Happy 14th Birthday, Charlie!

After losing four of my rescued animal companions to illness in the last year, I am celebrating the spring birthdays and adoption anniversaries of six who are still with me.

April 11 is Charlie’s day – his 14th birthday!

“Charlie‘s Quest,” as he was initially known, was bred for the racing industry – with Secretariat and Man o’ War among his progenitors. Between January 2012 and July 2016, he ran 45 races at 12 tracks in 9 states. Initially a top finisher at tier 1 tracks, he ended his “career” at lower tier tracks, where they repeatedly ran him, despite obvious fetlock injuries and consecutive last-place finishes.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) rescued Charlie from his last track in Pennsylvania, fearing that he was on the verge of a fatal breakdown. After several weeks at an equine veterinary facility near Harrisburg, Charlie came to me in September 2016 — joining my other former racehorse Henry, and Caroline with background unknown, at our then-home in Virginia.

PETA’s blog and video Who Rescued Whom? told the story of how Charlie and I came together.

In spring 2017 we moved to a new farm in Maryland; then in winter 2021 we all moved again to the Pennsylvania region where Charlie and I had first met. What hasn’t changed, through three homes and more than six years, is that Charlie is a retired pasture companion — spending most of his days grazing as horses evolved to do, and running only when he wants to run.

2022 was a difficult year. We lost Henry horse to illness at age 24, leaving Caroline as Charlie’s sole surviving herd mate. At almost the same time, Charlie’s fragile hooves began to fail, and he was diagnosed with potentially life-threatening founder. Thankfully, he has made an almost total recovery – thanks largely to Daisy Haven Farm‘s holistic hoof care program.

As part of this program, Charlie is now under orders to keep his weight down and his hooves dry – which means more time than he would like to spend in the barn, particularly on rainy days. Otherwise, however, Charlie continues to enjoy a normal horse life!

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