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Wendy Reuer, Published October 28 2013

Minnesota-based nonprofit rescues five horses at sale in West Fargo

WEST FARGO – A Minnesota-based nonprofit that finds new lives for retired thoroughbreds rescued five mares at a sale here Friday.

Three of the horses will be transported to Lakeville, Minn., where volunteers with the Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project will care for them.

Two of the horses will be taken to the Second Chance Thoroughbred Ranch in Rhame, N.D., said Jennifer Selvig, veterinarian and co-founder of the Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project.

Selvig said Monday night that three of the five mares have been confirmed as pregnant.

“We do know there’s a high probability that all of them are,” she said.

Founded in 2009, the Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project rehabilitates and places retired racehorses in new homes and new professions.

“Our main focus is taking the horses off the backside of the track,” Selvig said.

She said the group rarely rescues horses from an auction; horses are usually donated. The group has also helped owners market retired horses to sell.

The group was tipped off that the five former racehorses would be sold Friday at Central Livestock in West Fargo as loose horses. Loose horses, those that are not ridden into the auction ring, are often bought by market buyers and can be transported for slaughter.

Selvig said it was likely the inability to pay for the horses’ care that led one person to sell four of the mares and another to bring one mare in.

“It’s almost always economics with these situations,” she said.

At the time of the auction, the nonprofit put a call out for donations for the cost of the horses and later for veterinary bills after one mare was injured by a gate at the sale barn.

Kelly Waslaski, organizer of the sale at Central Livestock, was unable to comment Monday about the horses bought by the nonprofit, but said the injury to the one horse was “absolutely an accident.”

A few thousand dollars have come in since Friday, but transport and care costs haven’t been added up yet, Selvig said. Donations to the Retired Racehorse Project can be made on the group’s website at mnrrp.com.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530