Sunday, July 28, 2013

Luigi's Honour - Part 2

Three weeks ago, I was bitter, angry and full of resentment towards most of the human race.  See, I don’t usually get to deal with the GOOD people.  I get the "pleasure" of dealing with the people who ruin and throw away what often end up being perfectly good horses, after they’ve healed up (physically and emotionally), and then I have to go and clean up their mess and try and right their wrongs.  The horses are always the victims.  It’s not fair, and consequently, I’m sure anyone can understand why I have very little faith in the human race as a whole.

Three weeks ago, a horse named Luigi’s Honour unexpectedly walked back into my life and while our time together has been short, his presence has taught me that maybe I’ve been wrong.  Maybe these horrible, hurtful people that I’ve dealt with are the exception, not the rule. 

When I first published the blog about Luigi (click here), I didn’t have much faith that the horse world would respond the way that they have.  I try and avoid asking for help when it comes to personal rescue missions I undertake, I’m a little proud, a lot stubborn, and I don’t like admitting that I can’t do something on my own, but his story needed to be told.  When I published that blog, I had no idea of the magnitude of support I’d receive, and for that, I am humbled and amazed at the generosity of virtual strangers.  Together, they raised $1020 towards the Luigi effort, a little over $900 remained after GoFundMe and WePay’s fees (mandatory for all fundraising through their website).

Through Lisa at Day Dreams Farm Rescue, I was put in touch with a wonderful woman by the name of Gail Hirt at Beyond The Roses Rescue & Retirement.  She specializes in the rescue and rehabilitation of Thorougbred ex-racehorses, and although she was currently at maximum capacity, she got right to work networking and trying to find a solution for Luigi’s situation.  Yes, he had an offer of a home back at his owner’s place down in Pennsylvania, but shortly into Gail’s work, she connected with LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement Society in Ontario, Canada.   Now, as a frequent rescuer of in-danger horses and ponies, I’m of the belief that if one horse can raise awareness of the all-to-often plight of the ex-racehorse and serve a greater purpose in life other than pasture-puff, then they should be allowed that opportunity.  Do I have any doubts that Luigi would enjoy the pasture-puff life?  No, not really.  But he’s only seven years old, and for him to live out the next twenty-something years in a pasture would be a waste of the attention and publicity he’s gotten through this endeavor.  People need to know how easily a great horse like Luigi can end up in a bad situation.  Not every “good home” is the real deal.  Luigi’s trainer agreed with me on this, and said that as long as I can guarantee Luigi’s safety and happiness, he and the owners fully support the decision to find him an ambassador career. 

Anyway, LongRun’s criteria for accepting a horse into their program included the stipulations that the horse have been Ontario-bred, and have come directly from the racetrack.  Luigi fit that criteria, and after I filmed an evaluation video for the staff at LongRun to see him, his wonderful personality, and his awful fetlocks, he was accepted into the program and I made the arrangements to export him to his new Canadian home.  Fortunately, I have an absolutely wonderful veterinarian who did the health papers and Coggins at cost for me, and I had extra vaccines and dewormer at home to bring Luigi up-to-date in time for travel.  Saving money without compromising quality of care is always a good thing.  I found out several days before our trip that Luigi's original owner has made a very handsome donation to LongRun towards the cost of Luigi's retirement.  The wonderful folks at LongRun commented on Part 1: 

"Thanks to the hard work of Gail at Beyond the Roses Equine Rescue, and Jackie who bailed this deserving guy out of a truly bad situation, we are proud to announce that Luigi will be coming home to Toronto, where his accomplished career started.

We welcome all of you to continue to follow Luigi's story as he joins us at one of our amazing foster homes via our website, facebook - or twitter @LongRunTB.

We hope everyone is as excited as we are to welcome him home - one of his first owners is also going to be assisting us in his retirement and is happy to know that so many people cared enough about his horse to ensure he had a safe ending.

Thank you to everyone who got involved and chipped in to ensure this boy got the dignified retirement he deserves.

-The LongRun Team"

As I write this, I’m somewhere in Canada in the passenger seat of my truck (it's my brother's turn to drive).  I’d love to tell you where we are, but all I know is that I’m surrounded by farmland as far as I can see and the GPS says we’re 148 miles from home.  We’ve been on the road since early this morning, and quite frankly, I’m bored to death.  I tucked Luigi safely in a deep, plush stall in his new home with LongRun several hours ago (he immediately grabbed a mouthful of hay, drank half a bucket of water, then dropped and rolled with the most satisfied grunt and groan I’ve ever heard from a horse).  He’s happy there, and every other horse on the property was in great condition and equally as content.  I wish I could say I was sad to leave him, but I’m really not.  Instead, I have this peaceful sense of contentment and satisfaction that another horse survived and will go on to be happy for the rest of his life.  Maybe that’s closure for me?  I don’t really know, but it’s a good feeling, and I sincerely hope everyone that has contributed to saving Luigi’s life feels the same thing.  Here are a handful of photos from our journey...

Loading up to head "home" one last time...

It almost seems like he knows what's waiting for him.

Getting to look around at the first of many fuel stops...
(Don't worry, we were parked here, I don't travel with trailer windows down)

Finally off the trailer and heading to his new home.

Almost there...

SUCH a comfy stall!  He immediately approved the culinary selection.

My final words to him were "Alright.  Be good, okay big guy?"  
"Yeah, yeah, whatever lady.  Just give me the damn cookie."

I can’t help but feel like a savvy shopper though, this trip (as long as it is), was still shorter than taking him to the other farm by about fifty miles.  Plus I don’t have to drive through Ohio (where I’m pretty sure I’m still wanted for a few unpaid speeding tickets I got back in high school).  We did this trip with my new-to-me GMC pickup I bought a few weeks ago.  It’s 12 years old, with 208k miles and change, and gets a whopping 8.5mpg with the trailer behind it.  The gas gauge isn’t exactly functional, so I was a little apprehensive about this trip, but buying gas by the litre thing isn’t nearly as annoying when your receipt says you got 59.26 litres for $77.99.  Pretend that 59.26 is gallons, and it doesn’t hurt as bad.  At least, not for the first three fill-ups.  By the fourth, it’s lost some of its humor.  Also, I’ve realized that the exchange rate here does not work in my favor, restrooms are called washrooms (and you’ll get a strange look if you call them something else), and 100 kilometers per hour isn’t nearly as fast as it sounds.   Also, they don’t have guns here, and as a CPL-holder, that makes me slightly sad for them.  I’m tired, and I want to go home.  And shoot a gun…preferably at a 100 kph speed limit sign.  

As a final note, I want to thank everyone one more time for making this possibility a reality for this horse.  Without everyone that stepped up and helped, whether it was hauling at the last minute, providing stabling for him while his fate was in the works, veterinary care, networking and sharing his story, or making financial contributions towards this effort, it couldn't have happened without all of you.  Please know as you finish this blog: You ALL saved Luigi's life.  It wasn't just one or two people, it was a whole network of people that I can't even begin to list individually here.  Clearly, there ARE good horse-people out there, and thank you all for proving that to me.  



  2. Luigi is doing great! He's fit in with the other boys fine. Only problem is they're so fat they make him look skinny. He's eating and drinking fine and does love his carrots. I would also like to say Luigi will never go near a racetrack again and will have all the time he needs to heal. Lynn


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