Prodigioso, the burned and battered racehorse who was left to die on a desolate stretch of Florida Everglades, returned to the sunshine state this month to compete at the highly rated HITS Ocala series.
Glossy and confident, Prodigioso carried owner and rider Robin Hannah into the ribbons in every under-saddle class, and also won ribbons in all but two over-fences classes, she reports.
“He did extremely well, especially considering he was the greenest horse in the competition,” Hannah says. “People were amazed when I told them he’d just recently learned to do jumps, and here he was, at his first rated show, jumping 2-foot-6.”
More amazing still was that Prodigioso was there at all.
Two years earlier, the chestnut ex-racehorse was discovered by the SPCA on a lonely stretch of road that slices through sugarcane near the Everglades. Chained to a cinderblock, Prodigioso was freshly blinded in one eye, burned, emaciated, and terrified.
Trembling as he walked onto the rescue van, Prodigioso looked like a lost cause, but his rescuers refused to give up on him. He was taken to Thoroughbred charity Florida TRAC, and for eight months, he received tender loving care from Celia Scarlett and a team of volunteers.
Sire: Southern Leader
Dam: Spirited Affair
Foal date: March 14, 2007In an earlier interview with Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com, Scarlett recalls how it took Prodigioso six months to shed his nonstop fear. Please see earlier article here.
And when the poor fellow was ready to be offered for sale eight months after his rescue, few wanted a partially blind horse; but the miracles kept on coming.
Adopted by Niagara, Canada horseman Marilyn Lee-Hannah and her equestrian daughter Robin Hannah, the pair looked past his slightly malformed blind eye, , and decided to shout his story from the rooftops.
In addition to the interview with Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com, they granted interviews to a local Canadian television station, and they recounted his story at the Thoroughbreds Makeover National Symposium at Pimlico last year. He was given a hero’s welcome after he trotted onto the fabled racetrack and performed alongside Thoroughbreds who had not been through nearly so much. (Please see that story here).
At the Pimlico show, Prodigioso stood out because of his story.
At HITS Ocala, Prodigioso stood out for his showing acumen.
“Nobody really knew his other story,” Hannah says. “A few people noticed his eye and asked about it. But the reason he stood out was because he was perfect.”
He didn’t turn a hair when he walked into the ring—nothing fazed him. “He just went right in, jumped every jump—it was kind of shocking, but then again, maybe not, because he is such an awesome horse.”
Prodigioso competed in classes with 10 to 12 other Thoroughbreds, very high-rated show animals who had more experience under their belts, she says, noting that Prodigioso still managed to be in the top four finishers in every under-saddle show, and he ribboned in all but two over-fences.
Prodigioso just returned home to Canada after three weeks at HITS. He will rest up for the upcoming Trillion shows, and if all goes well, will be entered in the A Circuit Baby Greens this summer.
To think that a horse left for dead, scarred and battered, could embrace people again, work for them, shine for them, is a thing that “humbles” Hannah. “It’s shameful what we do to them, and they still love us,” she says in her earlier interview, adding, “I always say that this is the most special horse I’ve ever had.”