Imagine the condition of four former thoroughbred race horses too weak to be shipped for slaughter. The mares, owned by Ernie Paragallo, a NY leader in racing stables, in attendance today at Aqueduct watching his colt, Cellar Dweller, finish in sixth place, denies knowing the dire conditions of these possibly bred mares covered with lice, infected with worms, and severely malnourished. Their neckbands and their tattoos were the voices of these horses, examined by PA vet, Dr. James Holt. According to Dr. Holt, all four mares had been suffering from chronic longer term neglect scoring from 1 to 2 1/2 on the Henneke Scale. Of the 24 horses leaving the Paragallo facilities in December, allegedly to be in route to Florida to be bred back to one of Paragallo’s stallions, 17 mares wound up at a slaughter plant in Canada. The other 3 mares were saved by Lisa Leogrande who also contacted Sheidy about the remaining 4 horses still in the NY killpen.
Paragallo states he does not remember the name of the farm or the address where the mares were to be going, but Richie Baiardi, a horse transporter, claimed he could not ship the horses he picked up from the Paragallo’s farm at the end of February because the horses were too weak to make the trip. Instead he sold the horses to a killpen operator who had to feed the horses for several weeks to get them strong enough to make the trip to slaughter.
Christy Sheidy, of Another Chance 4 Horses has been rehabilitating these mares, three now identified as Theonlyword, Coconut Martini and Firmly Decorated. ” It will be a long recovery for these horses, but we already have an interested family wanting to adopt them,” Sheidy stated. ” I am just relieved these horses are safe, and I already see small improvements in their health and their demeanor.”
Paragallo has denied responsibility for the condition of the these horses even though he says his breeding mares are kept thin in his breeding program, but states he will take full responsibility. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Paragallo has had emaciated and neglected horses at his farm. In January, 2007, Susan Wagner of Equine Advocates rescued apparently starving horses from his Center Brook Farm, underweight, parasitic and in poor health. The horses were released some 5 weeks later from the clinic.