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.
Dam: Rewana’s Okie
Foal date: April 15, 2007Owned 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.”
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.
“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.”