April 29, 2011

Greener Pastures just got greener

Click here for a slideshow of Lacey Mae at Itchy Withers Farm, before and after Lilly.


Lacey Mae was one day away from being sold to a slaughterhouse when she was rescued in
 October by Colleen Goulding. Now, six months later, Lacey Mae is a mom.One-day-old Lilly
Grace was born before a home-viewing audience of thousands, who have for months been
 tuning in to see the big event on a website called MareStare.
Union Leader Correspondent
DERRY -- A dozen pink “It’s A Girl” balloons tied to a wooden fence outside Colleen Goulding’s house were flapping in the breeze Thursday.
Colleen Goulding gets some quality time with Lilly Grace.
They were the closest Goulding could find to “It’s a Filly,” balloons.

Two days ago, Goulding’s horse, Lacey Mae, gave birth to a healthy, gangly 60-pound filly, named Lilly Grace.

“All along I wanted to name her Grace, as in Saving Grace, but one look at her and I knew she was a Lilly,” said Goulding. “One thing’s for sure: She was Lacey’s saving grace — and mine.”

Saving Lacey, literally, turned out to be a happy accident, not only for the battered cast-away racehorse that’s learned to trust again, but for Goulding, who got way more than she bargained for — two horses for the price of one — the day she brought Lacey home from a New Jersey kill pen. 
Lacey Mae gets a good look at her newborn foal, Lilly Grace.

The birth, which happened quickly and without incident early Wednesday morning, was the moment Goulding — and Lacey’s impressive community of online admirers — had been waiting for. 

“I set up something called Mare Stare, which is a webcam service that allows anyone to check in on a horse. It has been amazing,” said Goulding, who estimates by the time Lilly was born there were hundreds, if not thousands, of people who had taken to watching the “I Love Lacey” show on a regular basis. 

“It was especially comforting to know that all through the night someone was watching Lacey. Even if I fell asleep at midnight, someone in California was peeking in to see how she was doing,” Goulding said. 

For weeks now, friends, relatives and virtual strangers of Goulding’s Itchy Withers link on www.marestare.com have been hovering over Lacey’s progress, and posting hourly reports on Goulding’s Facebook. 

In October, Goulding was seriously thinking about fostering a horse in need. She had already taken in two unwanted horses, and her hands were more than full. 

But the inexplicable pull to keep looking was strong, Goulding said. 

“With the down economy, I knew a growing number of horses were being given up by their owners who just can’t afford to keep them anymore. Some of them are former racehorses, or animals who were never really wanted in the first place. For one reason or another, they wind up at auction. The ones who don’t get purchased are shipped off to slaughter in Canada and Mexico, and used for horse meat,” Goulding said. She was keeping her eye on a particular website hosted by an animal rescue organization, Helping Hearts, determined to save every animal that lands in the kill pen at Camelot Auction House, in Cranbury, N.J. 

On Oct. 27, a sad-looking, badly abused chestnut-colored mare was posted on the site. Identified only by the number affixed to her hindquarters, No. 239, the horse was hours away from being shipped off to slaughter. 

“I showed the picture to my daughter and asked her, ‘What do you think?’ The horse was barely 2 years old. She had cattle prod marks, and her ribs were sticking out, but there was something about her. We both knew that she needed us. So I cashed in a life insurance policy to get everything we needed to rehab her. We ran off to the tack store for blankets and a halter. I paid the auction house $150 for her with a credit card by phone, and with only about 17 hours to spare, we headed down to New Jersey to save her,” said Goulding. 

The horse was listed as blind in one eye and possibly pregnant. 

Turns out she wasn’t blind. 

“But she was pregnant — we got her home on Oct. 30, and on December 7 we found out she was going to be a mom,” Goulding said. 

Fighting an infection and weighing in at only 750 pounds instead of the ideal 1,100 for a horse of her size and breed, Goulding feared she wouldn’t survive the trip home. She devoted herself to restoring the horse back to health, with more than a little guidance from veterinarian Simon George of Deerfield Veterinary Clinic. 

“This has been an incredible experience. There is so much joy in what’s happened here, with Lacey,” Goulding said. “Especially with so much sadness in the world. Lacey’s story has touched so many people.” 

And while the number of people hovering over Lacey didn’t surprise Goulding, it was a funny twist of fate when she discovered one of Lacey’s virtual fans was her across-the-street neighbor, Nat Latulippe. 

“I had no idea she’d been watching Lacey on the Mare Stare,” said Goulding Thursday, greeting Latulippe at the edge of her driveway. 

“Oh my, yes. I love watching Lacey on the computer. In fact, when my computer died not long ago, within an hour I went out to get a new one — I didn’t want to miss a thing,” said Latulippe, whose great-grandsons also have become fans of Double- L TV — for Lacey and Lilly — as Goulding calls it. 

“I’m going to keep the Mare Stare running for a while longer — on Saturday we’re going to let Lacey and Lilly out for the first time to run around, probably around 2 p.m., another moment I know everyone’s been waiting for,” Goulding said. “It’s been overwhelming, in a good way, to have so much support.” 

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