From there, the wheels began turning--fast! Arrangements were made with Dara's trainer, and plans to pick her up on Thursday and pay him $1,000 cash quickly fell into place.
At 2:30am on Thursday morning, I awoke after a brief, restless night and drove to Urbana. From there, Lori and I drove her truck and trailer to Mountaineer Racetrack in West Virginia. It was 450 miles each way, and with the trailer in tow that meant a roughly eight hour trip one way.
We arrived at Mountaineer close to 3pm eastern time. I never met Dara's trainer--instead I worked with my contact at the track, another trainer. Money and paperwork exchanged hands, and then it was time to meet Dara in the flesh after watching her race for over three years.
When we first approached her stall, she appeared indifferent. But then I gave her the palm of my hand and she sniffed it. We then went into her stall and I haltered her then stroked her sleek neck, and she closed her eyes. I was so happy to finally have her in-hand.
We led her over to the trailer, and in doing so had to walk by the first turn of the track. Upon seeing it, she trotted a couple steps. You're not going there again, I thought. We loaded her in the trailer and by 3:30pm eastern time, we were on our way back to Illinois.
We stopped a few times on the way back to fuel up and check on Dara. She was a model traveler! We opened the window on the trailer each time to let her peek out, and I stood by her head and stroked her muzzle and head each chance I got.
Finally, we arrived at Lori's barn in Urbana at around 11:30pm central time. We unloaded Dara, made her stall space as comfortable as possible, and after watching her for a while we headed back to Lori's house to sleep. Despite the very long day and the knowledge I had to get up before 6am in the morning to head to Kentucky with my husband, I had a hard time falling asleep. So much had happened in the past 24 hours--it seemed almost unreal. But at the same time, a huge weight had been lifted upon my shoulders. Dara was safe.
Meeting Dara for the first time
Hanging out in the trailer
Dara spent Friday at Lori's barn, then on Saturday she was picked up by Christine of Teener Thoroughbreds. Since then she has been a pampered mare with Christine!
This Saturday, my husband and I are going to visit Dara--I can't wait! We will be sure to get a lot of photos.
Watch Dara get her first bath!
More photos on Teener Thoroughbred's blog