After having such high hopes for the horse she had acquired, the call from the vet left her reeling. After months of trying to get the mare to foal and pass on her bloodline, nothing had taken.
Suspicion crept in that something wasn’t right, but now it was clear she’d been taken for a fool. When the vet examined the mare, his findings blew everyone away. Did the horse’s previous owner think she was stupid?
Mary Lewis had always loved all animals, but she had a special place in her heart for horses. Growing up on her father’s horse farm had been the experience that shaped her life into what it was today.
She also inherited her father’s obsession with breeding racehorses, but she never expected the challenges she’d face as a female in the horseracing industry.
When Mary first became involved in her father’s business, she quickly learned that the male-dominated horseracing industry would push back.
The circles her father moved in were cliquey ‘old boys’ clubs.’ She knew she’d have to work harder to earn her place. She was overlooked and dismissed time and time again. Until one of her horses made them sit up and take notice.
A stallion whose bloodline Mary had perfected over ten years won first place, netting her a cool $100,000.
Although the prize money didn’t even cover the investment and upkeep of her horses over the years, she enjoyed being tossed up into the whirlwind of the horseracing industry. She was developing a taste for it. But now, she stood to lose everything before she’d even truly begun.
Over the years, Mary started to make a name for herself. She couldn’t afford to employ trainers and handlers, so she got up at 3 AM each morning to train, groom, and feed her horses herself.
She didn’t have time for relationships. Even though it hadn’t paid off and she still struggled to keep her father’s farm, this was her whole life. She aimed to be among the 3% of breeders who produced horses with winning bloodlines. Naturally, when an extraordinarily fast mare came onto the racing scene, she saw the horse as an investment.
Always True was a stunning specimen. With five wins against other mares, she had won her owner more than $300,000.
She was something special and looked set to become the racing circuit’s next big thing. Mary kept an eye on her progress until she retired at the age of five. Mary was the first in the gates at the auction when she went up for sale as a broodmare. Of course, she didn’t know that someone was about to sabotage her.
The mare was led around the enclosure, then the bidding began. Arms in the crowd flew up into the air one after the other, and with each flash of a white card, Mary found it harder and harder to catch her breath.
The price rose steadily, higher and higher. But Mary was willing to bet everything she had on this horse. At $177,600, she won the bid. Little did she know, it would be the biggest mistake of her life.
Mary felt exhilarated – she’d won the bid for the prize mare. It was a huge investment, but there was just something about this horse that made her willing to take out a second mortgage to have her as part of her breeding stock.
She ran her hands over the mare’s velvety muzzle and fell in love. Could this be the horse that would save her father’s farm and give her the recognition she deserved?
Mary was given Always True’s paperwork – documents of her thoroughbred lineage and a certificate proving that she had been examined by a vet and was fertile and fit for breeding.
Always True settled into her new home well, and Mary set about trying to get her pregnant by her prize-winning stallion. But Mary was in for a nasty surprise.
Mary’s stallion and the mare were a match made in heaven. They both had thoroughbred lineages and a history of winning at the races.
Mary couldn’t wait to see what offspring the pair produced and was sure the investment would pay off – and it had to. Little did she know that purchasing the mare would ruin her career.
Mary watched the last of her meager savings drain out of her bank account. After months of keeping her prize-winning stallion in the paddock with the new mare, she still hadn’t gotten pregnant. What was even stranger was that the stallion had absolutely no interest in her.
The mare’s behavior had been normal and she’d settled into her new home extremely well. So, what could be the problem?
After another month, the mare still wasn’t pregnant. Now, Mary knew something was wrong. She called her vet to schedule a house call.
The vet examined the mare, but Mary was mystified to learn that everything appeared normal. It was only after further tests that Mary was shocked to find out that her huge investment wasn’t a mare at all.
The mare needed further tests to determine why she hadn’t gotten pregnant. When the vet eventually found out what the problem was, the news left Mary reeling. He advised her to sue.
It was clear she’d been taken for a fool. Did the horse’s seller think that, because she was a woman in the horseracing industry, she was so stupid?
It turned out that Always True was a mare in outward appearance only. She had a reproductive abnormality that meant she had no ovaries and carried male chromosomes.
No wonder she had outraced all the other female racehorses – her testosterone levels had given her a massive competitive edge in all the races! But how had the seller submitted a certificate from a vet that stated the mare’s reproductive health was sound?
Another test, a karyotype report from Texas A&M University, revealed that the mare had a genetic condition that give her the “appearance of a female horse, but the chromosomes of a male horse.”
Mary filed a lawsuit against the mare’s seller and is awaiting the outcome. The certificate was signed off by a well-respected vet, so she filed a claim against him as well. For now, Always True is living the happy life of a retired racehorse with Mary’s other older horses.