It was a weird gut instinct that sent a tickle up Lauren Wink’s spine one night and made her start wondering about the whereabouts of a mare she took care of as a yearling, broke as a baby, and even named before sending her off to the races.
Though she’d thought of the flashy chestnut Zealous Blonde many times over the years, even after Wink got out of the horses and became an anesthesiologist assistant, she wondered what happened to the little upstart blonde who reminded her so much of herself.
“I had followed her race record for a while on my virtual stable, but then she disappeared. I asked around and was told she had a good home. Then one night in March I got a really weird gut feeling,” Wink says. “I decided to plug her name into Google and I couldn’t believe it. She was listed as one of Mindy Lovell’s 43 rescue horses in Canada! I couldn’t believe it.”
Lovell, a well-known Ontario-based horse rescuer, had pulled Zealous Blonde from the slaughter pipeline in May 2013. She soon got a phone call from Wink.
Sire: Here’s Zealous
Foal date: May 1, 2008“I called Mindy and said, ‘You have my horse!’ Mindy took some convincing. I sent her baby pictures of Zealous with her distinct markings and all the records I had of her,” Wink says.
Every swirl, every gesture was committed to Wink’s memory.
After all, from the moment the foal dropped two days before the Kentucky Derby back in 2008, the two had been nearly inseparable. Wink worked on a breeding farm in Egypt, NJ where Zealous was born, and she was one of the first humans to have contact with her. “I was the one who took care of her. I brushed her and got her used to people … and she was such a diva!” she says. “She cannot stand the bugs and she gets sunburned. When she was done with being outside, she’d wait by the barn door to be let back in. All she wanted was to be inside with her fan.”
After recounting story after story to Lovell, and gaining the horse rescuer’s trust, Wink was approved to adopt the mare.
“She arrived the day before the Derby at 1 in the morning,” Wink says. “I’m not sure if she really remembered me, but I got her favorite treats, the ones I used to feed her, and she ate it up right away.”
And all the other things Wink had taught her seemed to have stuck in the mare’s memory as well. She remembered to stand on the ground ties, and recently started wiggling her lips in Wink’s face in a way she may have learned all those years ago when leaning in for a kiss.
And now Zealous Blonde’s life has been kissed with good fortune. She resides at The Jennings Farm in New Jersey, where Wink spends a lot of time with her.
“I’m just so grateful to Mindy Lovell for picking her up. I’m telling you, I owe Mindy my life, and I texted her and told her because of her I have my dream horse,” she says.
For one more saved horse who survived against steep odds, Lovell says she could not be happier.
“I believe the horse is believe exactly where she should be,” she says. “Lauren always wanted that horse back.” ♥