A gift from Papiese family: a 20-stall barn opens

Donna Keen gets a hug from Yeah Me Do. Photo by Terri Cage Photography

Donna Keen gets a hug from Yeah Me Do. Photo by Terri Cage Photography

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.

Aren't we fancy?

Aren’t we fancy? Photo by Terri Gage Photography

“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.

Donna Keen's husband rides beneath their new shedrow

Donna Keen’s husband Dallas rides beneath their new shedrow. Photo by Terri Cage Photography

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.”

14 responses to “A gift from Papiese family: a 20-stall barn opens”

  1. Delrene Sims

    The barn is just beautiful in these pictures. Thanks to all involved for making this happen for these beautiful equines. It just is so heartwarming to know there are caring folks that help make the world a safer place for these beautiful deserving horses. High hoof “Yeah Me Do!” Glad you got the first stall! You deserve it.

  2. K. Kladstrup

    Richard & Karen, Donna & Dallas: Thank you for making this world a little bit better, and for making a world of difference in the lives of some equines. Your story in an inspiration.

  3. Gloria Stagmer

    Thank you to all involved. These horses deserve a chance to continue there lives. We all know the alternative. Bless all of you. Gloria from WI

  4. Kathryn Baker

    To Donna and the Papiese family,you are all great examples of horsemen and women. Thank you so much for the compassion and care for OTTB’s.

  5. Ann Taylor

    Totally FANTASTIC!! To Richard & Karen, Donna & Dallas — and all your 4-footed ones: may angels watch over you! We all salute you!

  6. Dannielle Marturana

    Thank you for your dedication, Donna, and for your heart, Richard and Karen Papiese.

  7. JB

    This is amazing! Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you all!

  8. TBDancer

    “Good stewards” come in all sizes and shapes and do many different things to keep these amazing horses “fat and sassy” and learning a new career. Another great story, Susan!!

  9. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    A very nice thing to do.

  10. Sally

    This is so fantastic, Sue, thank you for this inspiring story – YAY!

  11. Cynthia Hahn

    No one is more deserving than Remember Me Rescue!!! You guys do a great job! I wish I lived closer so I could be part of the magic of transforming a horse!

  12. MaryAnn Myers

    Awesome!!!!! Heartfelt thanks to everyone involved!!

  13. Maureta Hebron Ott

    What an uplifting story! Congratulations to Donna and 10 cheers to the
    Papiese family! Thank you Susan, for sharing this incredible story.

  14. Kimberly Bench

    So great to see people within the race industry demonstrate their true love of these amazing horses. The cause of ‘after track life’ for OTTBS is very near and dear to my heart and I applaud any efforts to assist them into their new lives!

Leave a Reply