An underweight stallion who just last March was standing in a small sandy paddock in Florida, his tail caked with manure, his frame shrinking with malnutrition, is today a treasured show pony who recently packed his 15-year-old owner around the estimable HITS Saugerties circuit.
Going Coastal’s life story made several quick turns, and looked pretty grim, before helping hands put weight on his body, gave his life a new purpose, and eventually turned him over to Bridget Lautensack, a young Pennsylvania equestrian who had her choice of several first horses, but who only had eyes for the kind Thoroughbred.
It all turned around for Going Coastal last March, when well-known Thoroughbred advocate Melissa Rudershausen got a desperate phone call from a family trying to care for the stallion after the animal’s owner suffered a sudden change in life circumstances and could no longer do so, Rudershausen explains.
Show name: Mark My Word
Sire: Coastal Storm
Foal date: March 13, 2008“The horse had been malnourished for over a month and was in bad shape. I went to go see him and he was in a small sand paddock with no grass. The people were trying to do the right thing but they were feeding him cheap sweet feed and he had horrific diarrhea,” She says. “His whole tail was matted with manure and he was about 200-300lbs underweight. I took him in for two months, rehabbed him and he eventually went to a wonderful new home in Pennsylvania, where he has become quite a nice show horse even showing in the ‘A’ circuit.”
But on that day in March when she agreed to take him in, the only thing that known about Going Coastal, other than the obvious physical condition, was that he had a kind and gentle disposition. Feeling lousy and as yet not gelded, he was nonetheless incredibly sweet tempered, she says.
The seasoned Thoroughbred rescuer and trainer went to work immediately. The biggest challenge was getting his diarrhea under control, which she accomplished by feeding him probiotics as well as all the hay he could eat, and gradually adding a pelleted feed to his diet.
After about a week, the lethargic animal started to trot over to her when feeding time came, and by the second week he was galloping and bucking in his field, feeling great. “He was so happy and full of life! It was amazing to see the transition,” says Rudershausen, of Double Rock Thoroughbred Rescue. “He gained weight, got gelded, and we started him under saddle—he was a perfect gentleman from day 1. He knew his lead changes and was super quiet. Plus, he was always sound.”
With four weeks of riding under his belt, the result of good feed and exercise, Going Coastal was shipped to Pennsylvania to trainer Dawn Taylor-Bell, with whom Rudershausen has worked successfully for years.
And it was in Pennsylvania, as young Bridget Lautensack searched for a riding horse, with her mother Kathy by her side, that she noticed the bay Thoroughbred, all dappled in good health.
“He just looked so kind and sweet, and there was something about his face that made me want to know more about him,” Bridget says, before her mother Kathy Lautensack adds, “She really took to him. She just looked at me and said, ‘Mom, that’s my horse.’ ”
Though inexperienced, Going Coastal, who has been renamed Mark My Word, or Marco for short, tried very hard for his young rider. He had been training with Maria Trongo of Out of Reach Farm before his new owner took over the reins. Beginning with ground poles, he steadily progressed to 2-foot-6 jumps, and in July, placed in several classes at HITS Saugerties!
Despite the big atmosphere, and the newness of showing, Going Coastal got three 6th place ribbons in classes of 50 riders! “That was pretty amazing for him,” Kathy Lautensack says, noting that she and her daughter couldn’t be happier with the addition to their family.
“He’s come along really well,” Bridget adds. “He’s really smart and very athletic.”
— This story was originally published on Sept. 10, 2014. #TBT