Luckarack Comes Home

Luckarack, A Race Track Warrior and Stakes Placed Champion Retires, Comes Home

Luckarack is now ten years old and spent the greater part of his ten years racing. He raced 75 times, starting as a two year old in 2010. He raced an average of 10 times a year, except in 2014 where he got his only break and raced just four times.  Just after breaking his maiden on June 10, 2010 at Golden Gate Fields he won two black type stakes races consecutively. First, the Everett Nevin Alameda County Stakes
on July 10, 2010 and then the Cavonnier Juvenile Stakes on August 14, 2010. He won both of those as a two year old. He then raced in three additional closely following stakes races where he finished off the board. In 2011 after racing in allowance and claiming company Luckarack was shipped to Del Mar and on August 10, 2011 was entered into the Real Good Deal Stakes and finished a respectable 2nd. Thereafter, he went to FairPlex Park, was entered in the Jim Kostoff Stakes and finished 1st. Two weeks later he raced in the Pomona Derby and placed 4th.

Luckarack also raced in the most elite company and highest ranked race, namely a Grade 1 stakes, and specifically the Malibu Stakes, at Santa Anita on December 26, 2011 where he finished 4th.

Throughout his long and stellar career, Luckarack competed in an incredible 15 black type stakes races out of his 75 starts and one graded stakes for a total of 16 stakes races in total. His last start was on February 17, 2018 at the Los Alamitos Quarter Horse track in a low level claiming race where he could be purchased for just $3,200 after winning over $630,000 over his career. Always a hard trier, even at 10 years old, Luckarack finished 2nd and was claimed. This was, however, to be his very last race.

On that night at the small track in Cypress, California there were many cheers from the audience and tears and congratulations. Long time trainer, Rosemary Trela had claimed Luckarack for retirement for his new connections, the Executive Director and Founder of Neigh Savers, Karin Wagner and her partner in this venture, Dr. Ixchel Mosley. He was purchased privately by Wagner and Mosley as Neigh Savers’ by-laws preclude buying horses off track and then was immediately donated to this northern California aftercare thoroughbred foundation, now in its 11th year.

From grooms, to trainers, to track management at Los Alamitos and even from his last trainer Angela Aquino, trainer Rosemary Trela was congratulated on this retirement.  Everyone agreed that it was time for Luckarack to retire, that he had done all that was necessary and more to prove his mettle; that he was indeed one of the special horses in racing that had amassed a large fan following over his many years. When Neigh Savers posted his retirement on Facebook, the post received over 700 likes and many congratulatory comments, the most ever by a social media posting by Neigh Savers.

Rosemary Trela runs just a very tiny barn with just 4 active racers. She took Luckarack back to her home near the track to let him down and personally oversaw his transition to retirement. He was claimed from another Los Alamitos female trainer, Angela Aquino, who had taken exceptional care of him and although we claimed him for retirement Angela was happy to hear this news as she felt it was time for him to stop racing.

We started calling him Lucas and enjoyed hearing about his daily activities, likes and dislikes. At first fearful of being outside, he spent a lot of time in a stall and slowly acclimated to a paddock. He then decided that stall life was pretty much over for him and that he’d spent enough of his life confined there. It seems that sometimes, doing something good has some sort of a karmic effect and ever since Rosemary agreed to retire Luckarack for Neigh Savers, her own luck has dramatically improved. With just 13 starts in 2018, she has now won 6 races and all of those have come after retiring Luckarack! Lucas had some angels watching out for him…primarily Neigh Savers’
friend and owner of Friendship Farm in San Bernardino, Barbara Corey. Barbara first alerted Neigh Savers about a year ago to look for an opportunity to claim Luckarack so Neigh Savers quietly started watching him. But that’s not the end of the story for this incredible horse with his many angels.

While Lucas is a perfect gentleman, with impeccable ground manners and a stately attitude who considers all visitors to be friends with treats, he was also a very fierce competitor in his time. Other horses are the foes that must be vanquished. This attitude probably wasn’t the best for retraining into a trail horse and this retooling project might have been a long one indeed. Lucas is also a very big boy, coming in at just under 17 hands, so he’s a lot of horse to handle.

What we haven’t said yet is that Luckarack is a son of Lucky Pulpit, the same sire as California Chrome and one of Lucky Pulpit’s most successful sons. Lucky Pulpit sired seven foal crops. At the time of his death in 2017, he had sired 148 winners from 229 starters and was credited with progeny earnings of $24 million. In addition to California Chrome, Lucky Pulpit sired several other stakes winners: Rousing Sermon, who was a California Champion Two-Year-Old Colt; as well as Luckarack, a multiple stakes winner, Gatheratthealter and You’re Late.

Luckarack is by the dam Tamarack Bay (KY) and both his sire Lucky Pulpit and his dam belonged to Mr. & Mrs. Larry Williams, successful breeders with operations in both Oregon and Idaho. Luckarack was foaled at Harris Farms in Coalinga, California. As a matter of fact, the Williams’ first ever Thoroughbred yearling was Tamarack Bay, by Dehere, and was purchased in 2000 for $35,000 at the Keeneland sale. Tamarack Bay earned $210,000 on the track and produced four winners including Grade 1 winner Tamarando and of course, Luckarack.

Although foaled in California Luckarack will now retire to his breeders’ ranch in Idaho.  Farm Manager Dan Kiser has been working with Neigh Savers since Luckarack was claimed at Los Alamitos and ultimately the decision was made in the best interests of this amazing horse that he be retired back to their ranch. After stopping back at his birthplace of Harris Farms, Lucas was transported to Idaho. And what a ranch he has been retired to! A paradise for any horse or human. We know he will be very happy there and cannot thank Mr. & Mrs. Williams enough for offering him a lifetime home.

The bulk of Larry and Marianne Williams’ horses reside at Tree Top Ranches, a 700-acre Thoroughbred farm in Parma, Idaho. Built from scratch 21 years ago and modeled after the leading farms in Kentucky, the farm is a full-service operation. Since Luckarack retired sound he will enjoy running free in spacious fields and paddocks enjoying the seasons, the freedom and the excellent forage found in the Boise Valley.

We recently received a photo of Lucas with Dan Kiser up. They look very happy together and are again reunited after so many years apart. Of course, Dan and the Williams followed his career all along and were happy for his successes. Dan adds: “That photo was from the first time I saddled him after he got back to Idaho. I broke him when he was a long yearling so it had been a long time between rides.
Luckarack was so calm and nice to ride it was unbelievable. It was like he felt “alright I am home.” He is still handsome and doing great.
Thank you NEIGH SAVERS for helping return an old friend.”

The word Lucky pops up in so much of Luckarack, his pedigree, his own name, his career and now his incredible and well deserved retirement. Cheers to all that made this happen! And Cheers to the great aftercare movement that is still gaining momentum.


Update to So Elite – Coming Full Circle

Update to “So Elite” Coming Full Circle first published on December 28, 2017 by Karin Wagner, Executive Director, Neigh Savers Foundation, Inc.

I am so pleased to be able to update my Coming Full Circle story on So Elite today May 29, 2018.  So-E, as we call him, had a very lengthy rehabilitation period, but combined with his own exceptional attitude to cooperate in all that was done to him and asked of him by Glenn Chambers, he overcame every hurdle. And on Memorial Day, May 28, 2018 had his first ever lesson off track.  You can watch it here on YouTube.

I am also excited to announce that on May 22, 2018, So-E was officially adopted by Brian Richards and his long-time companion Sharon Bellandi. Brian co-owned So-E during his glory days on the track. While Brian has owned many a race horse in his time, So-E made a lasting impression on him and the both of them formed a connection.  This bond is evident whenever Brian visits his champion. The plan is for Sharon to use So-E as a personal light riding horse, but for now, and in the best interests of So-E, they are leaving him under Glenn’s care. Glenn and his daughter, Brittney will retrain So-E as a riding horse and will use him in Brittney’s therapy program. So-E will remain at Brookside Equestrian, a lovely green jewel of a facility with lush lawns, old growth trees, and plenty of riding paths east of Sacramento, CA. Brookside Equestrian is a major northern California horse show hub, so we could even possibly see So-E as a horse show competitor!

Brittney Chambers is a very accomplished young lady. As an infant, her race horse trainer father took her to the track and sometimes she napped inside a stall. She can’t even remember a time when horses were not in her life and she inherited her love of all things equine from her father. She was too young to remember the first time her father put her on the back of a horse. Brittney is the founder of CBC Equine Therapeutic Riding and has over 20 years’ experience with horses. She has an Associate’s Degree in Social Science, a Bachelor’s Degree in Alcohol and Drug Counseling with a minor in Psychology, and a Master’s Degree is in Criminal Justice Administration. In addition to her college education, Brittney is also a dually certified PATH Intl. Therapeutic Riding Instructor, and Equine Specialist in Mental Health and Learning. Can you say WOW!!! Read more about Brittney’s programs here.  Part of Neigh Savers’ future plans are to expand community outreach programs using our rescue horses. We already have Equine Empowerment Clinics in place at Bear Creek Stables in Los Gatos, CA, where we are reaching veterans, transitional foster kids, and high school students. We will also be working with sister rescue Hope for Horses and their PATH- and Egala-certified instructors in supporting additional course offerings later in 2018.

Between Brittney’s education and experience in the human services field, and her passion for horses, she is able to serve those who are developmentally and physically disabled, have mental health or addiction issues, at risk youth, veterans, those who are involved in the criminal justice system, and anyone who just wants to become more at one with horses. Now, with So-E’s natural ability, ease with people and friendly attitude, he is a most desirable therapy horse in training.

Last October 2017 we saved a horse that was described to us as looking as though his coat had been “turned inside out,” who was three-legged lame, and stocked up on all fours, barely able to walk a few steps upon arrival, and within six months, has come this far. All kudos to Glenn, who got him to this point and now to his daughter Brittney who has enrolled him in her finishing school. And great thanks to Brian and Sharon who decided to support So-E as a therapy horse in training and will hold off taking him home for now.  Besides, there’s a rumor afoot that they may be buying some dreamy ranch property on a tropical island…..hopefully it’s going to have a barn and a guest house! Maybe So-E can lean back to his five-race win streak as a 9-year-old and take on a new identity: Hawaii 5-0!

Thank you to our monthly sponsors whose continued, and steady contributions make all things possible! And to those donors who helped So-E when he initially was rescued off track – a big thank you! So-E was privately purchased by me and longtime supporter and adopter of Mr. Valentino (Rudy) Jeanie Esajian. Rudy and So-E are stall mates over at Brookside Equestrian and have certainly swapped more than a few race track tales. So the story continues………

If you want to refresh yourself on the entire tale of So Elite, you can read it again here: Coming Full Circle – The Story of “So Elite”, December 28, 2017
A New Year’s Reflection by Executive Director, Karin Wagner

Dear Donors,
As we celebrate the coming of another year I wanted to share with you and not social media some frank reflections and thoughts about the past year and the year to come. There have been so many tragedies this past year, both through the acts of carnage brought by individuals and the forces of nature certainly telling us that climate change is very real. We unfortunately can only do our small part as individuals, especially in light of a government that is undoing every environmental regulation it can find. Yes, it was a challenging year and there is more to come in 2018.  We ourselves are at a crossroads….some of it was natural attrition but now we will have to assess our entire model. The recently signed tax reform bill is estimated to cost charities between 13-20 billion in lost revenue dollars due to fact that many will no longer itemize deductions. We struggle as it is so it is hard to imagine further reductions in an already overcrowded market.  All things considered, this year is closing on a very good note for myself. I feel as though as I been blessed with kismet or call it what you like, perhaps it was always meant to happen this way.

I was part of a remarkable horse rescue that brought me right back to my core values and to why I founded Neigh Savers in the first place.  So bear with me, relax, get yourself a holiday beverage of choice and relive the journey with me.  It was Valentine’s Day 2007 and I was surrounded by a mound of paperwork wondering if it was worth the enormous effort and expense to form a foundation. At almost the very same moment, a colt was being foaled in Kentucky. A colt of extraordinary pedigree, sired by the fourth richest racehorse at his retirement, Pleasantly Perfect.  Pleasantly Perfect was a product of the great Racing Hall of Fame trainer Richard Mandella. Unfortunately for us, he was sent to Turkey after a few years in Kentucky, so he never had many sons or daughters racing in the US. Pleasantly Perfect is a son of Pleasant Colony, winner of the 1981 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, he was out of the mare Regal State who won the 1985 Group One Prix Morny in France. His damsire was the 1978 U.S. Triple Crown champion, Affirmed.
Pleasantly Perfect’s first major wins came in the 2003 Breeders’ Cup Classic. In 2004 he won the world’s richest horse race, the Dubai World Cup then in the 2004 Breeders’ Cup Classic, finished third behind Roses in May and winner Ghostzapper. Retired from racing at the end of the 2004 season, Pleasantly Perfect entered stud in 2005 at Lane’s End Farm in Versailles, Kentucky. The strapping bay colt sired by Pleasantly Perfect with a big white blaze was foaled on February 14, 2007 in Kentucky. He had such class on both sides of his family that he was named “So Elite.”

I’m often asked why I started Neigh Savers. After being taken to Santa Anita many times by my cousin, a racing enthusiast, I became dazzled by the well turned out beauty of the horses and their magnificence on the track knowing they were bred for speed and stamina. Of course, I knew nothing else and at the time, late 1980s and early 1990s no one talked of aftercare. Hopefully former connections would care for them. If they were good mares they could go into breeding. Good stallions as well.  Geldings could be retired to farms or passed on to show people or ???  You go to the track for the betting, for the thrill of watching a competitive race, for some great jockey riding, to enjoy a cocktail and socialize. Who wants to think about the underside or the fate of horses? Those not able to race competitively or those injured or those now too old but still extremely young and useful? No one, certainly, not me. I was there to have a good time. And the beauty and majestic backdrop of Santa Anita worked like a tonic on me.

Of course, now so many years later I am no longer an avid fan. I rarely go to the races these days. I am a huge fan of Thoroughbreds but not of the racing industry. More thoughts to follow on my views of racing and the industry.  My feelings are very mixed regarding this. We have survived largely due to people inside the industry and donors that support us while also supporting racing. And, the number of good people I know through racing far outpaces any bad seeds. But I think you have to be pragmatic and understand it’s a business that employs many people and gives horses a job. Without going into details, the show world is just as hard on horses as racing…the constant repetitive jumping over fences for example and the desire to be the best at any cost.

Back to the story at hand. As time went on, I became immersed in horse racing and started buying into racing partnerships and that’s where my real education began. However, as a software professional my career was all consuming and often involved 60 hour plus weeks. But, by then the seed had planted itself….I wished I could do something for those equine athletes no longer able to earn their own keep. Fast forward to 2007….a long term project had concluded and I was no longer interested in 90% travel, the stress or the hours. Little did I know I would soon trade a very well compensated career into the same time commitment, less the travel and definitely less the income. If I had known what I was getting into, particularly the emotional toll, I would have most likely passed.  Now, let’s fast forward back to 2017. We celebrated our 10 year of operations. We’ve helped many horses…we operated at several locations and had nearly 40 dedicated volunteers. However, donations were increasingly hard to come by and I started consolidating and reducing our herd numbers.  Lots of new rescues were popping up everywhere. The competition for donor dollars became unusually fierce. Constant fund-raising takes a huge toll.  Some groups resorted to village hysteria and false fund raising scams and schemes.

Overall, quality of program was not recognized or appreciated. It’s all about numbers, never mind what horrors horses go through with hoarders and overcrowded and poorly maintained facilities, none that are certified by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance or CARMA as an aside.  During the summer of 2017 during so much turmoil we just soldiered on and then suddenly a horse seemingly from the past came across my radar.  This was a horse that was still racing at 10 years of age, ended up with 58 starts and total career earnings in excess of $326,000. The horse, of course, was none other than So Elite.  Alerted by a long time supporter and adopter we started following him and discussing how best to retire him for he was not doing well at all. We made inquiries, asked sources to intervene, made contacts and offers and all to no avail.  One might ask why a 10 year old stakes winning horse was still racing….and that would be a good question.

Lately in racing there have been forums discussing the trap owners fall into when deciding to enter a horse slated for retirement into “One Last Race.” I think it is worth noting that a race horse normally passes through many hands, owners and trainers alike during his career and So Elite was no exception to that rule. Often times, the uniformed public gets all fired up about “greedy” people pocketing the earnings of a horse. Racehorses are very expensive to maintain. It costs approximately 4K a month and then if you claim a horse you have to pay the claim tag to the prior owner upon transfer. The new owner starts out at a huge deficit and is usually just trying to play catch up or break even. Just like multi level marketing schemes, those at the bottom of the pyramid usually don’t see the promises fulfilled of fancy cars, trips and a secured retirement.

Horse racing at the top levels is profitable but the majority of horses in racing are “blue collar” claimers racing for small purses and little upside. People in racing are in the game because they love being around the horses and hope to make some living out of it. It’s truly a labor of love for most. Let it not remain unsaid that there are bad apples in every industry….an inattentive nurse, an incompetent doctor, a bad mechanic or a scamming accountant. It’s just that racing is everyone’s favorite target to shoot at, is largely misunderstood and no longer a popular sport but it has some overwhelmingly good people that put in longer hours each week than anyone would sign up for mostly very low pay. There is much compassion, love, dedication and the like in racing, and I have witnessed this countless times. But like everything in life, not everyone is on the same page regarding the humane treatment of our equine athletes.

Back to So Elite. He was to be retired and his trainer at Golden Gate Fields promised the owners that no would claim a 10 year old. As with many well-intentioned predictions he was wrong.

So Elite had won a stakes race at 9, in fact a marathon where he raced 1 3/4 miles against much younger company and won. Of course, that was a year earlier but older horses can still have some upside if they’re as good as So Elite. That is, if they are still in prime physical condition, which So Elite was not. I’m not going to go into any details that may pinpoint to one or more persons in particular. Instead, I am going to make a toast to one of our many heroes in this story, Duane Belvoir, of the venerable Belvior racing family, quite well known in the Pacific Northwest.

So Elite disappeared for awhile and then resurfaced at Portland Meadows where he had been privately sold to a racing partnership sight unseen. It was clear to these partners that they had just lost their entire investment and they were unsure of what to do next. What they did do was take very good care of So Elite, who was underweight and both emotionally and physically spent. Duane negotiated on our behalf and managed to buy So-E (his barn name). It was a private sale paid for personally by me and Jeanie Esajian who alerted us in the first place. We can’t buy horses off track with Neigh Savers’ funds. We can buy at auction or in neglect/surrender cases but horses off track need to be donated. This doesn’t mean someone can’t buy a horse and then donate to Neigh Savers and that’s what Jeanie and I did.

Duane personally delivered So Elite to Brookside Equestrian Center and he’s now been under the 7 day a week care of rehab specialist Glenn Chambers for the last 6 weeks. At another time we will feature Glenn, an author of the book available on Amazon “A Thousand Ways to a Better Life” and a lifelong conditioner of horses who brought two horses to the Kentucky Derby in his time. An old school trainer and conditioner, the life lessons and care and time he takes with his horses is extraordinary. So Elite couldn’t be in better hands now and I feel as though I’ve come full circle, fulfilling the personal
pledge I made to help athletes like So Elite on or close to the day he was foaled and Neigh Savers was born.

And better yet, former connections of his last race have helped as well. One has helped with his board and another paid for his transportation to Brookside as well as medical expenses. We are gratified and honored and just recently learned one of these former connections, heartbroken over what he endured at the end of his career, wishes to adopt him after his lengthy rehab period is concluded. We look forward to that, new memories and shared good times of Winner’s Circle photos with our own personal champion, a racetrack warrior, who laid it all down as a competitor, a horse, who truly embodies the qualities of his sire’s name, for we think he’s absolutely Pleasantly Perfect and most definitely So very Elite.


Sassy Ashley RRP Update April Adventures

April brought a lot of adventuring around for Ashley and Kalley.  Here’s what they’ve been up to!

Sassy Ashley

Ashley had her first beach ride!

There’s not too many weekends I get to myself, especially when clinic season starts, but we snuck away yesterday to give Ashley a taste of the good life.


She did great for a horse straight off the track. Where we go, there is about a mile or so of sand dunes as you trail through the trees etc to get out to the beach, so its a little tough going and gets them thinking before they see and hear the waves crashing to shore.

It was a perfect morning, couldn’t have been more beautiful. Ashley got to see some odd looking “articles” on the beach which made for some perfect training and confidence building along our journey.

Ashley also has been getting plenty of trail riding experience.

It’s a little tricky getting the hours logged on my 2018 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover horse “Ashley”, while globe trotting to my BHT Clinics, but, we manage to get out to some pretty awesome places in the in between times.

This is a little state park that over looks the beautiful city of Petaluma, CA. There’s a lot of activity here; bicycles, hikers, runners, dogs on leashes, and more, which is fantastic exposure for Ashley’s training.

Slow and steady is our pace for now.

And as a special treat, Rachel from CARMA and Golden Gate Fields reached out to her contact at Calumet and was sent back two special treats!  Baby photos of Ashley and renewed a connection with some employees at Calumet that have known Kalley since she was a kid!

Ashley was born and raised at Calumet Farm in Kentucky, until she was a yearling. Then sold at the Keenland sale, and came out to California.


I don’t think there’s a better progress through a racehorse’s career than Ashley’s had. She was sold once, raced, did okay… won almost $40k, retired, went through the correct channels with California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) and Neigh Savers Foundation, and then I got her.

The owners and trainers Ashley had did a phenomenal job… she is quiet and sensible (great bloodlines helps that!), and she’s really well broke for a racehorse. HUGE KUDOS to those who influenced her life from the beginning in a good way. She’s carried those experiences forward, and they will help her be successful through the rest of her life.



Sassy Ashley Update – Feb & March 2018


Sassy Ashley

Sassy Ashley has had a busy start to 2018.   After arrival on Valentine’s Day at Kalley’s ranch, Kalley spent time getting to know Ashley and getting her looked at by her new vet and farrier.  Ashley also let Kalley know very clearly which food she wanted to eat and which she didn’t.

Me: Timothy/Alfalfa pellets mash?
Ashley: “No.”

Me: Timothy/Alfalfa + Oats?
Ashley: “No.”

Me: Plain Oats?..All racehorses love oats right? Ashley: “No.”

Me: Ok fine, you’re not a Sr, but how about Triple Crown Feed Senior?
Ashley: “Yes…Finally!”

Sassy Ashley   Sassy Ashley

In early March the real work began.

“Ashley’s been ridden a lot on the track, won almost $40k, but never been in a western saddle before… and Wowee did she have something to say😲

I grew up retraining off the track horses for Polo, and some horses you knew were started with western tack (breast collar, and back cinch included), and others like Ashley, you knew only ever had an English saddle on.

Sassy Ashley   Sassy Ashley

I like to saddle and turn them loose to let them get themselves acclimated to the different tack out on their own, that way I’m mostly out of the picture and blame for any upset in their mind. Then, once the dust starts to settle, I’m there to get them organized and settled, as they start to figure out it’s not something bad, it’s just different.

She got big and bad for a couple rounds, holy smokes, but impressively sorted it out very fast and settled in. I rode her yesterday and she was great. I tell you, this mare is so cool, I just love her. She’s got a “constitution” for sure, but a ton of common sense as well… to me, the perfect combination.”

Sassy Ashley     Sassy Ashley

She has gotten to enjoy lots of free time with new friends out in our lush green winter pastures just learning to socialize with others and enjoy a bit of freedom.

Kalley has been so impressed with Ashley that as of March 23rd, Ashley now belongs to Kalley!  She’s off the market!  But she will continue on to the Retired Racehorse Project under the Neigh Savers name.


Teenagers and Retired Racehorses


– by Jenny Whitman – Bear Creek Stables

What do teenagers and retired racehorses have in common?

Both teenagers and racehorses come into the world surrounded by our hopes and expectations for their futures. In developing to maturity, individual teens and horses use sounds and body language to communicate with and be influenced by others. There is a need across the life span among humans and equines for family structure and inter-individual boundaries to feel safe and secure. Choice of friends and a need for peer leadership and acceptance is also common to both communities. And of course, teens and horses experience loneliness, fear, boredom and anxiety — vices or other habits can arise in both groups to help manage frustration, anxiety and pain. Believe it or not, both groups are familiar with drugs.

How can retired racehorses help teenagers?

Horses are grounded in the natural world. Their survival frequently depends on being fully in-the-moment and responding rapidly to changes in their immediate environment. As herd animals, this requires the elaborate and instantaneous use of non-verbal communication between themselves.  Entering into the equine world and gaining an understanding of this herd language can help teenagers bring to a more conscious level the universal body cues that we all practice in the presence of others.

Additionally, like all of us, teenagers need to know that their lives matter. When teens interact with these deceptively vulnerable and sensitive creatures, they may identify with these softer qualities. In the presence of 1200-pound thoroughbreds born and bred to dominate a race track, teens can learn that vulnerability and sensitivity are actually among their own personal strengths. Working with horses can teach them that accepting one’s own nature is fundamental to keeping oneself safe.

The honesty and sincerity of horses provides a window into what abstract concepts like ‘intent’ and ‘centeredness’ really mean. The directness and immediacy of the human-equine relationship is a powerful experience of what it is to have flexible and resilient boundaries in the face of peer pressure.

Racehorses don’t understand or have a need for the value labels of ‘good and bad’ or ‘right and wrong’.  They simply respond to what works and what doesn’t work. When communication from their human partners includes fear and anger, horses respond like the prey animals that they are – they attempt to fight or flee. But when our interactions with them are based upon mutual respect, humility, and understanding, horses seek our leadership – they view us as first among equals.

As one young man from Los Gatos High School who was volunteering for Neigh Savers horse rescue at our stables recently exclaimed, “Why does she want to come to me…. she’s wild.” The idea that this inspiring creature from the natural world had a place for him in that world was startling and, quite possibly, life-changing.

Teenagers, like all of us, have a need to be depended upon and truly seen by others. In a lovely example of complementarity, racehorses need a human leader to collaborate with and in whom they can trust.  Sometimes it’s just that simple.


2018 RRP Candidate: Sassy Ashley

We are excited to announce that we have accepted another CARMA Placement Program Graduate into the Neigh Savers program that will be aiming for the Retired Racehorse Project!  Sassy Ashley is a five year old mare with impeccable pedigree credentials, a blue-blood from the esteemed Calumet Farm in Lexington, KY.  Sassy raced 21 times in the California circuit and was letting down from the track at San Luis Downs when the December tragic fire broke out that took the lives of so many fine race horses.  She is a survivor of that fire and afterwards her connections retired her for good, as they were already thinking about it after her last race in October 2017.

Now, in partnership with Kalley Krickeberg Balanced Horse Training, we are once again paving the road to Kentucky and the Retired Racehorse Project for the third consecutive year and for the third time with a CARMA horse. We would like to thank CARMA Project Manager Natalie Reitkirk for her help in this placement. We look forward to many updates from Kalley as she begins prepping Sassy for Kentucky.  Ashley has been adopted by Kalley and is officially off the market.

You can keep an eye on Ashley on her dedicated video update page!





Bear Creek Programs Update

Los Gatos High School Freshman spent a muddy weekend learning how to communicate safely and effectively with retired thoroughbreds. They learned how to apply and release pressure to begin a dialogue and how to read the horses facial expressions and body language. Each student practiced round pen skills to gain trust and understanding of the horse. Later, the group hand walked the horse on the trail practicing quieting skills.  The students also mucked stalls, groomed horses, cleaned tack and then hugged plenty of OTTBs.  The students were required to complete 10 hours of community service and will present their projects in an open forum.  We are pleased that we could offer this service to the community at large.
A special thanks to Bear Creek Creek Stables’ NS volunteers, Team Leader, Jenny Whitman and to Diane Azevedo and Karen Read for providing rain gear and refreshments to all the participants.

8th Annual Holiday Turf Club Party Wrap Up

Our 8th Annual Holiday Turf Club Party at Golden Gate Fields on December 2, 2017 was a huge success! It was a beautiful day in the Bay Area and everyone who attended enjoyed a day of racing, great food and wonderful company. There were some amazing items in our Silent Auction and raffle and we were able to end the day with almost everything being sold! Of course, we could not do this without the help, support and compassion of all our dedicated volunteers and donors and a big high five to Karin Wagner, our intrepid leader, who always puts so much effort into making this event our biggest fundraiser of the year! Thanks to all for supporting our program and helping make a difference in our beloved OTTB’s lives!!

Just a small sampling of the over 30 volunteers that came out for us on the day of to volunteer. It truly takes a village!!! From L to R back row, Fred, Amy, Minjae, Maureen & Karen. From L to R front row, Grace, Becca, JoJo, Luna, Caroline, jockey Rocco Bowen, Karin, Gina, Diane, Alisha A. & Alisha L.



Race for the Rescues 2017

Race for the Rescues 2017

Another successful Race for the Rescues is in the bag! Thanks to our team we raised over $13K to help animals in need! Great job everyone involved including our couch potato racers, our team mascots Blaze and Kai, and huge thanks to all of you who supported us!!

Race for the Rescues 2017

A big thanks to all who participated!
Maureen Sowell, Team Captain
Karin Wagner
Bryan Miccolis
Barbara Dutra
Ingrid Nuernberg
Helen Pollack
Victoria Brentwood
Dharinne Perera-Myers
Jenn Collins
Race for the Rescues 2017

Thanks to all of our RRP Sponsors!

It takes a village to get a horse to the Retired Racehorse Project!  We want to thank everyone that has helped Taxi along the way and especially his sponsors!

A big thank you to KC Horse Transport for donating haluling and getting Taxi to Kentucky safely!  There is not a better hauling company out there!

A big thank you also to Estolia’s for sponsoring Intaxication AKA Taxi AKA Mr. E!  Head over to their website to buy some of their yummy salsa and support other non-profit projects!

Thank you to Dr. Shawn Frehner, DVM (his vet), Tony Steele (his chiropractor), and David Brough (his farrier) for keeping Intaxication healthy!

Big thanks to trainer Lindy Christensen for doing a wonderful retraining job and keeping him happy, healthy and showing him beautifully in Kentucky!

Thank you also to Claire Painter of Clever With Leather for donating a beautiful hand made halter for Taxi at the show!

Intaxication came from the barn of Billy Morey at Golden Gate Fields and was a CARMA Placement Program graduate.

Thank you everyone that expressed interested, gave support, and cheered us on!




RRP Wrap Up – Intaxication

A Neigh Savers horse attended the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky for the 2nd year in a row. Last year Neigh Savers was represented by Oso Smart, a horse taken from the CARMA Placement Program. This year Neigh Savers took another CARMA Placement Program horse, but this time it was Intaxication.

With the Makeover being moved up 3 weeks, the trainer timeline was even tighter than ever! This year had more horses enter, more horses show up and some really top quality talent (both trainer and horse). The Polo winner (trained by Junior rider Charlie Caldwell) won America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred, a small chestnut roan with big presence (Woodford Channel) won both the Freestyle and Field Hunter events and the Dressage winner, a horse fittingly named Chapter Two, almost pulled off a double as well taking 2nd place in Eventing.

Because of Taxi being a little late to the retraining game this year, trainer Lindy Christensen wasn’t sure he’d be ready in time for RRP, but he showed her good signs in their last show before RRP and she decided to take him anyways with only 5 months of retraining off his injury. She didn’t expect to win, but she did expect solid tests and good relaxation from him. He did a fantastic job on so little time and really impressed with his chill attitude in the big scary indoor arena that caused more than a handful of meltdowns from others.

In Dressage, Intaxication placed 35th out of 78 (a much-improved placing over last years CARMA grad Oso Smart). Lindy and Taxi earned a 60.58% on their regular test and a 42 on their demo ride (they placed 22nd in the scoring for the demo ride after Taxi noticeably relaxed in the second test out).

In Freestyle, Intaxication placed 23rd out of around 40 entrants. They performed a lovely Western Dressage test and may have helped inspire a promised addition of Western Dressage for next year’s RRP! It wasn’t the flashiest Freestyle, but he was certainly one of the most relaxed horses in the arena and Western Dressage may just be his calling.

We are so proud of Taxi and thankful to Lindy for doing such a wonderful retraining job with him.  We are already looking forward to next year!


Tack Sale Wrap Up

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Our tack sale held on Sunday, September 24th was a huge success and we raised nearly $1,400!

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Thanks to our coordinator Barbara Dutra and everyone who cleaned tack, organized the layouts, baked goods and helped with fitting horses and giving advice to our shoppers.  Shout out to Friends of Bear Creek Stables member Melany who drove down to deliver cupcakes and help haul stuff from the trailers to the set up area.  Other shout outs go to Scott Williams and Gary Ashford who did more hauling both before and after the event.

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Executive Director Karin Wagner was with us all day long showcasing our beautiful NS swag and our own Sunday junior volunteer Maddie was the ringleader along with Emma and Evie (Scott’s girls) who decided to lure customers off of Bear Creek Road for some of our baked goods- they delivered and made a wonderful contribution!

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Great team-work!  Diane Azevedo & Karen Read were there all day long with Barbara and it was a solid group effort!  The Race for the Rescue’s event is in a few weeks-proceeds go towards a wonderful cause!

Bear Creek Tack Sale