Her lost & found horse returns to her at last

Don't Skip the Café raced at Suffolk Downs in East Boston until Emma Brady found and pursued the mare.

Don’t Skip the Café raced at Suffolk Downs in East Boston until Emma Brady found and pursued the mare.

“I’m sorry. The mare you wanted was shipped to Pennsylvania. There was nothing I could do.”

The words so cold and final, appearing as a text message from the racehorse trainer, hit young Emma Brady hard as she sat down and cried.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I got this text the day before I was supposed to get papers for Don’t Skip the Café and make it official. She was supposed to be my first horse. And just like that, she was gone.”

Don’t Skip the Café
Barn name: Skip
Sire: Skip to the Stone
Dam: Café Latte, by Kipper Kelly
Foal date: March 27, 2007
Brady had found the horse listed in an advertisement. There was no picture but something about the description intrigued her; perhaps her childhood memories of red bay mares on a farm from her childhood, too young and without the funds for a horse of her own, could only dream.

And so at Suffolk Downs this past November, as she eagerly approached the storied backside, those images snapped back in living color. “The moment I saw her I remembered riding similar Thoroughbreds at my grandmother’s country club. Skip looked just like one from my childhood.”

But the unexpected text just a few days later dashed her dream and Brady spent the weeks and months that followed searching for another horse. In April 2014, she thought she got lucky and purchased a gelding. But the animal wound up being more right for her friend, so she willingly gave the horse to her, privately pining for the mare she lost out on.

Emma holds tight to the mare who got away the first time.

Emma holds tight to the mare who got away the first time.

Unable to shake the feeling that the two belonged together, Brady took a shot and posted pictures of Don’t Skip the Café on Facebook with the question: Has anybody seen this horse? The response took but an hour, and the words she read this time stopped her cold. “Somebody wrote and said, ‘Yeah, I know that horse. I saw her this morning. She’s in training at Suffolk Downs.’ I couldn’t believe it! She was supposed to be in Pennsylvania, but one of her original owners bought her instead. She was still an hour north from my home!”

She did not waste a second. She asked to have her name passed along to Skip’s owner Louis Tisbert and by the morning of April 18; she was again driving to Suffolk Downs to see the horse who’d captured her heart.

Rising at 4 a.m., she appeared at the backside entrance promptly at 6 a.m., at the invitation of the 83-year-old owner. “We met in Barn 10 and I met Mr. Tisbert and we talked about the horse as he fed her peppermints,” she says. The older gentleman let her take the lead rope a couple of times and walk Skip back from workouts. “As I walked her onetime I overheard him tell another man, “That horse is such a ladies horse.”

And she was. Skip’s demeanor softened as soon as she stood next to Brady. She lowered her head and politely followed her young admirer on a loose rope.

Over the spring and summer, Brady arose at 4 a.m. to get to the track and watch the horse she loved. She became such a regular that when she arrived at the backside gate, the guards would quip, “Going to see your horse?”

And finally her dedication paid off. On a late September morning while driving to work at rush hour, her phone rang with the call she’d been waiting for. “I picked up the phone and it was Skip’s owner, and he said, ‘this is Louis Tisbert. Do you still want that horse?’ I couldn’t believe it. This is the horse I’ve been waiting for my whole life.”

And Brady took the mare home to Rhode Island in January—her dream had come true.

19 responses to “Her lost & found horse returns to her at last”

  1. Jam

    I have a similar story with my mare. I chased her all around New England waiting until I could afford her and finally brought her home last October. She was well worth the wait.

  2. Jayne Fronk

    This is a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing. Such a good reminder to follow your heart.

  3. Sandy Carr

    Ahhh, “absence makes the heart grow fonder”…another perfect story!

  4. Colmel

    I was a young girl in love with thoroughbreds at one time. Now, I’m not so young, I’ve owned and bred thoroughbreds, and I’m STILL in love with them. Thank you for such a sweet, wonderful story. I hope this love affair lasts a very, very long time with tons of happy stories.

  5. Sherrie Courtney

    Best of luck to you Emma! Such a heartwarming story! I, too, got a chestnut mare from Suffolk Downs as a 3 yr old in 2009. She’s turning 9 next week. I agree with you, TB’s are the best! Enjoy your journey with your beautiful girl, I’m sure it will be all you imagined!

  6. luis bethancourt

    She is a very nice horse. I rode her in a few races…she always tried. In 2013 i rode her and coming out the gate she ducked outside and i ended up with a broken toe. I will never forget this horse…this is a nice story i am happy she found a nice home. Bless

    1. Emma Brady

      Luis, that is so cool that you remember riding her! I love meeting people who knew her as a racehorse. She’s a wonderful girl, smart and sweet (especially if you have mints!). And she has a home forever 🙂 She also has a blog (dontskipthecafe.tumblr.com) and a facebook page, if anyone’s interested in following her story from here on out!

  7. Susie Harris

    Love this story! Congratulations Emma! Skip is smiling over your shoulder. 🙂

  8. Cindy Raatz

    Thank you for writing about your wonderful experience. You are a true friend to the horse industry.

  9. Lynne Jones

    Emma, Congratulations! I wish you all the luck in the word and that your love for each other will increase each day. I envy you. I had a horse I loved and am trying to save him and two others and the one has been taken elsewhere by nasty people that have taken over a 501C3 where I kept them. Please pray I get my three back as I love all of them but this one was special, like Skip the Café to you. Best of luck and ENJOY EACH OTHER.

  10. Jon

    Once again, the horse comes into ones life when it is right. Kick on!

  11. Callie1983

    These are such wonderful stories! We need to see more of these for sure!

  12. Teri Barrach

    Once again a most remarkable story! Emma, I am sooooo glad your dream came true, and I know Skip’s did too!

  13. Rick Capone

    Yep, sometimes dreams do come true! Great article.

  14. Danielle

    This is such a heartwarming story. It says a lot for Emma not giving up on her dream.

  15. Stephanie Morse

    congratulations on getting your horse. Hope you have a great future together

  16. Michelle Y.

    Awww…what a wonderful story!! I’m so happy Emma didn’t give up looking for Skip. They look so happy together. Here’s to many, many happy years together!!

  17. Karen

    what a wonderful story, thanks for writing. love these kind of stories.

  18. Emma Brady

    Thank you so much for writing about her! Though I’m afraid fame may go to her head and she’ll be even more typical diva TB mare 😉 I’m so incredibly excited for the future with my perfect girl! TBs forever for me. I’ve ridden just about everything, and one of the things I’ve taken away from that is the simple fact that you will never find an equine athlete (or a personality!) like a Thoroughbred. This one will be with me when she’s 40 years old and has no teeth and eats mush.

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