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Horses of Unbridled: A birthday for Prince 

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By Susan Kayne

For Capital Region Independent Media

Prince, pictured, and his mother, Miss Ruud, are among the rescued horses of Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation. Contributed photo

On Jan. 1, Prince, a handsome chestnut colt who was born on April 4, 2022, officially became a yearling. He shares his birthday with 18,608 other Thoroughbred foals who were also born in 2022. 

Regardless of when a Thoroughbred is born, he or she will become one year older with the turn of each new year. The Jockey Club, the registrar of all Thoroughbreds, instituted the rule to group horses in races based on age.

When Prince entered this world, the special occasion marked the eighth time his mother (dam) gave birth. Her name is Miss Ruud. The foaling was uncomplicated. Prince emerged in perfect position inside of a silky amniotic sac. First, his front feet side-by-side, followed by the bump of his nose resting upon his knees. With a few more hard contractions his shoulders slid out along with a rush of fluids followed by the rest of his beautifully formed body. With a quiet confidence, Miss Ruud softly nickered and welcomed her masterpiece.

Within moments, his legs flailed and broke free of the covering that had protected and nourished his life for the previous 11 months. Wet and bright-eyed, baby Prince had arrived into the clearance of individuality. Miss Ruud licked and nuzzled him and encouraged him to stand. He quickly connected his primal instinct to get up with the newness of movement in an unrestricted space. Within 45 minutes he stood up, stretched up tall, and began to nurse. When satisfied, he nestled into a warm thick bed of straw. 

Ocean Knight, the father (sire) of Prince, is of regal heritage. He is a graded stakes-winning son of Curlin, a two-time national Horse of the Year. Curlin retired in 2008 as the highest North American money-winning racehorse with earnings over US$10.5 million. Both Ocean Knight and Curlin raced in the colors of Stonestreet Stable owned by the American billionaire Jess Jackson Jr. and his wife Barbara Banke.

Prince is the first-born colt under the banner of Unbridled. His life experience is that of kindness; a comfortable stall, gentle hands, and the support that he requires to flourish. Gracious eyes and skilled care meet the everyday needs of his emotional, mental and physical health. Prince is loved and protected; he is a very lucky colt.

In contrast to the life that Prince was born into, the world can be callous and extremely cruel to Thoroughbreds who are used in service to The Sport of Kings. Prince’s mother is a rescue horse. At just over a third of her natural lifespan and seven months pregnant, Miss Ruud, age 12, had been weighed, tagged and sorted for shipment to slaughter.

Malnourishment and neglect had weakened her to the point that she could barely lift her head. Her ribs protruded and her muscles had deteriorated in an effort to feed herself and her foal in utero. The Jockey Club confirmed that she was last bred to Ocean Knight on April 29, 2021, this meant she’d be due in early April – if she could hold onto her pregnancy.

Miss Ruud earned $39,502 while racing at five different racetracks. In the Winner’s Circle at Keeneland, dozens of smiling people flanked her side in celebration of her victory. After racing as both a two- and three-year-old for famed trainer Kenny McPeek, and prior to being abandoned, she gave birth to seven foals for multiple owners in Kentucky and Louisiana. She had done all that had been asked of her.

When no past connections stepped up to save Miss Ruud and her unborn foal, Unbridled stepped in and purchased their freedom. After a month in quarantine, a beleaguered Miss Ruud shipped to Greenville. With the peaceful rhythm of care in her new home, she settled in swiftly and began to recover her health, nourish her foal within, and reclaim her dignity.  

Miss Ruud is stunningly gorgeous. Her beautiful face is adorned with a wide white blaze, and her flawless legs are dressed in four very tall white socks. She is as striking as “The Pi” in National Velvet. With a glance, she and her son Prince will invite you to consider how such magnificent beings could ever be deemed so unworthy as to be discarded and butchered for meat.

Annually, over 80,000 horses are shipped out of America to be slaughtered. It is estimated that 20% of those killed are Thoroughbreds like Miss Ruud and Prince. Some people find the slaughter of horses a hard topic to talk about, but it’s not nearly as dangerous as what they are creating with their silence.

Columnist Susan Kayne operates Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation on the border of Greenville and Albany County.

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