On an August night in 2012 when Banker’s Heiress quietly appeared at a catchall animal rescue in New Hampshire, Lisa Healy and her husband John did a double take.
And they thought, “What is she doing here?”
It wasn’t that “here” was so bad. The Live and Let Live Farm in Chichester, N.H. was home to a mixed breed herd of 70 horses, and the Healy’s spent many fulfilling hours tossing hay to the motley crew.
But the bright chestnut Thoroughbred mare stood out like a peacock, says Healy who notes, “The first time I saw her, I couldn’t believe that a horse of her obvious quality would end up at a rescue; She was so beautiful; She had such a presence. All I could say was, what’s a horse like her doing here?”
Barn name: Goldie
Sire: Banker’s Gold
Dam: Original Heiress
Foal date: May 3, 2001
Earnings: $74,903 in 40 startsThough that question was never fully answered, because Banker’s Heiress was said to have passed through five different owners between the time of her last race at Suffolk Downs in October 2007, and the night she wound up at the New Hampshire charity,
In those four years, Banker’s Heiress, who they nicknamed Goldie, is rumored to have bounced from barn to barn in the New England area, possibly selling in a dispersal sale at one facility, before ultimately winding up like a ragamuffin at the doorstep of a charity.
In 2011, after she was discovered starved, neglected and standing painfully on two abscessed front feet, the former racehorse and great-granddaughter of Secretariat was taken in out of pity by Wishmaker Farm in Dover, N.H. And shortly after that, the once-lovely race mare became the poster horse for one of those ubiquitous social media fundraisers. “Her life was at an all-time low at this point,” Healy says. “Her foot had become infected from her bad living conditions, and her body score was between a 1 and a 2, according to vet records, which also reported she was developing laminitis in all four feet.”
Slowly, the hardworking folks at Wishmaker Farm brought Goldie back to her former self. After raising $4,000 in donations, her foot was operated on by Seacoast Equine of Stratham, N.H., and her lameness issues resolved.
But the mare wasn’t done with her travels just yet.
She bounced one more time, to the Live and Let Live Farm, where the Healy’s discovered her.
The longtime horse lovers were not in the market for a new horse, emphatically not, Healy says. With one horse in their family already, they were content with their volunteer work until the night Banker’s Heiress arrived.
“We’ve always loved Thoroughbreds. My husband grew up in New Jersey and rode them as a kid,” she says, noting that it was natural for them to gravitate toward her.
“We started helping to take care of her after she arrived, taking her on hand walks, and feeding her,” she says. “We kept telling each other we wouldn’t get attached.”
Then when a friend at their barn, who knew the mare’s backstory, told them of her brush with death and her years spent bouncing between homes, the couple quickly decided they would be the ones to end her sad journey from home to home.
As fate would have it, the Healy’s had made the final mortgage payment on their own home, and with the newfound security, and additional financial breathing room, quickly decided there was no horse more deserving of their help than the beautiful Thoroughbred.
“We felt so bad that she ended up in a rescue. She was too nice a horse to be sitting there,” she says. “We were afraid she’d wind up, somehow, going back to a life where she was passed around from owner to owner, and we couldn’t let that happen.” — Originally published on Aug. 5, 2015.