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Tristan the Gentle Giant from New Holland

February 7, 2011

Tristan stretches his legs in the snow

A month ago, Horse Rescue United‘s Anouk Busch attended New Holland Auction. She outbid a kill buyer and purchased a Belgian workhorse for $35. The horse was young, but there was something wrong with his eye.

Tristan's eye

Anouk named the horse Tristan, and he spent a month of quarantine time with the Standardbreds she purchased that day. A gentle and friendly horse, Tristan charmed everyone who met him.

Two Blondes

Tristan and Tyler

Tristan was examined by University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center and diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma. When it is caught in its early stages, sometimes a horse’s eye can be removed and he can live a normal life. Unfortunately, Tristan’s cancer had spread and it is already affecting the bones in his face. The prognosis is grave for this handsome horse- surgery is not an option and the veterinarians estimated that he has a few weeks or months before the cancer spreads further and affects his quality of life.


As a rescuer, Anouk is now faced with the heartbreaking decision of how to care for this gentle giant. I met Tristan on Thursday, and other than his right eye, I did not see any other outward signs of illness.

Tristan and photographer Sarah Andrew (and our Fraggle Rock wind-blown hair!)

His personality is bright, trusting, and curious. His appetite is very good, and he has gained weight since his arrival in New Jersey. He is playful, and enjoys interacting with horses and dogs.

Tristan and Tyler

The Horse Rescue United volunteers are doing everything they can to keep Tristan happy and comfortable. He is getting treats and affection and enjoying it all. Tristan is a spectacular example of living in the moment and I’m so happy to have met him. It is beautiful to see all the lives he has touched in such a short time.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Yatima permalink
    February 7, 2011 11:54 am

    I lost my brilliant and kind Arab horse to squamous cell carcinoma. I feel for Tristan and all his connections.

  2. February 7, 2011 2:06 pm

    What a handsome guy! And he looks so kind as well. Despite his disease, it is good to know that his last days will be filled with love, treats and good food.

  3. muriel permalink
    February 7, 2011 2:21 pm

    Poor Baby! It’s nice that he has this great chance at a pleasant life until time to put him down.

  4. February 7, 2011 3:01 pm

    I saw him on Anouk’s page. What a gorgeous guy. I’d take him in a heartbeat if I was in the market for a second horse.

  5. February 10, 2011 10:59 am

    What a sad story. 😦 He looks like such a happy fellow, though – Anouk is a wonderful person for giving him a final home.

  6. February 18, 2011 4:11 pm

    Thank you for posting this, Sarah!

    Just so everyone knows, HRU has a new website and our old url will be expiring as of February 28th…the new website is

    Tristan will remain with HRU until then end, but we are very much in need of sponsors for him as well as homes for our other New Holland saves–Cooper, Jessica, & Justice and future foal (these two need a foster or adoptive home ASAP). Thanks!

  7. February 19, 2011 7:17 am

    I fell in love with Tristan the first time I saw him. The big palooka is truly a gentle giant. I hope the doctors are wrong and he is around a long time.

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