By Elizabeth Wood.
The mission of Bits & Bytes Farm is to promote the Thoroughbred race horse as a sport horse. We assist sellers (of Thoroughbred race horses for sale) to find buyers who have the ability to transition these horses to new careers. We offer assistance and guidance to make sure the horses we sell are successfully placed. Our success stories are proof that Thoroughbred ex-race horses make great sport horses and family members.
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary.
This Bible verse spoke to my breaking heart today…
Once more a horse we sold has crossed the rainbow bridge to run free in heaven. This one may have been one of the most special ones. She came into a family’s life when they needed her most.
The mom was critically ill and the dad contacted me to help him find a horse to help his son escape the reality that he might lose his mom. The dad (Chuck) and mom (Carrie) had been professional dressage horse trainers at one time. Chuck fell in love with a beautiful black mare named Great Game on our website. He called to see if she might be a match for his son, Patrick, but we determined that Muchu was a better match. So the dad gave up the horse of his dreams to help his son cope with the mom being so sick. Patrick got Muchu but Chuck never forgot the black mare Great Game. He stayed in touch with me to see if we had found her a great home – we had not. And then God stepped in…
Months later, Chuck was still in love with the black mare he had first called about. The budget was tight with a sick mom so there was no money to purchase a second horse –even though they could afford to board one. The mare’s breeder, a former world class dressage rider for Canada, learned of this family’s story and donated the beautiful black mare to the family. A ride was arranged with a very special professional hauler who lives in the same state as this family. By coincidence, he was on his way to Lexington and had called us to see if we had any horses going back his way. He was returning empty and said he could give us a special price if we had a horse that needed a ride. The shipper gave the buyer a deal on the shipping the black mare Great Game! It was a match made in heaven. Everything fell into place and the mare was soon on her way to the family.
The dad and the son could now ride together and work on their dressage. The mom was able to come out to watch on her good days and it seemed to lift her spirits and gave her the will to live. The mom got better after discovering her disease was caused by a drug she was taking. Eventually, they purchased a third horse for mom from Bits & Bytes Farm – Absolute Charm.
As Andy Rooney used to say, “And now, the rest of the story…”
A few years later the dad suddenly died from a rare disease. Chuck’s black mare Great Game was sad and depressed and did not want to work with anyone else – not even the son Patrick. Carrie asked us to help Great Game find a home. We tried to place her but that was not in God’s plan for her. Great Game’s home was with the other two Bits & Bytes Farm horses and the family that mourned the loss of a great man and father. She was their last connection to the man who was the glue of the family and so Great Game remained unsold and unridden.
Two nights ago, at 2:32 am I found out we lost the beautiful black mare to colic. Her family did everything they could to save Great Game but when that was not enough, they sent her to be with Chuck in heaven.
This is from the mom’s Facebook page:
“We buried Chuck’s beautiful black Thoroughbred Great Game this morning at Triple D Stables and we have to believe she is with Chuck. He loved her so much and she was such a part of our lives, I still can’t believe she is gone. We were surrounded by caring friends and riders all day yesterday as we tried so hard to save her. She missed Chuck, l would watch her staring at the stable entrance and knew she expected him to be there with us.
At the end when she went down all her pasture mates lined up quietly along the fence separating the ring where she was and just stood quietly there. Then they all quietly filed away to stand by the barn leaving Muchu and Absolute Charm there alone. They stayed there until it was all over and long afterward. l believe these horses were family to this beautiful girl and will help my and Patrick’s heart to heal. Horses are wonderful creatures and only God could have sent them to us.
Ride like the wind, be free and know we loved you Game.”
Why did this Bible verse resonate with me so strongly?
I too know the pain of losing a horse. I have lost many. This verse says “mount up with wings like eagles.”
I lost With Wings, my special mount, to a lightning strike several years ago. It hit me so hard that I buried my pain and pushed on harder to find homes for Thoroughbreds. I never announced his death because I could not cope with people telling me they were sorry. It was about two years later before I realized that I had been depressed and joyless. It took another special horse to pull me up and allow me to feel the joy of riding again.
Lightning killing a horse is rare but it does happen. Lighting striking and killing the brother of a horse that has been killed by lightning has to be really rare… but that is what happened to With Wings’ brother, Reign Day.
Reign Day had come to Bits & Bytes Farm straight from the track to begin his sport horse training for his new owner. We documented his six weeks from race track to hunter pace in Reign Day’s Training Diary. It was because of Reign Day that I purchased his brother With Wings for myself. Reign Day had several owners over the years and ended up being well loved and living in Florida when he was struck by lightning last year.
You might wonder if I am rambling on about unrelated horses and tragedies…but I am not. The black mare Great Game was the dam of my special boy Saint Lawrence (aka ‘da Baby’) and Running Tall (aka ‘Atticus’) who are both still living at Bits & Bytes Farm. Great Game, Saint Lawrence, With Wings, Reign Day and With Wings sister, Absolute Charm (the horse mom got for herself) are all from the same wonderful breeder in Lexington, KY.
Horses Connect Us to Each Other
So, you see we are all one interrelated family connected by horses. The death of any horse is tragic but for me, knowing that the Thoroughbreds we placed were loved until the end makes the tough days bearable. As a family, we share the pain of the loss and help each other to get through this sad time. I will visit the breeder’s farm this weekend and take photos of the babies that maybe one day we will find homes for. Life goes on even when your heart is breaking.
And so today I “will mount up with wings like eagles” and thank God that these horses found love and a purpose after racing. Please share this story with others who have lost a special horse and say a prayer for the horses we no longer have and for the people who loved them until the end… Chuck, I hope you and Great Game are galloping across the heavens – together again!
Elizabeth Wood is the owner of Bits and Bytes Farm. Too many Thoroughbred race horses are going to slaughter or are not finding second careers after racing. Bits & Bytes Farm is a source of information for people helping ex-race horses transition to a new career as a sport horse or family horse. We work with breeders, owners and trainers of Thoroughbred race horses to find them second careers with people who have the knowledge and experience to help these horses to be successful. We follow the horses we sell and publish their success stories.
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