Shy child emboldened by quiet ex-racehorse

Megan and E Factor at a recent show

Megan and E Factor at a recent show

As a child, little Megan Hansford was shy to the point of being a bit of a loner.  She tended to hang back from family gatherings, and well out of the limelight.

“She never had much self-confidence,” says her mother Tracey Hansford. “She was always a quiet one who’d come home from school, do her homework and pretty much kept to herself.”

But all that began to change last July, shortly after the sweet-natured 9-year-old accompanied her parents and older sister on a trip to look at a sale- horse, a retired racehorse named E Factor.

When the group bustled into the barn and presented themselves to the tall, dark bay, the animal lovingly gazed at the shy girl, and, from that point on, hasn’t taken his eyes off her.

“E Factor didn’t want my attention or my older daughter’s,” Hansford says. “He only wanted Megan’s. He started nuzzling her and pulling her hair; and Megan made it pretty clear that she wanted this horse.”

The Florida-bred gelding wasn’t a great performer on the racetrack, earning only approximately $24,000 before he was listed for sale by CANTER Kentucky. But it appears that his true calling was as cheerleader and perhaps life coach to the young Ohioan who has simply blossomed since they met.

No longer a wallflower, Megan speaks her mind and stands up for herself, Hansford says. “It’s incredible. She’s opened up much more, and now she talks to everybody.”

Race name: E Factor
Sire: Forbidden Apple
Dam: Forgotten Secret
Foal date: March 16, 2005
Everyday after school when homework is complete, Hansford and her daughter drive eagerly to the nearby barn where Megan boards E Factor, and the pair then proceeds to just charm the heck out of each other.

“Megan has taught him to give kisses and hugs,” she says. “She’ll tap her shoulder and he’ll stretch his neck over the top of her shoulder, and pull her close to him.

“His personality is amazing. He’s just got a big heart, and the love he is showing Megan has pulled her out of her shell.”

Megan has been content to play with E Factor on the ground as he is retrained for 4H Showmanship and western pleasure horse; but, last week, she finally climbed into the saddle, and the 16-hand gelding took extra care with his special passenger.

“It was so cute. He turned his head and watched her as she got on,” Hansford says. “Then she clucked to him, and he slowly walked forward.”

They’ll take it easy at first, while Megan gets accustomed to riding an ex-racehorse.

Since E Factor came into Megan's life, she has blossomed into a confident child.

Since E Factor came into Megan’s life, she has blossomed into a confident child.

Her world has already grown so much, and her confidence too, as the pair begin to shine bit by bit, and people notice them.

On the phone, Megan speaks confidently, happily: “I think he’s the most kind and generous horse!” she says.

He has given her what no other could: inner strength.

A horse who couldn’t battle to victory on the racetrack has somehow instilled in his young friend a backbone of steel. On the outside, the young girl looks unchanged; but everyone has noticed how a child once meek has learned to be strong.

“Everybody notices it!” her mother says. “She doesn’t care what anybody says about her anymore. She used to be so quiet. Now she stands up for herself. This horse has taught her that.”

E Factor and Megan, what a pair: look out world! Another young lady has grown strong loving a racehorse nobody else wanted.

Author’s note—This story was originally published on Jan. 11, 2013.

16 responses to “Shy child emboldened by quiet ex-racehorse”

  1. Lisa Neely

    What a beautiful testament to the power of shared love…. Honestly brought tears to my eyes realizing, once again, how intuitive and loving our horses are! I

  2. laura


  3. cheri vaughan

    Wonderful story of how a horse expresses his affection for his person! I have always thought spending time with a horse therapeutic, for both the human and equine. My theory proved correct again, in a most sweet manner! We like and admire Megan and E Factor. We are sure their bond will grow stronger every day.

  4. Maureta Ott

    What a heartwarming story and one I relate to oh so well.

    This embodies exactly what a horse can do. It is even more powerful that this amazing, Thoroughbred, has chosen this shy girl to be “his”. She will find no greater life mentor than this horse. Everyone should be so lucky to have this experience. E is truly a blessing. Shine on, Megan!!!!

  5. diane
  6. Merrily Fantus

    Not only children can benefit from working horses. Veterans have found comfort in caring for horses and having them return the favor. Handicap kids feel empowered when on a horse. Abused kids find peace in caring for them. All round, horses do a lot of good.

  7. edna

    I was also really shy when I was that age and horses helped bring me out of my shell. More young girls ought to have horses, it is a magical bond. Some days I’m still not sure what its all about, but horses have made a huge difference in my world. I have a mare now who has really been a challenge for me, but who I have really bonded with.

  8. Susan Friedland-Smith

    I can relate! Painfully shy as a kid. On a horse, I felt more confident and competent. I began to meet people and connect via riding interests. I wish more little girls could have OTTBs as cheerleaders/confidantes/BFFs!

  9. Barbara Griffith

    I hope everyone knows that horse slaughter is banned, hopefully forever, in the US. Now the fight is on to pass the S.A.F.E.ACT. The racing industry/quarter horse breeders will be gearing up to intensify their lobbying pressure against both bills S.541/H.R.1094 which makes up the S.A.F.E. ACT. US congressmen/women in your districts need to be contacted and asked to cosponsor these two bills that will put a stop to US horses like E Factor and many thousands of others from being shipped to the slaughter plants in Canada/Mexico. The fight to protect these horses isn’t over its just beginning.

    1. Jodie

      Actually, the ban was lifted last month. AND horse have always been shipped to Mexico or Canada for slaughter.

      1. Paula M

        Actually the ban was just put back so no horse slaughter plants can be on us soil- so now we have to get the SAFE ACT PASSED INTO LAW. the president of the United States just signed the ag bill to not fund the meat inspections for horse meat to be sold for human consumption- no meat inspections – no hore slaughter plants in the United States, please read more about this issue . And now we are fighting to get the transport of our American wild and domestic horses from being shipped to Mexico AND CANADA!!!!!!!

  10. Big_Trumpet_Wins

    What a wonderful story. Thank you so very much for sharing it.

  11. Wendy

    This story made me smile and tear up, too. I hope Megan and E Factor have many, many years together! And I have no doubt they will.

  12. SusanA

    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

  13. Carolyn

    This brought tears to my eyes!!!! Keep going, Megan and E factor. The “E” obviously stands for enigmatic, excellent, effusive, electric, and ENJOYMENT!

  14. Barbara DiPalma

    Just LOVE this story!!!!!!
    This is precisely what it is all about!!!!

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