UNION TOWNSHIP | Anastasia calmly chewed on a pile of hay Thursday morning and did not hesitate to show off the chestnut filly she had given birth to just hours before.
Other than some swelling on her lower legs and cuts and bruises, the bay-colored Arabian mare showed no trauma from having been been rescued the day before from a railroad bridge after being spooked from her stall by fireworks and gunfire.
"She's been very quiet," said owner Roni Marie Byvoets, who rescued the horse from slaughter a month earlier.
The filly, who nursed before lying down on her side for a nap in the midmorning heat, was born without incident at 4 a.m. Thursday, Byvoets said. The young horse likely would have been born Wednesday had it not been for the stress of the day before, she said.
Byvoets said she and her family had not realized the horse had escaped from their property along County Road 400 North until a neighbor called with the news. The horse was found with a hoof lodged between two railroad ties and was freed while the Porter County Sheriff's Department worked to head off any oncoming trains.
"It was horrible," she said.
In addition to concern about the welfare of the animal, a train could have ran into serious problems had it hit the 1,100-pound animal, Byvoets said.
Anastasia again owes her life to the Byvoets, who run what is believed to be the area's only horse rescue.
Byvoets, who has been rescuing horses for the past 11 years, with a focus on pregnant mares, said a friend found Anastasia at a "kill auction" in Alabama. She was to be sold for $80 and then shipped off to either Canada or Mexico for slaughter and sold overseas for human consumption at up to $16 a pound.
While pregnant horses are not supposed to be part of that trade, it does occur, she said.
Byvoets said she is working on obtaining nonprofits status for her Faith, Hope, and Love Farm, but has thus far funded the effort on her own. She takes a little different approach than other horse rescues in that she trains the animals in hopes they find a permanent home.