Tag Archives: thoroughbred

How I Found What I Thought I’d Lost

Back in October, Bonnie bucked me off in a particularly energetic bout of playfulness.  It was not a minor incident.  I broke my right elbow and did some nasty damage to my left knee, which resulted in a crippling bursitis and, later,  cellulitis.  I couldn’t walk for three days and to this day I still can’t straighten out my right arm.  I owe various doctors a total of around $11,000 for my three emergency room visits and three visits to an orthopedic specialist.

I never thought that I would be afraid after a fall, but I was.  I couldn’t overcome it, and that infuriated me.  I was unable to ride until mid-December because of my injuries, but even when I could, I was timid and overcautious.  I wouldn’t canter.  When either of my horses got worked up or showed any inclination to buck, I’d go back to a walk, get a good walk, then quit.  I know better than to just hop off immediately, but I couldn’t make myself work through the problems.

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Filed under Bon Appeal

A Red Gelding Diary, Just For Today

All is well with Bonnie, but today I want to tell you a story about another red racehorse.  A 5-year-old gelding with lots of chrome.  His name is Lion.

Lion leading the pack in a 2009 race. Image is from Flickr, copyright EVENT OF THE YEAR PHOTOS (Kathleen Toler)

I work at an equine hospital in central Florida.  We are a surgical center and often get referral cases from other vets.  On Monday, Lion arrived in the hospital.  He still wore racing plates on all four feet and he was oh-so fit, but quiet and sweet in spite of it.   A subpalpebral lavage had been put into his right eye to treat a very bad eye ulcer.  Complications from the eye ulcer and infection had resulted in a temporary paralysis of the whole right side of his face. I work the grueling overnight shift, and every two hours I medicated his eye through the catheter.  On Tuesday, though, the vets discovered that his eye had actually ruptured.  He no longer had sight and the eye would need to be removed.  His owners were not on board for such a procedure and opted for euthanasia.

We had 24 hours to find him a home.  For a 5 year old absolutely fit thoroughbred, fresh from the track and recently raced, Lion was sweet, calm, and seemed to be an ideal candidate for retraining.  Without a full lameness workup, he seemed sound.  It would have been a shame to put him down.  I contacted everyone I knew who might be able to help.  I had no luck.  Other technicians did the same.   At the end of the day, I was sad that my efforts had not produced an adopter, and I went to work expecting the gelding’s stall to be empty.

It wasn’t.  There he was, munching hay.  Very much alive.

As it turns out, one of my fellow technicians adopted him.  She worked it out with her family and arranged for an ophthalmology resident to do the enucleation procedure.   It is expected that his facial paralysis will resolve when the infection is cleared up and the eye is out.  We all believe that he will be easy to retrain and will make an excellent riding horse.  His new family has dreams of turning him into a barrel horse.  Whatever he ends up doing, though, he will have a happy home.

I feel all warm and fuzzy.



Filed under Bon Appeal, Racing, Retirement Options, Success Stories

OTTBs you should know: Hank the Wonder Therapy Horse

Everyone’s doing it. Even Zenyatta has been known to engage in a little hippotherapy. So I wasn’t terribly surprised to get an email from Joell Dunlap of the Square Peg Foundation, an adaptive horsemanship program, alerting me to the group’s very fabulous OTTBs.

Hank and a fan, courtesy Square Peg Foundation

The rescued horses who make  up  the  Square  Peg Foundation’s team  of therapy horses, especially a certain “cheap claimer” once named “My Cheatin’ Heart” (an apt name for a horse, since we all know every single horse will, at some point or another, make us weep) have been making headlines for a recent demonstration of The Horse Boy Method, which takes therapeutic riding, dispenses with the sidewalkers and leaders, and lets a child ride double with a skilled equestrian.

It wasn’t so much that Hank (My Cheatin’ Heart, of course) was able to quietly  and expertly carry people with disabilities and developmental struggles. It was where he did it. 

So when Rupert Isaacson, creator of The HorseBoy Method asked if we could bring horses into the San Jose Convention Center to demonstrate HorseBoy Method for kids with autism at the Abilities Conference (I need  to explain that this meant riding horses on the concrete floor of the San Jose Convention Center in and amongst vendors demonstrating things like wheelchairs and hydraulic lifts for people with physical mobility issues. There would be hundreds of spectators, microphones, flash cameras and all sorts of service animals)  I couldn’t believe it when I heard myself say “sure, we can help you out.”

Oh Joell. What are you thinking? You can’t take your horse into a convention center amongst the press and tourists and screaming toddlers and cell phone cameras!

“Fantastic!” replied Rupert, “I’ll send you an email with some tips and I’d like for the horses to be able to do some tricks like smile on cue, bow and if you can get them to stand on a pedestal, that would be great.”


“Did I mention that we will have to bring them into the convention center via the loading docks, will that be okay with your horses? You’re a champion – thanks so much. ”


Guess what Joell did. Can you guess? If you guessed, “Joell politely declined, realizing that the alien settings of the convention center, combined with less than ideal shipping circumstances and the looming impossibility of teaching them any tricks in the next week would simply be too much to ask,” well then, my friends, you don’t know Joell!

Joell and her team learned Hank and another Thoroughbred named Cometa some new tricks. (Cometa’s 19, so you can learn an old horse new tricks.) Then they loaded up the horses, took them to the convention center, put boots on their hooves to prevent any accidents on the convention center floors, and let them put on the show of a lifetime.

Joell, in her blog, sums up what I love most about therapeutic riding:

The crowd loved them and they basked in the adoration even when the clapping of hands scared them.  They were ambassadors of freedom and strength and power to people to whom life has dealt a different hand.

Three cheers for Joell, Hank, and everyone at Square Peg Thoroughbreds, where they turn rescued horses, including OTTBs, into life-changing champions for people who need them.

Read very much more about Hank and Square Peg Thoroughbreds here:

The Square Peg Foundation Blog: Thoroughbred Champions

Off-Track Thoroughbreds: Thoroughbreds Lift Up Autistic Kids

The Blood-Horse: OTTB Riding Center Spotlight: Square Peg

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Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, Success Stories, therapeutic riding

Today’s ALL THE HORSES ARE ALL FOR ME Selections from Suffolk Downs and CANTER NE


Meet trainers pet horsies take one home with you!!

(I think they should get one of those big inflatable gorillas to put out front and get lots of extra attention, but nobody ever listens to me.)

Dark skies and pouring down rain is the perfect horse-shopping weather. How so, you ask? Well, horse-shopping is done on the Internets these days, right? It’s so much easier to justify spending your day looking at pictures of horses if it’s dark and stormy. And that is precisely what I have been doing.

I’m a little bit of a horse flipper, I confess (not the vaulting kind, although that would be fun) and so my eye is always drawn to the $500 and below listings. Even if I was planning on keeping the horse for myself (see: New York Bob, my imaginary novice-level eventing buddy) I lean towards the bargains, because I don’t mind a little goofiness or patching-up or whatever extra work a horse might need, as long as they’re nice and don’t bite with their ears pinned. (Biting is one thing. Biting with ears pinned is another thing altogether.)

But last night I went to a free gig at a posh hotel, and I am still feeling the residual effects of pretending to be rich. With that in mind, here are three horses that I would cheerfully drop a fortune (that is, more than $500) on and probably keep forever and braid their manes and give them those prepackaged horse treat cupcakes and wash them with that strawberry cheesecake scented shampoo I used to carry at Grand Cypress Equestrian Center for the rich kids and their ponies.

1. O’Malley

O'Malley is a hands-free Thoroughbred! The latest and greatest in OTTB technology!

Okay, first off, he’s a chestnut. +1. Second, he’s named after one of the Aristocats. +1. Third, that shoulder. +1. Fourth, THAT FACE . +500. And look, he stands up and poses for pictures! Right after a race! He’ll look so cute with a champion rosette, and you know he’s going to show off on that victory gallop. This is one of those horses that I can look at all day. $2,000 negotiable sounds right to me.

2. Gonna Blow

Dark bays are mysterious and brooding, like James Bond. If you're going to rename him (and you probably are) can we go with a Secret Agent name?

Those ears! When I saw those ears, I had to check out his pedigree. (Don’t ask, I don’t know why.) Gonna Blow, poor sweet boy, is just like me, a Florida-bred asking why is it so damn cold? But horses like cold weather,  so he has probably adjusted better than I have. Look, he’s got dapples, a gorgeous hip, a swan’s neck, a sweet face, and he’s ever-so-slightly over at the knee (I think) which as The Authority, AKA James Wofford, has said, makes for a better jumper. (See: Amarillo.) His trainer and groom vouch for his chilled-out ‘tude, which totes make sense since he’s a beach boy, and they’re letting him go for $1,500 (neg.).

3. Chief Picolo

I swear, Chief Picolo already looks like he is in the arena at HITS.

Gray horses cost more because only rich people can afford enough grooms to keep them clean all the time. When you stroll down from your mansion to your stable, you want to be sure that your dappled gray isn’t dappled muck-green. That being said, a little elbow grease, a washcloth, and some rubbing alcohol not only removes grass and manure stains from a light-colored coat, it also builds muscle! And you have hay bales to stack! You need biceps! Chief Picolo has enough white on him to keep your body buff and enough of those pretty circles we call dapples to keep the judge’s eye from wandering. I know I said I’m a plain chestnut girl, but I am out of shape, and he is incredibly gorgeous. He’s also been handled like a horse (winters on the farm, lightly raced, good manners) so the transition to the show ring should be fairly smooth. $3,000 and it’s probably a bargain for a racey eye-catcher like this.


Filed under Retirement Options, Selling Horses, Sport Horses

Thoroughbreds On Sale at Suffolk!

Summer is over and gone (at least in the Northeast) and if you’re a Thoroughbred at Suffolk Downs in Boston, you’re getting ready for a change of scenery. The 2011 meet ends on November 5th, and while a lot of trainers head south to Florida for the winter season, they aren’t usually keen on taking all of their horses.

It’s a long, expensive trip, and Florida’s three-track winter racing circuit is tougher than Suffolk’s.

CANTER New England gets busy every fall at Suffolk, connecting with trainers to find out which horses they think are ready for new careers, and providing them with listings on the organization’s website.

Trainer-listed horses are not adoptions — purchasers are buying directly from the trainer — which means they’re not bound by an adoption contract. Sporthorse trainers looking for project horses, take note!

There are more than one hundred horses currently listed, in all ages, sizes, colors, and breedings.

I’ll feature a few in their own posts, but here’s a tantalizing preview of what they have to offer…

Cajun Quickstep, 16.3 4 yo gelding

Cajun Quickstep, 16.3 4 yo gelding

Like size on your horse? Got long legs? Cajun Quickstep is 16.3 hands high and has he ever got a gorgeous body! Excuse me while I drool over that croup for a while. Oh wait, I have to admire his shoulder… Now I’m picturing myself jogging him at Rolex for the horse inspection…

Okay, I’m back.

Cajun Quickstep is listed at $750.

Someone buy this horse before I do something stupid.


LINK: NE Trainer Listings – Page 1 of 3.





Filed under Outside Sites, Retirement Options, Selling Horses, Sport Horses, Uncategorized

Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project: The sad reality; An auction, a Paint, a feedlot, and some OTTB’s

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s link regarding the Minnesota auction yard, directly from Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project. This is an important read. Even when trainers try to do the right thing, someone is lurking right around the corner waiting to turn a quick profit on a horse’s life.

In this case, a trainer was duped into thinking that someone was purchasing his horse for a riding home, let the retirement farm know that the horse was taken care of, only for the retirement staff to find the horse had been shipped directly to the kill pen.

The “dealer”, along with a little cash, offers the promise of finding the horse a good home.  Sometimes it’s someone who is looking for a riding horse, sometimes it’s a polo operation, and sometimes it’s a hunter jumper home. Unfortunately his idea of a good home is dropping them off at the feedlot for quick cash…

One of the five horses was confirmed to have been given to him, again, with the promise of a polo home in another state. He even went so far as to ensure he got the Jockey Club papers (which were not given to the feedlot). He then loaded this horse on his trailer (along with the bay gelding and 3 others he’d collected) and hauled  30 minutes south to the feedlot where he cashed in an easy $200. By my estimate, this gentleman  probably scored close to $800-$900 at the feedlot , if not more. This is fraud, anyway you look at it. It’s one thing if he was honest as to where they were going, another if he deliberately misled them. Which appears to have been the case in multiple incidences.

Five racehorses, given freely and sold for slaughter. All of these horses’ trainers thought they had done the right thing by their horses. In the end, the President of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association stepped up and supported MNRRP’s financial need to get the five kill pen Thoroughbreds out.

It’s a sad example of how just one person with a lack of humanity and morals can thwart a cast of well-meaning people and perpetuate the perception of the racetrack as a place where no one cares about a horse if it can’t bring home a check. It’s people like this who, ultimately, will bring the sport down, if the practice of sending retired racehorses to slaughter continues to horrify this horse-loving nation.

But what does a con man care? If he isn’t ruining lives at the racetrack, he’ll just find somewhere else to ruin them.

Please, be careful with your horses. And read the entire story – link below.

Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project: The sad reality; An auction, a Paint, a feedlot, and some OTTB’s.

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Filed under racetrack life, Racing, Retirement Options, Selling Horses

Owning Racehorses: Racehorses, Responsibility and Heroines

Wow, this is incredible. Ted Grevelis of Tabby Lane Thoroughbreds went to a local auction with members of the Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project to help pull Thoroughbreds from the kill pen.

There were several rescues, including a former New Vocations horse who was a successful endurance mount! Later, they come across several racehorses:

…a pen was discovered with five Thoroughbreds and another outside.  All of the five still had their racing plates on.

This horses were purchased off the track by a known dealer who likes to say he has “a good riding home” for them, forks over a couple of hundred bucks and away they go to Mexico or Canada.   Donating your Thoroughbred to the Project or another program can get you a $5000 tax credit.  Selling to the dealer gets you $200 cash.  Is it really worth it?

This entire post is outstanding! Link below…

via Owning Racehorses: Racehorses, Responsibility and Heroines.

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Filed under Racing, Retirement Options, Selling Horses