When Scrumpy was done with racing, and racing was done with him, he stood helpless on a blistered and bowed tendon, mere steps from slaughter.
A stakes winning T’bred with a beautifully sculpted head and darkly handsome looks, he was a horse who once upon a time had everything going for him, including a lineage as fine as the blood running through Kentucky Derby winner California Chrome. And a winning spirit that drove him to run for the finish line, even once on a bowed tendon, says Bonnie Adams, founder and president of charity TROTT USA.
But when it was time for Scrumpy to exit the race industry in 2010, his heyday long forgotten, his injured left front leg oozing from where a gel cast had blistered his tendon, it was the friends he made on the way down that managed to get him a ticket to freedom, sparing him the last indignity of the butcher’s blade.
Dam: Sweet Dish, by Candi’s Gold
Foal date: March 29, 2003
Earnings: $188,660 in 23 starts The change of course began with a frantic phone call.
In August 2010, Bonnie Adams received a pleading call from an exercise rider at Los Alamitos racetrack. Scrumpy, the rider told Adams, was a beautiful horse who was too injured to run, and would soon be sold to the killers if someone didn’t do something, Adams recalls.
“In the words of one rider who knew him, ‘Scrumpy went from the penthouse to the outhouse’ and I was told that if we didn’t do something he’d go to the killers,” she says. “She pleaded with me to take the horse, so I sent a trailer to Los Alamitos and picked him up.”
On the long road to recovery there were many bumps in the road.
The first was the severe bow, which had turned into a “bloody, scarred mess” as it sweated encased in a gel cast, Adams says.
“Someone had let the gel cast on too long and he had blistered. It was pitiful,” she says.
After he healed, a small scar remained on the injured leg, and as it would turn out, a scar remained on his psyche too.
“Poor Scrumpy was such a beautiful mover and we thought he would make a nice riding horse. But he had such severe anxiety that he wasn’t adoptable,” she says. “If you put him on the cross ties, for example, he would stand while you stood there with him. But if you walked away, he’d flip out.”
Under saddle he was equally and dangerously unpredictable.
And it was with a sad heart that Adams realized Scrumpy was ruined, she says, noting that the lesson she took away from the gelding’s story was a real “game changer” for her charity. Whereas in the past, TROTT USA sought to save, retrain and re-home just about any horse they were in a position to help, after Scrumpy, the mission changed: the charity now tries to obtain OTTBs before they slip down the claiming ranks.
“I want to go to the good tracks and the good owners to try to prevent any more Scrumpies from happening,” she says.
As Adams strives to prevent horses from winding up like Scrumpy, the beautiful gelding enjoys life as a sanctuary horse at HartSong Ranch Animal Sanctuary in Greenwood, Calif. As the second Thoroughbred ambassador at Kathy Hart’s sanctuary, Scrumpy has become a sanctuary favorite, attracting admirers every day.
“He’s magnificent and he has the most beautiful eyes. He’s touchable, and he doesn’t bite. We share his story to all our visitors,” Hart says. “We tell them how an animal like Scrumpy can be worth millions of dollars and later be thrown away.”
At HartSong Ranch, Scrumpy has finally found his place in the world. Carrying on the good work of his predecessor, a Thoroughbred named Clipper who was Hart’s longtime ambassador, Scrumpy has stepped into the role as the “face” of the sanctuary.
“I promised myself after Clipper died that someday, somehow, someway, we would find our second Thoroughbred ambassador,” Hart says. “When we found out that Scrumpy was no longer a candidate for riding, and were asked to take him, we said yes immediately. We share his story with everyone; he’s exactly the type of horse we needed to carry on Clipper’s memory.”