By Susan Kayne
For Capital Region Independent Media
Elle Tempo is a 17-year-old Thoroughbred mare. She is coal black with a white crescent moon stretching sideways across her forehead. Her muzzle softens to a rich mahogany brown, and Picasso-like smatterings of white cuff her legs just atop her hooves.
Compared to a movie star, she would be Elizabeth Taylor. Splendid and gorgeous, she carries herself with the regality of the noble blood coursing through her veins.
Elle’s earliest memories can be likened to those of Black Beauty from his utopian youth: “The first place that I can well remember was a large, pleasant meadow with a pond of clear water in it. Some shady trees leaned over it, and rushes and water lilies grew at the deep end. Over the hedge on one side we looked into a plowed field, and on the other we looked over a gate at our master’s house …”
On Feb. 3, 2006, Elle’s dam (mother), Uhavethebeat, birthed her into this world atop a bed of golden straw at Charlotte Colket Weber’s iconic Live Oak Stud. Imbued with beauty and elegance, the newborn filly stepped into her life outside of the womb with confidence and grace.
Elle’s sire (father) is Eltish, a successful racehorse and stallion bred and owned by the late Prince Khalid bin Abdullah of Saudia Arabia. Eltish won graded stakes races in Britain and the United States and retired with earnings of $704,186. Elle’s maternal grandsire is the great Unbridled. In 1990, he won both the Kentucky Derby and the Breeders’ Cup. At the age of four he retired with earnings of $4,489,475.
As a home-bred of Weber, Elle was born into one of the most elite racing dynasties in America. Weber is the granddaughter of condensed soup inventor and Campbell Soup founder John T. Dorrance. A devoted equestrian, Weber owns and manages Live Oak Stud, a 4,500-acre Thoroughbred farm and commercial cattle operation just west of Ocala, Florida.
Since 1995, Weber has solely guided the fortunes of her Thoroughbred breeding and racing operation. In these past four decades, Live Oak Plantation’s distinctive black, red and white silks have become a nationally recognized racing symbol.
In 1998, Weber purchased Uhavethebeat as a yearling for $300,000 at the Keeneland Sales. The filly could not withstand the stress of training and did not race. At the age of three, she was bred to With Approval, the 1989 Canadian Horse of the Year and Champion. For the next eight years she was rebred and gave birth to beautiful foals for Weber. In 2009, pregnant for the last time, Weber sold Uhavethebeat through the same Keeneland Sales where their story had begun 11 years earlier.
Of Elle’s eight siblings, her elder brother, CAN’T BEAT IT, garnered the most success on the racetrack. He won graded stakes races in the silks of Live Oak and earned over $387,000.
Elle, like her mother, was sold as a yearling. She withstood training and went on to race 13 times in the colors of Denholtz Stable. Her lone victory came on the turf at the age of three under trainer Hamilton Smith at Colonial Downs in Virginia.
At the age of four, Elle retired to Kimberly Godwin Clark at Leighton Sport Horses to be trained for a “second career.” Tall, long-legged and balletic, Elle excelled in the discipline of dressage. Leighton showcased Elle’s exceptional talent in videos on You Tube. According to Clark, Elle was sound, talented, and adopted for a fee of $3,500.
Eight years post-adoption, on her 12th birthday, Elle was discovered in a slaughter-bound lot of horses in Pennsylvania. She was frightened, skinny and unkempt. It is a mystery how she landed in such a predicament, and alongside an elderly gelding named Grand Fashion who also raced under Hamilton Smith.
When Unbridled began fundraising to save Elle from shipping to slaughter, our loving supporters rallied the funds to also rescue her friend Grand Fashion. With care, nourishment and time, both horses reclaimed their health and regained their dignity.
Grand Fashion was adopted as a non-ridden companion horse, and Elle was rehomed to ride with a family in Massachusetts. Under tack, unsoundness plagued Elle. Whatever had happened to her, she could no longer tolerate a saddle.
In August 2019, Elle returned to the pastures of Unbridled. With her troubles over and travels far behind, she is enjoying the freedom and security of her life in sanctuary.
Elle Tempo is Spanish. It translates to SHE TIME in English — something Elle will have in abundance for the rest of her days at Unbridled.
Susan Kayne operates the horse rescue organization Unbridled Thoroughbred Foundation, on the border of Albany County and Greenville.