Admitted “kill buyer” Brenda Hemphill wouldn’t say where she had acquired the two thoroughbred fillies, Heaven’s Host and Ilithyia, who were the subject of a dramatic rescue last week, but it now appears that she bought them at the Crowleys Auction in Agawam, Massachusetts, where they are both listed as having been recently sold.
Three-year-old fillies Heaven’s Host and Ilithyia, both originally from Florida, were discovered at the Hemphill Farm in Maine on March 16th, where they were believed to be awaiting shipment to a Canadian slaughterhouse. Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue in Loxahatchee, Florida, which has a division dedicated specifically to the rescue and rehabilitation of Florida off-track thoroughbreds, marshaled their supporters to raise the funds necessary to buy the fillies’ freedom.
Once they were safely in the hands of Pure Thoughts regional volunteers, the fillies were sent to New England Equine Surgical and Medical Center in Dover, New Hampshire, where both were found to be very sick, indeed. According to Pure Thoughts co-founder Jennifer Swanson, Heaven’s Host has tested positive for EHV4 (Equine Herpesvirus 4), also known as Equine Viral Rhinopneumonitis. Ilithyia is suffering from Influenza A. Both are considered to be contagious, and will have to remain in the clinic for treatment until they recover.
But the question of how the fillies got from Florida to Maine was an unanswered one, until now. It had been suspected that Ms. Hemphill had purchased them at Crowleys, which conducts auctions on alternate Thursday nights, but there was no proof. It turns out that the evidence of the Crowleys to Hemphill Farm connection was there all along, on the Crowleys’ website.
Among the mares that Crowleys says it has recently sold is “Ilitha.” Notwithstanding the misspelling of Ilithyia’s registered name, there can be no doubt that the horse described on the website is she: “2007 Chestnut TB, Quiet, Flat Kneed, Never Been Tried at the Races, 100% Sound.”
Heaven’s Host is listed right below her on the Crowleys’ site: “2007 Bay TB, Shown in 4H and Will Carry Anyone. Real Pretty, Shapey Girl. Easy to Catch. 100% Sound.”
We do not know how much each of the fillies brought in the auction ring. We do know that Pure Thoughts paid thousands of dollars to ransom them from a miserable fate, and will spend thousands more to nurse them back to health. In spite of everything they have been through, Heaven’s Host and Ilithyia are the lucky ones. There are so many others who have fallen through the cracks.
You can make a contribution to Pure Thoughts Horse Rescue for the care of Heaven’s Host and Ilithyia here.