Injured racehorse is no lawn ornament; a gift

Paoli is so lovely that strangers stop to take his picture.

Paoli was adopted by the Rosenbergs from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation. Too injured to ride, he enriches their lives nonetheless.

Paoli is a 17-hand strapping gelding so beautiful that strangers will stop their cars to get a picture.

He presides like a king over the small Kentucky farm he shares with three other ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds. As the alpha male in the herd he makes sure everyone behaves; and, as the apple in the eye for owners Elizabeth and Glenn Rosenberg, he’s a powerful reminder of the worth of all equine athletes.

“Paoli in particular is such a wonderful, wonderful horse,” Elizabeth says. “Never could I have imagined having a horse like him before he came along. And even though he can’t be ridden, he is a tremendous addition to our family.”

Sire: Brunswick
Dam: Dijla (GB)
Foal date: March 30, 1999
Though the striking chestnut gelding broke down in his last race at Suffolk Downs in 2005, fusing his pasterns and making him un-rideable thereafter, the Rosenberg’s adopted him not for what he couldn’t do, but for all he had done.

“Paoli was raced until he broke down. He gave everything he had,” Elizabeth says. “Paoli and horses like him give such tremendous pleasure and love, and they bring such calm and beauty to our world that I feel very proud and extremely lucky to have athletes like him in our care.”

The Rosenberg’s decided to adopt Paoli after first sponsoring a horse at the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, she says. Week after week, she and her husband would visit the mare at the TRF’s Blackburn facility, who has long since died, and marvel at all the beautiful horses, some of them quite needy. “The one I really wanted was really quite handicapped, and I wasn’t able to find a facility to put him in, so someone said, ‘we have 88 horses here. Do you think you could find someone else? And I saw Paoli’s name and I knew him! I saw him race in Delaware and he’d come off the track in the spring. I got him in August 2006.”

Elizabeth Rosenberg takes exception to the expression, "lawn ornament." Injured ex-racehorses deserve to be thought of better, she says.

Elizabeth Rosenberg takes exception to the expression, “lawn ornament.” Injured ex-racehorses deserve to be thought of better, she says.

For the first few years, before the couple purchased the 16-acre Le Bon Cheval Farm (Translation: The Good Horse Farm), they boarded Paoli at a nearby facility. After a time, Glenn decided he wanted to buy ex-racehorse Speedway, a horse he had admired from afar. And after that, the couple acquired two more Thoroughbreds (Interpretation and Miss Moderate) and a Quarter Horse. And they built a house squarely in the middle so they could watch their equine athletes from every window.

“We have pastures all around, and when we get up in the morning we can look out and see them every minute,” she says, noting that Paoli has inspired them. “We had no horsey background before this. Paoli has taught me all there is to know.”

And he has protected her as well as he looks after his herd of fellow OTTBs, she says. Like the time he stepped in, years ago, to drive off two charging horses who made a beeline for her at their old boarding facility, she says.

“I was facing the barn and watching a couple of guys spraying water, washing the barn down. The spray must have spooked these two horses, because they came straight at me, and Paoli turned around and reared up, and they just took off. I’ve seen him get bitten by another horse rather than move into my space, and when the other horses crowd the gate when I come through, he steps in and moves them away.”

Paoli is as much a member of her family as any of them, far more than a pretty face, and certainly not to be dismissed as a mere “pasture ornament.”

“I actually find the term lawn ornament offensive,” she says. “Paoli broke down at his last race at Suffolk Downs. People think it’s clever to talk about lawn ornaments, but you don’t hear them saying this about a professional football player who gets injured, they don’t call him a lawn ornament. These horses gave their all to a sport, and some of them got hurt.”

They deserve more respect, she says, noting that at Le Bon Cheval, her little group of equine athletes is living the retirement life they all so richly deserve.

9 responses to “Injured racehorse is no lawn ornament; a gift”

  1. Lynne Jones

    God Bless You for saving Paoli and the other horses you have. These horses deserve to live out their life with love and gentleness. I save those that I can and wish I could save more. They are so beautiful and God’s gift to us, like our dogs. cats. and donkeys. It’s just too bad there are so many bad people that feel they are like an old piece of furniture to be discarded. Shame on them. May they get what is coming to them in the end. I think all of our horses deserve love, and a great home.

  2. Alan Van Norman

    I have visited the farm and spent time with Glenn and Elizabeth. I can say they are both wonderful people and care takers of these beautiful animals. They truly love their horses and have provided a healthy happy home for these horses to live out their days.

  3. Gloria

    Thank you for sharing. These animals so deserve a second chance. Just watching them in the pasture is enrichment to our own life. May you all have a long and rewarding relationship.

  4. Jamie Holder

    He’s absolutely beautiful. Horses are my life’s love but unfortunately, financially, I can’t afford to own one. But if I did, I would definitely have a few just like Paoli. There is more to having and loving horses than riding them. My favorite part of having a horse, when I did have my ottb gelding, was just brushing him down. I always got a special thrill just to pick out his feet, weird I know.
    I see so many that don’t appreciate or care about the animals they have and a lot of the people that really love and care are the ones that can’t have them.

  5. Bev Dee

    Beautiful story. If every farm that had room and the funds would take just one horse in need, it would make a tremendous difference. This family chose five. How wonderful.

  6. Karen McB

    Recently I brought to the farm a gorgeous black gelding with a stripe & snipe from one of the local racetracks. He was so gentle and as I listened to his trainer at the time say how he just was fast enough and needed to find a new career. In just a few days I lined up horse transport, interstate documents to cross over from one state to the next. Several folks were on hand to wrap his legs, put a light blanket on him and load him up. The hauler was amazed how well he loaded, did make a sound, and came on the trailer at night to new surroundings just like he lived here all his life.
    WELL – I had my vet out immediately and was a bit concerned about how calm he was being – a 3 yr. old gelding off the track – what’s up! Had blood drawn blah blah blah and when the results came back he had contracted EPM. For the past 8 months treating him daily for EPM and maintaining a well balanced diet.
    I happy to report that Forrest (I gave him that barn name) he’s never been registered that day by day he continues to recover and my vet just gave me the GO to start working him a few days a week on a lunge. He does have muscle atrophy so it’s easy, easy, easy.
    I love him with all my heart and he has found his forever home at SplendorHaven Farm.
    I believe strongly in Second Chances!!

  7. Rebecca Hill

    Paoli is such a handsome big boy! What a wonderful & loving couple to buy some more ottb’s and a Quarter horse, to boot! What a great idea to build your home in the middle so they could enjoy their equids so much more! Sending them much love & “positive energy” for many years,to enjoy these happy & well loved ones that are so deserving of a good retirement!! Most sincerely,B.

  8. Donna Portree

    A beautiful story – tribute to horses who so deserve to retire with dignity

  9. Ute Shepherd

    Love this story. Reminds me to a degree of my mare that got injured on the track as well and faced an uncertain future. Thanks for sharing.

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