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Camelot minis find new life, Part One

Published: 3/21/2012
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By Sonia Theobalds

On a cold day this past December, Megan and Scott Porter pulled the truck and trailer into the yards of the Camelot Auction in New Jersey to pick up a miniature horse for their employer, Tet Fentener Van Vlissingen of Hope, Maine. 

Camelot is a clean yet dismal place and in the air hangs a heavy sense of sadness. The feelings are of loss, desperation, abandonment.  Former race horses, farm horses and mules, outgrown ponies, ex-show horses whose owner went off to college - they are all there.  
Megan and Scott located their mini and then noticed two other fuzzy lost souls in the back of the pen.  They immediately called Tet and told her, "There are two more here, they are the last ones in the pen."  Tet's response:  "Please bring them home too."  
Despite the glamorous-sounding name, Camelot is well known amongst horse people as a dumping ground for unwanted horses.  Today's economic issues aside, this auction has existed for many many years and the horses, mules, donkeys and ponies who end up there are sold for pittance to the highest bidders. 
The kill buyers are waiting in the wings to score a load to ship to Canada for slaughter, but there is also an extremely strong undercurrent of horse lovers, rescue associations, and caring individuals who will not allow these animals to finish their lives in a slaughterhouse. 

Since November 2009, thanks to the people who volunteer their time, photography skills, journalist abilities and emotions, countless horses have been saved from slaughter.  The volunteers go to extreme lengths to analyze each animal's personality, health, and soundness. Then they are cataloged and advertised for a week on-line and on Facebook.  The animals only have one week because another 100 or so are coming in right behind them.
Camelot is how Tet found "Gracie", a little bay Mini mare with horribly neglected feet.  She and the "last two in the pen" were brought  home to Tet's farm in Hope that gray December weekend. 
The three "little girls" all settled in well and fulfilled the quarantine period.  Initially, they were nervous and guarded but, within a few days, they came to trust.  I went up to visit and fell in love immediately. 
Tet's goal was to re-home them so we worked out a free lease agreement.  The next day "the last two" were at our farm and collectively, we named them Hope and Faith.
My long-suffering horse husband was away on business the weekend I decided we needed two more ponies.  When he arrived home the next evening, he wanted to go the barn to visit the horses. 
I didn't say anything. 
Maybe he wouldn't even notice. 
Doug took one look and sighed, "Whatever makes you happy, Honey"!

Part II, "What Now?"

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3/22/2012 Ali
Great job Tet for saving the mini' do have one great husband...go Doug!!
3/22/2012 sonia
I would like to add that Frank and his wife (the Proprietors of Camelot) work alongside the volunteers and support their mission. Everybody works together, they all want the same thing, to find these horses a new lease on life. If we all keep networking there will be more happy endings.
3/22/2012 Julie
Part one of this story is great Sonia. I fell in love with Hope and Faith when they first came to your place. What lucky girls they are. Both you and Doug are phenominally big-hearted,giving and oh-so generous! I look forward to the next installment.
3/22/2012 Sally
Good husband Doug! See you this summer.

"Dog lovers hate to clean out kennels. Horse lovers like cleaning stables." - Monica Dickens