CANTER Mid-Atlantic’s director, Allie, started this blog to chronicle the journey of an ex-racehorse – documenting the good and the bad, and the easy and hard parts of bringing a horse from the track to a new long term home. Rosey came into our program in an unusual way – most horses are donated by their owners and trainers, who want them to find good homes. Rosey, on the other hand, was headed down a dangerous road – scheduled to be sold to a dealer who often takes horses to “kill auctions” or ships direct to slaughter. As Allie wrote:
“Her groom contacted some friends about “saving” this small, nondescript 3 year old filly last winter. We did not have the funding to take her, but we had the room. Enter some angels from a small fundraising group who have made it their mission to save as many OTTB’s as they could. “Friends of Twilight” and Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue raised the 600 dollars needed to purchase her from her one and only owner (I bred and raised this filly!) and pay for two months of her care. When we went to pick her up, the “owner” proudly showed us pictures of Rosey from when she was just a wee baby. He proudly flipped through these ratty, faded pictures, describing each of them as if it were yesterday, all the while myself and another volunteer stood there simmering with rage, filly standing in motheaten halter politely behind us. This man, who bred and raised this sweet thing, was happy to send her to the killers. How could someone who carried the pictures of his one last (failed) racehorse in his dirty wallet not care that she end up on someone’s plate? He didn’t care, he just wanted his three hundred dollars.”
I was there that day – not only was it Rosey’s chance for a new future but it was also my very first experience picking up a horse from the track. And what an experience it was… the horse’s owner kept Allie there much longer than we’d have liked, and after trying to get an extra $300 for her papers, we ended up leaving the track with one plain little bay filly and no papers. What follows is the rest of Allie’s account:
“Calabria Rose was cute in a funny looking kind of way. Her head is a bit too big for her small body. Her eyes are set in a bit the wrong place. She toes out a bit and her neck could be longer. But she was kind and quiet and agreeable and jumped right on my waiting trailer, and thats all that I really care about when we get down to brass tacks.
When we got her to the barn we turned her out in the paddock. She romped for half an hour, impressing bystanders and even illiciting the question of “Hey! Is she an Arab? She flags her tail like an arab!” as she ran about as nutty as could be. She was ‘off’ in the left front, but not terribly so. I was told her shoulder was injured, but I doubted it. I thought the culprit was her way-too-long, freshly shod (I JUST PAID $120 for those shoes, so yer gettin’ em FREE!) feet. I was thrilled to be right.
I was sure that once we got her sound we could find someone who would give her a chance.
Boy. I’ve been wrong before. Really I have. But it doesn’t happen terribly often, honest! Ok so it happens all the time, but I was CERTAIN someone would say “I have been looking forEVER for a silly little bay mare, and she’s the one I’ve been looking for!” Only, nobody did. Only one person came to look at her, and she was just too small for what they were wanting. I offered to give her to a good home, I offered to send her on trial. I pulled my hair out.
So when I was thinking about a second horse to bring on vacation to Southern Pines, NC with me last week I though, “SCREW YOU, SMALL, FUNNY LOOKIN’ HORSE-ADVERSE WORLD, I’ll Show you what she can be!” and drove over and loaded her up with my most awesome of ponies, Phinny.
And so begins her training journey, which I’m pleased to have the world watch. I hope someone will actually take a chance on this sweet girl, she’s going to be worth it.”
And so began the Calabria Rose blog. 🙂
Rosey was with CANTER for quite a long time. After returning from her field trip to Southern Pines with Allie, she came to a farm in Damascus where I board my horse, and we kept several CANTER horses who were ready for re-training and riding. Rosey’s first several months involved lots of basic work under saddle, trail riding, and learning a little about jumping. Rosey received some professional training from an eventer in our area, who declared her “magical.” I brought Rosey to her first few shows, and would go on to show her to several potential buyers.
Except… even after all that work, and all that time (let’s not talk about “all that money”) there really aren’t a lot of people out there wanting a small mare. Several potential buyers who loved her were talked out of it due to the horse’s size or level of training (let’s face it – I am an amateur!). Even after appearing as the star of a Washington Post article about ex-racehorses and CANTER, Rosey remained a difficult sell, even though she was going extremely well under saddle, had developed a winning personality, and was an absolute darling.
Enter trainer Jess Morthole, stage left. Jess works with many of our CANTER horses, and does an amazing job – she seems to have an innate sense for what they need and how to work with them, and brings them along incredibly well. Jess utilizes help of her area professionals in lessons and clinics, and gets the horses out schooling and going to competitions so that they are well – exposed to all the things they’ll have to deal with in the real world.
Jess got Rosey out schooling cross country, jumping well, and even had a student take her to a real event. Rosey was a rockstar. Everywhere she went, and everything she was asked to do, she did (or at least tried to do). And true to form, Jess was able to make the magic match that led Rosey to her new home. Rosey is now a member of a local family that has taken her to competitive trail rides (where they had to perform a variety of spook-worthy tasks, like pulling an inflatable alligator across a stream) and various other outings and competitions.
Rosey is now living happily ever after, with some amazing people who love her the way she always deserved. She will forever be one of our special favorites, and I will always have a special place in my heart for small, slightly funny looking mares. 🙂