I am proud to introduce rescued racehorse Charlie, who joined my family on September 21 – the first new addition since Greg and I brought horses Henry and Caroline home on June 21, 2014.
Charlie, who earned over $200,000 in his career racing as “Charlie’s Quest,” is a descendant of Secretariat and numerous great names in horse racing. 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.
Fortunately for Charlie, my friends at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) stepped in to rescue him before he met the sad fate of so many racehorses – dying on the track or being sent away to slaughter. And then I got the email from Ingrid Newkirk – would I consider being Charlie’s fairy godmother and providing him with a permanent home?
I thought back to the day in early 2014, when Ingrid first emailed Greg and me about adopting Henry – another ex-racehorse who had been registered with the name Root Beer Float – and his girlfriend Caroline, both of whom PETA had just rescued from neglect and starvation. Back then, I hesitated – we were not horse people, and this would be too steep a learning curve for us. Greg, however, made one of those bold gut decisions he made at many key junctures in his life: adopting these horses was the right thing to do, and we would find a way to rise to the challenge. Against all odds, this adoption not only worked out, but also left me with some of my fondest memories of life with Greg. This adoption also left me with some of my proudest recollections of the confident, capable, and compassionate person Greg was – qualities that led PETA to establish an annual animal rescue award in his memory.
This time, I did not hesitate in my response to Ingrid. Yes! I would be delighted to give Charlie a permanent home – subject to a successful in-person meeting, and subject to assurance from more experienced horse people that Charlie could successfully join Henry’s and Caroline’s herd. Well, the meeting exceeded my expectations: Charlie proved to be surprisingly sweet and responsive to me. And my horsey friends assured me that he could almost certainly integrate with my current two horses.
And so it was that Charlie came home to live with Henry and Caroline and me (plus my dogs Itchy and Marina, and my five cats). And as predicted, in these initial days, Henry and Caroline have been quite welcoming to their new herd member!
I can think of few better ways to honor Greg’s memory.
I can also think of few better ways to honor the memory of Simpsons producer Sam Simon, who had been a hero of Greg’s and mine. You see, in spring 2014, as Greg and I were preparing to adopt Henry and Caroline, Sam (who shared Greg’s birthday, and ultimately died just months before Greg) helped PETA with its first rescue of a Steve Asmussen horse – Valediction. At the time, Sam said he was rescuing Valediction for two reasons: “One is an animal is no longer being abused and two, people are finding out what horse racing really is.” Charlie is PETA’s second rescue of an Asmussen horse – and Sam Simon’s reasons for rescuing Valediction are among my key reasons for adopting Charlie.