Everglades horse takes 4th at Royal Winter Fair

Prodigioso, right, took 4th place in the model class at the Royal Winter Fair despite his right-eye blindness. He was ridden by Grace Clairmont.

Prodigioso, right, took 4th place in the model class at the Royal Winter Fair despite his right-eye blindness. He was ridden by Grace Clairmont.

Prodigioso, the Thoroughbred ex-racehorse who was starved, blinded, and abandoned in the Florida Everglades before his rescue, was awarded 4th place in a model class this month, with judges deciding against penalizing the pretty chestnut for the physical scars of his past.

Though his right eye is permanently disfigured after it was blinded somehow in Florida, the survivor of starvation and abuse now better known more as The Everglades Horse than as Prodigioso, was awarded high marks at the Nov. 15 Royal Winter Fair in Ontario for his good conformation and wonderful expression.

New name: Pipe Dream
Sire: Southern Leader
Dam: Spirited Affair
Foal date: March 14, 2007
“Despite everything he went through, God was smiling on him that his legs came through without a mark,” says his owner Marilyn lee of Sherwood Farm in Ontario. “He doesn’t have a mark on his legs, aside from the area behind the pasterns where the ropes were. But that’s not obvious. And the judges chose not to penalize him for his (blind) eye.”

Not only did the animal with the beautiful expression beat 10 to 12 other horses who had not seen such hardship as he had, but he also placed 6th in the Hunter Suitability class.

Every time Lee takes the good-natured horse to a show, she hangs up a laminated copy of his story (please see the original story in Off-Track Thoroughbreds here), near his stall. And every time, the story of the horse brings tears and admiration to passersby who stop to take note of a Thoroughbred who spent eight months recovering from wounds and starvation.

This before/after picture shows Prodigioso's journey.

This before/after picture shows Prodigioso’s journey.

Few would have expected Prodigioso to have turned out as well as he did if they had seen the emaciated, cut, blinded animal as he was found in the sweltering July sun, in 2012. Dumped on a stretch of road slicing through sugarcane fields in the Homestead region of South Florida, the terrified animal was withering in the sun, tethered to cement blocks.

Discovered by police, he was immediately taken to the South Florida SPCA and then turned over to Thoroughbred charity Florida TRAC for intensive care. After eight months of painstaking care to rebuild the horse mentally and physically, and help him to cope with his right-eye blindness, Lee offered to adopt the gelding and bring him to Ontario for a new life.

Since he arrived in 2013, Prodigioso has been blossoming as a show horse. Possessing a rocking-horse canter and a long, low hunter style of going, he is well on his way to an A circuit career, Lee says.

And the model class and hunter competition this month, as well as a successful Florida season at HITS, are a prelude to a big career, Lee predicts.

“He’ll be showing in the A circuit this summer. He has a show career ahead of him,” she says. ♥

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20 responses to “Everglades horse takes 4th at Royal Winter Fair”

  1. Gloria Kersey

    What a lovely story! So happy for this magnificent boy! He is truly regal! How horrible people can do these things to these wonderful creatures I’ll never understand! Thank you for saving him and giving him a great forever home and the love he so desperately needed! Bless you!

  2. Theresa Sherwood

    During the Royal I was walking behind a young rider from Sherwood Farm and moved her ponytail to reveal the full name of her farm on the back of her jacket…I felt a bit rude after doing so, but now I wonder if that was Grace?

    My family has a small farm in King Township. My father used to breed and race thoroughbreds. The name of our farm is also Sherwood Farm and hence my interest.

    What a wonderful story of the Everglades Horse, particularly in a time where so many horses are being forgotten. I look forward to seeing you next year!

    1. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

      Wow…that is coincidental and lovely. Sherwood Farm was given its name by my elder daughter Jacalyn. As a family, we believe that good will always triumph over evil (as the story of Sherwood Forest goes…though they used some rather scandalous trickery…lol)and that seeing that the coach and trainer for our farm would be daughter ROBIN, Sherwood Farm seemed to be the perfect name.

      Come by and meet us next year!

  3. cheri vaughan

    WOW! Words can’t describe how full this horse and his humans make my heart. Seriously. Bless his sweet heart. I will never tire of hearing of him!! Many updates, please!!!

    1. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

      We hope to have many great reports ahead!

  4. Jitka hyniova

    Beautiful horse, great job by all those involved in his recovery! Excellent job actually!
    I have a question: why show judges would be even looking at scars or blind disfiguered eyes?
    These are Blemishes and nothing to do with conformation or genetic potential (he is a gelding I know). But regarding his pedigree potential.

    1. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

      Thankfully these judges recognized that behind his blind eye and scarred pasterns, this horse was born with excellent conformation.

  5. Callie1983

    What another fantastic story! Susan you have the most uplifting Blog for we weary rescuers and supporters of the great Thoroughbred. Congratulations to Prodigioso and his very lucky owner!

  6. Lynnette Benner

    this is not an ending but just the beginning!!!

  7. marti

    A show career, all the feed and love he could possibly want. Thank God for you Marilyn, and all the others who played a part in his rescue and rehab. His story of abuse simply broke my heart–now there is joy where there was sorrow.

  8. Mindy Lovell

    Marilyn and Robin are true advocates for these horses – Prodigioso could not have found a better adopter who will showcase his talents for the world to see. I am glad they share his story for all to read as well. I hope he has a tremendous career on the ‘A’ circuit and brings home many, many championships although I think in the eyes of Sherwood Farm and many others, he is already a champion.

    1. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

      Thank you Mindy…our love of these animals…and recognition of their greatness…makes us kindred spirits.

  9. Michelle Y.

    What a wonderful happy ending to such a heartbreaking story! I think it’s awesome that Marilyn hangs a laminated copy of Prodigioso’s story at every show. What a fabulous way to spread the story to people who have no clue of the horrible end many of these OTTB’s come to. He looks so happy and relaxed in the show picture above. So glad he found his forever home!!

  10. LL

    Have followed this story from the beginning. What a beautiful ending.

  11. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

    Oh Susan…you retell his story with such compassion and love. It makes me teary just to read how he has touched others. Thank you from all of us at Sherwood who love and treasure him.

  12. tbdancer

    I think the prediction of a fabulous A circuit career is right on the mark. What a glorious story!!

    1. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

      Thank you…we are pretty excited. One judge who saw him last year commented…”he has the God-given step to go anywhere”…and we are so thankful that God kept that “step” safe for him while abandoned.

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