(Photos by Irene Abdou Photography)
Greg and I were active with many animal protection causes during our life together – and in the two years since his death, I have channeled my grief into redoubling my work for animals. The single biggest step I took, in spring 2016, was establishing this Fund in Greg’s memory. My second biggest step, on September 21, 2016, was adopting rescued racehorse Charlie – the first animal I adopted on my own.
Greg and I had rescued almost 20 animals together. For most of this time, we stuck to cats and dogs – but in 2014, we took the leap of adopting Henry and Caroline, two abused horses rescued by PETA. This adoption left me with some of my proudest recollections of the courageous and compassionate person my late husband was – qualities that led PETA to establish a Gregory J. Reiter Animal Rescue Award in his memory.
PETA’s Animals in Entertainment – Cruelty in Horseracing Project, which I began supporting soon after establishing the Greg Fund, began monitoring Charlie early in his racing career. A descendant of Secretariat and numerous great names in horse racing, he earned over $200,000 racing as “Charlie’s Quest”. Despite this elite pedigree, Charlie was raced repeatedly with insufficient rest – and with treatments apparently designed to mask rather than repair injuries. During a key period in Charlie’s racing career, he was owned and trained by Steve Asmussen, who was recently inducted into the Racing Hall of Fame with more racing violations than any other inductee.
When it became clear by mid-2016 that Charlie was at imminent risk of breaking down on the track, PETA rescued him, began providing rehabilitative care – and reached out to me about adding him to my family. I immediately said ‘yes’, knowing that this was something Greg would want me to do.
My first two horses Henry and Caroline were quite welcoming – and in fact, they quickly seemed to accept Charlie as their new herd leader! These days, Charlie spends his days grazing with Henry and Caroline, and running in a large pasture – but only when he wants to run.
I am so immensely proud that in memory and honor of Greg, I have been able to turn Charlie’s life around.