DC attorney gets first horse for Christmas

Gigi and Izabela enjoy the best Christmas ever!

Gigi and Izabela enjoy the best Christmas ever!

As a child, Izabela Reis would sometimes buy a scratch ticket at the corner market for a horserace. Then, clutching it in her little hand, she would scurry home, sit wide eyed in front of the TV and watch the outcome of the race and of her little bet.

If her horse took first, she might win a gallon of milk or something, nothing very much.

But what the 38-year-old Washington, D.C. attorney now wonders is whether that fond memory, which she isn’t even sure she’s remembering one-hundredpercent accurately, didn’t instill in her the desire to own her own racehorse someday.

Whatever the reason compelling Reis to systematically conduct a two-year national search for a racehorse, who can say for sure? “I just know I’ve always wanted a horse, like any little girl, but I really wanted a racehorse. Maybe it has something to do with my childhood memory of going to that market and betting on a horse.”

Race name: Dieu Donne
New name: Gigi
Sire: Louis Quatorze
Dam: Passionate Cub

She likes to say now that she “took a gamble” when right before Christmas she purchased her first horse, an ex-racehorse Thoroughbred with the French moniker Dieu Donne. “I don’t speak French, and I had to look up the meaning, and apparently her name means gift from God,” she says.

Fittingly, her mare, now renamed Gigi, arrived just in time for Christmas.

“She really made my Christmas wish come true,” Reis says, “and my mother is just thrilled for me. I think as a parent it must be great to see your daughter get her wish.”

Growing up in the city, Reis took regular riding lessons, but there was never an opportunity to own a horse.

The new friends stay warm and snug on a cold winter day.

The new friends stay warm and snug on a cold winter day.

After graduating high school, she went off to college, followed by grad school, and set about establishing herself as securities litigator.

Now established in a stable career, Reis began thinking seriously about owning a horse. “I was a little demented in my quest to get one. I scoured every CANTER website in the country, and also regularly checked many others,” she says.

She also began reading blogs from Thoroughbred owners and horse publications to familiarize herself with issues an ex-racehorse may have, and technical information on how to spot the best physical conformation.

Just before Christmas, she spied the perfect horse: a 17-hand bay mare with large, white blaze and strikingly pretty face. As quickly as she found Gigi on www.mandmequestrian.com, a sales and training site run by equestrian Melissa Michelson, the mare was blanketed, and shipped to her on “Santa’s trailer.”

Rolling up on Dec. 18, Gigi poked her head out of the trailer, surveyed the scene, and hopped off at her new home, Bascule Farm. “She just walked over to a patch of grass, put her head down and started to graze,” she says. “Somebody told me that was a really good sign, because most horses are not that relaxed.”

Gigi arrives, nose first, at her new home.

Gigi arrives, nose first, at her new home.

That cool, calm attitude prevails. Through all kinds of head hugs, face scratches, and even a meeting with Reis’s exuberant poodle Midgie, the horse maintains a bright, and very friendly demeanor.

Around Christmas, Gigi shared a paddock with another Christmas horse, which was given to a little girl. Feeling a bit like a child herself, she and the child pointed to one another’s horses and talked excitedly. The encounter brought back her own childhood, riding imaginary horses around the living room, and collecting miniatures.

“I think when I decided to get back into this I had this idea of getting back to where I was” as a child, loving horses. “As I was cutting up apples for her this morning, I was thinking that I’ve always had these great, second-hand experiences, where I enjoy other peoples’ stories about their own horses.”

Now Izabela Reis has her own stories. And it’s even better than she imagined it as a child.

14 responses to “DC attorney gets first horse for Christmas”

  1. Shannon

    My Kentucky born OTTB, my first horse, was my 50th birthday gift to myself. I had wanted one my entire life, and I figured there was no better way to celebrate my big birthday. We are about to celebrate our one year anniversary. So in love with that boy.
    Congrats to all involved in this story. It resonates. 🙂

  2. SpotOn

    thanks so much for psoting this again.

  3. Melissa

    Thanks so much Becca! I really appreciate all the lovely comments 🙂

  4. Becca GT

    I would highly recommend Melissa for any sale considerations! The horse I travelled close to 8 hours to try out was not only exactly as she portrayed, but better- I bought him that AM, trucked him all the way to RI and, 3 weeks later, he has come “into his own” and is a treasured addition to my horse family! Thank you so much Melissa, and thanks for sharing this article!

  5. Susan Murray

    Congratulations on your new horse! I highly recommend Melissa Michelson. I bought a horse from her that wound up having a problem, and Melissa worked with me to find a solution. It was after the horse was vetted and the deal was sealed. Many other sellers would have said that I was on my own. The best way to rate the character of someone is to see how they handle things when there is a problem, and Melissa could not have been more accommodating. I know that Melissa is a wonderful horsewoman, clearly loves horses and is honorable and trustworthy. I’m also an attorney. I grew up as a poor child living in a city, always dreamimg of owning a horse, so I certainly can understand how happy you must be.

  6. Nina Shaffer

    Melissa Michelson is a very honest selling advocate and I would personally recommend her. She works very hard to places horses in homes with loving owners. This article reminds those who sell horses on a daily basis of the rewards that go with this profession. This was such a touching article and I am glad this was forwarded on to me. =)

  7. Melissa

    Hey Izzy and Susan! Thank you so much for the wonderful story 🙂 It means so much to me, Melissa

    1. Colleen Torsney

      Tears of joy for Gigi & you Izzy!! We called her Didi & she was the last of 2 horses my father had in his lifetime of ownership. He had high hopes for her, & warned me several times not to get to know her as I would fall in love…..Now that I know she is part of your love story, I know my dad is looking out for her. We call that an angel dart. Congratulations & keep me posted if you have time. I come to Md/DC a few times a year!


  8. Larry Karlin

    You are so lucky to have found Melissa. Her love for horses means you have found your beautiful Chistmas present from a beautiful young woman who knows as much about the “right” horse and how to cae for them as anyone.
    May your years of pleasure and joy be with your new companian.


  9. Kelly

    Oh what a lovely mare!

  10. Louise Ferro Martin

    Congratulations!! I am so happy for you and GiGi! She is a beautiful mare. I loved horses all of my life and was in my early forties when I finally got my one and only horse, an off track thoroughbred. I wish you all the very best and I already see your happiness!

    This story sure tugs at your heart, Susan. Thank you!

  11. Javier Donatelli DVM

    Congratulations IZZY
    Such a nice story!
    Gigi is sooooo Lucky now!!

  12. Samantha Bergin

    She is so gorgeous Izzy! I am beyond happy for you! I can’t wait to hear about your experiences every step of the way. And I look forward to one day riding together on the same coast! xoxo Merry Christmas my friend. Gigi has died and gone to heaven being with you!

    – Sam

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