’09 Breeders’ Cup hopeful triumphs over famine

Pulsion rehabs at the Caddel center after surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital

Pulsion rehabs at the Caddel center after surgery at Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital

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!”

Sire: Include
Dam: Spring
Foal date: Feb. 14, 2007
Earnings: $194,340
In 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.

Pulsion puts weight on slowly at Caddel Equine, and receives donated dental care

Pulsion puts weight on slowly at Caddel Equine, and receives donated dental care

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.

Pulsion and his new owner practice their jumping

Pulsion and his new owner practice their jumping

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.”

Pulsion with his new owner is again in good weight

Pulsion with his new owner is again in good weight

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.

23 responses to “’09 Breeders’ Cup hopeful triumphs over famine”

  1. Cynthia S Lasseter

    Let’a all agree, mistreatment of all animals is inexcusable. All breeds of horses ind up in the slaughter houses. All breeds of cats, dogs, etc end up being euthanized. It all boils down to animal owners and breeds being responsible for the animals in their charge. Animals can be spaded and nuetered so they don’t reproduce. Horse matings can be controled. Horses can be guilded. It’s a people issue……do the right thing. Reminds me of how some people treat their children. Do you really think they will be any better to an animal?

  2. Judith Ochs

    Another great story showing both the good and the bad in humans. I used to enjoy racing – but now knowing so many horrible stories – I no longer can and I will not spend my money to continue the bad things that go on. While I appreciate the former owners being upset when they find out what happened to their horse – they did not do anything to really ensure a good future or do anything to follow his future. Racing needs to step up – and put their money where their mouth is.By the numbers, half of the TB foals born this year in KY will end up in slaughterhouse (36,000 born and 18,000 slaughtered.) I FULLY appreciate how much money it takes and the amount of time and training it takes for any horse to have a real career as either a sport horse or a pleasure horse as I now own 2 horses, one of whom was very very green when I got him. But the problem starts with overbreeding (rarely discussed in horse journals), goes on through the training period which leads to so many injuries – and culminates with lack of identifying or follow-through despite any winnings at the track. An incredible thank you to those in the industry who stepped up. They are each a hero to me.

    1. Robin C.

      Where do you get your numbers from? Sorry but less than 36,000 registered thoroughbreds are born in the entire country each year. Kentucky foals roughly half of them. And the numbers are dropping. And 18,000 end up in slaughterhouses? 10% of horses found to be at auctions where kill buyers scoop them up are thoroughbreds. So what are the other breeds? Where are they coming from? You seem to forget about the other states and their mistreatment of quarter horses in all disciplines, the Amish and their mistreatment of draft horses, and all the other horses in the US. To so ignorantly think that racing industry people aren’t doing anything maybe you need to read up on what they are doing instead of wagging your finger with false information. Racing doesn’t really need you as a fan. Obviously you would rather sit on your home made pedestal than do some real research.
      People who spew untruths are just as bad as those who allow the mistreatment of animals.

    2. Anna

      Your numbers are way off and very outdated. The latest crops of Thoroughbreds in the US have dropped below 24,000 per year. You should rail at the Quarter Horse industry if you want to talk about huge numbers of horses dropping through the cracks and ending up at slaughter.

  3. Catherine Hallett

    I know have the pleasure of being the coach of this wonderful horse and his new owner. He is just amazing. We did not know about his story when we first seen him, so he was chosen based just on what we could see. You come across this type of horse once in a life time. I thank all of the people that saved this great horse and gave his new owner the opportunity to have her once in a life time horse. We will keep every one informed on how he is doing.

  4. Barbara Griffith

    I know one thing that should be done at the state level and that is revamp the animal cruelty laws in every state. There should be laws passed that anyone found committing an act of cruelty to any animal such as a horse, dog, cat or any animal would be a felony on the first charge. That is what Alaska has done and it put a stop to a lot of cruelty in their state. Why wasn’t the person that was responsible for the care and feeding of this horse put in jail? The was nothing in the article that stated who that person or persons was or what charges were brought against them. The southern states are some of the worst ones about animal cruelty. People get away with this all the time and nothing is done about it. Animal cruelty laws don’t even exist and if they do they are useless and with no teeth.

  5. Valerie Buck

    nice story,so sad to see what happened to him, and he showed how forgiving they are.

    The only thing I see wrong in this article is that some one was quoted “a horse that ran in the breeders cup ended up in this condition” no horse, no matter what they did on the track should ever end up like this. I have seen owners send their horses to a “good home” Out of sight out of mind, they need to check people out and follow up. It’s work I know, but they followed up on them when they were costing them money.

  6. Mike Fredlock

    Thanks to all who care about retired thoroughbreds. I’m new to all of this and by some very unusual, bizarre circumstances I found myself in the middle of the very rewarding position of helping the horses who were helpless in KY and did not choose to be where they ended up. I didn’t even know how to put a halter on when they arrived.
    Thank you Diana and Chris Baker for all of your help. They went out of their way to come to my small farm and give me advice on how to care for the three horses I took in. Diana rolled her sleeves up and applied rain rot treatment on them because she realized I was in over my head. Chris checked the automatic waterer and made sure I knew to keep it clean and operating properly and keep a salt block out. Diana came back out with the vet and helped give the deworming paste and much needed vaccinations.
    If anyone feels the urge to donate anything, please help pay off the balance of the medical treatment provided by Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital for Pulsion and others. The address is 2150 Georgetown Rd Lexington, KY 40511 (859) 233-0371

  7. anita carter

    Really a great article. For those who don’t know–Finger Lakes Racetrack (outside of Rochester,NY in Finger Lakes region)
    is the first track to start an adoption service for thoroughbreds. They have their own barn—-don’t know any of the people involved–would be another great story. I think the owner
    of “purple haze stables are involved.
    As I am full time caregiver for my husband, I cannot donate time or energy to them.
    Still would like to see someone write an article bout them.

  8. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Many racing industry connections try to do the right thing. And people from the industry do contribute money to the retirement, retraining and re-homing of OTTBs. If you just access the Breeder’s Cup website you will see a list of the concerned trainers and owners who are giving charitable donations to re-homing and rescue organizations as part of this year’s Cup celebration. Many do it every year. There are exercise riders, barn managers and people who don’t make the “big bucks” who do it too. The problem is bigger than that. Horses get lost in the system and if they end up going down into the third and fourth tier tracks and are trained/owned by cash-strapped trainers they can suffer and end up in extremely disturbing circumstances. There are registration papers that are supposed to be exchanged and obtained and maintained, but unfortunately this doesn’t always happen. I have contact with former owners as part of even my very minimal contributions to rescue and most of them are very disturbed by the experiences and plights of the horses that they previously cared for and lost track of. The system for rescue and re-homing certainly needs to be refined and streamlined. But just assigning blame where it seems most certain to “stick” without investigating each case is really uninformed.

    There are some very unsavory people connected to the industry who do nothing for the equine athletes they supposedly care for.They race horses into the ground as though they were old cars.There are also a great deal of people who care and who monitor these “bad apples” and try to get their names and practices out into the “light” I know many ‘horsewatchers” who take their volunteer vocation as seriously as investigative reporters.

    So take the time to find out about rescue, see how it works, adopt an organization that you think is ethical and give up a little something to help the animals.Time,skill, or money! I know people who give two dollars a week through PayPal to several rescues. They aren’t rich but even two dollars adds up and vet bills get paid, trailers get paid for, and feed gets purchased! Everyone can help save a horse,we may not save all of them, but every one is worth our best efforts. There is no reason not to try.

    As for Pulsion, I am very glad that after “falling through the cracks” he was found and now will get the love, attention and new career he so deserves with people who believe(d)in him. And as always Susan, thanks for a great story and spreading the word!

    1. Ladyalamo

      I have a rescued OTTB and I couldn’t love her more! Casino is the warmest kindest horse I have ever owned. She came from a scam artist deal gone bad. He gathered retired race horses and offered people a “piece” of a racehorse. “Get big money” he claimed when they won a race. He proudly displayed pics of them during their racing days. Come to find out they were turned out on a pasture and 32 of them had to be rescued before they starved to death. I refuse to watch racing or support it in any way, nor do I support horses for show, I have seen first hand what they do to the animals. I do support my local rescue Equine Outreach Inc. in Bend, Oregon. I have put together fundraisers for them and have been offered position of Director. I am so happy to be able to give back to these animals that mankind has hurt so badly.

      Finally…I DO blame the racing industry! It is their responsibility!! What do you (the proverbial you) mean it isn’t their responsibility once they get rid of them…what? Get rid of them?? There it is right there! It starts there! I really like the idea of opening some sort of retirement plan out of the horses winnings that would follow them wherever they go and could only be used for their care!

      some day…

  9. Mike Fredlock

    Don’t forget to thank Christine Carroll. She spent thousands of dollars helping the horses who were trapped in a horrible situation in KY.

  10. Celia Scarlett Fawkes

    The racing industry has come under fire lately for allowing the racers to end up in a bad state and yet it is the racing industry that is finding a voice and stepping up with programs and funding for these horses in need of rehab,adoption & safety. An average school horse or camp pony does and earns most times more than most racehorses do in a lifetime as well as provide a source of entertainment and yet they still wind up in the same spot when they no longer can provide a service…..It was I who called Susan to do a story on Pulsion and how the racing industry stepped up to the plate to recover one of our own who was supposed to be “safe”……I never expected to see the negativity and am saddened to see the ignorance on the whole subject. There are more” broke down” school and show horses on these lots on a weekly basis than there are racehorses. And most with a tattoo on these lots haven’t seen the track in years and were thought to be in a good place by previous connections.

  11. Robin

    What a good story about what caring people can do to turn around an animals life. Bravo to all involved.
    To the people who so ignorantly blame the racing industry this isn’t only happening in the racing world. It happens with all breeds of horses and more often than not horses being mistreated are not thoroughbreds. The thoroughbred racing industry has made big steps in creating after care alliances for these wonderful animals. More thoroughbred charities are in place than for any other breed in this country. And % of sale and racing $ is going to these agencies.
    Mistreatment of any animal is a shame but before you blast anyone take a moment to ask yourself what can you do or what have you done lately to help an animal in need? Not just horses but any neglected animal.
    Thanks again for a story with a very happy ending.

  12. Kristi

    I never get tired of reading about “the look” – the moment a girl and a horse catch each other’s eye and it is love at first sight.

    Hopefully Pulsion and his new owner will become retired racehorse advocates in the show ring. Please help spread the word about what great mounts OTTBs make. Don’t discount a horse just because it was down on its luck and ended up at a rescue. 🙂 Pulsion will probably never take another carrot for granted.

  13. S.Allen

    Hi Diana, thanks for your reply and it’s good to know it was not “directly” the fault of his connections that landed him in this spot… all I’m saying is that there has got to be a better way to track these horses and facilitate their retirement needs ahead of time. Although I understand that there are SO many of these horses to track and money is a concern…money just doesn’t seem to be a concern when they’re paying “BIG” bucks for them at the sales. I also know that there are VERY many good owners and trainers/connections and people like yourself who are exceptional people in the industry that make sure that this doesn’t happen to their horses, but from a “fan’s” viewpoint, we can’t help but see it as the “industry’s” fault…Sorry! Thanks again for your valiant efforts on Pulsion’s behalf!
    Just as a note….I found this long ago article about “Pulsion” in his pre-derby days….hard to believe now!

  14. Angie Francart

    Another great story with a happy ending, and like the many other readers, I’m not sure why there is not more action. As a self funded rescue (yea our 501 paperwork was filed last year but now with the shut down we are in a long holding pattern – ugh!)anyway we see these types of cases so many times. The owners, trainers, and industry need to have a better control on the over breeding and after care. We continue to get calls and we are full. We have reached our limit for now. We try to retrain and place them into loving homes. However, it is not always possible as many come to us with major injuries and thus they become sanctuary residents. It just makes me upset to see some many lovely brilliant talented horses discarded.
    However, on a positive note – I find it very interesting that many nurses (like me) are adopting and caring for these horses. It must be something in our healing nature to care and save! 🙂
    Finally – as a follow-up we have had many of the individuals who have placed their horses with us come and visit and do follow-up as we do with the ones we place. I think it’s about having an open communication and network. I think Susan’s blog is really helping, please continue to do the good work. I post almost all the stories on our facebook page as a reminder to everyone that as a horse owner, breeder, trainer, or just a loving rescue. We all need to do are part for the love of the thoroughbred.

  15. Cynthia S Lasseter

    A happy ending for sure, but isn’t it ironic that something like this can happen even in Kentucky! Right out side of the fabulous mansions and horse farms owned by every nationality imaginable, you find horses abandoned and starving! I agree with the above! There has to be some accountability sooner than later or people will not tune in to NBC, HRTV, or TVG because they only promote the pretty side of racing and not the true ugliness just outside the tracks!

  16. Diana Baker

    Thank you Susan for writing Pulsion’s story. Those of us who worked to facilitate his rescue and recovery are thrilled to see him doing so well! He’s a very special boy.

    To S Allen, who commented above, the “racing industry” is not to blame for what happened to Pulsion. His connections thought they had found a good placement for him but those who initially placed him (not the industry or his connections) dropped the ball in a very big way. And many of is who stepped up to recuse him are involved in the racing industry. Yes, racing has issues. But the racing industry did not fail this horse.

  17. Christina

    It is shocking, isn’t it? What other sport treats its athletes this way? Racing can’t have it both ways–trying to endear the public to the stars of the sport and calling horses “athletes,” then turning their backs on them when they retire and calling them “excess inventory.”

    Thanks for this wonderful happy-ending tale.

  18. S.Allen

    What a gorgeous TB and happy ending…but I really have a problem comprehending how this kind of thing happens ALL too frequently…. The horse racing industry has got to become accountable for this kind of action. I just don’t get it. Thank God for all the wonderful people in this story who took it upon themselves to save this horse and give him the home he deserves. I love racing and want to continue to be a fan, but stories like this make me question my loyalty to it.

  19. Jan Strain

    Why, why, why is there not some action by the many good people working to help these horses to hold owners and breeders responsible. If you pay 100,000.00 for a horse at auction or from a big farm, why not have a 10% buyer’s premium immediately put in a trust fund for the horses post race care. The JC keeps excellent records. I’m retired with little income yet I have my off track horses and mares here. It’s not impossible to feed them and keep them, it just takes commitment.

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