A plain bay T’bred once mistaken for dead by his veterinary doctor, recovered from the colic that laid him so low he appeared to have died in 2013, and has gone on to win ribbons for children in hunter/jumper classes.
Gambler, a 7-year-old gelding adopted by Ester Packer from Florida TRAC in 2012, is often referred to as the “miracle horse” these days.
In 2013, the Thoroughbred who raced under Jockey Club name Savemyspotimbeting was taken to a veterinary Hospital in Florida, and treated for recurrent colic, says Packer.
“Gambler was so sick that the vet called me at 8 p.m. and said he was going to bring him to his house for the night, that he didn’t want to leave him overnight in the hospital’s paddocks. So he went home to get his truck and trailer, and when he returned to the hospital, Gambler was lying down,” Packer says, recalling the heartbreaking details leading up to the rollercoaster ride that followed. “My vet called me about an hour later and said he was really, really sorry, but that Gambler had died. He told my father he had nudged him, listened for breathing, and the horse was dead.”
Show name: Gamblin Man
Foal date: May 17, 2007Devastated to lose the horse she loved for his mellow personality and cooperative nature, she tearfully phoned her circle of friends to break the bad news. “So many people loved him that I took 20 minutes calling everyone,” she says.
No sooner did she hang up on a call than her phone rang again. It was about 10 p.m. It was her veterinarian again.
“He said he’d never had anything like this before, but that Gambler was alive. When he went back to the paddock, he found Gambler standing there, eating grass. He watched him for a while to see what would happen and then called,” she says. “He told me, ‘He’s standing right here.’ ”
After that, the veterinarians familiar with his case started calling him the “miracle horse.”
Though no reason for the colic and unusual turn of events was ever identified, Packer took immediate action with his diet. “I changed everything!”
“I changed his hay, grain, everything. He gets Equi 14 pellets by Seminole, and I put him on 2 scoops of Cool Calories 100, a fat supplement. And he gets lots of good hay,” she says.
Packer had been volunteering for Florida TRAC in 2012 when she took pity on the “boring bay” and offered to foster him. An animal caregiver at a chimpanzee sanctuary, she took pity on the gentle horse who suffered a terrible case of rain rot. “I figured nobody would want him, since he was a boring color and covered in rot. And I loved his laid back personality. He’s so calm that he’s more like a Quarter Horse.”
Since his bouts with colic, the shine has come into his coat, and Gambler has proven to be a perfect lesson horse. On Nov. 16, he packed around one of Packer’s students at the Twin Rivers Saddle Club, winning four blue ribbons. And another young rider is schooling him over 2-foot-3 fences.
“He’s my amazing horse. I’m so glad he’s still here,” Packer says. “It broke my heart when I thought I’d lost him.”