For this week’s blog post, we are sitting down with one of our barn staff, Angela Lovell. In addition to working here at LSCF, Angela has recently become a boarder too! We’re going to talk about her new horse Down to Ashes, who has been given the nickname "Ember" by Angela and her daughter Maddy.
Becca: What made you choose to adopt a horse?
Angela: I have always had a special interest in and appreciation for Thoroughbreds. They are so powerful, yet graceful animals. Unfortunately, after leaving the racing industry due to either injury or retirement, many of these amazing horses end up unwanted. It has always been a dream of mine to help give these amazing animals a new purpose…a 2nd chance. These horses can go on and do about anything you want to do with them if you will just give them the chance. Like Snowman, the amazing show jumper. He was an old plow horse that was literally on the trailer to the slaughter when Harry de Leyer saved him. He paid $80 for him and he went on to be in the US Show Jumping Hall of Fame. (If you haven’t heard of him, you need to check out their story.) All they need is that someone who wants to give them the chance to be the horse they have the potential to be.
Becca: How did you start the adoption process and what was it like?
Angela: I follow several Thoroughbred rescues on Facebook. I had been looking for months at different rescue sites and looked at probably over 50 horses. Ember came to me through Remember Me Rescue out of Burleson, TX. Ember was actually off the track in New Orleans. She had 3 starts, but came off the track with a non-displaced knee fracture. She needed a home that would be able to accommodate her 120 day stall rest requirement for her knee to heal.
I had to fill out an adoption application, which had to include detailed information about my experience with horses, where she would be kept, personal references, vet references, farrier information, type of fencing, types of shelter, etc. They have to be very thorough about making sure these horses are going to good homes and with people that know what they are getting into and that are prepared to provide a safe and healthy environment. Especially for horses that are recovering from an injury.
They also have ongoing requirements like sending pictures every 3 months with date and time stamp to make sure the horse is still in good condition, can do drop-in inspections, etc. All very necessary items to make sure these horses are being cared for and not in a bad situation.
When I got the call I was approved, I was so excited! Like happy dance excited!
Becca: What made you choose Ember?
Angela: Honestly, some people may think it’s weird, but it was her eyes. She has what some crazy horse people would call smart eyes or a sweet look about her. There was just something about her that drew me to her and I kept coming back to her photograph.
Becca: Were you nervous about adopting?
Angela: Yes! This was my first time to adopt and like I said, I had pretty much decided on her from one picture, which didn’t seem super smart at times. I did see other pictures before I finalized everything, but so many things could have happened.
I was also nervous about her injury. The veterinarians were all very optimistic about her un-displaced fracture; it normally means no surgery and a full recovery for any discipline. But there was always the chance it could be worse than what we were told or that she could reinjure it before it fully heals. I had never had to put a horse on stall rest and was nervous about making sure we were prepared and knew what we needed to do to make sure she healed properly. Thankfully Shelby was familiar with the stall rest and Becca was great with helping make sure we were prepared to meet her nutritional needs. It’s very important to make sure you don’t over feed to where they are bouncing off the walls with energy, but you have to feed them enough to keep them healthy and healing.
The transportation and the wait for her to arrive was also nerve-wracking. Shelby had a show scheduled in Texas and said she would be happy to swing by and pick her up on the way home, which seemed to make the most sense. It meant I’d have to wait a few extra weeks to get her, but this way she would have a nice safe ride back with other horses to keep her company. I also wouldn’t have to worry about people I didn’t know hauling her all that way home. But boy were those two long weeks! I kept thinking, what if something happens to her? What if she is terrible to load? What if she causes problems for Shelby who was already doing us a huge favor by picking her up? What if she gets here and isn’t what I expected or we aren’t a good match? I pretty much “what if’d” myself crazy those few weeks.
Thankfully all that worry was for nothing. She was a dream to load, everyone made it back safely and she’s even better than I had hoped she would be.
Becca: How so?
Angela: Well I knew she wasn’t the typical OTTB (off the track thoroughbred) the moment she came off the trailer- at least not most of the ones I had been around. We met Shelby at the barn the night she got here and she was so sweet and calm coming off the trailer. Here she was, new trailer, new barn, new horses and she wasn’t bothered one bit by anything. I have NEVER seen a coming 3-year old Thoroughbred, especially one off the track, handle themselves so well. She walked in the barn like she’d always been there and never got excited about anything. I honestly thought maybe they’d given her some kind of drug to keep her calm, but that wasn’t the case, she really is just that easy going in nature! And she has been that way every day since. Even at the vet recently when we took her in for follow-up x-rays; there were tons of people around, horses being crazy, machines going off, and she just stood there like a champ! The vet and his staff were so impressed!
She is absolutely one of the sweetest, most laid back 3-year old horses I have ever had the pleasure to be around, so I’m really glad, even after all the worrying, I went with my gut and picked this filly. She was definitely worth all the worry and wait.
Becca: What are your plans for Ember?
Angela: She’s on stall rest until at least early July, but once the vet gives us the okay, we’ll start with gradual turnout to ease her back into being out on pasture. You have to be careful with horses coming off stall rest. They are like little kids that have been stuck in their room for months. They want to run and go crazy since they are finally free, but you have to make sure they take it slow and don’t reinjure themselves.
We’ll start all over with lots and lots of groundwork to make sure we have a nice respectful filly to work with while we help her through her transition off the track. It takes a little extra time and patience with horses off the track to get them to realize training isn’t about going off the races anymore and that it’s actually okay for her to slow down.
She’s a beautiful and athletic filly, so we could do any discipline with her, but the plan is to work toward English riding- dressage or hunter/jumper. There are a few programs, TIP (Thoroughbred Incentive Program) and RRP (Retired Racehorse Project), that encourage and advocate for second careers after the racetrack that we may look into. Whatever her future may hold, she has a safe, spoiled, forever home with us.
Becca: Thanks so much for taking the time to talk to me about Ember! We’ll post some links below for anyone interested in learning more about anything we covered today.
Remember Me Rescue: www.facebook.com/REMEMBERMERESCUE/?pnref=story
New Vocations Racehorse Adoption: www.facebook.com/new.vocations1/
ReRun Thouroughbred Adoption: www.facebook.com/rerunthoroughbredadoption/
Thoroughbred Incentive Program:tjctip.com/
Retired Racehorse project: www.retiredracehorseproject.org/