This week, a horse-rescue proprietor with a glass-half-full personality reaped the benefits of all her positive thinking —about horse racing and its stewards—when a first-rate racing family stepped up and built a 20-stall barn for her nonprofit Remember Me Rescue.
On March 19, the final touches were completed on a state-of-the-art facility built by Midwest Thoroughbreds owners Richard and Karen Papiese for the optimistic champion of OTTBs, Donna Keen.
The couple, who were honored as the 2011 Eclipse Award finalists for Outstanding Owners, took the remarkable step after reaching out to Keen to express sympathies last July following the loss of one of her rescue mares to colic. When Keen announced to her Facebook audience that the mare was euthanized, Richard Papiese saw her message, and picked up the phone.
Immediately, he pledged $10,000 to the horse-rescue center, but before he hung up the phone, he then offered to build Keen a barn.
Good to his word, the lumber and work crews arrived in February, and last week, the long structure with shedrow and perfectly comfortable stalls, was in place.
“It’s so beautiful,” Keen says. “What can I say? It’s just amazing.”
Beyond its beauty, it will offer utility.
Keen is now better equipped to assist with large-scale horse rescues. In the past, she readily offered support for at-risk OTTBs, but often lacked the shelter for the animals. As a result, many stood in outdoor paddocks, hot in the summer, and cold in the winter.
The new facility protects from all that, and is built to withstand hurricane winds, she adds.
“Mr. Papiese designed the barn to be like his Ocala, Florida,” she notes.
The first inhabitant of the barn is 30-year-old ex-racehorse Yeah Me Do, the oldest living California bred racehorse, she says.
Yeah Me Do is completely white, missing some teeth, and is the grand old man of the facility. It was only fitting that he be led in first, she says.
“We were having our picture taking in the new barn, and I swear he was hugging me with his head,” Keen says.
Always quick to point out the big-hearted help she gets from horsemen in the Thoroughbred industry, Keen is bowled over by this show of generosity.
“We are super thankful for this,” she says in an earlier article by OffTrackThoroughbreds.com. “I’ve told people we’d be happy with a tent. I was keeping horses outside in little paddocks. They got wet when it rained, and were so hot in the sun that we had to bathe them three times a day.
“Thanks to Rich and Karen Papiese, our horses will have a solid roof over their heads, and Remember Me Rescue will be able to take in more horses in the future.”