Category Archives: Success Stories

The Snowman Documentary

Quick, say it with me, who is our favorite non-retired racehorse rags-to-riches champion feel-good real-life horse?

SNOWMAN! SNOWMAN! SNOWMAN!

Snowman, the 80 dollar champion

Just another international show jumping champion/children’s pet found on a meat truck.

Of course it’s Snowman, what other choice could we have? The big grey plow horse who went from the New Holland kill-buyer, literally bought right off the van to slaughter, who went on to become an international show jumping champion/family pet, has to be one of the greatest horse stories of all time. He’s amazing because he’s true.

Snowman’s biography, The Eighty-Dollar Champion: Snowman, the Horse That Inspired a Nation, has been a best-seller since its release in 2011 (and the Retired Racehorse review remains one of the top posts on this site). Now the next best thing to a book, a documentary, is being made about Snowman, and you can help.

HARRY AND SNOWMAN is being produced by Docutainment Films, who have made two documentaries before, both about beauty pageants. Wait! Not just beauty pageants. The first one, PAGEANT, is actually about contestants in the 34th annual Miss Gay America Pageant, so that’s pretty cool.

Featuring stunning musical numbers, this movie dives into the heart and soul of this make-believe world: the men behind the make up.

I like it.

The second one, MISS YOU CAN DO IT, is about the first woman with disabilities to participate in the Miss USA Pageant, and the pageant she would create, Miss You Can Do It, specifically for girls with disabilities.

Abbey founded the Miss You Can Do It Pageant in 2004 and girls and their families travel from around the country to participate in this event where their inner beauty and abilities reign.

I LIKE it!

In other words, the people at Docutainment seem pretty interested in finding the heart-and-soul stories of underdogs with big dreams and seemingly impossible hopes. I think that anyone of us who has ever taken a look at a rag-tag bucket-of-bones horse and seen a show horse, let alone a champion, can appreciate that. 

The website for HARRY & SNOWMAN is requesting historical archives relating to the horse and rider team, specifically film, photos, and articles of:

  • Harry deLeyer
  • Snowman
  • 1950s jumper champions: Andante, Sonora, McLain Street, Australis and Windsor Castle
  • National Horse Shows between 1955—1965
  • The deLeyer Family
  • Dutch Crown
  • Horse Shows between 1955—1965
  • Jumper classes between 1955—1965
  • Writings and photos of Marie LaFrenz
  • New Holland PA horse auction

This is a wonderful excuse to climb into the attic and pull down all those boxes of horse memorabilia that the people around you said was a waste of time and space to keep, open them up in the living room, and scatter old newspapers about horse shows all over your house. Especially as the weather is supposed to be bad. Just make some coffee and have a good time with it. And if you don’t find anything that’s been requested for the Snowman project, you’ll still have a good time looking at old horse stuff. That’s never a waste of time.

And head over to the HARRY & SNOWMAN website to watch a great little video preview, featuring photos and film footage of Harry looking frankly very dangerous as he jumps Snowman over huge obstacles with neither a hard hat nor what I would call a steady lower-leg position, and then letting that adorable horse carry his adorable children around on swimming excursions. It’s going to be an amazing, wonderful film about an amazing, wonderful partnership!

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Filed under Jumpers, Media Coverage, slaughter, Sport Horses, Success Stories

Champions of any breed

At this blog, we talk a lot about Thoroughbreds.

There’s a simple reason for this: I’m obsessed with Thoroughbreds, and it’s my blog. Retired Racehorse Blog was originally conceived to be a training diary about one retired racehorse, Final Call, and if you go back far enough in the archives, you’ll see all those old posts, from the day I went to try him out at a training center in Ocala, to the day of his first hunter pace.

(We won that hunter pace, by the way.)

Of course, a retired racehorse doesn’t have to be a Thoroughbred. It could be a Quarter Horse, or an Arabian, or a Paint, or an Appaloosa, or, I guess, a pony if you consider those pony races like the Shetland Pony Grand National. All of those breeds have regulated racing associations. Maybe not ponies. But the others do. (Fun Natalie fact: I was once a groom at a prominent Arabian racehorse farm which had won several breeders’ awards and served owners with familiar names like Darley and Godolphin.)

pony racing, New Zealand

Ponies race in New Zealand. All blogs should be required to post a picture of ponies racing. Flickr: Mollivan Jon

And then, if you really want to broaden the job description of a rah-rah-retired-racehorse spokesperson such as myself, you could argue that we aren’t just touting the Thoroughbred racehorse as a supreme equine being (although we are) but that we’re also suggesting that the diamonds in the rough often shine brightest of all, whether they are Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse or Shetland Pony or Grade-Without-A-Clue.

I do suggest that. I insist it, as a matter of fact. The found horse, the unwanted horse who is suddenly very much wanted, the nag that turned into a best friend, the plug that turned into a champion, that’s at the very heart of all pony dreams, isn’t it?

And in that spirit, I present to you Elizabeth Letts’ new blog, Do You Have The Next Eighty Dollar Champion?

Eighty Dollar Champion bumper sticker

Do you have one of these on your trailer?

You remember Elizabeth Letts. She wrote the lovely biography The Eighty Dollar Champion, which happens to be about a plow horse auction-find who goes out and beats Thoroughbreds. I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about that, obviously, but what can you do? This horse had the heart of a champion, and all he needed was the right person to bring it out and show the world. Not to mention, he was one truck-ride away from slaughter when Harry De Leyer noticed him and insisted on buying him. This is a story that transcends breed snobbery (and I fully admit to being a card-carrying breed snob).

The review of The Eighty Dollar Champion I posted here at Retired Racehorse continues to be not just the most popular book review on the site, but one of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever put up, which just goes to show you that the story of a nag from nowhere beating the big boys continues to be a universally popular subject. And, recognizing that, Letts’ new blog lets readers send in the stories of their own unlikely champions, from a cribbing Thoroughbred nobody wanted who is now rocking the eventing divisions, to a severely neglected Clydesdale  now making a stir at the local dressage shows.

Do you have an eighty dollar champion? I know I’ve had a few. Some cost more than eighty dollars, sure, and some cost nothing at all. The word “champion” would probably have to be used loosely in a competitive sense, but not in an emotional sense. If you’ve ever had a horse touch your heart, or change your life, you know that’s worth more than any dollar amount you could name.

So here’s my challenge to you, readers. Visit Do You Have an Eighty Dollar Champion? and read the stories. Read them with tissues handy. Then, send Letts your story. Because you know you have one. You don’t have to be a great writer, or even a terrible writer… you just need a photo and a paragraph about that one special horse who defied the odds dealt him and the value society assigned him.

And here’s one more thing. Leave a comment, either here, or at the Retired Racehorse Blog Facebook page (the link to this blog post would be great), with the one quality that makes your horse a true champion. It could be “courage.” It could be “forgiving.” It could be “gentle with my child.” It could be anything. There are no limits to what makes a horse great.

Two random commenters will receive a great bumper sticker, courtesy of The Eighty Dollar Champion, that reads “80 $ CHAMP ON BOARD.” It’s going to look great on your trailer!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Stereotypes, Success Stories

That One Horse: Nancy Shulins’ “Falling for Eli”

I used to dream of being the star of a reality show called FLIP THAT HORSE. No, it wasn’t going to be about my many mis-adventures with horses that neither cross-tied nor tied to trailers; after one or two viewings, the finales of each episode would become rather anti-climactic, with viewers shrieking “Don’t tie him to the trailer!” or “Don’t leave him in the washrack for three minutes while you go find a sweat scraper!” until they all gave up in disgust and turned the channel back to another rerun of The Big Bang Theory. 

No, FLIP THAT HORSE was going to be the adventures of ME, Natalie Keller Reinert, retired racehorse retrainer, as I scooped up OTTBs left and right, here from a training center, there from a kill-pen, here from a stock-yard, there from a backyard, and turned them into amateur-owner eventers, 4-H hunters, dressage/trail/pony party pets, all the things that the average off-track Thoroughbred excels in: the very basics of being a Nice Horse.

Falling for Eli cover image, Thoroughbred horse

Falling for Eli, by Nancy Shulins. Best cover of the year award goes to...

I can’t help it; I love a new horse, a fresh start, quirks to explore and head-carriages to sort out. Why do you carry your hind end like that? Is something going on in that right knee? No? Then please stop pointing your toe! Let’s work on that bucking at every lead change, shall we? Hurry up, move along, my fingers are twitching to get back on Craigslist and find my next diamond in the rough!

I’m a natural-born horse flipper. (And that probably won’t Google well.)

That’s earned me some derision amongst friends and acquaintances. Why can’t I settle down with one horse? How can I stand to let them go? Don’t I get attached? 

Of course I get attached. But let’s be honest: we don’t get a lifetime, one-in-a-million, soul-mate story with every single horse that walks in the farm gate. That’s why they’re one-in-a-million. And sometimes you come across him, and you stay together for years, and more often you don’t. And you keep looking for years, and years, hoping to find that One horse again.

I’ve had one of those soul-mate stories, and a couple false starts, a couple might-have-beens, and quite a few really nice horses who just weren’t the One. My first horse was lovely, but he wasn’t the One. I stumbled through a few perfectly-nice-just-for-someone-else horses before I met the One. I suspect this experience had already planted an idea of the fleeting nature of owning horses before I met him, and it stayed with me.

He was my horse. He was My Horse. I knew all his quirks, and he knew all of mine. He did ridiculous things like cut off his eyelid, and I held up his sagging head while the vet stitched it back on. He was My Horse. It didn’t matter if he was accident-prone, or foot-sore, or too long in the back, or had a really awful habit of spooking hard at strange horses when we were out on trail rides. He was My Horse, with all of his limitations and strange reactions and inexplicable melt-downs, and there wasn’t enough money in the world for me to sell him on.

Falling for Eli is a story of the One, of author Nancy Shulins‘ My Horse. It is a love story. It is a memoir. It is a tribute, to one accident-prone Thoroughbred, with terrible luck and a hell of a spook, for whom there isn’t enough money in the world to sell him on.

Nancy Shulins is a re-rider who gave up horses in her teens. At the urging of her husband, in the midst of a deep depression, she shows up at an acquaintance’s boarding stable midway through a demanding career as a writer with the Associated Press,  and immediately wonders how she ever could have left the magic city at all:

Like Dorothy in reverse, I step out of the Technicolor sunshine and into the dim, russet barn.

For the moment it takes my eyes to adjust, I inhale the heady aroma of horses, manure, wood shavings, and hay, with top notes of worn saddle leather, and realize how much I have missed it.

And so it begins. For the horse-obsessed, the magic never loses its potency, whether we are five or forty-five or, I assume, one hundred and five. And when you meet your soul-mate horse without any stumbling through a paddock-full of bad matches and perfectly-nice-for-someone-else horses, perhaps the magic is that much stronger.

Shulins was looking for magic, although she might not have recognized that at first. Feeling lost, a childless woman on a stroller-and-playset-littered street in suburban Connecticut, the Land of Babies, she lavished attention on her nieces and nephews. And then they moved across the country.

And it became harder to ignore that something was missing from her life.

Horses fill holes in lives.

No, horses are not children. Most people will point out the most obvious difference: you get to leave the horse at the barn every night. But you also get to lie awake worrying about your horse, all alone at the barn. Will he be warm enough? Did I put enough rugs on him? What if something happens in the night? Something… anything! And maybe the barn manager’s alarm won’t go off! And they won’t get breakfast on time! And he’ll colic! And no one will know!

Anyone who has ever felt a flutter of panic as they drive up their barn driveway, just hoping, just praying that everything will be just fine with their horse, knows what I am talking about. It’s not so different from parenthood. It’s almost more frightening. You can’t bring them into the house and keep an eye on them; you pay others to watch them, or you leave them home alone. And when they’re as accident-prone as Eli…

Well…

This is no spoiler, but the God’s honest truth: Eli racks up the vet bills. To the point, in fact, where I was sorely tempted to flip to the back of the book to make sure there’s a happy ending.

There is.

Read Falling for Eli. Hug your horse. Feel lucky. Whether he is the One or not, there’s something there, something magical.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Sport Horses, Success Stories

You can’t hug a racehorse?

by Laurie Berglie

Laurie Berglie is a frequent contributor to Retired Racehorse and also writes at her blog, The Sassy Grey.

After reading Natalie Keller Reinert’s article, “You Can’t Hug a Thoroughbred,” I had to laugh!  Of course I completely agreed with her that you could hug a racehorse, that you could, in fact, hug any horse.  But after reading this, I was reminded of my own OTTB mare, Misty, and how, at first, I couldn’t hug her.

Unlike Natalie, I didn’t grow up around Thoroughbreds.  My mom is a Western rider partial to Paints and Quarter Horses, so I spent most of my life riding those “safe” breeds.  She, for quite simply a lack of knowledge/first hand experience, always told me that Thoroughbreds were “crazy” and “on drugs.”

So I’m not sure if it was my mother’s disapproval or just the sheer, raw beauty of the Thoroughbred, but I wanted one.  (Also, it may have been Joanna Campbell’s Thoroughbred book series too – I was severely addicted to them as a child).

Interestingly, however, until Misty I had never ridden a Thoroughbred.  But then on a hot day in July of 2008, there was Misty, standing in a small paddock on my farm, having just been dropped off by her current trainer.  I stared at her; she stared at me.  What was I going to do with this horse?

Oh well, I thought – let’s just get started.  I began treating her like any other horse.  I gave her some time to adjust to her new surroundings before I rode her, but I was there every day, grooming her, getting to know her.

grey thoroughbred hug

Hugging the sassy grey!

But I’ll never forget that first night.  I was getting ready to leave and went into Misty’s stall one final time to say goodnight.  I went to her side and hugged her, threw my right arm over her withers, my left arm around her chest, and laid my head on her shoulder – and she…turned around and tried to bite me!  It wasn’t a serious effort – more of a “hands off lady!” nip at the air.

I was shocked!  So I leaned in to hug her again – same reaction!  By this time, my mom was laughing as both mine and Misty’s expressions must have been priceless.

“You know,” my mom suggested, “Maybe she’s never been hugged before.  She probably doesn’t know what you’re doing.”

Oh!  All of a sudden, I felt bad for my new horse.  Had she never been shown any real affection?  Was my hug the first she’d ever received?  (Or maybe she was just a touch-me-not kind of girl!)

I believe my response was something like, “Well I’m just going to force myself on her until she loves me.”

Very mature, I know.

But that’s what I did!  Every night before I’d leave, I’d hug my Thoroughbred.  She went from fake-biting at me to just tossing her head a little to full acceptance (or tolerance) of my affection.  She has even hugged me back a few times.

So can you hug a Thoroughbred?  Absolutely.  Can you hug a mare?  Sometimes.   

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Filed under OTTB Stories, Stereotypes, Success Stories

Getting over the first horse show

The first horse show.

In Classic Fashion was ready for his dressage career... and his first show.

It can be a scary experience, horse showing. Even with a seasoned old-timer, there is always an underlying tension. Something could happen to throw off the balance, and all hell could break loose. Another horse throwing a fit could set off your horse. A thunderstorm could blow through and knock over all the jump standards while you’re in the ring for your round. (Why yes, this has happened to me.)

First-timers with OTTBs are often nervous, and with good reason. There’s an expectation that an OTTB will take one look at all those horse trailers, see the strange horses and people milling around, hear the loudspeakers, and make an educated guess: “Ah, a race!” and respond accordingly with lots of excited bouncing, piaffe-ing, possibly a little capriole-ing for good measure if they are feeling particularly athletic and competitive. You can’t blame them for it; in fact, if you’re particularly confident in your seat, you might be inclined to just laugh down at them. It is kind of cute, if it isn’t dangerous, all that rubber-ball-bouncing they like to do.

Of course, they won’t all react like this. Some will fall off the trailer, pass out asleep hanging from their lead-rope while tied to the trailer, and rack up 45 time penalties while cantering around the cross-country course.  But we should all be so lucky. Mine have always gone for the starting-gate routine, and that’s what I’ve learned to expect.

I got a message last month from a rider who was looking for some advice after a particularly difficult first-show experience. It wasn’t just the show: it was everything, door to door.

Julie wrote that she’s had her first OTTB for a year. “He’s an awesome trail horse, learning dressage beautifully, and I love him.” Julie’s been around horses her whole life, but Calvin was her first jump from trail riding and stock horses to dressage training and Thoroughbreds. “I felt confident due to having started a lot of babies from scratch,” she mentions. Nothing like babies to give you a solid seat!

A sweet trail horse and an adorable dressage horse.

She found an OTTB with a nice little record: 25 starts, 6 wins, 4 places, and 5 shows, with earnings of $88,885, and a passport stamped by Presque Isle Downs, Colonial Downs, Laurel Park, Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, and Arlington.

“Calvin was on a lay-up farm after bowing in the fall of his 6-year-old year. My trainer recently told me that normally two greenies don’t make a good match, but that Calvin and I make it work and that he’s taught me so much. Since he has no clue what I’m asking, if I don’t learn to ask correctly, we’re not going to get it right! At times I’ve felt intimidated, in over my head, and my patience tested. But when I get it right he rewards me with relaxation, beauty, and a glow on my face that lasts for days!

“He was almost immediately a fabulous trail partner. He has little spook, and is brave. Our first trail ride he plowed through water, crossed a wooden bridge without hesitation, and walk-trot-canters controllably!”

Finally, Julie decided to take Calvin to an open show to introduce him to the atmosphere.

“Unfortunately, the trailer ride was a solo ride, we were in stand still traffic due to a very smokey fire, passing motorcyle rally, etc. He came off the trailer upset! Then the venue had a car show going on and was actually very loud (they had blasting speakers over the horse stall area!) Needless to say he was beside himself.

“I hand-walked him with a chain over his nose for 45 minutes until he calmed a bit. Then put him in a stall to go register for an in-hand class. While I was gone the drill team performed to Bon Jovi. The stall area was loud like a live concert! He lost it and began pawing, kicking the walls, and trying to CLIMB out.”

(I would have done the same thing if I’d had to listen to a drill team performing to Bon Jovi. Editor out.)

“I came back, talked and stroked him until it was over. I didn’t take him out in fear of losing control of him in a large crowd with children. When it was over I began hand-walking him again but he never regained his (relative) calmness. We did the in-hand trail class and he rocked it! Then left after being there about 2.5 hours.”

Phew! What bad luck for Calvin! I suggested a nice quiet outing with lots of walking around for his next off-farm experience, if not his next two or three off-farm experiences.

Julie wrote back that she’d found a quiet venue holding a dressage show, and she was going to take Calvin there to walk around the warm-up ring. “Short, sweet, but with expectation to behave and then rewarded by coming home quickly.”

Sounds like a plan. A few days later, I got this update:

Calvin at the dressage show

Relaxing in the warm-up ring, at last!

“The dressage schooling show was a much better experience! I gave him SmartCalm paste to take the edge off. We trailered without incident and arrived to a beautiful and calm environment. We lunged in the indoor by ourselves to get acquainted to the venue and then headed out to the warm-up ring.

“He began jigging and whinnying. So I started by just walking him in hand around, and around, and around until he calmed. We did many, many halts and often times backing because he was walking on me or refusing to halt. Almost an hour of that and he calmed enough to get on his back. Then my trainer hand walked him with me on…yes very embarrassing to be a 34-year-old woman being lead-lined at a dressage show! What we do to train our beloved OTTB’s! 

“We finally were able to school once he stopped jigging and trying to walk on her, I got him on the aids and beauty!! People were stopping to watch, comment, and even ask if he was for sale!! I proudly talked up my boy and his former life. People on their warmbloods were awestruck by his beauty. Can’t wait until he can show them his real moves in a few more outings.”

What a great experience to counter the first one! It was great to hear how Julie worked slowly with Calvin and helped him chill out enough to do a little work in the arena. Thanks so much Julie, and best of luck to you and In Classic Fashion! I hope we hear from you again in the future.

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Filed under Dressage, OTTB Stories, Success Stories

OTTB Stories: Remembering Misty’s First Show

Rider Laurie Berglie writes about horses at her blog, The Sassy Grey, and is also the Baltimore Horse Examiner for Examiner.com. She last wrote at Retired Racehorse about her OTTB mare, Misty Mystique, in The Diva That is Misty Mystique.

 

Although I’ve ridden for most of my life, I wasn’t very active in the show ring.  I entered my first show with my Mustang pony at age 12 and subsequently competed about once a year in local hunter shows or 4H until age 17.  At the time, we didn’t have a horse trailer, so coordinating hauling efforts were difficult.  However, during those 6 or 7 shows, I amassed a small wall of ribbons and some low-level competition experience.

Then came college… and marriage… and graduate school… and then Misty Mystique.  I was 25 when Misty, a feisty mare fresh off the track, entered my life.  At the time, I didn’t know much about the ways of the OTTB, but I read like a maniac and asked questions to anyone who would help.  Before I knew it, Misty was going nicely and I tentatively wrote the date of our first show on the calendar.

This was fall of 2010, which meant 11 years had passed since I had set a foot or hoof in the show ring.  But I loaded up my Misty and off we went.

Gray Thoroughbred mare

No nerves here! photo: L. Berglie

The show I had chosen to enter was pretty low key, but there was still a substantial amount of commotion, noise, and general hustle and bustle.  As soon as Misty heard the announcer over the loud speakers, she went into full racehorse mode.  My friend was walking her around and Misty leaned her head into Kelsey’s arm, curved her neck, and did that sideways jig that racehorses will do alongside their lead ponies.

However, after only 10 minutes of semi-confusion and snorting, Misty completely relaxed.  As she watched the youth English riders hack around the ring, you could literally see the light bulb going off.  OH!  This is different!

With Misty fully tacked and me outfitted in my show attire, I was given a leg up and walked into the warm up ring.  Now, according to my friends and family in attendance, two things were glaring obvious at this point.  I looked like a ridiculous ball of nerves and Misty… didn’t.  She walked around with her head high, taking everything in, but she wasn’t silly or hot or out of control.  She definitely looked like the green horse she was, but we were totally fine as we completed our walk/trot class.

In the end, our class was pretty large so we didn’t place, but that didn’t matter.  The entire day had been a success, a genuinely good experience for both of us.  Kelsey commented later how impressed she had been because, “Misty really took care of you out there.”  And she had.  I had practically shook with nerves while my green OTTB had been as steady as a rock.  And that is worth all the blue ribbons in the world.

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Filed under OTTB Stories, Success Stories

Dashboard Drummer: a Top Bunk racehorse’s retirement

This blog post comes to us from Stacy Ferris, who is a Thoroughbred Farm Manager in Ocala, Florida for Allen Iwinski. Says Stacy: “I am very passionate about horses, due to the fact that as a young child I couldn’t be around animals of any kind, period! I was allergic to them. My uncle had horses and it upset me that I couldn’t even pat them. I walked my first horse, Unreal Turn, at Belmont and from there my passion for Thoroughbreds grew. I’ve moved up from Hotwalker to Groom to Assistant Trainer and now to Farm Manager of a small family-run breeding farm. To watch them be born, to raising them to go off and race, there are no other words to describe the feeling you have: they make you proud. This has brought home to me the importance of following as many horses that I have raised as possible, and try to follow their careers to keep them safe.”

Dashboard Drummer, grade 1 sapling stakes

Dash wins the Grade 3 Sapling Stakes in 2003

Dashboard Drummer [Equibase profile] won stakes races from New York to Florida and earned more than $500,000 in purse money, while making lots of fans along the way. He ran his last race at Turf Paradise, finishing 3rd, and retired at age 9. He now resides at Equine Encore Foundation, a retirement farm in Arizona.

Dash was an truly amazing horse early on in his career. At this time I didn’t work for Allen Iwinski, whom trained Dashboard Drummer, as I had left to go on to further my career. (I now am his Farm Manager in Ocala, Florida.) But I followed this horse’s career the whole time. He won the Grade III Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park, and from there I said: Wow, this is a great horse with a lot of heart!

As the years went by he of course declined, got claimed, and eventually turned up at Turf Paradise in Arizona, running on the bottom level in claiming races for $3000. Dash ran 5 times at Turf Paradise, and from the third start I knew I had to do something to get him retired safely.

I reached out to Maggie Moss, the most amazing owner I have ever known for taking care of their horses. I remembered that Maggie was instrumental in claiming a horse named US Gold, a horse that I had taken care of in my grooming years for Frank Passero Jr. Maggie said she would put up the money to claim him, but I was responsible for reaching out to the public to raise donations so that she could be paid back.

Dashboard Drummer at Saratoga

Dash goes to post in the Grade 1 Champagne S. at Saratoga; he would place third.

I set out to the Alex Brown Racing forum and posted Dash’s Story. I got a lot of response, and he was considered a Top Bunk horse. [From Alex Brown Racing: “The Top Bunk List is a list of horses, still racing, that have made more than $500,000 and are running for $5,000 or less. We are tracking these horses, thanks to Daily Racing Form’s horse watch program. We are trying to retire these horses before they get into a more serious situation. At any given time, there are anywhere between 6 – 10 horses on this list.”]

Judith Smith offered to help find transport and a place to keep him. Beverly Strauss from MidAtlantic Horse Rescue offered to accept the donations for Dash so the people willing to donate would be able to receive a tax receipt for their donation. It took about a week to raise the $3,000 we needed after his race. I remember the day he was entered to run: March 28, 2010. That morning I had pins and needles in my stomach, and I couldn’t eat at all.

All I could think about was what if he got hurt, what if he broke down, what if there was more than one claim in the race.

We all watched together on Alex Brown Racing Forum, talking the whole day while we were waiting for Dash to run. Then the call came: we got him!

Dashboard Drummer's Ohio Derby Win

Time to celebrate: Ferris and the boss dig out Dash's memorabilia and party after they knew they'd won the claim.

That was Dash’s last race, and he wouldn’t ever have to run again.

Pattie Shirley from Equine Encore Foundation picked him up the next day, and he now resides with her in Arizona. They are a non-profit organization and rely on donations for the 60+ horses they have.

Retiring Dash was a very big accomplishment for me in horse rescue and I hope for many more to come. I have so many people to thank: First and foremost Maggie Moss. She truly is a great owner and horse advocate, and without her it would not have been possible to claim Dash. Also my thanks to Pattie Shirley for taking Dash into her program and providing the retirement he deserves, Judith Smith for helping me put this all together, Bev Strauss for reaching out to me to help with the donations, Alex Brown as without his forum this would not have been that easy, and for every single person who donated funds to save Dash, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Without you it would not have been possible, and as you can see with the pic below of his accomplishments who knows what would have become of him if he continued to race.

He proved himself at his career until age nine and deserved his retirement.

Dashboard Drummer retired Thoroughbred

Dash in his retirement

 

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Filed under Fundraising, Racing, Retirement Options, Success Stories