Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Seems like yesterday....304 days and 15 horses later JHF Re3 Adoption & Therapy is a reality

It has been three hundred and four days since the trip to Pennsylvania to pick up the first two thoroughbreds off the track.  Three hundred and four days since retired race horses had a place in Surry County, NC where they could rehabilitate be retrained and rehomed. Ten months since the  logo and the name JHF Re3 made its debut.
Where has the time gone? I know it is cliché but it really does seem like yesterday. If I really look back, it was over a year ago when the planning started, but in my mind I wasn't getting my hopes up until the first two horses stepped onto JHF Re3 soil. When those horses stepped off the trailer, that is when this dream became a reality. There was no turning back, as if I ever would, after all this was what I have always wanted. I love this life and what I do. Make no mistake this passion is not for the faint of heart. Each and every horse I bring to the farm I treat as if they are my very own horse. Every horse that comes to this farm from the track deserves to have a Re3 in their life. From those who are not fast enough and never won a dime for their owners, to the War Horses with hundreds of thousands in winnings in their stat sheet, and every horse in between.
Needtogetpaid aka Money with War Horse status
They deserve to have that chance, to be a horse, to have another career, to have their very own human or family of humans to spoil them rotten. There is no greater joy than to see a horse that has come from the track, their home a stall except when being worked or handled, transform from a honed racing machine doing their job, racing and winning or losing as the case may be, to a beloved member of someone's family.

Please understand this is not an overnight transformation nor do I typically "Rescue horses from the track." I work with other non profit organizations or private individuals who are established, whose goal is to keep racing thoroughbreds from being disposable once their racing career is through. There is good and bad in every facet of the equine industry. Racing is no different. I am not here to debate the good the bad or ugly, my job is to "do something" to give back, to give hope. I do this by promoting a breed of horse that generally gets a bad rap in the equine world among some equine fanatics. To keep people from pigeon holing what these horses are capable of.  My job, no really it is my duty, to dispel the myth that thoroughbreds are crazy.  I tell people all the time, they are not crazy, they are just smarter than most humans. Like any other athlete these horses need time to decompress from race life. They are professional athletes on strict regimented schedules that serves to do one thing, make them the best in their field on race day. It takes time for these horses to adjust from the racing world. They have to relearn to be a just a horse. A life that gets paddock and pasture turn out, that involves socializing with other horses, even a life that doesn't involve a riding ring. These are major life changes to some of these horses. Some just need that time to realize they no longer have to go fast. Once they learn that then most are content to walk, trot and canter around and have the easy life.
Some thoroughbreds love the thrill of competition, others want to cruise around the woods. Those horses, the ones that live for the competition, are the ones that go on to make wonderful jumping, eventing, foxhunting, barrel racing, or whatever competition mounts. They are not insane or crazy, but they have their niche and as humans we need to identify with them.

I have been very blessed in this life I have chosen. Like all things this path is not without it's ups and downs. Even its heartache. The heartache is tough, I won't lie. You have to be able to make the tough choices, the best choices for the horse and not for you.   Not every horse is cookie cutter. People have to remember not every horse is going to rehabilitate the same. A big part of the rehabilitation lays within the heart and soul of the horse. If you give them time and you really pay attention, they will tell you what they are best suited for. Time and patience are key in this field. These animals are not commodities to me, nor will they ever be such. I believe in my heart this is why I gravitated more towards the non-profit side of this business. To help and make a difference. To give these horses a voice, to educate people. Not only to help the horses in need but to help the people as well.

For some people the greatest therapy is a horse. It doesn't have to involve even riding, but the brushing the caring for another living creature besides yourself. Horses have great power to touch the heart of humans. Horses have been used in quotes for centuries.... one of my favorites
A horse is the projection of peoples' dreams about themselves - strong, powerful, beautiful - and it has the capability of giving us escape from our mundane existence.

There is no greater joy then matching a horse with it's new owner. Knowing that you have rehabilitated that horse to the best of your ability and placed it with a person that you have personally worked with so their new partnership can be at its best. I want to set these horses up for success, I want to set the people up for a successful partnership with these horses. There must be a connection, if there isn't, more often than not, it won't work. So far this year I have had the pleasure of rehoming 8 horses. Each horse wonderful in its own way. Every one loved by their new owners.  I still have other thoroughbreds in various stages of rehabilitation and retraining who will eventually go on to new careers.

Needtogetpaid aka Money with his
new owner Jake H.
If you ever wonder why it is that I chose this path, look at the picture to the right sent to me by Jake H. It is of him and Money, look at those faces. The duck face is pretty funny. Look how happy Money is. After 48 starts on the track, over 353,000 dollars in earnings, this war horse is getting to be this teenagers forever horse. The memories these two will make will last Jake a lifetime, and Money, well he gets a new lease on life. For Jake and Money and every other horse I have rehabbed, for every person and family I have helped find a new equine partner. That is why I do it. It is my path and it is my calling.

2014 has been a incredible year of Blessings for JHF Re3 Adoption & Therapy, for the horses, their new owners, and for me. 

For more information on our horses and our mission visit our website at

JHF Re3 Adoption & Therapy has applied for its 501(c) non-profit status. We hope in the future to not only rehabilitate horses for new careers and homes, but to also help people by using equine based psychotherapy. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

WHAT WAS I THINKING......How Re3 started and where it is now, the birth of JHF Re3 Adoption and Therapy

Wow seven months, some days feel like seven years, other days seven hours. This crazy world of horse rehabilitation that I chose to embark on as a new turning point in my equestrian life. Why you ask, why would any sane person (that in itself is an oxymoron in the horse world, all horse people are crazy we are only separated by degrees) choose to take on these used up commodities, full of emotional baggage, crappy footed,  thin skinned, ulcer ridden, crazier than a fruit bat, and whatever other derogatory stigma that comes to mind when you think of off the track thoroughbreds (OTTBs), it's simple, THEY NEED MORE CHAMPIONS!!! You hear it all the time, admit it. If you are a horse person the acronym OTTB strikes almost as much fear in some horse people's hearts as Arabian!  GASPPPPP I just used both in the same sentence. Yes as a matter of fact I did, and I might say it again. The truth is, the problems that follow any breed are created mostly by humans, but that is a blog for another day. Let's get back to the blog at hand. What was I thinking, oh yeah,  these horses need a second chance.  Thoroughbreds tend to have it a little rougher than most breeds. They are bred mostly to race. To race fast, for as long as they can and not break down. The sad truth is, not all of them are fast, some of them do break down. Where do they go from there, after they can't race any more? Well there are two options, #1 to slaughter, or #2 to farms like mine, with the help of organizations like Turning for Home at the Parx Track in Philadelphia.
Did you just cringe at the mention of SLAUGHTER? Good you should have. I am not here to debate the good, bad, or ugly of the horse slaughter world. I am here to tell you that I have chosen to do my part, albeit a very small part, to keep these animals, most under the age of 6, who have their whole lives ahead of them, from being sent to Canada or to Mexico to slaughter. Did you know horses can live into their 30's? Most race horses career ends by age 6, some go longer, but even so do the math. There are a lot of years left to account for. *Stepping off of soapbox* 
Murderinthefirst Racing
Murder on the trails
Several years ago I adopted my horse, Murderinthefirst, through a partner farm of Turning for Home. It was love at first site. He had been rehabbed from a tendon injury, but when he came back to the track, he was no longer fast. His heart wasn't in it anymore. He was perfectly sound for another career but he no longer had the speed to run. He needed a new career at age 6. Just like these thoroughbreds, sometimes you just have to find your niche. "Find a need, fill a need." I have worked with and around horses for 30 years. I have owned my farm for 17 of those 30 years introducing people of all ages to the joy of horses, through riding lessons, horse shows, camps, and guided trail rides. Working with these thoroughbreds was my chance to give back to the horse community. To help a breed that truly deserves to have a second chance at a new life, a new career that would carry them through to old age. So that these horses may have their own person that would love and care for them through the rest of their days. After many discussions, number crunching, and red tape, the birth of JHF Re3 Adoption and Therapy was born.  We started with just two horses. White Rabbit and
Seranading Shari
Seranding Shari.
White Rabbit
Since the arrival of Rabbit and Shari we have adopted these guys along with six others to amazing homes. I won't lie this isn't easy, this is not for the faint of heart. With great accomplishments come great heartache. Not every horse can be saved. Sometimes these guys do come with physical or emotional baggage that prevents them from moving on to an awesome home. My heart aches for those. I have a pity party, I cry, I get frustrated, I get mad at the world, the world that did this to these beautiful animals, these horses didn't choose this. Then I come to terms with it, I don't like it, but I come to terms. I do this for the horses. It can't all be sunshine, butterflies, and rainbows, or everyone would do it. I bask in the joy every time one of these magnificent creatures trust me enough to move forward in their training. I get a grand smile each time I take one of these majestic creatures on the trail for the first time and they prove to the world that they are not "Crazy OTTBs" and hack down the trail like they have been doing it all their lives. My heart sings each time I adopt one of these loving animals to a home where I know they will be loved and spoiled (I cry a little too, but these are happy tears). I smile with every text message that includes a picture of an owner with their new companion. That is why I do it. To share with the world what I already know. HORSES ARE IN FACT THE BEST THERAPY.

JHF Re3 Adoption and Therapy has filed for our 501(c) non-profit status. We are in a fledgling stages and have had tremendous support from the horse community. All of our horses are vetted at the track and evaluated for a future career options. All known issues are fully disclosed to potential adopters. Adopters are encouraged to consult with a veterinary professional when adopting any of our horses. Adopters are required to fill out an application and sign a No-Auction/First Right of Refusal contract. We strive hard to match the right horse to the right adopter. We understand sometimes things happen and we are always willing to take a horse back into our program. We are currently accepting donations that can be retroactively written off on your taxes once the non-profit status application is approved. Our first concern is always for the horse and matching that horse with you. We are dedicated to the well being of all of the animals in our care. If you have any questions please feel free to contact us through our website.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Some people find stray dogs and cats...... I bring home stray horses. The journey of "Damned Spot"

As most of you have figured out by now life is not boring at Jumping H Farm. I feel like sometimes I am on an episode of "Punked" or at the very least there is a film crew in the bushes throwing weird stuff my way to see how I will react. So with that being said on with my story.

Our trail ride started out like most others. It was a beautiful day in March and two college girls were in town on spring break and wanted to go on a 1hour trail ride. Seems simple enough this happens all the time. We saddle up, and off we went. We joked with the girls about how we didn't charge extra for any entertainment that happened on the trail. Maybe that was my first mistake, putting it out in the atmosphere that something could potentially happen.... Who am I kidding we NEVER have boring trail rides. Something out of the ordinary always seems to come our way. Traveling a normal trail we hear a large piece of equipment in the woods, but didn't think much of it. When you live in the foothills sounds travel and you never quite know where it is. In this case however, a man operating a large backhoe was doing work on the property where we were riding. Throwing up our hands and waving we continued on our journey, I was proud of all the horses they passed him without spooking once. Continuing on our selected path we made the first loop and now suddenly the man on the backhoe was behind us. He was lumbering forward on his huge orange Kubota backhoe motioning for me to come and talk to him, however he had not stopped his backhoe or shut it off. There was not a snowballs chance in Hades of my horse Murder walking up to that huge Gozilla looking machine. Didn't that man know all large orange tractors, or any tractor for that matter eats horses? Especially large black off the racetrack horses named Murder. "Good lord MAN don't you have enough sense to turn that thing off."  I was thinking that in my head, actually there were a few choice 4-letter words in that thought but I will keep this PG.


 Murder started doing a version of Gangum Style that would have riveled PSY. I put my hand up to signal for him to stop his attack before Murder died of heart failure, and gave him my most serious, ARE YOU FREAKIN KIDDDING ME FACE, and he finally turned Godzilla off.

He asked if we were missing a horse? "Nope all mine are at home accounted for," I said thinking to myself well duhhhhhhh if I were I would be out scouring the county for it. However all my neighbors know my horses get out in teams. It is usually the one escape artist that breaks out and leads his merry band of followers to the choice orchard grass field or the neighbors garden depending on the season. We chatted for a moment about whose it could be all the while I am thinking this man has lost his mind we are deep in the woods there are no horses in this area that I don't know.  We left him to his equipment with the knowledge of this elusive wild horse in the woods. Genna thought he was off his rocker and at the moment I was inclined to agree. On down the trail we went another fifteen or twenty minutes. Now this is the part of the trail that the horses know we are headed for home and while they are well behaved they do have a little more pep to the step as we go on down the trail. Chatting among our group we come to a clearing with a small crop of pine trees off to one side... here is where it gets REALLY Interesting.

If you are a horse person, and well even if you are not, you have probably heard that horses have a "fight or flight" response when they are scared. I am here to tell you Murder's is ALWAYS FLIGHT! Not sometimes, not occasionally, ALL THE TIME. His motto is I don't have to be the fastest I just have to be faster than the slowest horse.
This is a good example of the sideways launch.
If something comes at him from behind it is amazing how fast he can tuck his butt and run. If it is in front he figures there are at least two others it will eat first and can sit and spin that would make a reining horse champion proud. Last but not least if it comes at him from the side, you BETTER be holding on with your legs, because Murder will turn into a 1200lbs kangaroo and will jump sideways and cover enough ground in one leap you would swear that Chris Angel was responsible for the optical illusion that just took place. Murder chose option #3.

Out of the trees at a high rate of speed came this FAT fluffy pinto horse that looked like it came straight out of a Thelwell Pony book. For those of you unfamiliar with Thelwell this is what they look like. Imagine a pinto version of this pony coming out of the pine thicket. Complete with snorting. He might has well been breathing fire. If you ask Murder he will swear to it.

This pony had found some friends and would not be deterred from the meeting. Murder was horrified, Rocky was ambivalent, Phoenix was on the fence between fight and flight, and well Tonka drew a line in the sand and said "Buddy bring it on."  I jumped off of Murder and tried to calm the crew down and see what was going to happen with this impromptu meeting. Genna piped up and said, "Mom why don't you grab Rocky's halter and catch him."  Good thought, except pinto pony was not having any of it. He led me on a merry chase around all 4 horses for a good 15 minutes. All the while my trail riders were amazed that something like this could ever happen. "Damned spotted pony," I muttered to myself, and well it stuck. Damned Spot it is. After the merry chase I told Genna to head down the trail. If he followed fine if not well even better. Now you know he did. Murder however was not having it. 
Here is Damned Spot following right along behind Murder.

Damned Spot was dead on his heels, Murder decided that not only was he not going to stand still for me to mount him but that at any moment DS was going to eat him and I was going to be the sacrificial meal if that happened.

He continued to follow us all the way home and into the pasture. DS is no dummy though. He is well aware of what a barn is, but even more important he knows what a paddock gate is. He know just how far he can come to you before you can get a rope around his neck or before you can shut the gate behind him. He was very careful not to let any of those things happen the first afternoon on the Jumping H.  DS stood back from the herd and observed what was to become his new domain. 

After several phone calls I located DS's current owner.... His exact words, "Well he was missing but I haven't been missing him. Let me tell you the story of how I came to own that horse." I promise you that no good can come out of the conversation that followed.  Apparently DS is a pasture hopper. His current owner (we will call Jack)lived next door to DS's previous owner (We will call him Fred). One day DS decided that he didn't want to live at Fred's anymore and went next door and jumped into Jack's pasture. Jack called Fred to let him know DS was in his field. Fred's response, "He's in your pasture you own him now." Apparently that was over 5 years ago. Jack's guess is that since they have moved to this new farm that DS is no longer happy with his living arrangement and has decided to seek a home elsewhere...... Apparently that is with us on the Jumping H Farm.

UPDATE: After many months of work and rehab we have found spot a home with a lovely family in Ohio!!