By Susan Kayne
For Capital Region Independent Media
Once upon a time, for real, in the world of horse racing, there was a valiant and spirited Thoroughbred named Steve’s Adventures. Born on “Earth Day,” the 22nd of April in 2011, this magnificent steed was destined for greatness from the very beginning. His journey, however, would take him through twists and turns that no one could have predicted.
Steve’s Adventures began his racing career with enthusiasm and vigor. He was a true champion, winning eight races and earning over $133,000 in prize money. His elegant grace and competitive spirit captured the hearts of many, and he gained a devoted following of fans who cheered for him with unwavering loyalty.
But life in the racing world is not always as glamorous as it seems. Despite his victories, Steve’s Adventures faced his share of challenges. An injury during one of his races required pins and screws to be placed in his lower leg, but even this setback couldn’t deter his determination to win. He made a remarkable comeback and continued to shine on the track.
However, despite his proven loyalty and generous heart, Steve was betrayed. After his racing career ended, he found himself in the hands of someone who promised to give him a loving home. Tragically, that promise was broken, and Steve was reduced to a mere shadow of his former glory. His once-majestic frame was reduced to skin and bones, and he ended up in a horse meat broker’s pen.
Weighed, tagged and sorted for slaughter, Steve’s life was diminishing before his eyes, and he had no power to do anything about it.
When Unbridled learned of Steve’s dilemma and imminent death, our community of supporters leapt into action to raise the funds to save Steve. On the fateful day of May 19, 2018, Unbridled purchased Steve’s Adventures. He emerged from the broker’s lot, forlorn, skeletal and in terrible condition. But hope dawned on the horizon, and his journey to redemption had just begun.
Steve needed special attention to recover from his ordeal. Unbridled entrusted his quarantine period to the loving care and skilled hands of Cindy Noll. It is imperative to quarantine horses for at least 30 days, preferably 60 to 90. Before arriving at the broker’s lot, these horses often go through a series of auctions where they come into contact with various diseases and contagious conditions. To prevent the spread of illness to healthy horses, it’s essential to keep them in quarantine for a designated time span.
Under Cindy’s watchful eye, Steve’s Adventures slowly started to regain his strength. He was groomed, well-fed, and given the care he desperately needed.
The transformation was nothing short of miraculous. His emaciated body began to resemble that of a horse once more, and his spirit, though dimmed, was still burning deep within.
Steve’s recovery came in waves; Cindy’s compassion had rekindled the spark in his eyes. Despite the hardships he had endured, Steve’s Adventures remained a true Thoroughbred; he was raring to run about despite the poor condition of his body. In every step of his recovery, he stood as a testament to the resilience and heart of these magnificent creatures.
Once he regained his health, Steve joined the herd of “rescues” at Unbridled to prepare for adoption. His future was about to take another pivotal turn. Kelly Evans, an inexperienced rider with a heart full of love for horses, stumbled upon Steve’s story on the internet. She was captivated by his spirit, and by the sparkle in his eyes that hinted at his inner champion.
Kelly reached out to me, expressing her deep desire to meet Steve. When they finally met, it was clear that there was a connection, a bond that transcended words. Kelly had fallen in love with Steve at first sight, and Steve seemed to sense that he had found his true companion.
However, there were challenges to overcome. Steve was a hot-blooded former racehorse, full of energy and fire. Kelly was an inexperienced rider, and it was clear that Steve needed someone who could handle his spirit, especially as he continued to regain his full strength. My head told her that it might not be a good idea to pair these two, but my heart knew that there was something undeniably special between Kelly and Steve.
In lieu of an adoption fee, I made a heartfelt request to Kelly. I asked her to take regular lessons to build a strong and safe relationship with Steve. Kelly wholeheartedly agreed and began taking lessons with her trainer, Jules Therese. Jules soon became a treasured friend of Unbridled, and the bond between Kelly and Steve deepened.
Through hard work, dedication, and a whole lot of love and patience, Kelly and Steve’s relationship flourished. They had many lessons together, and the synergy between them grew into a bonded trust. They safely celebrated trail rides and gallops across the meadow, living life to the fullest.
Unbridled Sanctuary often has a dozen or so horses ready for adoption at any given time. But what made Steve and Kelly’s story special was the dedication they both showed to building a successful relationship. Steve, despite his past as a racehorse, yearned for a purposeful life under saddle, and Kelly was determined to learn how to ride and provide him with the fulfilling life he deserved.
Adopting a horse is a significant commitment, one that involves understanding the horse’s perspective, investing time, money, effort and emotional labor, and creating an environment in which both horse and human can thrive. Kelly and Steve’s journey was a testament to what can be achieved when love and dedication come together, under the guidance of a compassionate, patient and skilled trainer.
Steve’s Adventures had been through hell after his racing career, but he had regained his pride, his body, and his spirit. He continues to thrive, living his best life every day, safe and protected, thanks to Kelly, who cherishes him as a family member and her true love, her Valentine for all time.
As Valentine’s Day approaches, let us all be inspired by Steve’s Adventures and Kelly’s unwavering love. Consider opening your heart to a horse in need, just like Kelly did, and experience the joy of finding your Valentine for all time in the heart of a rescued horse.
Susan Kayne is the founder and president of Unbridled Sanctuary, an equine rescue on the border of Albany County and Greenville.