For years, Linda Moss had been fascinated with the racehorse named Milyone.
While nowhere close to being a household name, to Moss, the chestnut gelding known for great speed, not stamina, was the one she avidly followed. “He’s one in a mily-own,” she quips.
Enthusiastically reading stories about the racehorse’s progress on the track, and even watching one of his workouts once at Santa Anita Park, she had followed his progress the way a high-tech marketing professional such as herself might follow the trends in her business.
“This was always a very special horse. His first trainer was John Shirrreffs, and he was owned at one point by the famous Moss family, which is no relation to me,” Moss says. “I attribute Milyone’s kind disposition and attraction to people to John’s temperament and patience with his horses.”
But the love for horses was in the bosom of both Moss families, and late in April or early May, when Linda Moss discovered that Milyone had turned up as a sale horse listed by CANTER California, her heart skipped a beat.
Hardly daring to believe that the horse she so admired could possibly be hers if she wanted, she contacted the racehorse re-training organization and made an appointment to meet the striking animal.
Race name: Milyone
Sire: Maria’s Mon
Dam: Queen of Mulbrook
Foal date: March 1, 2005
Earnings: $63,000But fate can deal a cruel blow, and the day before she was due to drive with her husband to actually lay her hands on the great-great grandson of Majestic Prince, Moss lost her job.
After 25 years as a marketing professional, she was suddenly laid off as she was just reaching out to grasp her dream of horse ownership.
“It put a damper on things,” she admits. “I knew that I didn’t want to have an animal or another living thing I’m responsible for unless I could give them whatever they needed. So financially, I thought it might not be the best thing.”
But, after consulting with her husband, they decided to at least go take a peek at the creature who had so captured her imagination. And then their hearts overrode any other concerns about adopting a horse; they were goners.
“I tell people that he adopted us,” Moss says. “As soon as we arrived, he immediately came up to me and put his head in my chest and started breathing heavily on me. He took to us right away.”
Of course the Moss family had to think hard about the reality of what they were considering.
They took two months to decide whether adopting the ex-racehorse would be feasible, and in the meantime, made financial donations to CANTER California to help support his needs.
In some ways, he was a special-needs horse, she notes. “He had hoof issues” (which are being addressed with glue-on shoes) “and he suffered with a sore back.”
Visiting him every two weeks, the couple was delighted to see how the animal, an “old soul,” would romp over to see them with childlike delight.
“He has such a presence and is such a beautiful mover,” she enthused, noting that he was initially given to Gina Miles, 2008 US Olympic Silver Medalist for 3-day Eventing, and her assistant, Bec Braitling, for transition training. “Everyone who sees him is drawn to him. But being wowed by him and actually adopting him were two different things.”
She and her husband had several discussions about it before finally deciding in September that even without her income, they would make cuts elsewhere in their budget to make room for Milyone.
“When you balance out some of the things one purchases, against what your day-to-day needs are, it was an easy decision.”
The Moss family moved him to Windfall Farm, at the Los Laureles Training & Equine Therapy Center, of Paso Robles, Calif., and have set about addressing both his feet and back problems.
He was recently fitted with EponaShoes, a glue-on that improves his comfort while allowing his feet to grow out and toughen up, and he is receiving regular chiropractic and electrical stimulation therapy for his sore back.
And what a lucky horse! He will spend most of the winter grazing in a pasture, and won’t start under saddle until possibly this coming spring.
While she waits for the day when the veterinarian declares Milyone is 100 percent again, Moss just feels thrilled to see her philanthropic giving, which includes donations to Old Friends in Kentucky and other Thoroughbred nonprofits, come full-circle in the form of a storybook racehorse who descended from greatness.
“Of the 35,000 foals born every year, only a small percentage make it to the track,” she says. “I think the Thoroughbred is incredibly beautiful and intelligent … and I think we have some interesting parallels here.
“He didn’t have a home, and in some ways, with my job ending, I don’t either. We both have challenges ahead. My challenge is finding my next employer, and in the meantime, he is an inspiration and a motivation to me.”