Suffolk Showcase horses bring joy to family

Jersey Moon and Athena

It was as if he knew.

At least that’s how it seemed to Denise Wetmore-Grey when she watched the interaction between her 8-year-old daughter and the racehorse Jersey Moon.

Athena, who’d been diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at birth, sat in a stroller curiously watching the bay brown gelding in his stall, and the horse didn’t break the gaze.

And when he found an opportunity to get closer to the child, into the stroller he went, his muzzle snuffling gently over her waiflike form, softly, to say hello.

Seeing it all was a turning point for Wetmore-Grey, her husband Chris and eventually their entire family, all of whom were about to feel joy again. It would ride into their lives on two lucky racehorses.

Jersey Moon, a quirky horse with a propensity to nod his head ‘yes’ at the slightest provocation, and Rough Shod Heir, a large reddish bay who can’t stand to get dirty and intensely dislikes stepping in water, would soon be on their way to Connecticut to work their magic on a family coping with illness.

Race name: Jersey Moon
Sire: Malibu Moon
Dam: Like Yesterday
Age: 7

Race name: Rough Shod Heir
Sire: Cutlass Fax
Dam: Geriano
Age: 6
The couple didn’t plan it this way. In fact, they promised themselves on the long drive up to Boston that they were merely coming to CANTER New England’s Suffolk Showcase to look, not buy.

But a few moments changed all that, as they stood in the sunshine, in the dusty pathways outside shedrows crowded with horses.

“Seeing Jersey stick his head inside our daughter’s stroller, really affected us,” she says. “When we watched Jersey putting his head on her, we were sold.”

The moment was especially poignant for her husband, she adds. “He just kept watching Jersey with Athena,” his heart lifting as the two became fast friends.

Rough Shod Heir all tacked up

Then, as Wetmore-Grey and their daughter admired Jersey, Chris noticed Rough Shod Heir in the next stall.

“He started petting Rough and the horse was all over him, super friendly, and so big and handsome,” she says. “It was all over for him at this point. He told me later that as soon as he met them, he just fell for them.”

So the couple drove back to Boston the next weekend and hauled away the two ex-racehorses who’d been offered for sale at the annual Suffolk Showcase, then sped back to a home and family about to burst with love for their new babies.

Everything improved soon after they arrived.

“Having a child with Cystic Fibrosis caused our family to be in a constant state of worry, and because I had no outlet to get rid of the stress, it crept into everything,” she says. “I worried all the time, and was pretty unhappy.”

Then she and her husband both discovered the calm that riding brings.

“It just settles you when you ride,” she says. “I get on and I feel the release of all this tension, a freedom from it.”

Jersey Moon and Chris

And her husband, who hadn’t ridden since was a boy, discovered the same thing.

“Now he rushes to the barn after work to ride Jersey. We were laughing at the barn the other day because he even rides in the rain,” she says. “Chris and I spend so much time together now, and we work as a team taking care of our horses.”

And on her good days, when Athena can come to the barn, Jersey rewards her with his special undivided attention. At the sound of her cough he materializes by her side, getting as close as he possibly can. “He’s totally sold on my daughter. He breaks his neck to get over to see her.”

And as Denise Wetmore-Grey tells it, “The best part is what these horses have done for our family.”

*The sixth annual Suffolk Showcase, offered by CANTER New England, takes place at Suffolk Downs on Oct. 23, from 9 a.m. to noon. Horses available for sale will be walked and trotted past spectators and buyers, and made available for closer  inspection.

10 responses to “Suffolk Showcase horses bring joy to family”

  1. Tom Coard


    My family onced owned Jersey Moon when he was a yearling and my 8yr old and 6yr old would visit him everyweek end. He aways perked up for the kids. I am glad to see he is back to his old tricks!

  2. TBDancer

    Forgot about the “nodding.” My OTTB will do that at the end of the lesson, usually ALWAYS after instructor has commented on what a good boy he was. The nodding makes everyone laugh, including me (and I’ve seen it many times ;o)

  3. Louise Ferro Martin

    I cannot truly express into words how this wonderful story makes me feel. If only more of the “non horse people” could read these incredible stories of the unconditional gift of love that ex thoroughbred race horses possess.

    I am so happy to see that this family has been touched by their magic. Congratulations! I know your lives will be forever changed!

    Thank you Canter and thank you Susan for helping to bring such awareness to the gifts one receives when an ex-racehorse enters their lives.

  4. KC

    This story is pure magic, and shows how much healing power horses have. I’m actually in tears reading about how much these 1,000 lb. blessings have helped a special family. Horses heal like nothing else.

    PS – Midnight used to “nod” when being asked a question…just like Jersey. A moment of lovely nostalgia for me. 🙂

  5. TBDancer

    These horses certainly know how to work their magic on us peeps–and in turn get some magic of their own.

    Excellent story!

  6. Ellen

    It is brilliant to hear stories like this! It is great to have a such a caring community like Suffolk Downs, people who work so hard to ensure the horses are placed in homes where they will be well cared for and appreciated. Thank you for all your effort!

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