Saturday, April 18, 2015

Robin & B ... Summer Love Goes The Distance ...

Robin Washek first met Big Boy, aka B, at a heavenly summer riding camp on a local farm. She was only 14 years old, and he was 17. “B was stunning, guarded, but stunning,” she remembers. “I was quickly able to break through his [psychological] barriers and saw the horse he was; I instantly fell in love.”

While Robin bonded with B, the farm owner prepared an off-the-property lease for the signature of someone else. B moved away. Robin stayed.

After two years of regular lessons at that farm, she started to see that it wasn't as wonderful as she had first thought. The truth revealed itself when B’s lease ended and he came back to the barn. "He was beyond skinny with almost no life in his eyes. I was so mad because they were doing nothing to help him gain weight!”

Robin felt that she had to intervene. She got the farm owners to agree to let her take B home for the winter. With some major begging and pleading, and the premise that this was a horse just for the winter, her parents acquiesced.

Meanwhile, Robin and her trainer had other ideas. With B safely at home, the first phase of their mission was complete. They knew B was listed for sale on the farm’s website, but they had to figure out a way to convince Robin’s parents that B must stay.

During this process, the pair had the task of learning each other's quirks. "As far as retraining goes, our biggest struggle was fixing bad habits. At the summer camp, they decided it would be a good idea to ride him in a standing martingale that was too small--to keep his head down--instead of training him properly. So when I got him, he rode with his head almost straight up in the air. This took so long to correct because of all the musculoskeletal issues that came along with how they rode."

With the help of an Equine Massage therapist and two veterinarians, Robin’s parents were won over that B was being mistreated and needed a new forever home. Robin’s mother found a lawyer to complete the purchase of B and ensure he would stay with their family.

and Robin then began their new career as an adorable team on at various local shows. "His registered name and show name are the same, To the Minute -- I like the idea of keeping their Jockey Club names." The duo enjoy many different styles of riding and events. "I first started jumping with him, but I have since made dressage our major focus. At his age, I feel it is the best thing for him. But I would have to say that his favorite is western games, but only if he has [good] competition. I guess no matter how old they are they will always be racehorses at heart!"

Robin describes well how unique the personality of any OTTB can be from another, "having to describe him in one word is so hard! I think the "fickle" would be it though. He is a little different from day to day. As awful as it sounds, I think he is most like Hugh Hefner. He is up there in age and loves mares. They have to split the horses in the barn by gender, especially for him, so that there are no mares in his pasture. Otherwise he won't eat if there are any. He's too busy following them around like a lost puppy!"

"My favorite thing about my amazing OTTB is his perseverance. He has had so many hardships in his life and he never gave up."

# # # #

To The Minute's racing career spanned nine months.
He raced only at Thistledowns at two and three years of age. 
In 10 starts, he won twice including an allowance race. 
In his final start, a $3,000-claimer, he did not finish
 and had to be vanned off

# # # #

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Three Angels & her guardian angel Laurie ...

Florida-bred Three Angels raced a startling 44 times from the of age two to five. All but two of her starts took place at the now-closed Suffolk Downs oval in East Boston, Massachusetts. She was in the hands of only one trainer, Florence Gemma Siravo. Laurie Pagliarini Tuozzolo worked for Siravo at the infamous track. While looking after Three Angels, a cute brown filly with a split ear, Laurie became smitten.

On November 1, 2010, Siravo ran Three Angels in a $4,000-claimer--her 11th start in just over five months. Three Angels placed fifth. Tired and running wide, she was unable to gain a solid position from start to finish. This would be her last start.

In March 2011, Laurie, who quit her job [with Siravo] while Three Angels was still racing, received a tip that the mare who stole her heart was in the hands of notorious kill buyer Joseph F. ‘Spud’ Noone. Laurie raced to save Three Angels from imminent death. “I immediately contacted every rescue friend I could think of and sent them her pictures, tattoo number, and description of her left ear that is basically split in two,” said Laurie.

Laurie reached out to a front-line kill pen rescuer, Kelly Smith of Omega Horse Rescue, to see if Three Angels sold through the New Holland auction in Pennsylvania. New Holland is the number one dumping ground for thoroughbreds who have recently raced. Kelly told Laurie that Three Angels never went through the sale, nor could she find her in any trailer on the lot. Laurie was devastated. “I shed so many tears imagining how her life would probably end.”

Despite the dead end, Laurie stayed constantly on the phone and  computer trying to find leads.  Frustrated by the lack of answers, Laurie reached out to well-known West Coast advocate Deb Jones. Deb leveraged contacts and good faith through her underground network to locate Three Angels, who was miraculously still alive---awaiting transport to slaughter.

On March 29th, 2011, Laurie picked up her Angel. When Laurie finally got Angel home she spiked a fever which eventually led to a horrific case of strangles. "I had originally saved her with the intentions of finding her a good home, but after all we went through with her strangles and the bond we developed, I couldn't let her leave me,"  Laurie said. "She truly pays me back in spades. I know she remembers all those nights I laid down next to her in her stall begging her to hang on -- she came to far to give up."

Laurie's favorite thing about Angel is that when she looks at her she is constantly reminded that her life was saved."For me that fills my heart up,” says Laurie.

Laurie is a gifted poet. She asked that we conclude this post with her poem.

My Gift

Her trust was a bond 
Built day by day.
It could not be rushed
She did it her way.
Her loyalty is an honor,
What she's now willing to share.
It would be my reward 
For always playing fair.
Her friendship is my biggest treasure,
Days filled with happiness and love-
Something one can't measure.
Her beauty is timeless,
More precious than gold.
She is truly a gift
That I am blessed to behold.

(c) When They Whisper

To read more of Laurie’s poetry visit: