Sec­ond chances

When I searched for a quiet be­gin­ner’s horse, I found my per­fect match in the last place I would have ex­pected.

EQUUS - - Eq Back Page - By Therese Foster

For me, vol­un­teer­ing had al­ways been a way to be near horses when I couldn’t have one of my own. My love af­fair be­gan as a young girl, read­ing ev­ery horse book and fan­ta­siz­ing about be­ing El­iz­a­beth Tay­lor in “Na­tional Vel­vet.” Once I was an adult, I started help­ing out at a ther­apy pro­gram that taught dis­abled chil­dren how to ride and care for horses. There, I learned the ba­sics of groom­ing, tack and safety.

I also fre­quented Fin­ger Lakes Thor­ough­bred Adop­tion Pro­gram (FLTAP), in New York State, just to keep alive my dream of some­day own­ing my own horse. At age 53 I fig­ured it was just that, a dream. I knew th­ese beau­ti­ful ath­letes were too much horse for a be­gin­ner like me.

One day over lunch, an old friend told me he’d heard about a couple of nice, quiet horses that were be­ing given away. He also gave me a lit­tle pep talk about fol­low­ing my dreams. En­thu­si­as­ti­cally, I gath­ered all the in­for­ma­tion and called my brother who owns a nearby farm. He told me that he’d like one of the horses for him­self, which sounded per­fect to me. I was so in­for­ma­tion printed on the stall name­plate. Usu­ally, the cards list an adop­tion price, but that in­for­ma­tion was miss­ing. The mare was friendly, nudg­ing me as if we were old friends. Julie, the barn man­ager, greeted me as she al­ways did, then started telling me about Jolla: She’d just com­pleted re­hab for a bone spur in her knee; she was of­fered for adop­tion for light rid­ing only; she was very gen­tle and con­sid­ered a great be­gin­ner’s horse. I protested my lack of ex­pe­ri­ence, but Julie threw in one more pitch: Jolla was free to a good home af­ter board ap­proval.

Could this be why I couldn’t find any other horse? I stepped into the stall to see how Jolla would re­spond to hav­ing me in her space. She nuz­zled me as I brushed her mane and just kept star­ing at me as if to say, “Where have you been?”

Own­ing Jolla has changed my world. I try to visit ev­ery day, if not to ride, then just to spend time groom­ing her. This part­ner­ship is full of new ex­pe­ri­ences for both of us. For me, I had no ex­pe­ri­ence in horse own­er­ship. For Jolla, the only life she had ever known was rac­ing. To­gether, we have dis­cov­ered a whole new world while de­vel­op­ing a bond---trust­ing in each other---as we fig­ure it all out.

My goal for shar­ing my story is to en­cour­age other peo­ple to con­sider adopt­ing th­ese beau­ti­ful off-the-track Thor­ough­breds. Many are in good health and have al­ways re­ceived ex­cel­lent care. Each de­serves a sec­ond chance to be­come a real win­ner.

THE RIGHT FIT:

For the au­thor, a re­tired race­horse named Jolla turned out to be the right horse at the right time.

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