Pet Tips 'n' Tales©
- Horse Sense -
From Racehorse to Rescue
Photo by Mary Ellen "Angel Scribe"©
After 75 years, Nancy is still passionate about horses. She always puts her pets first. Nancy groomed her 25-year-old race horse, Face, for this photograph, and forgot all about her own hair! Nancy rescued Face from the race track and from a painful life at a rodeo.
Nancy loves animals. Her husband Bill, after 50 years of marriage has learned to adapt to his wife's caring heart. He never knows if she is going to come home with a pet bull, a one eyed rooster, or another cat.
Nancy's grandfather had dozens of thoroughbred race horses, and she spent most of her childhood at his ranch and the race track. To this day, she lives and breathes horses.
After Nancy grew up, she had horses of her own, and she and a man (who had 100 race horses) rented pastures side by side.
"I spotted Face grazing with his herd and fell in love with him. So did my horse Franny. The three of us spent a lot of time together over the fence. As I gave Face treats, he and Franny gently nudged each other. I promised Franny, "I am going to get him for you," says Nancy.
One day, Face's owner confessed, "The rodeo offered to buy Face for $800." Nancy responded, "I will pay you $800 and if you deliver the horse I'll pay you an extra $100."
Now the trick was to sneak a full size horse onto her farm! "Bill and I were driving into town when the man delivering Face drove passed us. I purposely hadn't told Bill that 'we' were adopting another horse."
Nancy admits that Bill gets nervous, "wondering when will you stop adding to our farm's pet population?"
"The man gave a great big wave as he drove by us. Bill asked, "Who is that man?" And I said, "Oh, this is the country. Everyone is friendly."
Face had been running at the Portland Meadows Race track, as Emperor's Gold, before joining Bill and Nancy in 1988. They changed his name to Face in honor of his outstandingly beautiful face.
"Face's trainer always ran him 1-1/2 miles. It is a long race, and Face only won one race in two years. When our ferrier took off his horseshoes to rest his feet, he discovered the entire surface of Face's hooves were painfully black and blue."
Face is very lucky to be living peacefully on Nancy's and Bill's ranch and not further tortured at a rodeo.
"He is a spirited horse and would have ended up pulling chuck wagons in races," says Nancy with disgust. "Horses frequently break their legs when rounding corners pulling those heavy wagons. My grandfather's thoroughbred broke both his legs at the Stampede rodeo held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
"The fact that Face is 25-years-old is a testimony to Nancy's great care. Most race horses never live this long," explained her veterinarian.
When Face first arrived, he was crazy for six months because he'd been shot up with so many hormones at the track. We didn't give him hot foods like alfalfa or high protein foods like they did at the track because they are hard on his system. It took six months for Face to quiet down and heal on grass hay.
Franny was thrilled to finally have Face on her side of the fence. She too was a race horse and had broken bones in both knees while racing. I used to say, "Franny, stand in the high grass so Face won't see your swollen knees," laughs Nancy.
Face is a rich Hershey chocolate-bar brown color. He stands 16 hands tall, has magnificent deep-brown eyes, two front white feet, and an exquisite long thoroughbred tail.
His tail is a thing of beauty and a handy summer fly swatter. He is affectionate and loves being groomed. Face stands still, like a statue, for hours, to encourage being brushed. His eyes reflect a look of utter ecstasy. He must have loved the peacefulness of grooming at the race tracks, one of the hard working horses only luxuries.
Running is in Face's blood. Luckily he has seven acres to kick up his heels. He joyfully runs for thirty minutes at a time. He looks mystical as he runs like the wind. He puts his head down and sails over the pasture. It is stunning to watch his powerful beauty in action.
"The funny thing is that Face encourages our 24-year-old mare, Sierra, to exercise. Sierra loves to eat and is chubby. Face helps her run off the extra weight. He nips her on her rump, or gets behind her and nudges her to run. He won't stand still for her not to run and play with him. Like in any horse race, he loves to race with company, and he likes to win which is easy with Sierra!
When I give Face his bucket of warm mash he lets our two small donkeys lick the gruel too," says Nancy.
Face knows his name, and when you call him he comes running like you see on TV. Even when Face is enjoying munching good green grass, he comes when called. Not Sierra, she is too interested in the grass, no wonder she is a Weight Watchers candidate!" laughs Nancy.
Mary Ellen & Miss Wings
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