Hi! I am Juliette from the Thoroughbred retraining blog, Honeysuckle Faire. I live with my husband, Brian, and our daughter, Maizie Jane, our adorable kitty, Noodlebug, and our three sweet and silly Thoroughbreds, Pie, Sovereign, and Foggy.
Many people do not know this sad fact, but when Thoroughbreds are done racing, most are sent to be slaughtered. Thankfully, there are rescue organizations cropping up all over the US and UK who are able to save the lives of some of the horses. I found one such organization, Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF) out of Saratoga Springs, New York and I requested to foster two horses in December of 2008.
Racehorses know very little about being safe riding horses when they come from the racetrack. They have to be "retrained" to walk nicely on a lead, be groomed safely, be tacked up in cross-ties, and walk, trot, and canter with a rider aboard at safe speeds. My original idea was to foster and retrain two horses from TRF and help them get adopted. So in February of 2009, Sly Pioneer (Pie) and Suave Lord (Sovereign), two ex-race horses from Philadelphia Park Racetrack arrived at our farm.
Pie was only three years old and Sovereign had just turned four when they arrived, but both had already been trained to race. Sovereign had raced 26 times (!) which isn't very much when compared to most Thoroughbreds on the track. Racehorses are trained to take the bit in their mouths and go, so I started retraining them by never putting a bit in their mouth. I taught both horses to be ridden in a bitless bridle. This helps racehorses "forget" all that they learned before. In addition, long grazing and grooming sessions and many hours of good quality hay and free pasture time helps to "erase" the memories of racing. Mostly, kindness and love helps retrain these smart, athletic horses.
Of course, we all fell in love with the two big boys and we decided to adopt them as our own almost as soon as they arrived. Can you blame us? Here I am on my sweet, gentle giant, Pie, and Sovereign is following with my friend, Kathy riding him.
One evening in July of 2010 I was wondering about the pedigree of our two wonderful horses and I found out online that Sovereign had a full brother named "Found in the Fog" and he was still racing at Philadelphia Park!!! We live two hours from Philadelphia so I immediately contacted his owners to see if we could meet him. He wasn't going to race again that summer and there seemed to be no way to see him, but I kept thinking about this horse. In November his owners contacted me to see if I wanted to adopt him because they were done racing him!
Brian and I went to Philly to meet "Found in the Fog" (Foggy) and, again, we fell instantly in love. Foggy is the absolute sweetest horse that ever lived. Here I am (below) on the day I met him. He came home to live with us permanently in January of 2011!
* * * * * * *
Thank you Juliette, for sharing your story!!
We are currently seeking submissions for the Blogging Buddies series, and we would love to hear all about your pet or pets, please email us!
windshielddiaries at gmail dot com