies on a network of people around the country. Andrea says she’s working the phones with people to get horses pulled from the feed lot all the time.
“It’s not a one-man show to rescue a horse,” she says. “It never is. It takes a lot. A lot of time, a lot of people, a lot of money.”
Some of these rescued animals end up boarded by their new owners with Andrea at Century Silhouette Farms in Northford, where she is barn manager.
Andrea, a North Haven resident, is also on the board for three local horse rescue organizations including All the King’s Horses and Racing for Home, the latter of which focuses on retired racehorses.
“[At Century] we transition racehorses from the track. We give them a place to…let down and get their mind, body, soul back to transitioning into a life of riding and a career off the track,” Andrea says. “They’re athletes and they’ve worked hard.”
This means first shifting them to a new diet and allowing their injuries to heal.
Andrea is finalizing her adoption of Mystery, a racehorse boarded with her who earned his name because of the trouble they had identifying him.
All racehorses are marked with a tattoo under their lips. Mystery’s was nearly illegible, but they eventually learned that Mystery was once “Postmaster,” a veteran of more than 40 races in Pennsylvania.
“It’s a crazy, confusing ball of wax and sometimes I don’t even know how we figure it out,” Andrea says.
It’s important to identify racehorses from the feed lot, because their former jockeys, owners, and caretakers will often help to see them rescued.
“He went somewhere [from the racetrack], I believe, to a camp and he showed up at the auction skinny, skinny,” Andrea says. “Racing for Home pulled him from there.”
The goal of a horse rescue, Andrea says, is to care for an at-risk horse until a private owner can adopt it.
“You can’t save them all,” Andrea says. “But there’s a home for every horse. That’s what I want.”
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