Henry horse, age 24, passed away June 14, 2022 at Franklin Hill Farm in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, where he spent the last 16 months with me and my other rescued horses, Charlie and Caroline.
Henry’s life story inspired Greg’s commitment to racehorse rescue during his final years — and then inspired me to carry on that commitment after Greg’s death.
Foaled on March 10, 1998 at Frances A. Genter Stable in Kentucky, Henry was originally named Root Beer Float. He ran 52 races between April 2001 and February 2006, winning seven and earning a total of $110,000.
His first racing year was spent on the west coast at Emerald Downs Casino & Racetrack in Washington State, and the now-closed Bay Meadows Racetrack and Golden Gate Fields in California.
Next, “Root Beer” was shipped to Mountaineer Casino & Racetrack in West Virginia, where he remained for 3-1/2 years from March 2002 to October 2005, racing there 32 times. Although “Root Beer” escaped significant injury during that period, the Mountaineer track is known for generally callous treatment of horses – such as dumping the deceased horse Bridget Moloney in a landfill after she earned $389,748 in six years of racing and then abruptly and mysteriously died.
“Root Beer” spent his last racing year at Ohio’s Beulah Park, before the Ohio chapter of the Communication Alliance to Network Thoroughbred Ex-Racehorses (CANTER) purchased him in March 2006 as part of their mission to “provide retiring Thoroughbred racehorses with opportunities for new careers.”
There is no record of where “Root Beer” went after that – until the April 2014 day when PETA fieldworkers found him, together with a mare of unknown background, abandoned and starving in a rural North Carolina field. The fieldworkers identified him from a lip tattoo that all Thoroughbred racehorses receive, and then quickly took steps to seize the two horses and arrange for veterinary treatment and temporary foster care.
Meanwhile, Ingrid Newkirk contacted Greg and me, knowing that we had recently purchased our rural Virginia property with an unused barn.
“You know that I will never hesitate to feel out the prospects for additions to your family,” she wrote, “and I must ask you if two horse friends who we just rescued from starvation are a forever possibility. They are vegetarians of course, and birds and deer all love and feel safe around horses! Just a thought, in case you are up for this. Otherwise, forgive me. I have to try as finding good homes for horses is tough.”
Knowing that the two horses had few options, Greg was determined that we would adopt them, despite our very limited horse experience. We named them Henry and Caroline — and somehow, against the odds, Greg and I made the adoption work.
After Greg’s October 2015 death, Henry and Caroline brought me so much solace and pride that in September 2016 I adopted another PETA rescue horse named Charlie, who had been drugged and raced for years despite his injuries.
In the ensuing years, I continued to care for these three horses on my own — first on the Virginia farm where Greg and I had lived together, then in Maryland, and ultimately in Pennsylvania.
Henry’s liver began to fail in 2021 — probably a result of performance-enhancing drugs administered during his racing career — and his vet worked with me to support him, while assuring me that Henry would tell me when he was ready to go.
Finally on the evening of June 13, 2022, Henry told me — and the vet came the next morning to give him a comfortable transition to the great pasture in the sky.
While I always used my personal funds to cover living expenses for Henry as well as my two surviving horses Charlie and Caroline, these three horses inspired the Greg Fund’s major support for campaigns to end cruelty toward all equines and particularly racehorses.
Your donation to the Greg Fund in Henry’s memory will help end the abuse and neglect of other horses like him.