Author Archive | Karin Wagner

Update November 2020

On The Key

Dear Neigh Savers donors, friends & volunteers:

We wish you and yours a Happy Thanksgiving during a holiday season unlike any we’ve ever experienced.   It’s been quite a year, hasn’t it?  We pray we make what we can of what we have, share our gratitude & look forward to a new year with hopefully some resolutions on the horizon.

I wanted to update you on developments here at Neigh Savers.  If you have not given this year, please do consider a donation.  We are not actively participating in Giving Tuesday, this December 1st because all money from Facebook is gone after a few minutes midnight, eastern time.  However, you can contribute through our own link here on December 1st or before then for your holiday giving.

As you might know, it’s been a terrible year for donations and we’ve not been able to fund-raise through any events or functions.  It has curtailed what we can do but we still have expenses and plans for rescue & sponsorship.

If you have not signed up for Amazon Smile, it’s another seamless way to get involved.  It costs you nothing but we get a tiny portion of any money you spend with Amazon.

Here’s how to sign up for AmazonSmile:


Sign in with your credentials.

Search for Neigh Savers Foundation Inc and select

You should automatically be in the Smile area of Amazon afterwards.  If not, click on the Smile icon and located in the top left bar and then you’ll be there for sure.

We just accepted a new warrior, On the Key.  Key is a 10 year old and won this year at Golden Gate Fields.   He’s raced 74 times, with 18 firsts, 10 seconds & 14 thirds.  He’s earned $215,835 as a sold blue collar horse.  Key will be going for some R&R to Clements, CA.  His female jockey Anne Sanguinetti says he’s one of her favorite horses and she would have taken had she not already had 2 private show horses of her own.

Curiously enough, we were following Zakaroff, another warrior we were asked to help by Golden Gate Fields.  He ended up in Oregon at Grant’s Pass and when the season closed last week, his female jockey Aislinn Finn adopted & retired him!


We also started sponsoring a neglected donkey named Knight, who suffers from a neck fat roll from a bad diet and was found at auction.  That led to us paying for one of the new donkey shelters built to house an additional 34 donkeys that were saved a few months after Knight.  Donkeys are so sweet and easy to fall in love with.  The shelter is dedicated to Alma Equine, our friends in Los Gatos who have a very fine program for young people and a number of Neigh Savers adoptees in it.

Jules (Cruz)

Recently, I visited with Julian P (Jules now Cruz) at his new home that we arranged at Horse & Rider Connection in Martinez, CA.  His new handler Addie is a very talented and focused young teenager.  It was fun seeing how well he’s doing and meeting Cherokee, a sweet former therapy mini that I had fun brushing and hanging out with.

Fritz Grau

Then, we received news of one of Neigh Savers’ first placements, Fritz Grau.  At the age of 16 Fritz just entered his first show after 6 months of training. His adopter no longer had much time for him and leased him out.  He’s doing great and proves that it’s never too old to learn something new (at least not for a OTTB).

Cherokee and Karin

Lastly, we will start fully sponsoring Miz Paradis, actually one of our very first horses, who we placed in 2008 after rescuing her with Harmony & Hope Horse Haven in Arizona.  It’s sort of a full circle thing, if you ask me and a good way to kick off 2021.

Be safe, be well & enjoy!

Always in gratitude, Karin

Six Month Recap

We’ve been mostly off social media but we felt we needed to post the A Flicker of Light story (Flicka) so it made me think about the last six months in general. Doesn’t it seem like a lifetime ago?

Even though Covid essentially took us out, and we are certainly not alone in this, we still managed some small victories.

We are actively sponsoring horses at Baja Horses in a small town south of Mexicali, Mexico. They provide therapy to a disabled children’s school in town and are mostly rescues from different at risk situations, particularly old rental string horses that are cast off and/or injured. You know, the pretty horses you see in all the ads, where equally attractive people are riding along a serene beach enjoying themselves….but there’s always a downside and then Baja Horses steps in. I live in Mexico part of the year so am personally familiar with the facility and it’s operator. All programs and donations dried up with Covid but the horses still have to eat. Baja Horses hopes to be back on schedule come October.

We started off in January fully sponsoring two racetrack warriors that had been found in a feedlot, bound for slaughter. Both were still racing at 9 and 10 years old and had combined starts of 117 between the two of them. Pointsettia Park & Thames Valley.

We then went on to assist Peyton’s Path who came from an ill fated barn where his bills were no longer paid.

On top of that we sponsored Twirling Irish, who through no fault of his own with no actual legal racing starts, was injured through illegal match racing as he was spirited off the track and then returned again. We are happy to report that he has recovered and is now in training.

We then retired Batti Man, who was still racing at the age of 12 and had 59 starts. We retired him directly off track from Turf Paradise in Phoenix, AZ and shipped him to California. Batti Man became the ninth Racetrack Warrior we have retired in the last 18 months. All of these horses were racing at 10 years or older. These nine horses have combined starts of 632!! That means on average each horse left the starting gate 70 times!!!!!

Then we finally found a permanent retirement home for Spinelessstarfish (Star) who was in program and kicking around for over three years! Star was one of the most problematic horses we ever had and we shared that burden with another one of our sister rescues. We also featured her on Facebook. Our only two posts in 6 months.

Lastly, we found an amazing permanent retirement home for another off track with a long time supporter of Neigh Savers that had injuries that rendered him to pasture puff status only, Indy’s Dynamo (Indy).

And, of course, on the heels of Indy’s placement, we sent A Flicker of Light, another horse that is only serviceably sound, to a beautiful retirement in Oregon with another of our very long time supporters.

So, we are still active, on a smaller scale but then, it’s a tough time and donations are few and far between. We understand that and will try to hang in there as long as we can. There is no getting round it. Without funding we couldn’t have done any of the above. So, we are once again taking a break as the above mentioned saves and maintenance are expensive. We took 90% from our reserves with only 10% coming back in. We’ll just sit tight. We hope things turn around for us, for our valued donors and for the nation as a whole. It’s a bit like living in the matrix these days. I hope we all come out of it being better people and reassessing our values and what is actually important in our lives.

With peace & love, Karin & the Team at Neigh Savers

Donate here


Helping Moose

I promised you a little information about Moose and here it is.  As many of you know, I am spending a lot of time in Baja now.  And as many of you that know me personally can well imagine I had to get involved in the rescue of a former Mexican rental string horse while there last month.  All the Pretty Horses is a rescue outfit based on Rosarito, Baja that helps horses that are being abused or need retirement mostly in rental string outfits.  My new friends Lynn and Patrick (Paco) live on the same ranch as our home is located on and take a lot of these horses directly from All the Pretty Horses.
One of their rescues, Moose, an Appendix, needed to go to the University vet hospital in Mexicali and suffered a severe episode of colic upon arrival and needed immediate surgery.  He ended up spending 5 weeks there.  The University students used him as a case study and ended up being bonded to this very personable horse.  I connected with Lynn and Paco and then after approval from our Board we decided to help Moose to offset some of his medical expenses.  I was lucky enough to travel the two hours to Mexicali and pick him up.  Moose has returned to his home on the El Dorado Ranch and will be working as a therapy horse for the children’s therapy program Lynn runs that benefit the local kids in San Felipe.  I am very proud to be connected to this program and hope to do more in the future.

Please enjoy these photos of Moose with his veterinary school students at the Universidad Autonoma de Baja.

In closing, on behalf of Neigh Savers, I wish all of you a very blessed holiday season and Happy New Year!



9th Annual Holiday Turf Club Party & Fundraiser Wrap Up


We’d like to thank all the donors and supporters that made our 9th Annual Holiday Turf Club Party & Fundraiser held on December 1, 2018 another success.

This year we partnered with Hope for Horses and it was loads of fun! We had a full house at 130 guests.

Most joyously, a lot of younger volunteers came on the day of and helped with volunteering. A contingent of Neigh Savers’ volunteers even baked horse cookies and they sold out during the event! Junior volunteers from Hope for Horses manned the Raffle.

Pictures say it all so please enjoy these photos showing Board Director Maureen Sowell and Executive Director Karin Wagner, a small taste of our Silent Auction (we had 53 donated items), Maddie and Annie displaying their horse cookies proudly along with their sales proceeds, the table setting complete with a signed poster by Russell Baze and the late William Morey, designer horse cookies in either a lucky holiday horseshoe or a horse head, a beautiful rainbow from our perch in the Golden Gate Fields Turf Club and a whole lot of happy people from Neigh Savers and Hope for Horses standing together in the Winner’s Circle.



Race for the Rescues 2018 Wrap Up


















Team Neigh Savers participated for the fourth year in a row in 13th Annual Race for the Rescues on October 13, 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Despite the fact it decided to rain, the first time in months in Southern California, it did not dampen the enthusiasm of hundreds of people who turned up with their furry friends to race and raise money for animals in need. It was a wonderful day highlighted by the fact that all the shelter animals who were brought to the event for adoption found their “fur”ever homes by eight o’clock that same morning!!!


















Many vendors attended with a variety of products for dogs, cats, bunnies and horses and the L.A. Laker girls were cheering on the runners! Our mascot, Blaze, even got to pose with them for a photo!! We were also treated to Hawaiian dancing!!


















As a team of only four people, Neigh Savers was able to raise over $7,000 of our $10,000 goal which will go to our program of rehabbing, retraining and rehoming our beloved Off-Track Thoroughbreds!!!













There is still time to donate to help us reach our goal by visiting this link!

Thank you from Team Neigh Savers!!!




RRP Wrap Up 2018

Sassy Ashley RRP

So RRP 2018 is a wrap and we couldn’t be prouder of Sassy Ashley and her performances in the polo and working ranch classes!  We had a great time attending this event again for the third year in a row to cheer on a Neigh Savers horse.  Like the other two before, Ashley came to us through the CARMA Placement Program.

Sassy Ashley RRP

Ashley competed in Polo and Ranch Work and gave Neigh Savers a thrill we haven’t had in three years competing.  She got a ribbon!  Ashley finished officially in 9th Place in Polo (though there was a 4 way tie for 7-10th)!  It was our first time in the top 10 at RRP, so it was exciting to see her in the ring Saturday during the finale to pick up her ribbon.

Sassy Ashley RRP

Ashley also placed excellently in the Ranch Work as well finishing 15th out of 55 horses.

We are so proud of her!  She handled herself pretty well despite being quite stressed out by a big, loud environment in the big covered arena for all of her rides.

Sassy Ashley RRP




Ashley RRP Update – August 2018

Ashley has had all sorts of adventures in August gearing up for RRP here in just a little over a month!  She took another trip to the beach and encountered all kinds of weird things!

She’s practicing obstacles she’ll encounter during her Ranch Horse class at RRP.  “Take a second out of your busy day and watch Ashley work out traversing her first REAL bridge, just last week.  Small act for many horses, big deal for her. She’s super skeptical about putting her feet places (not a bad thing necessarily), but this will be one of the obstacles she will have to do confidently at the Thoroughbred Makeover in October. So we’ve been piecing it together little by little at home, and she didn’t let me down out in the real world.”

She’s continuing to develop her cow horse skills. “This cow thought it could ACTUALLY out run a racehorse… silly cow.  This was Ashley and I last night. We were actually just working on WALKING our cows around the perimeter of the arena, getting and keeping things nice and quiet… good for the cows, and great work for Ashley. But, this heifer had other ideas and made a break for it. I asked Ashley to accelerate for the first time since I’ve had her, and she handled it with composure; we ran over there and got a good clean, straight stop, that was mostly soft and got our cow shut down… really good girl Ashley!”














Ashley also just took her first overnight trip and handled it with class! They recently visited Preston, Nevada for one of Kalley’s BHT Fundamentals Clinics.

These pictures don’t really capture the rugged majesty of this land, but they’re a good try.  In Preston and the surrounding area, there is still nomadic herding that goes on, where the herders and their dogs trail 1000 head plus, of sheep through the BLM land at different times of the year… it certainly takes you back to a different time and place.  In any case, Ashley and I just finished our first BHT Fundamentals Clinic together, and we had a FANTASTIC time.  Ashley got introduced to a herd of Cashmere goats for the first time, she wasn’t quite sure what to do with them, but ended up settling right in.”


Ashley RRP Update July

Ashley has moved up her training this month and declared for her categories at RRP.  She’ll be showing in Working Ranch and Polo!

Ashley Cow

Working Ranch used to require cow work, but no longer.  However Kalley has been working her on cows nonetheless! For the Working Ranch category she will be required to perform the AQHA Ranch Riding Pattern 1.  She will then immediately perform a Ranch Trail test of six to nine obstacles that are likely to include at minimum a gate, bridge, sidepassing, backing, and walking or trotting over logs or poles.  If she makes the finale, she will perform a different Ranch Riding Pattern that will include some trail obstacles in the finale.

Ashley has also started her polo work with a mallet and handled it with no problems!  For her Polo test she will be require to do a two and a half minute agility pattern to include figure eights with lead changes, roll backs, tight circles, a check and release and stops/step-backs.  She will also do a 2 and a half minute stick and ball work demonstration requiring the different ball strokes be shown.  If she makes the finale, they will be required another agility/stick and ball demonstration followed up by a 6 horse seven minute chukker (the five finalists plus another volunteer pair).  Exciting!  Polo is always one of the more fun events to watch at RRP and we cannot wait to watch her compete!

Check out the videos of her working a cow and having her first ride with the polo mallet on Ashley’s video stream here.


Join Us for the Race for the Rescues 2018

It’s that time of year again to gear up for the Race for the Rescues!!

Team Neigh Savers will be participating for our 4th year in a row raising funds for our beloved horses and other animals in need. Our past three years have proved very successful and we are looking forward to another great race!

This event, hosted by The Rescue Train, is being held on Saturday, October 13th , 2018 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. We are one of many worthy animal charities that have been invited to participate.

The donations raised will be used to help save the lives of once forgotten dogs, cats and horses and help them become cherished family members. In addition, it provides important programs to the community such as veterinary care for the pets of low-income families, free spay and neuter clinics and a shelter intervention program.

Join Team Neigh Savers this year and race to save a life! Even if you can’t make it to Pasadena you can enter the Couch Potato Race!!

Registration is easy! Click on HERE and then click on “JOIN OUR TEAM” or if you would like to make a donation click on “SUPPORT US”.

Help us raise awareness to the plight of so many animals that are abused and neglected and have no voice! It’s up to us!!




Sassy Ashley RRP Update May and June

Ashley has had an interesting couple of months with Kalley.  She went to her first public outing – a local barrel race, she starred in some of Kalley’s education materials (and her very own short flim), and worked on her patience and weight.  She’s doing great!!

In early May there was a local jackpot barrel race, so I though I’d get Ashley out under some “Friday Night Lights”  She did great for our first “public”outing. Lots of energy and excitement at those shows, and she got a little nervous, but all in all she handled it well… we just hung out, watched, and ate some grass.

Ashley joined Kalley for some filming for a new Chrome eBook article. She was a star of course.

Sassy Ashley Film Star   Sassy Ashley Film Star

Ashley is learning to stand at the trailer and be patient, and learning to Ground tie.  Little by little, Ashley is getting more and more professional in her demeanor.

Ashley Ground Tie     Sassy Ashley

Ashley is developing her own “out of the ashes” story…

Ashley has been REALLY tricky to get eating well, and consistently. But, with the help of the experts at Triple Crown Feed and Artaurus Veterinary Clinic, we are finally making head way with her health and nutrition and she’s starting to show it on the outside.


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.