One pale Thoroughbred changed everything for them.
Almost overnight, Xan Owens and Michelle Arani went from merely considering horse ownership to the outright purchase of two Thoroughbreds— one for them, one for their teenage daughter—and racing toward their dream of establishing a nonprofit for horse advocacy.
“Never did we think we’d wind up owning one horse, much less two,” Owen says. “And the idea of a nonprofit wasn’t even in the ballpark!”
So much of it began by fluke.
Race name: Veritably Icy
New name: Silver
Sire: Mr. Integrity
Dam: Mighty Icy
Age: 15Two years earlier they had decided to place Arani’s daughter Mitra in riding lessons, after the young girl complained about being “bored” with traditional summer camp. That dull feeling was soon replaced with a passion, which seized both the girl and her family.
And as Mitra progressed through weekly lessons, often choosing to ride some of the most difficult mounts, Owens and Arani watched from the sidelines and recalled their own childhoods spent in the saddle. “Some people say you get reintroduced to life by kids, and I think in our case that it’s really the case,” Owens says.
Both Owens and Arani experienced such joy riding as youngsters that when Mitra asked for her own horse, they couldn’t resist. They purchased Veritably Icy, a 14-year-old gelding, and entered the horse now called Silver into training with Toni and Colin McIntosh at the Portola Valley Training Center.
As Mitra and Silver continued to advance, showing at HITS Thermal recently, and making steady progress as a team, Owens started to entertain the possibility of recapturing her own long lost joy of riding.
“We decided that if Mitra could have a horse of her own, why couldn’t we? You’re never too old, right?”
After finding four-year-old gelding Why Trust online, and visiting him several times to conduct their own “spook tests,” the horse came home with them.
“At one point we took a rolling garbage can and wheeled it around him to see what he’d do. He stuck his head in it. I tossed a shirt over his head, and he didn’t care,” Owens says. “Everywhere we went, he just followed.”
Trusty, as he is called for short, underwent surgery this week to remove a bone chip, and after two weeks of stall rest, will be rehabilitated at Bay Hill Equine. He will be reconditioned on an aquapacer, and gradually brought back to his former condition.
Race name: Why Trust
Sire: Friends Lake
Dam: Lovely Nedra
Age: 4It’s an opportunity that many horses like him never get, Owens says. And he is part of the reason the former police officer, is working to start a nonprofit advocacy for ex-racehorses.
“An injury doesn’t necessarily mean the end of a career … and we want to ensure horses get the necessary treatments,” she says. “They all deserve a chance … and we envision a world of endless possibilities for the Thoroughbred.”
The concept is to create a facility, to be called Take 2 Ranch, where horses in need can be rehabilitated and retrained for a next career. Owens has submitted paperwork for nonprofit status, and while she patiently waits, she looks forward to every day that she has with her out on the farm, “getting dirty” and bonding with the spunky creatures.
“Our lives have changed completely,” Owens says. “Working with these beautiful animals gave us the ability to … strive to be better horse owners, better humans, and to cherish the true partnership between man and animal. Our Thoroughbreds have given us a life we never imagined.”