Cryptoclearance filly, twice in kill pen, to show

Alice Faye, by Cryptoclearance, was with a meat buyer twice before landing softly. She will show at the Retired Racehorse Project's Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky.

Alice Faye, by Cryptoclearance, was with a meat buyer twice before landing softly. She will show at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky. Photo by Amanda Jean Farlow

A dapple-gray daughter of the great Cryptoclearance, rescued twice from meat buyers in the slaughter pipeline, has emerged from near-starvation like a beautiful butterfly, as she readies to demonstrate her perfectly arched neck and beautiful frame in a Kentucky show ring.

Alice Faye, an 8-year-old mare who staggered with weakness from malnutrition a year ago, is today the picture of blooming health and roundness as she prepares to compete in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover event in Kentucky this fall.

Alice Faye
Sire: Cryptoclearance
Dam: Rewana’s Okie
Foal date: April 15, 2007
Owned and ridden by Stacey Sheley of Indiana, Alice Faye will compete in her first local schooling show on May 17. As an off-track Thoroughbred she will be carrying the banner for others of her profession, while she grows into her new career as dressage mount and ambassador for the breed. With so much heart they keep giving, even after so much has been taken away from them, says Sheley.

“At first I wasn’t going to enter the contest. I didn’t think they’d want us. But then I entered her because I wanted people to understand … that even after going through what she’s been through, she’s still a cool, laidback horse,” she says. “For me, the most exciting thing about her is her brain. This is the smartest horse I’ve ever worked with! I only need to show her something new four times, and she gets it.”

A year ago, Alice Faye was so thin she was unsteady on her feet.

A year ago, Alice Faye was so thin she was unsteady on her feet.

Alice Faye is never negative, and always accommodating, says Sheley, noting that the mare carries herself naturally in a dressage frame. “She’s the most amazing horse. I stay off her mouth, give away the reins, and she drops her head into a natural frame, and rounds out her body—she did this in the first rides we did together!”

Sheley agreed to buy the mare last Valentine’s Day after Facebook friend and horse rescuer Brandy Levi-Brown purchased the mare from an Indiana meat buyer who notified Levi-Brown that the mare was in his lot. It was the second time the mare wound up with the buyer, says Sheley, who explains: “Brandy was told that the mare had been in the same lot the year before we got her, and that she was taken in by a race trainer who ran her a couple more times,” she says. After that, the mare somehow wound up back with the same meat buyer, who reliably reaches out to rescue workers like Levi-Brown.

Alice Faye had grown a long, shaggy coat that partially hid how thin she’d become, but when Sheley met the filly last February, the animal’s weakened state was sadly evident. The mare’s body score was somewhere between a 1.5 and 2, according to Sheley, who notes that the animal wobbled from weakness when she walked.

When the long winter coat was shaved from Alice Faye, the extent of her starvation was starkly evident.

When the long winter coat was shaved from Alice Faye, the extent of her starvation was starkly evident.

“The first time we met, she staggered over to me, looked me in the eye, and touched me on my elbow,” she says. “I took her on the spot. She was $400.”

Bundled up and shipped by horse transporter Kevin Klein, who volunteers in his spare time for Friends of Ferdinand, the mare was quickly shipped to Open Door Equine in Indiana, and into the care of Sheley and her barn manager Jennifer Parks.

In quick order, the docile animal grew physically strong, while her docile demeanor, so often unpredictable in racehorse, remained in tact.

And by the time she arrives in Kentucky for the late-October Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover, Sheley hopes her incredibly kind mare will wow the crowds as she has her devoted owner.

“I grew up watching her father race. I can still hear the race caller’s voice saying, ‘Here’s the great Cryptoclearance!’ and in my wildest dreams, I never imagined I’d own a horse like that,” Sheley says. “Now here I am, with his daughter, who I bought for $400 from a kill pen. And now I have the opportunity to take the daughter of a great horse, who was thrown away like trash, and show her off as the angel she is.”

21 responses to “Cryptoclearance filly, twice in kill pen, to show”

  1. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Oh she is a real beauty! Alice has a lucky streak to be saved from a kill buyer twice! I have to say the buyer did right by this girl and thankfully she found the right person to make sure she never has to endure that terrible fate again.

    Stacey, it was great of you to use your personal funds to save her and you have definitely done a great job of restoring her to health!

    She looks as though she has the right demeanor and definitely the conformation for a dressage horse. But even if she were a pasture ornament those dapples would have gotten me to yes in an instant, Good luck this fall.

  2. Stacey Sheley

    I have a bad habit of riding when nobody is around. I run the barn so people stop me a lot to talk. I’ll ask one of our volunteers to bring his super awesome camera out soon and post some pictures up on my Open Door Equine Facebook page, my personal page, and the website. Thank you for asking. I do really need to get riding pictures. 🙂

  3. Cheyenne

    Oh my, she’s perfect! But where are the awesome “now” photos of her? I want to see that dressage frame! …Btw, I also have an OTTB and he does the exact same thing. Drops his head and rounds into the perfect frame, right from the beginning. Our first test together, the worst comment we got was that my reins were too long…But I didn’t need them! Good luck to you guys! Can’t wait to see some video.

  4. Eileen Baliga

    loved your story! Especially caught my eye as I too have a Cryptoclearance baby. However, my “baby” is 24 years old! Hope you enjoy your gal as much as I enjoy my guy!

  5. Lori Ann Koestler

    Happy for you, and definitely happy for this beautiful horse!

  6. Lisa

    I also have a Cryptoclearence gelding. He is a huge bay and also a rescue. It is sad that all of these big buck race horses end up as trash. I researched my guy. He never raced but was out of a super fancy imported mare and sold for big bucks. Only to end up skin and bones.

  7. Stacey Sheley

    Thank you all for your comments and praise. I am deeply touched by the outpouring I’ve received since the posting of this article this morning. It has been a banner day indeed.

    Alice lives at the barn I lease. We are a 501(c)(3) and although we depend on our wonderful boarders we also depend on donations. We had rescued 2 other horses just before Christmas and that tapped our rescue funds before we found Alice. The money to pull her came out of my personal funds I would absolutely not change that by any means so please don’t take that the wrong way. The ODE horses and I would be forever indebted to you if you could please share Alice’s story far and wide. We could use sponsors to help us get to Lexington in good form and donations to fund the rescue and retraining of more OTTBs.

    Thank you for caring about Alice and I hope all of you have as wonderful of a day as I have because of all of you.

  8. Sharon B.

    Another sweet story that brought tears to my eyes. The mare is beautiful. Thank you to all of the connections that helped to save her.

  9. Lisa Neely

    Beautiful story of love and possibilities…I’m moved, as I always am when I read stories about the courage and resilience of these horses and the generous love that brings out their natures and talents…. Made my day

  10. Nancy Walker

    I love these stories because it’s all possible.

  11. Lynne Jones

    Sheley: I envy you. I love the look of this beautiful mare. I wish I had seen her before you got her. I love grays, and blacks. What a beautiful girl she is. I don’t know how many hands she is but she is one of God’s gifts to us. God bless you for saving her and the meat buyer who helped her to have a new home. If at anytime in the future, you retire her and would like her to have a new home, please contact me @ I am saving some now, I’m in my seventies, but I don’t need the riding, I just love these Icons that God has given us. My wishes go to you for a new successful, tremendous career with Alice Faye. If I got her, I would just love her but please enjoy your new life together, and as I said, keep me in mind should you need a new home for her. God Bless You both, human and horse.

  12. Deb B.

    Susan, you have relieved me of a few more tears once again! Great story and I wish more KBs were like the one in this story. I’m so glad this beautiful mare has a loving home with Stacey, who took a chance and saved her life. I will be watching in October.

  13. Michelle Y.

    What a gorgeous mare! I love the dapple greys. I, too, would like to thank the KB for reaching out to a rescue to save this mare. He definitely did not have to do that. Amazing, he is more conscientious than the race trainer who tried to get a few more dollars out of her before throwing her away just as another trainer/owner/whoever had done before him. And not only to throw her away, but to let her starve as well. What happened to the souls of these “people” who routinely abuse animals?

  14. Nena Winand, DVM

    This story popped up on my FB feed. So happy this mare landed in a safe place, and that the kill buyer reached out to help. I, too, have a son of Cryptoclearance that was rescued enroute to Canada after gaining cooperation from the kill buyer who bought him at Sugar Creek. Best of luck to her in the show ring!

  15. Linda R. Moss

    She is absolutely BEAUTIFUL. So glad she has met her ultimate destiny and another wonderful story Susan!

  16. Sarah

    I had a dapple gray Cryptoclearance gelding and posted a photo of him doing dressage in the OTTB Connect facebook link to this article. Was so happy to read this wonderful story!

  17. donna

    When you see the pictures of the near starving horse; it is hard to imagine her as “dinner”- she does not look well. My Dad had pigs & cattle & when they went to market they were healthy & well nourished – horse feed lots on the other hand are not concerned with the animal welfare & it is debateable if they are concerned with human welfare as the drugs horses are given are NOT to be in the food chain
    The story & images of this beautiful mare say it all – horses deserve second chances at life – the thoroughbred is talented at anything, willing to learn – happy trails to them both…Donna

  18. Kathryn Cicciari

    Would really love to see the video of her first dressage show. Bless you Stacey for giving her a chance.

  19. Barb Devers

    Wonderful story! Sadly, Happily there will be many TB’s at the RRP who were thrown away, but then rescued. Tributes to all these valiant horses who survive with an intact forgiving spirit. Admiration for all those rescuers who continue to love and save horses. And thanks to that kill buyer who reached out when he didn’t have to do so. We would never have known.

  20. Romy

    My mare is a Cryptoclearance baby, too! Super smart and very sweet. This girl is so lucky to have you!

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