Friday, January 22, 2010

I don't want to re-write history...I'd be happy just to know it!

Very early in my introduction to the Rescue Community through the SAFE Message Board, I was contacted by various folks, some of whom are no longer involved in the board or SAFE activities, wanting to know who Coconut was or were willing to help me figure it out.

One woman in Idaho, as I recall, was very interested in one of the SAFE horses, a Chestnut Mare named O Barhira Magidaa. I suspected that it must be the horse SAFE called Amber but since it wasn’t public knowledge I didn’t let on right away that I might know that SAFE had that horse. I'm not even sure SAFE knew for sure it was this horse at that point either. She did offer to look up Coconut for me but was not able to come up with anything noteworthy. Eventually she did write to me and said she even if SAFE knew which horse she was looking for, she wouldn’t “touch that horse with a ten foot pole” as she told me in an email advising me to rethink my alliance with SAFE. Her new objection was that SAFE would not allow the mare to be bred and it was a shame to lose the very valuable bloodlines but more importantly she and her Arab Association friends felt that Elledge could come back at any point and fight for custody.

I thanked her for her help so far but that I would continue to work with SAFE and the horses from Coconut’s herd.

Ever since I brought her home I’ve wondered who she is and what her bloodlines might be. Remembering all those hours I spent in my childhood (and periodic re-visits in my adulthood) devouring the book “The Kellogg Arabian Ranch: The first 50 years” had fueled my fantasy about owning one of those stunning horses. Looking at Coconut those first few months didn’t exactly give me hope that I’d snagged my mythical creature but every once in awhile she gave me momentary glimpses into what might be there hidden in her mysterious past if only I could uncover it.

At one point I paid for a one-month subscription on the Arabian Horse Association website so that I could try to find her, pretending I could navigate their registry and magically come up with the prized answer. That didn’t happen, although I was able to learn something about the Elledge Arabians…at least the ones who’d been registered. She seemed to have a taste for good bloodlines and from the stories I’ve learned later, she paid hefty price tags to import horses from other states so that she could use them in her breeding program.

In fact, later I would eventually hear her say in court that she purchased these well bred horses in hopes of creating her own fancy line that would produce 5 or 6 horses a year that could sell for enough money to support herself and her horses. That plan clearly got out of control and she somehow got mesmerized by color and kept on breeding everything in sight. That’s another post I’m sure….

All I had to go on was the story that Coconut had belonged to a former Monroe Pasture Boarder who had fallen behind on payment and surrendered her to Jean Elledge in order to pay her board bill. At least one of the young ladies who worked for Elledge during the time that Coconut was on the pasture has confirmed the story to Jaime, adding that there was also a POA Pony. Both were taken to auction and did not sell (presumably because she put a minimum price on them). The POA was sold off the trailer after the auction was over and only Coconut returned to Monroe that day.

So far no one has been able to tell me anything about those boarders or a time frame as to when she first came to the pasture. I am under the impression that the POA and Coconut belonged to the same owner but I don’t know that to be the case.

As I looked through the registry, particularly at the horses registered to Elledge and there were a couple of possibilities that I’ve since ruled out, but there is no Coconut Macaroon. I’ve also been unsuccessful at locating a markings/foaling year match to her. Not that I actually know when she was born, but we’re kinda going with 1994 – 1996 as that covers both her ad that said the horse was 12 in November of 2006 and the age of 10 that her vet guessed her at when I first had her looked at. So far nothing blaringly obvious matches!

I do have her listed her on Horse Reunions (HRS# 88) but have never been contacted. There is a horse that someone else is looking for a horse that is similar in description: Bey Luvly (HRS# 622) who had apparently been part of another neglect case in 2002 near Maple Valley. This is from that ad:

“Mare was in a seizure and dispersal of Parkwood Arabians herd (40+ horses) in approx 2002 she is still registered to former owner along with many others who are suspected of being sold to slaughter following seizure in the severe abuse-neglect situation with action by authorities against owners last name Surridge. Believe some of the herd incl. this mare may have ended up in a bogus "rescue" in eastern Washington. Sire is Bey Shah son/old Polish breeding dam. Former owners - one deceased, other in nursing home. I tried unsuccessfully to buy the mare in 2000 to get her away from that situation; I would like to find her or at least know she is safe.”

Ok…part of me would like to know that this IS Coconut but most of me would prefer to think she was only ever neglected one time. My heart would break into a million more little pieces if I learned that suffering has been an ongoing way of life for her in the many hands she’s passed. At least I know she’s well loved now…and forever! Still, I did look up this horse and it seemed quite similar. I don’t have AHA access right now but as I recall the horse actually had a different spelling to the name Bey Luvly. There might not be any connection but I’m constantly trying to rule out horses since I don’t seemed to be armed with the right information to pin point who she is based on name, breeding or markings. So I make a list of horses that fit into the color/age possibility and cross them off as I go. I may never know…

Her documented history may only be 3+ years long but it’s certainly a rich one so far, wouldn’t you agree? I recently got a note from Barbara who owns another one of the Elledge horses Khramer (formally known as Wajiih El Nefous) thanking me for telling the story because it’s creating part of his history too. That touches me. I know I’m not alone in my semi-obsession for information about these horses. My interest does not stop with just Coconut or the horses who ended up at SAFE. I’m also just a tad bit obsessive about any of the horses who came out of that mess.

I tend to put myself out there and I suppose that makes me an information contact. I’ve had many people over the last 3 years contact me or become known to me in regards to other horses who come from The Herd.

On Craigslist…twice…I’ve seen ads for Sea Of Wisdom (Sinatra’s Dam) and have had contact with both prior owners. I’m not sure where she is right now but she had a tough time. Apparently Jean Elledge contacted a young woman, Cecile, who had formally worked for her asking if she could provide this horse, a buckskin Saddlebred, with some training. At the time, Elledge was concerned that her horses were not selling and had come to the understanding that some of that might be because they were untrained (or unhandled!) and thought that with some training the horse could be sold for a few thousand dollars. Cecile agreed to take her but when the horse arrived it was immediately obvious that the horse was underweight, wormy and in poor health. Cecile and her Mother contacted Elledge to take the horse back and get it some help but she refused. They got a vet out there and got the horse in shape. I was told that the selling price of the horse (once it was trained) would be split between Elledge and Cecile. Of course once Elledge was arrested and headed for jail, they were going to be saddled with the full responsibility of the horse. I’m not sure at what point the papers had been transferred but at the time of our contact, Cecile claimed to have papers. Several months later I saw Sea Of Wisdom on Craigslist again but from a different seller so I wrote to her and inquired about how she’d obtained the horse. She said she took the horse in trade over a vet bill she’d helped the former owner with (presumably Cecile) and was just looking to sell the horse to cover her expenses. I offered my contact information if any future owner was interested in her story. I hope someday I get that email or phone call! I hope everyone wants a history for their horse.

I was at the Pierce County Horse Summit meeting last fall and met one of the Animal Control Services Rep who told me she owned a Pretty Dappled buckskin Saddlebred mare, Sunshine, out of Seas The Golden Day. At the time she was showing an aptitude for dressage and jumping and was for sale.

Another hose I see on Craigslist from time to time is a filly named Buttermilk (as I recall) that was a “boarding bonus” or “pasture accident”: a Quarter horse/Clydesdale-cross bred to Seas The Golden Day, Elledge’s prized Cremello Saddlebred Stallion. The resulting filly is what looks like a bulky Cremello Draft. The first time I saw her for sale they were asking $7,000.00….yup….that is Seven THOUSAND! I, of course, had to write her and ask about this filly and was told the story about how she had been a boarder and her mare had accidentally been exposed to Seas The Golden Day. She was aware that he died on the Monroe Pasture but never mentioned what a horror fest that place was or why she kept her horse there until she moved it when the horses were seized. I couldn’t stomach the thought of how this individual could have not known what was going on and didn’t report her. I would think that anyone who understood how wrong it was on every level would have said so in an email to someone who was involved in the rescue of horses from that place…but she appeared fairly oblivious …or didn’t want to admit her ignorance at the time…anyway…I’ve seen ads over the last year for this horse, dropping in price to $2000 and finally now down to around $700 by last listing. It appears they’ve had a dose of reality having to care for just this one extra mouth…too bad Elledge didn’t figure that out before she produced foal after foal…even though she was unable to properly care for the adult horses she already had.

That’s actually a debate of sorts…one we’ll probably never know the answer to. Did she really just run out of money (as she stated in court)? Did she truly not understand that she was not providing proper care? Or (as I suspect), did she know exactly what she was doing and the loss of life was just an acceptable percentage when rolling the dice to get those fancy colors? Produce more in hopes of getting a few (lucky) good ones? Well…obviously NONE of those horses were lucky…except the ones who got out of there alive!

…like Coconut…the horse with no real history before November 13th, 2006.

I think it’s safe to say that if anyone ever reads this and has ANYTHING to add to her history I’d be ever so grateful. I promise…I’d pass no judgment on anyone who may feel any kind of embarrassment because of the role they may have played in the Elledge nightmare. I suspect there are lots of people who worked for her, came in contact with her or even tried to report her over the years who battle their own personal demons because they feel they didn’t do enough to stop the death toll and suffering. If you’re out there please contact me…if you’ve read my previous posts, you’ll know I’m one of you. I did help one horse but I failed the others. Maybe that’s why I work so hard to help horses now. I’d like to think I would have done anything I could to help them before…I just didn’t know what to do that could make a difference. I’ve learned so much over the last two years & I’m still learning…every day. One thing I do know is that every little bit helps. Whether it’s a small tid-bit of information to fill in the giant holes of a horse’s past…or mucking stalls at the rescue…or donating your extra $3 this week. Every little bit helps.

And one thing I’ve discovered along the way…

In searching for her history, I've redirected my own.

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