We Bought a Farm for Manny
When my friends, Kate and Taylor, pulled up to the farm with the horse trailer on a bitter cold winter day shortly before Christmas 2017, I was both thrilled and terrified. Was I ready to take care of this retired racehorse?
I posted on Facebook that he had arrived and joked that only our family would buy a farm for a horse. It does seem as though that’s exactly how it all happened though. I met Germaniac when he was retired from his racing career at the age of 6 and entered into a program for ex-racehorses called Turning For Home. My childhood horse riding instructor runs a stable called Safe Haven Equine, Inc, which is partnered with TFH. Partner farms take retired racehorses and rehab them and re-train them for new careers as show horses, trail, police work, polo, and much more.
One day a new gelding was brought to Safe Haven. His name was Germaniac and he had a sesamoid fracture that ended his racing career and quite possibly, all riding and usefulness. In the old days horses were euthanized for this and some still are. This horse had people in his life who knew him and felt he was worth saving, and he ended up in my world.
The first thing I learned about “Manny”, as he was nicknamed by the barn kids, is that he both handsome and playful. He didn’t seem to favor his injured leg. For him, there were too many things to explore. Like Peacocks. And big green balls. And the wind that carried so many scents in the air that one must catch them all. He was afraid of water puddles and sudden noises made him spring into the air. He would race around the paddock and hold his tail high like a saddle-bred. As spirited as he was, he would gently take a treat from your hand or come close for a nose rub.
I fell in love with him.
The first horse I fell in love with at Safe Haven was an off-track thoroughbred nicknamed, Rally. He was my first teacher in the ways of retraining ex-racehorses. There was no way for me to adopt him, nor was I the right person, as that horse was headed for a bright career with a serious horse person. He left the farm for his new owner and I couldn’t bear to be there when he left. I was heartbroken and tried to not fall in love again.
Then, a warhorse named Fearless Cowboy arrived. The day he was unloaded from the trailer, I was riding out in the ring and watched this new tall dark horse with white on his face check us out. Cowboy turned out to my second teacher and stayed awhile for his rehab. He was 9 years old and won lots of cash for humans year after year until he was finally retired. This horse was tall, which is how I like them. We learned that was a gentleman and trustworthy and kind. Which meant I could ride him. Once again, I dreamed of adopting Cowboy but it wasn’t meant to be. He went out west to take care of a young autistic girl who adored him. Her mother would send pictures of her horse shows and ribbons and tell us stories of his life out there. He was cherished and I was grateful for that. He was found by his young owner one day, lifeless out in the his field, from natural causes.
By the time Cowboy had passed away, I developed a crush on Manny. Whether or not he could be ridden, I was unable to ride at all. If I wanted to adopt any horse, I needed new knees. Manny continued his rehab for months at Safe Haven, and I had my two knees replaced.
And we bought the farm.
Now Manny lives with us.