A year after one-time Breeders’ Cup contender Pulsion wobbled off a rescue van at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital suffering from emaciation and infection, and following unstinting help provided by generous people who paid his vet bills and donated care at a layup facility, the horse who suffered extreme peaks and valleys in his young life is on the upswing—and headed to his first horse show.
Next weekend, a young Florida nurse will ride Pulsion at the Punta Gorda Horsemen’s Association schooling show, in the hunter/jumper division.
“I got Pulsion a month and a half ago, and everyone who sees him is just amazed at how well he’s doing,” says Devonne Collins, an ER nurse living near Ft. Myers. “I teach him one thing in a lesson, and by the next lesson, he has it down. My coach says he’s going to be outthinking me soon!”
Foal date: Feb. 14, 2007
Earnings: $194,340In all the lessons he must have learned while riding the highs as a 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile contender, and later the lows while starving in a Kentucky field, Pulsion’s will to live, and kindhearted way of dealing with people, never failed him, according to the women who worked to save him during his darkest hour.
Diana Baker, an at-large member of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance who facilitated his rescue and transport to Rood & Riddle last November, says that though he was three-legged lame, suffered from a coffin bone infection and had a body score of 2, the once-great racehorse never bit, and seemed to visibly brighten when someone showed a small kindness to him during intake at the veterinarian hospital.
“One of the most moving things happened the morning we got to the Rood & Riddle hospital. I was standing with the vets and techs, and somebody asked if it was okay to give him a carrot. As soon as he heard the carrot snap, he cocked his head, and a spark seemed to come back to him,” Baker says. “The whole look on his face changed, and even the vet noticed; it was as though he suddenly realized he was someplace safe.”
Baker notes that Pulsion’s original owners thought they had safely re-homed the racehorse, but after a placement situation went wrong, Pulsion eventually found himself in good hands again.
Following surgery by Dr. Raul Bras and about a week’s stay at the hospital, others stepped forward to help the fallen soldier of racing.
Upon hearing about Pulsion’s tragic situation, Linda Caddel, a longtime horseman who owns the Caddel Equine Therapy Center, which is situated within a quick drive to the hospital, offered to take him in and provide all his care and feed.
She would accept no payment.
“I was so angry that a horse who had been in the Breeders’ Cup could be allowed to get in that condition, and felt we all need to be outraged by this,” Caddel says. “I hung his picture from the Breeders’ Cup in our office and told everybody … that it was important for us to step forward” to help.
And colleagues at her equine facility, and friends all around, responded in kind.
Dr. Ashley Craig of Hagyard Equine Medical Institute in Kentucky provided free dental care and Christine Carroll, a board member of Thoroughbred nonprofit Florida TRAC, which was on standby to take him in once he was fit to travel, paid for his surgery and transportation costs.
Says Carroll, “Dr. Raul Bras of Rood & Riddle did an excellent job with Pulsion. He was in the hospital for about a week, and when he was ready to come out, he had nowhere to go. So, Linda and Steve Caddel took him.
“It was like we had an army, all working on this, for months.”
And in February, after regaining weight through a slow, steady nutrition regimen at the Caddel’s, and overcoming the infection under the care of Dr. Bras, who made repeated trips to check on his progress, Pulsion was transported to Florida TRAC, where executive director Celia Scarlett-Fawkes opened her doors to the homeless animal.
Pulsion had raced at Gulfstream Park in Florida during his career, and Scarlette-Fawkes was honored to make room for one of the Sunshine State’s very successful racehorses.
“I actually thought about keeping him for myself,” she says, noting that by the time he arrived, he looked as good as he had in his Breeders’ Cup days. “The foster farm and Rood & Riddle had done an amazing job with him, so by the time I got him, he looked fabulous.”
Six months later, in August this year, in walked the young ER nurse to check him out, and the connection was instantaneous.
Says his new owner, nurse Collins, “I’d been on an exhaustive search for a horse, and one day my trainer mentioned that she knew of a horse rescue. I’d never thought of rescuing a horse, but I went along with her to check out the horses.
“As soon as they pulled Pulsion out of his stall I said, ‘Yup, this is him.’ We brought him home the next day.”
Home where he nickers hello to her every morning, and where she and her husband have agreed that come what may, Pulsion is a member of their family now, and will live out his life with them.