A flashy TB changes a corporate CEO’s life

David Osage, 60, learned to ride about eight months ago on his OTTB Natasha

David Osage, 60, learned to ride about eight months ago on his OTTB Natasha. Photos by Jolanda Beima, JoBe Photography

As the CEO of a leading engineering firm, David Osage is highly skilled at navigating tight spots.

But none so tricky as the one faced by the 60-year-old while negotiating a turn on his flame-haired Thoroughbred, Natasha.

As the novice student was trotting 10-meter circles while posting without stirrups, he started to slide out of the saddle, in the direction of dirt.

And Natasha, a rescue horse who was nobody’s idea of a lesson horse for a beginner, and who had her own emotional baggage since her rescue the year before, had two choices: spook and buck, or calmly slow down so Osage could regain his balance.

Her decision amazed both Osage and the woman responsible for her rescue.

Brenda Lewis, founder of Another Chance Equine Rescue of Grafton, Ohio, felt her heart leap into her throat as she watched the potential accident unfold like a slow-motion car accident.

“He was halfway off the horse at one point, and I expected her to shoot forward and then start bucking,” Lewis says, noting that the sweet mare had recently overcome a tendency to buck a little.

Palermo Princess
Nick name: Natasha
Sire: Line in the Sand
Dam: Golden Inez
Foal date: March 28, 2003
But to her amazement, and Osage’s as well, the horse took care of her rider.

“Natasha knew I was not doing well, and she slowed down to a walk to let me recover—it was amazing,” Osage says. “We then walked for a while and completed the 10 meter circles without incident; I feel very comfortable with this horse, and I really trust her.”

How an accomplished businessman came to be riding a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse after having no previous experience with horses of any kind is a funny story, he says.

A few years ago, after discussing a television special on horses and rescues, which he and a colleague happened to see, Osage says he got the idea to adopt a horse. Osage and his wife Claudia were both animal lovers, and have cats. But until he did a Google search for horse rescues, landed upon Lewis’ website, and got in touch, he knew nothing about horses.

After introducing himself and learning about her nonprofit, which specializes in taking in horses that would otherwise die without intervention, he helped sponsor her charity for a year.

Natasha the flashy OTTB has given orporate CEO David Osage a new lease on life

Natasha the flashy OTTB has given corporate CEO David Osage a new lease on life

And then one day, Osage dropped in for a visit. And after that, it was Katie bar the door.

“He started coming in every week, cleaning the stalls, grooming the horses, he did everything,” she says. “And when Natasha arrived, he felt a special pull toward her.”

Natasha (JC: Palermo Princess), lacking in fresh water and generally in dire straits, was pulled by Lewis, straight from a field full of weeds after her friend Mary Johnson, a Thoroughbred advocate, contacted her and asked her to help.

“She was a skinny mess when we got her. She wasn’t emaciated, but she was very lethargic and ribby,” Lewis says. “We loaded her on the van and took her home and after about a week, Dave came to me and said, ‘I love this horse.’ ”

When he asked if he could adopt her and learn to ride, she tried to put him off. But Osage persisted, hired former Thistledown pony girl Hannah D’Agostino, and eventually won his chance to start riding the Thoroughbred.

Despite Lewis’ hesitation about putting a first-time rider together with one of her rescued mares, she was completely won over to the idea after seeing them together.

Osage and his wife Claudia share a sweet moment with Natasha

Osage and his wife Claudia share a sweet moment with Natasha

“They have such a great relationship,” she says. “The horse is literally training Dave! If he does anything wrong, she lets him know by swishing her tail, and he corrects it—he’s very perceptive—and so when he gets out of balance, she tells him, and he corrects it.”

Over the months, solo trail rides as well as a small schooling show, have become part of their repertoire.

And the slower pace at the barn, and the connection to Natasha and the land, has provided Osage with a way to unwind and recharge.

“One time he had to go on a business trip to Paris, and he kept sending emails asking how the horses were doing,” Lewis recalls. “Can you imagine you’re in Paris, and you just want to know how the horses are?”

She adds, “These OTTBs have touched Dave’s life so much.”

Osage is happy to tell anyone how much he loves Natasha, who he officially adopted.

“They’re all amazing though,” he says. “I’ve learned so much by being with them; some of them like to be worked, some of them are angry, but if you give them attention, they eventually come around … and when I arrive at the barn, I’ve got 12 heads looking over their stalls at me … so it’s interesting that a simple phone call two years ago during Christmas vacation started a whole new life for me that I love!”

22 responses to “A flashy TB changes a corporate CEO’s life”

  1. Nina Eckhoff

    It has been a long process bringing my OTTB up to speed; I rode her for the first time on the second anniversary of ownership! But when I rescued her, my comment was that she was now safe, and, hopefully – sound and happy. And we are working on that. Thank you, Mr. Osage, for learning to love horses.

  2. Dawna Bernier

    What a great story! So glad Dave made that phone call 2 years ago. Happy trails to Dave and Natasha and I hope you have many years of happiness together.

  3. Brenda Lewis

    Dave adopted that Diva also !! Her name is Sophie and she is doing GREAT !!!!

  4. Judith Ochs

    Thanks for this story. I first learned of Mr. Osage over a year ago when he was involved with another horse at this particular rescue – a real diva who however absolutely adored Dave. She had a fractured shoulder and a mind of her own! Glad to see him with another super horse. I too started riding in my early 60’s and believe me, my guy takes care of me too when I lose my balance or simply get “weak in the knees”. Horses are the best psychiatrists…

  5. Angie Francart

    Another amazing and awesome story of all the wonderful things OTTB’s can teach us and the special gift they provide. Another great reason to inspire us all to do what we can for these horses. I’m so glad we are a rescue 🙂 and we are getting another new rescue on Sunday from a county seizure. She will have along way to go, but we have faith :-). Keep the good stories coming Susan.


  6. Virginia

    He is a man after my own heart. Ground work is about 90% of the trust building between horse and rider. My best horses were the ones I spent extra ground work on. Back in the day when I was younger and had nothing else to do but spending time with my horses. I was 12 when I got my very first pony ( Flicka of course ). Flicka was 1&1/2 years old and knew nothing. We learnt together the hard way so I had many accidents until I learnt to ride. I am 52 years young now, and still in love with horses. I have had many come and go in my life. I have almost always bought horses that had been abused and neglected. I keep them until they passed away. I have

  7. Wendy Treadaway

    What a great story! But I’m not really all that surprised that Natasha and Mr. Osage have made a connection, even though he’s a beginner rider. After always having geldings, I got my first mare six years ago. While she can be a handful and has definite opinions about everything, she is a total nanny when it comes to riding. She corrects me all the time. I’m often off balance, as I have mild scoliosis, which she can feel. Many happy years to Natasha and Mr. Osage! A bond with a good mare is hard to beat!

  8. Susan Crane-Sundell

    This story brings hope to people who don’t have life-long equestrian experience that they may adopt an OTTB and be successful. It also shows that passion for horses comes when the time is right. Look at how much Mr.Osage has been able to accomplish both for himself and for the horses. Maybe he will inspire others. In fact I’m sure he already has!

    Also this shows that keeping on with publicizing success stories and making documentaries is worth it for our horses. Look what reaching out has done for all the horses at ACE Rescue! Thank you Susan…it’s a very long lunge line and with more people picking up the line and connecting to a horse in need the more love is put out into the world;both for the horses and the people who work so very hard on their behalf.

    1. Debra

      Definitely! Had to wait until my 50s to get my first horse – and an OTTB it was. No regrets, other than she is young and still growing. 🙂 I love her and she loves me. She has a lot of patience and she knows I don’t know what I’m doing half the time. We had one accident in January and it was totally my fault. I never blamed the horse. We are back at riding now the walk and trot. Cantering is down the road. That’s how I got hurt. But it was my inexperience and not hers that caused the disconnect. When I was getting up off the ground with my head bleeding, she stood there in the middle of the round pen with this look on her face like, “How’d you get down there?” I think she felt bad too. I would have gotten back on her had I not had to go to Quikcare for stitches – 7 of them – lucky 7. I have a scar now, but it reminds me everyday to be a little more careful and take things a little slower. I know she is waiting for me to catch up. She is a wonderful horse.

  9. Jolanda Beima

    Photo credits: Jolanda Beima (JoBe Photography).

  10. John Brown

    Another excellent story Susan. A nice horse and a nice person that are interested in each other. It is not surprising that they do good together. David did not jump in over his head and Natasha trusts him. That is the way it is supposed to be.

  11. Brenda Lewis

    Dave has been more than a Blessing for all the horses at ACE Rescue. I have never seen someone with as much energy and desire to make the life of these horses better.Dave has “PASSION” for the horse, and I am soooooo happy he found them and they are a part of his life now. We horse people know what “PASSION” for the horse is, I don’t think it can adequately be explained in words I know, it just comes from the heart.Please visit our Face Book page !https://www.facebook.com/acerescue

  12. Linda Brown

    I think, if a person has a trainer, it is possible to adopt an OTTB as a beginner rider. We have loved our Water Czar since he came off the track and is now a gentle giant of fifteen years of age. He loves to take a stroll. If a bigger friend comes to visit, he is the horse we put them on. He seems to know he has to be steady for them. Don’t get me wrong, he can still be a hottie when he wants to be – but he is always manageable. A safe and sane boy – sounds like Natasha is the same.

    1. Debra

      The adoption place suggested my horse for me after my friend was disappointed I was going to move her from up North to my area in the SW. It was a quick and emotional decision that was made for her to keep my “first” horse, and adopt another OTTB. Sight unseen, and just a photo sent to me, I agreed to take her. The other horse sounded pretty cool too, but she said that one had some vices and was a little more difficult to manage. So I took her advice and adopted my mare. She was high strung when she got here; after all she raced in late March and she was here with me in mid-May. But after time, and with lots of patience, everything has come around great. I haven’t been around horses since I was 15 years old. I’m now in my mid-50s. I had to wait a long time to attain my dream; one I had since I was 3 years old (that’s what Mom tells me). I haven’t regretted one day since. She keeps me sane, and works with me pretty well. Even when I take forever to get all the tack on. She half closes her eyes and cocks her foot like it’s okay Mom. Take your time; I’m getting bored, but it’s okay.

  13. Janet Dufresne

    I have moved to upstate NY but since it was so close to the winter months and my horse had no coat being in south Fl. I have her full boarded with a loving, caring friend in Fl. til spring and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about her and miss her dearly. Like Mr. Osage I too started out with horses in the prime of my life and he is so right;It is a wonderful way to unwind and recharge. My Cahlua is literally my refuge and I miss her so much.I can’t wait til May when I can bring her north to be near me again.

  14. Martha

    What a great story! I am officially a fan or Osage

  15. SusanA

    This story gives me “hope” that I can adopt an OTTB one day!

    1. Debra

      You can. You just have to go on-line and find an adoption center. They are all over the country. Prices range from free to about $1,000 or less. I got mine for $750. She has papers and everything and even won one race. She is a sweet mare. You can find a nice mare or a gelding on-line. Just need to take care of some details and hire a horse transporter to get them to your place or your stable. It’s really easy, and very rewarding. Check out Brenda Estes on FB up in Oregon. That’s where I got mine from. Brought her down to Vegas. Cost for the move was about $600. Not too bad for a registered Thoroughbred horse. Check out what the breeders (any breed) are asking and you’ll see you can get a great horse at a terrific price. Look into it soon. It’s a great thing to do; adopt.

  16. Patricia

    I travel the world for my job …thousands of air miles per year and I am always texting about my horses, dogs and cats. Mr Osage cares about his animals and it doesn’t matter where he is, he still cares about them. I am in Paris several times per year and I still text daily about my critters. This doesn’t diminish the story at all, but I am surprised by the surprise.

  17. Ree Wells

    Another Great story of how OTTB’s save ppl… Thank you for sharing Mr..Osage’s & Natshas story.

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