Life is funny sometimes. People and animals, in this case, come into our lives and change them forever. This isn’t just another story about a rescue horse, this is the story of how the horse rescued me. The story of the person I had to become, the things I had to lose and overcome, but in order to understand all of this, let's go back to January of 2017.
I have been working in the race horse industry since 2013, during the winter of 2016-2017 I was working at a training facility in southern Utah in a little town called Hurricane. I had fallen in love with this town and everything about it. Hurricane, Utah is located at the base of Zion National Park, it’s a little Valley that had amazing views of the beautiful mountains.The winters are pretty mild so the mornings were cool and crisp while the afternoons were perfectly warm. Basically a horseman's dream.
In the beginning of January, my boss had sent a new crop of horses. Some of them were babies needing to be broke while others were older horses coming back from a layoff, but one in particular caught my eye. This is the first time I saw Gold Cay. She was this mangy, skinny, sad looking horse. There was just no life to her, oh and she was dead lame in her front feet. My boss at the time had an operation out of Arizona, California and Utah so he was never around. I called him and asked what the deal was with her. He explained to me that she was a three year old from Minnesota who had raced twice during her two year old year. She was training at a large stable where they had become frustrated with her because she wasn’t wanting to switch her leads. The owners and trainer had decided that she wasn’t worth the headache or trouble so they sent her to Utah with my boss. They had thought that she was just never trained to switch her leads and wanted her to go back to the basics.
I explained to my boss that before we did anything we needed to address her feet problems she so clearly had. For weeks I had worked on her feet, thinking it was just some abscesses trying to come through. Nothing was making her better so I made the decision to xray her feet. This revealed she had less than a half inch of space between her sole and coffin bone which was causing her coffin bone to chip off and would eventually start rotating. The vet said over time these chips would absorb and she would be okay, but never would race again. I relayed the message to her owners and they decided she really wasn't worth the trouble and wanted rid of her quick. So quick they just wanted to give her away for free.
For the next few days I thought long and hard about this horse. I had come to really like her, I saw potential, I saw a horse that just needed a chance. She just needed someone to give her the benefit of the doubt. In a lot of ways, I saw myself in this horse. We were both a little damaged and just in need of some love, attention, but more importantly, just needed a chance. She didn’t get the attention she needed from this large stable and just got lost in the fog. There is a stigma about horse racing that sends a negative message and unfortunately she fell into this stigma. I decided that I wanted to give her the chance she deserved. I told my boss that I would take her, I couldn’t bear to see her end up somewhere she shouldn’t. I couldn’t forgive myself if she ended up going to slaughter. This began my journey with Gold Cay, Goldie, and later known as Haven.
I spent a lot of time with Goldie, worked closely with a farrier to get her feet under control and I put her on a high protein, high fat diet. We ended up putting some pads on her feet to help add some cushion, and relieve the pressure. After several months, she had gained about 150 pounds had finally started to look healthy and her feet were feeling much better. This horse was not the same horse as several months ago. This horse was energetic, happy, healthy looking and was ready to have a job again. I started her back into training, she LOVED it. For the first time in a while she wasn’t hurting, she was switching her leads, and every morning was so excited and antsy to get to work. Goldie was so happy, my exercise rider said we needed to put a ring bit on her because she was getting too tough to gallop around the track. I was extremely proud of myself. At this point I had worked for several trainers and had only dreamed about the day that I could train my own horses. Working for several trainers I had the opportunity to learn so much and take away from different trainers the things I liked and disliked about each program. It was finally my turn to do things my way.
As we got further into spring, my boss had come to visit. I had brought Goldie around the barn to the walker, she was such a different horse, my boss didn’t even recognize who she was. She was training so good I decided that I wanted to go to Arapahoe Park in Colorado to get my trainers license. So I did. I got my trainers license and ran her several times. She run pretty good considering her past, but she just wasn’t quite fast enough. I had to pretend her two year old racing career didn’t happen and pretty much start from scratch. Which wasn’t a problem, she just really didn’t show much of a competitive interest.
Although I was living my dream of training my own horse, things were not going right. I was in the middle of an emotional and financial crisis, what I had hoped to be the best summer of my life turned out to be the worst. My financial situation got worse and I lost everything. My truck, every single thing that I owned. All of my childhood memories, my keepsakes from along the way. All gone. I didn’t know what to do. I had reached out to a friend who agreed to take her to Wyoming to continue running her. I couldn’t go with for many different reasons but, I had a job offer that ended up taking me to Indiana. I felt awful sending her away, but I had thought she’ll be okay, I know she’ll get taken care of and I don’t have to worry. I know this next part sounds silly. But the morning she left, wrapped my arms around her neck and promised I would come back for her. Our story wasn't over yet, and told her I was sorry. That was the last time I saw her for almost two years.
During the winter of 2017 she stayed at a family members home. She was turned out in a pasture with a cow named Bear. They became best friends and definitely didn't like to be without one another. In March of 2018 this is where Anne and Baier of Brave Sky Ranch came into our lives. I had recently found out I was pregnant and was completely unsure of where the next year of my life was going to go. I had a lot of hard decisions to make, at the end of the day I was going to be a mother. I lived in Indiana and my horse was in Idaho. I decided that because of my situation, it was in my best interest to sell Goldie. I absolutely hated the idea of getting rid of her, with her being at my family's house there was still the possibility of getting her back. But selling her, that would have been the end of our story. Well I did it anyways. I posted an add and had many people reaching out in interest. None of them seemed right, until Brave Sky Ranch. They told me some of their background, told me about their farm, but more importantly said she would be loved and at her forever home. We made the deal and Goldie was at her forever home with Brave Sky Ranch. They had renamed her to Haven. I cried and cried when they told me her new name. In so many ways Goldie was my Haven. My Safe Haven. She was always there for me on my bad days, when I couldn't bear another day, another heartache. Haven was so fitting for her gentle soul. Anne had posted a picture on instagram of their beautiful red barn after a rainstorm. There was a big rainbow in the background, and at that moment is where I felt peace in my decision to sell Goldie to them.
Over the next year Brave Sky Ranch and I had stayed in touch about Haven. Due to unforeseen circumstances they could no longer keep Haven. They had asked if I wanted her back. Without a second thought, I jumped on the opportunity to get my girl back. Over the last year I had thought many times about asking if I could get her back. I had thought though that I didn't deserve to get her back, I had her and I blew it. I should have done more to work at keeping her in my life. This moment was finally here, I got my girl Haven back. I got my Goldie back.
Life is funny sometimes. Things fall apart so other things can fall together. People come into our lives for so many different reasons. Brave Sky Ranch came into my life at a time when I truly needed them the most. They took such good care of my horse at a time when I was both financially and physically unable to. This story is such an important one in my life. It has taught me that sometimes we have to lose absolutely everything, even ourselves, to gain everything. I did lose everything in my life, for a while I wasn't sure it was something I could recover from.
Today I am a mother to a beautiful daughter, a partner to the most amazing man and father, and we have such a bright future ahead of us. We now have four beautiful horses, one dog and one cat. I had to lose everything, even Goldie, to gain my wonderful family. I am forever grateful to Anne and Baier for coming into my life and caring for Goldie when I couldn't, but more importantly I am grateful they gave me the opportunity to get her back.