Robin Coblyn went to a lot of trouble for the fuzzy, bay colt with white socks.
Even before he was born, she took great pains finding the perfect winning racehorse to sire the little guy, ultimately choosing Domestic Dispute, who, in his heyday, won over $700,000 and fathered some pretty fancy offspring.
“There was a time when Domestic Dispute babies were selling for $150,000 and up,” Coblyn recalls. But, as luck would have it, the foals had dropped off the bloodstock radar shortly after her little guy was born.
Worse, the vagaries of life would compound early on for this gangly son, when, while still a suckling, he contracted Salmonella.
“He was born in April, and in the early fall 2008, he was so sick we thought we were going to lose him,” Coblyn recalls. The foal went to the hospital twice, first with his mother Rynot, for three days of treatment, and then again after spiking a high fever.
“He was so sick he couldn’t stand up. But, it was clear he wanted to hang on, that he hadn’t given up,” she says. “He kept eating and, so when I was asked if we should euthanize him, I’d say, ‘Lets go another day.’ After 10 days in intensive care, he turned a corner, and he came home with me.”
Race name: Four X The Trouble
New name: Tempyst
Sire: Domestic Dispute
Foal date: April 14, 2008For months afterward, she nursed her prized baby back to health, feeding him slippery elm bark and other supplements to support his intestinal lining, which had been impacted by the illness.
To the astonishment of veterinarian technicians who assisted him in his struggle for life, the colt grew into a “gorgeous yearling.”
“He thrived. They were amazed at the clinic!” Coblyn says.
She eventually registered her yearling with the Jockey Club as Four X The Trouble—“I don’t know why I gave him that name!” And, Gina Rosenthal, who spotted him at a yearling sale, snapped him up and put him into race training.
Coblyn never lost track of her special horse, though.
In fact, she pestered his new owner. She called. She phoned. She even placed the horse in her virtual stable to keep track of his works.
Four X The Trouble never did become a great racehorse, and when he sustained a mild canon bone fracture as a three-year-old, Coblyn stepped up and took him back to her farm for three months of rest and rehabilitation.
After the rest, he had a few more starts, and even won some races.
But last December Four X The Trouble got his lucky break.
Coblyn happened to meet Steuart Pittman, founder of the celebrated Retired Racehorse Training Project, and, before she could utter the words “new career” her horse was entered into a national contest that attracted tens of thousands of online viewers.
One of four ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds to be entered into Pittman’s Trainer Challenge, Four X The Trouble demonstrated that a horse taken fresh off the track could be retrained for a new career in just weeks.
Under the guidance of rider Kerry Blackmer, and less than a month since he’d run his last race, Four X The Trouble demonstrated lovely trot work and gamely hopped over jumps in a stadium jammed with thousands of onlookers.
Although he didn’t win the competition, he won the most important challenge.
He found a new home!
In March, he was purchased by Susan Trumpler of Maryland, and is well on his way to a new, happy life as a hunter/jumper.
Trumpler has taken him out on a local jumper derby and reports that he is “a doll.”
“We’re getting to know each other slowly,” she says, noting that she can already tell that he is a very “willing” partner.
And hearing this, Coblyn rejoices for the colt who had such a rough start in life.
“Shepherding a horse into a second career after racing really does ‘take a village’ of people to help,” Coblyn says. “But every success like this helps change the mindset that once they’re done racing, they’re done.”
They’re not done. They’re only just beginning.