Archive | March, 2014

2013 Year In Review

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2013 Year in Review

Wishing you a very Happy New Year, health and happiness and thanking you for your service to Neigh Savers in 2013.

2013 saw significant changes and achievements to the Neigh Savers Program:

1)         TAA (Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance) accreditation – This was a rigorous procedure that took over 9 months.  We are now one of 23 accredited facilities in the U.S. and Canada.

2)         CARMA – we continue to forge our relationship with CARMA and our commitment to aid CARMA with fundraising and awareness programs, such as the Breeders’ Cup and Thoroughbred Classic Horse Shows.  We will also continue to take horses directly from the CARMA Placement Program.

3)         Thoroughbred Classic Horse Show Series – Produced in conjunction with CARMA and the CARMA-Siegel Foundation, three shows were successfully executed in the Southern California area this year.  There will be 3 shows in 2014.  In 2015 there may be four shows scheduled.  The last show generated tremendous interest and industry support.

4)         Twitter – Thanks to the efforts of Sally Cruikshank our Twitter following has increased by 100% and continues to grow every day.

5)         Facebook — Thanks to the efforts of our Facebook Team, our Facebook page has attained a professional look and feel and is always an interesting and upbeat read. We went from 1,500 followers to 8,600 this year alone.

6)         Website – Our website has virtually been unchanged since 2007. While in 2007 it was fresh and modern and far beyond what was out there at the time it has now become nearly unusable. The past year we have been working on a new design, new colors and a new hand drawn logo. The website will feature online forms, templates, and other features.

7)         We held another successful fund-raiser at Golden Gate Fields on December 7, 2013. We entertained nearly 200 guests at our 4th annual event. We had a tremendous show of volunteers coming with their friends and families and 25 volunteers donated time on the day of the event as well. We thank all the volunteers that helped procure raffle and/or silent auction items as well.

8)       We are extremely proud to say we have facilitated 35 adoptions in calendar year 2013!!!!!

Thank you all for making 2013 a tremendous year for us.  It truly takes a village!  Every one of you made a contribution that helped us this year. Looking forward to working with you to achieve even greater successes in 2014.

The Star of the Show

We at Neigh Savers are biased–all our horses are stars in their own right, but some of them come named that way for a good reason.

Star Nicholas came to us in October, ready to find his new home. He is a ten-year old gelding, last raced at the end of 2012–a race he won handily and one of several that gave him impressive stats and over $463,000 in earnings.

He immediately won the Sonoma County team over with his over the top personality and better-than-average ground manners.

Smiling for the camera

Smiling for the camera

As the days went on and he settled into his new routine, he learned to socialize and made good friends with his neighbors, sharing hay with the little paint mare on one side and talking gelding stuff with Jess Boyd’s horse, Calabar on his other side. Whenever Jess rode Calabar, it was accompanied by the sound of Nick’s whinny floating down to them in the arena.

We were sure we could find Nick the right home. He is a solid and thoughtful horse, honest and willing if a little unsure about what his life is now that he’s not surrounded by the hustle and bustle and routine on the track.

Then we got an email that said:

Hi, I have been looking for a horse my family had owned for 8 years +, who has pretty much disappeared. I have emailed a few trainers and had not located him until I found your website. There is no picture yet, but you have him named. Please contact me. I am looking for Star Nicholas (out of Poteen/Viznaga). If you have him, I will do anything I can to help. If he needs a home I will immediately begin working on that. Thank you for all of the great work you are doing.”

The ever-expressive Star Nicholas

The ever-expressive Star Nicholas

And just like that, Nick’s next chapter was written. His new owner was his old owner and his road has come full circle. Or oval as the case may be. She searched and found a barn ten minutes from her house so she can work with him every day and we dressed him up in Christmas bells and took his picture. A picture that will likely hang on the wall of fame she has, next to win pictures.

There are those who automatically dismiss all the people associated with as cold and heartless, not caring about their animals once the racing is done. Star Nicholas would just like to say they are not all that way and he for one is glad.

So are we. Happy holidays to Nick and his new family! There will be more to this story, of that we are certain.

Dixie Update

So, yes, we haven’t posted anything new in awhile here but that’s because summer means getting enough light and sun to really get horses out and ready to go to their new homes.

Dixie (Ur My Dixie Girl) completed her rehab and had a final set of x-rays done. “I can’t even see where the fracture was,” said the vet, “and the joint looks great!”

Dixie and Erin, off to new adventures

With that, Dixie was off to her new life with a long-time horse family with experiences from cow horse to hunter jumpers to training horses for the track. They were impressed with her from start, seeing in her the same things we all did–intelligence, huge heart, willingness to try new things, confidence, and an absolute surety about where each and every part of her body–ears to toes–is at all times. Not to mention her beautiful self and princess attitude.

Her new owner watched every one of Dixie’s races. Every one. “She broke from the gate first in every race!” She thanks us every time we talk for this amazing horse and smiles and laughs while she rides, constantly offering Dixie a pat and a “Good girl!”

Dixie and Erin–a matched pair

Dixie is blossoming with the regular work and all the new things she’s learning. “She’s already bending and moving off my leg,” Erin said in week one. Today, at a local gymkhana event they attended, she told us Dixie is already getting her turns and Erin’s mom told us that she’s learning to use her back end as well. “She’s so smart,” was said more than once with absolute pride and the joy that comes with working with a horse like this.

Dixie warming up

Dixie warming up

They just walked and trotted today. And tied an ex-racehorse to the trailer. And let her see horses running fast. Worked her in a strange arena with dozens of strange horses. Dixie acted like the professional she is with only the slight impatience of youth and an athlete who knows she’s got a job to do.

In other words, she was incredible.

Our Sonoma team had a hard time letting go of Dixie, but seeing how much she’s loved–and loved for who she is–plus seeing her handle a new environment with confidence and enthusiasm? Well, we might have puffed up a little with satisfaction at doing right by this horse.

Neigh Savers isn’t about rushing a horse–not through rehabilitation, not into work, not into the first home that comes along. It’s all about finding the right place for each horse that passes through our program. Dixie says we did a great job and that pink rhinestones are definitely her color.

Thank you, Erin, for giving an ex-racehorse a chance and for loving Dixie as much as we do. You two are a perfect match and there are many fine adventures coming your way, we can tell.

With lots and lots of bling, says Dixie-the-princess.

Dixie shows off her rhinestones


Derby Trip

Long-time Neigh Savers friend and awesome hat-creater Rachel Satterfield-Masen was there in Kentucky for the first Saturday in May to witness the Kentucky Derby first hand. Some of us are a wee bit jealous, but as always, Rachel does a great job of making us feel like we were RIGHT there.

It was my first Kentucky Derby.  For a girl whose heroes are Cigar, Silver Charm, Smarty Jones, Afleet Alex, Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, and Zenyatta it was the ultimate vacation.  I cannot begin to explain how excited I was.

Oxbow galloping Thursday before Derby

Oxbow galloping Thursday before Derby

During the morning works, the horses were gorgeous and happy as they jogged and galloped by.  There was plenty of yelling between exercise riders and lots of excitement from the fans at the rail who showed up early to watch the horses.

And then the Derby and Oaks horses came out.  Without their saddle cloths announcing they were special, they looked just like every other hard working animal out there.  What sets them apart?  Breeding? Sometimes.  Connections and money? Rarely.  Conformation? Maybe.  It’s not clear why a horse can do great things while the horse next to him won’t.  They all give us what they can.

The funny thing about the Kentucky Derby is that it’s all glitz, history, press and money…but in the end it is really only about horses.  As high-flying as the 19 this year are, they are still animals who sleep in straw, eat hay and lay in their own poop. They cannot begin to fathom all they have come to symbolize.

Without our love of racing, these horses wouldn’t exist.  Without the work of breeders, owners and trainers they would never race.  Without the passion of individuals who care about the horse for the sake of the horse, they end up in horrible situations. The horses owe us something, but we owe them much more.

Adena Springs

We made visits to Old Friends, Adena and Three Chimneys as well as a trip to the Kentucky Horse Park to visit my old love Cigar.  Adena and Old Friends and Neigh Savers worked together to help a horse named Racketeer.  He was a graded stakes runner bred by Adena who earned over $400,000 in his career and Neigh Savers found him in a bad situation about to go worse.  Thanks to the efforts of Neigh Savers he was saved and thanks to Adena Springs he was shipped back home to Kentucky and transferred to Old Friends.  While I didn’t get to visit him, I was informed that he’s doing very well and is happy.  Adena Springs has set the bar high for breeders for aftercare, and we can only hope for more owners to take these responsibilities and put us happily out of business.

Homestretch run of Kentucky Derby 139 -- May 4th, 2013

Homestretch run of Kentucky Derby 139 — May 4th, 2013

Derby day was cold, rainy and bleak.  It wasn’t exactly what I’d been dreaming of my whole life, but it was still a real good time.   Wise Dan demolished the field in the Woodford Reserve in the pouring rain and left me wondering if that was the best race we’d see all day.  Right before the Derby, nature decided to celebrate the Derby with us and it stopped raining.  People crawled out of every nook to find their wet, empty seats waiting for them.  The mass of people was unlike anything I’ve ever seen or am likely to see again.  Orb was impressive and was a very popular winner (though I have to admit I was on Revolutionary and Palace Malice).  The Derby is hard to put into words.  It is big.  It’s exciting.  It’s grand.  It’s crazy.  And then it’s over and your not sure if you should feel happy, sad, excited or disappointed that it’s over.  It’s an experience.

Rachel and Calvin Borel

On Sunday at 11:00, I was lucky enough to be the guest of Lisa and Calvin Borel (3 time Derby winning jockey) for a 10 minute preview of the Mine That Bird movie.  I think we were the only people in the room not directly connected with the horse or with the making of the movie.  It was special and I will never forget it.  I had a little time to talk with Lisa about Neigh Savers and Calvin was kind enough to sign several items that we will have at our upcoming Neigh Savers events.  I was lucky enough to go visit Mine That Bird at the Derby Museum with all of his connections and go in the paddock with him.  Bird is a ham and really has a show stealing personality and it was an honor to be near him.  The Borel’s are truly gracious, kind and sincere people and I’m glad to have met them.  They were happy to talk about Neigh Savers and hopefully we can continue the conversation and friendship.

It was a crazy 3 days and an experience that is unforgettable.  I was surprised at my reaction to the race and the realization that the ones we save are not that different from these being cheered and celebrated by millions for two short minutes.  Volunteering for Neigh Savers has changed my perspective on racing.  I appreciate and love it more because in the end the least horse and the champions will both give us their best try and that is what it is all about.

"On to the Preakness!" -- Red Bullet, 2000 Preakness Winner

“On to the Preakness!” — Red Bullet, 2000 Preakness Winner