When Annette Sullivan rescued a mare from a New Jersey horse sale last summer, she knew she was saving a horse.
What she didn’t know was that, is in a few short months, she would be reuniting that horse with its original owner.
Sullivan purchased the mare for $200 last July after nobody would purchase her at a state horse sale.
Without Sullivan saving her, the mare would certainly have been slaughtered, she said.
Soon after returning to the Zoar Ridge Stables in Newtown, Sullivan began to discover the horse’s distinguished, and sometimes difficult history.
She learned that the mare, known at the stable as "Lady," had at one point worked with an Olympic trainer.
She also learned that the horse spent five years in a quarantine facility in New Jersey as a test horse.
When stallions are brought in from overseas, they are tested for a kind of contagious bacteria by breeding them with a mare to determine if the mare has become infected.
Lady was supposed to be sent to slaughter and not put up for sale, but somehow she accidentally ended up in the sale where Sullivan purchased her.
As a test horse, Lady was bred repeatedly, then her reproductive organs washed out to ensure there would be no pregnancy.
After arriving at Zoar Ridge, Sullivan learned that Lady was, in fact, pregnant. Her reproductive system, however, was severely damaged. The foal died and Lady barely survived the pregnancy.
“She survived three times in six months what you would think many horses don’t make it out of once,” said Sullivan.
In October, Sullivan received a call she never expected.
Megan Chance Adams raised the horse she knew as Burma until 2005, at which point she boarded her at a stable for a year with a breeding agreement. While Adams was away, the farm went under, with Burma and the farm’s owner nowhere to be found.
“I got a call from Megan one morning, just out of the blue. She was sobbing on the phone and she said I think you have my horse,” Sullivan said.
Last fall, a friend of Adams’ saw what she believed was Burma on the Facebook page Sullivan keeps for Zoar Ridge.
Adams described the mare’s quirks and personality traits and Sullivan knew this was the same horse.
Soon after, Burma and Adams were reunited and the horse will now return to North Carolina to live with her owner.
Sullivan has several rescue horses at her stables waiting to be adopted. Each has its unique story, but none are as extraordinary as Burma’s.
“There’s part of me (that's) happier for Megan,” Sullivan said. “Happier for all of us that wonder where are those missing horses and maybe they are out there.”