Bill Rancic Defends His Wife Giuliana After Fashion Police Controversy: 'I Tried to Get Them to Release the Footage' 41 years, 2,191 covers and 55,436 stories from PEOPLE magazine's history for you to enjoy
- A Third of Vegetarians Secretly Eat Meat When They're Drunk, According to New Poll
- Read the Cover Story: How Blake Shelton Is Moving On After Split
- 7 Real Housewives Who Have Bravely Shared Their Health Struggles
- Watch Channing Tatum Get Down as a 1950's Sailor in New Coen Brothers Film
- Scandal's Katie Lowes on Snacking with Her Husband: 'Oreos Are Our Crack Addiction'
On Newsstands Now
- Matthew McConaughey: In His Own Words
- Jessa Duggar's Wedding Album
- Brittany Maynard's Final Days
Pick up your copy on newsstands
Click here for instant access to the Digital Magazine
People Top 5
LAST UPDATE: Tuesday February 10, 2015 01:10PM EST
PEOPLE Top 5 are the most-viewed stories on the site over the past three days, updated every 60 minutes
- August 18, 2008
- Vol. 70
- No. 7
Saved from the Slaughter-House Horse Haven
Michael Blowen Left the Big City Behind to Provide a Safe Home for Retired Thoroughbreds
Hundreds of racehorses meet violent ends every year. At least 5,000 have died since 2003, according to a survey of U.S. racetracks by the Associated Press. Many—like Barbaro, the 2006 Kentucky Derby winner that was euthanized because of complications following surgery—died after being injured on the track. But others, even former champions, end up in slaughterhouses or slowly starving to death after being abandoned by owners who don't want to shell out $10,000 for their annual upkeep. "The way some horses are treated after their careers are over is a tragedy," says Doug Byars, a veterinarian with the Kentucky Equine Education Project, an advocacy program. "If people knew, they'd be outraged."
Which is why Blowen opened Old Friends, a 92-acre expanse of Kentucky bluegrass. He fell in love with horses after making his first visit to a racetrack in 1981. He started volunteering in stables, cleaning and grooming the horses before taking the subway to his day job as a film critic for The Boston Globe. He loved the work but was haunted by the desperate cries of unwanted horses being loaded onto trailers destined for slaughterhouses. "They knew what was going to happen to them," Blowen says. "They made the most horrible sounds."
So in 2001, he and his wife of 26 years, Diane White, a Globe columnist, quit their jobs and moved to Kentucky. They borrowed $1 million from a bank to purchase the land for Old Friends, the only rescue farm that takes stallions, who require larger paddocks, higher fences and more expensive veterinarian care than other horses. Blowen now houses 30 Thoroughbreds, including Popcorn Deelites, who played Seabiscuit in the 2003 movie. "Racehorses don't have social security," he says. "We need to help them."
The couple have poured their life savings into the farm and have spent as much as $18,000 to rescue five horses from Japan. To keep costs down, Blowen relies on donated services of veterinarians and groomers. He has also opened up the farm to the public and receives more than 20,000 yearly visitors who swoon over the horses they once watched on the racetrack. "Those horses are the stars," Blowen says. "They deserve better than to be thrown away."
Know a hero?
Send suggestions to HEROESAMONGUS@PEOPLEMAG.COM
Please include your name, phone number and return e-mail address.
For more information about this story, go to www.oldfriendsequine.org.
Treat Yourself! 4 Preview Issues
The most buzzed about stars this minute!