Monday, August 6, 2012

Dara--the happy conclusion

I was out of town all of last week and arrived home Saturday. Our visit included trips to Belmont Park and Saratoga, and the experience at both tracks was out of this world. I will post photos later in the week!

In the meantime, I need to post a much-needed update on Dara.

Early in July, I was interviewed over email by Marcus Hersh of the Daily Racing Form. Hersh had caught wind of Dara's retirement and thought it a story worth telling. I was flattered and happy to cast light upon this wonderful old warrior of a mare. He warned me that the story may only be a blurb, although he would push for it to be longer.

In the meantime, Christine (of Teener Thoroughbreds) and I continued our search for the right home for Dara. On July 19, a family consisting of a woman and three daughters visited Dara. The oldest girl, age 16, and her mom had been following Dara's story from the start. It dawned upon them that they would be the right home for her. They had some older OTTBs, and the one the oldest girl had been riding was getting up in years. At the same time, her riding skills were advancing and she was ready for a greener horse. Over the course of two years, in her mind's eye, she began to envision herself riding a chestnut mare named Dharma.

The visit went as perfectly as it could go, and the family was officially in love with Dara. I interviewed the prospective owner on Facebook to get a feel for her, her experiences, and her plans for Dara. She provided references to Christine. I googled the prospective owner. Everything checked out, and I had a great feeling while interviewing her. It just felt right, for lack of better words. I remembered telling Christine a few weeks prior that Dara was the kind of horse that would love being fussed over by young girls, and now that statement was coming true for her.

One by one the pieces of the puzzle, which had once seemed scattered far and wide, began to fall into place for Dara. I went from searching for pasture boarding for Dara and staring at my budget, trying to estimate how long I could afford to board two horses, to crying at work because I knew Dara had found her home.

I cried out of happiness, gratitude, sadness, and everything in between. From the very start, I hadn't allowed myself to become emotional. I had been so sure that I would tear up when Lori and I retrieved Dara from Mountaineer, but I didn't. Each time we had cleared one hurdle, all I could think was "Okay, one down, how many more to go?" By my personal nature, I am very guarded with my emotions.

But now, with Dara finding her home at long last, everything came tumbling out.

We made plans to trailer Dara (now named Dharma) to her new home on Friday, July 27. Fittingly, on Thursday July 26 (my wedding anniversary), the story on Dara by Hersh was released online.

Retired racehorses: One fan does her part to find mare a home, by Marcus Hersh

I was blown away by how lengthy and thorough the story was. It was a timely tribute, and I hope it inspires other folks to take a chance on a racehorse--whether it's a horse they are following on the track that clearly needs a second career, an already-retired horse awaiting adoption, or a well-trained, older retiree that needs a new home.

Doing all this for Dara was one of the hardest things I've ever done, but I wasn't alone. I couldn't have done it without the help of countless people: my husband, Christine, Lori (and her hard-working truck), Jackie E., Mary J., my parents, the many people that bought jewelry from me while I was fundraising, and countless others.

Driving away from Woodstock Equestrian

Stepping off the trailer at the new home

Welcome home, Dharma

Checking out her new indoor arena

Dharma and proud new owner

Dharma and I saying goodbye (but not forever) Photo by Daisy Austin


Michelle in Michigan said...

Congrats on the ending to a great story. Thank goodness there are people out there like you to rescue these beautiful animals. I hope Dharma has a great life with her new family and I hope you can help more in the future.

ashleynovalinski said...

I'm so happy she's found my friend as her owner! She will be great for her as they both grow together. She is the same age I was when I got my mare and my mare was the same age and she's the same age as Dharma :) she'll get to experience everything I have and I'm sure more. :) so happy they found each other