A horse no one could save runs free

Seton Hall was given life-saving surgery last year by Rood & Riddle. Few expected him to survive. He is now a treasured pet.

Seton Hall was given life-saving surgery last year by Rood & Riddle. Few expected him to survive. He is now a treasured pet.

As good as dead last September, a horse whose leg fracture was so severe many veterinarians said it was hopeless, now stands soundly on four good legs; a testament to the “inner fight” the animal showed during the very worst of times.

“I couldn’t give up on him,” says Brittany Wright of Savannah, Tenn. “So many vets told me they couldn’t fix that horse, but he had so much heart that even with his leg as bad as it was, he was dragging me around. I felt like it was his way of telling me to fight for him.”

After calling a handful of veterinarians on behalf of 8-year-old retired racehorse Seton Hall, and being told repeatedly that the slab fracture to his radius at his left, front knee was irreparable —“one vet said that the best that could be hoped for was a horse with a peg leg, but that he’d never be able to bend his knee”—Wright made a last-ditch effort and called Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital in Kentucky.

Seton Hall
Sire: Lion Heart
Dam: New Jersey
Foal date: Feb. 4, 2007
“Finally, a friend of mine told me that Rood & Riddle was the only vet who could fix her horse when he fractured his elbow. She told me to send the films to Dr. Al Ruggles, and I did. He called me right away and said he could fix him.”

So on Sept. 11, 2015, Seton Hall hobbled onto a trailer and rode to the world-renowned facility in Kentucky. Two days later during surgery, Dr. Ruggles inserted three pins and restrung the ligaments of Seton Hall’s knee, changing the fate of a horse beloved among jockeys, exercise riders and grooms in the Louisville area.

“This horse was like a hometown hero in Kentucky. Everybody knew him. One of his grooms sent $300 toward the cost of his surgery—I still have his note. He said he would stop whatever he was doing when he knew Seton Hall was going to run, go up to the rail, and watch him.”

Seton Hall was operated on at Rood & Riddle last year after several vets said his case was hopeless.

Seton Hall was operated on at Rood & Riddle last year after several vets said his case was hopeless.

The groom was one of several fans and former riders who contributed to an online fundraiser that generated half of the $6,000 veterinary tab. Wright and her family still make payments, happily, that restored an animal once so valuable he fetched $300,000 as a Yearling.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Wright says. “This horse had so much fight. You could see it shining in his eyes.”

Seton Hall now lives with a new family in Nashville, Tenn., and gives pony rides to an adoring little girl who sometimes takes an hour to groom her new friend. The family, who was identified and vetted by Thoroughbred charity Second Stride, the same organization where Wright purchased her horse, keeps him in hay and love all day, she says, noting that the family often sends photos.

“That horse is so happy now. When I had him, he was all business. He had a job to do, and he wanted to do it. He was not the kind of horse who liked to stand for grooming,” she says. “Now he has this little girl, and he loves her. The girl and her friends put him on the crossties and groom him for hours!”

— Brittany Wright purchased off-track Thoroughbred Strike a Balance, nephew to Zenyatta, and will compete him at the upcoming Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover.

19 responses to “A horse no one could save runs free”

  1. kelly blue

    So happy to know this. Wonderful to save this horse and he is happy with his lill” girl. <3

  2. Patty Wilson

    Great story Susan! You find the best OTTB stories. But then look who you are writing about. Congratulations and thanks to all who here involved with Seton Hall.

  3. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    So glad all turned out well for Seton Hall and he has a wonderful home. Our organization has two long term retirees by Lion Heart who have great personalities and love attention too.

  4. Robert

    I have a Freisan mare that broke one of the bones in her knee. She was my dream horse and only 3 at the time. I took her to Equine Medical Center of Ocala and DR. Peloso put in 2 plates and 8 screws to hold the knee together , five months later she developed an infection and after a lot of antibiotics he ended up having to remove 1 of the plates & 4 or screws. She was 4 in May and doing well. Runs with our other horses and I have been taking her on trails for 3 months now .

  5. Sherry George

    Wow.. I had a horse that fractured his knee twice… He was on stall rest for months with no improvement.. Vet wanted to put him down.. I wanted to give him just another few weeks. He walked out sound. This horse today 3 yrs later is 100% sound, vet cleared for jumping and doing well as a show horse..His sire was also Lion Heart

  6. Mary McLeod

    This story would make an excellent movie. Disney…are you reading?!?! I just love the personality shining out of Seton Hall’s eye in the first photo. A little girl and her horse….haven’t we all been there?!?!…and doesn’t it tug at your heart?!?! That was when I developed a strong attachment for the scent of horse and leather. Thank you, Lisa, for posting the video of 2 close friends loving their new life. xoxo to ALL, Mary in Boone

  7. Lisa

    Thanks for the wonderful story Susan and to everyone for your comments! We are the family in Franklin TN that adopted Seton from Brittany and have loved every moment with him. He is a wonderful, very social horse (with a few quirky habits :), and he’s a huge part of our family. We will never show him, but he gets plenty of ground work and leisure ride time – and is still ALL BUSINESS when it comes time to hit the arena for lunge work or to saddle up. He’s very smart and a quick study. We also introduced a new buddy to him in May. His new pasture mate shown in the video above is Call Me Wonderful – a 5 yr old recently retired OTTB that also needed a new home due to bone spurs in his front ankles that limited his 2nd career abilities. The two are inseparable and our family is equally as attached to both of them. I only wish we had more land so we could take in more OTTBs that need a good home and that don’t have good 2nd career options. These are beautiful and athletic animals that deserve a good home when they’re done racing!

    1. Brooke Schafer

      I just love you guys and I’m forever grateful for you for providing CMW a home. He is the best and I miss him so much. Please send him lots of love from me!! This is a great article! You all are a blessing to them both.

      1. Lisa

        Brooke, we absolutely adore CMW! He’s super chill and laid back and a big lovable dude. he and Seton are really attached and are comical together. Love watching the two of them horse around and be goofy geldings together!

    2. BillinStL

      I am part of the ownership group that raced CMW and who connected with Brooke. He was such a cool horse for us and were very sorry that he couldn’t work out for Brooke … But then so happy that he has found a fabulous permanent home and new best friend. It would be great if I could get on an e-mail distribution if you send out periodic photos of these guys.

  8. Sylvie Hebert

    Rood and Riddle is the best in America…

    1. Sylvie Hebert

      And thoroughbreds are fighters and will not be denied a chance…

  9. Cheri

    “Now he has this little girl that loves him”, that says it all!

  10. Todd H

    I shed a tear On this story but I am so happy it worked out!

  11. Carrie

    Yay Seton! Susan, this is the horse I had messaged you about last year, asking for help getting his story out. We loved him and are so glad he’s alive and happy.

  12. Ken Hamilton

    What a great story to start off September with. 🙂

  13. Susan Galvan

    What a great story. Thank you for sharing this. I believe that all retired thoroughbreds, should be able to enjoy a life like this. TBs are a little bit different than the average horse. They love being the center of attention, and they know when it’s all about them. To just turn them out, after their career at the track, really does then a dis-service.

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