Never forgotten, Honorable Ruler brought home

Lisa Molloy: “You’re safe now.”

Diana Baker was haunted by the beautiful face of a racehorse she once knew.

For years she tracked the lovely large eyed Thoroughbred who grew up on Spring Hill Farm, where she worked and helped to rear him, and was later sold into a racing life.

She followed his every step, always putting the word out to his connections that she would take the feller they called Honorable Ruler whenever he was done with racing.

“When he ended at Penn National, I spoke with his trainer, and said I would give the horse a home when he was done racing,” Baker says. “I called the guy later and he told me he had given him away.

“I thought the horse went to slaughter; I thought he was dead.”

For years, thoughts of Honorable Ruler dying in a slaughterhouse preyed upon her.

Baker, a former member of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, and current member of Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, is one of those horse people, like many, who Race name: Honorable Ruler
Sire: Honour and Glory
Dam: Queen Tutta
Foal date: April 27, 2002
worry after the soft muzzles and winsome faces like she would a child.

The wife of WinStar Farm general manager Chris Baker says that this horse had been “through hell and back” with owners and trainers, and until her phone rang in late summer 2012, she’d thought she’d failed in her promise to herself, and to the horse, to find him, wherever he was, and to take him home when his hard work was done.

Goosebumps rose, and she started to cry when California Thoroughbred advocate Deborah Jones called in late September to inform her that Honorable Ruler was alive and needed some help.

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard his name! It was so unbelievable when Deb called me that I asked her if she was serious, was she sure he was still alive?” she says. “I burst into tears because finally I got to keep my promise to this horse.”

Working in tandem with Jones and with Thoroughbred re-trainer Lisa Molloy, Honorable Ruler was lavished with care. Baker paid to update his long overdue vaccines, as well as his Coggins. And in short order, he was taken to Molloy’s Virginia-based facility, where she re-trains horses from Re-Run, Inc. and Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue.

Molloy and her son see a horse restored

When Molloy first caught sight of the large bay, he wasn’t in the best shape, but neither was it the worst.

“He wasn’t critical, but, his hind legs were encrusted in scabs and sores, and he was underweight,” she says. “And his teeth needed to be done because they had massive hooks.”

Immediately, the dentist was called in to file his teeth, and a farrier brought in to shape up his overgrown feet, and shoe him. A chiropractor was also retained to help ease some discomfort in his back, she says.

As Molloy has tended to his needs, she has apprised Baker of his adaptation to a new life. And Baker has promised to help pay for any other needs the horse may require.

About 150 pounds underweight when he arrived, Honorable Ruler has regained nicely, and is happy to gobble up anything thrown in his stall, she says.

And as he fills out, his somewhat aggressive personality has softened as well.

“He’d been outside for two years and was used to fighting for his food,” Molloy says. “Now, if he’s been outside for two hours, he wants to immediately come back into the barn!”

She adds, “I think he remembers his pampered days back at Spring Hill, and he’s thinking, ‘Hey, I’m not supposed to be left outside for long periods of time, and I’m supposed to be wearing a blanket.’ ”

Look at his beautiful eye!

Bred by the late Edward D. Evans of Spring Hill Farm, Honorable Ruler earned $7,000 on the track, before retiring from racing three years ago.

But while Honorable Ruler is dining and sleeping in luxury and comfort, Molloy has greater plans for him than to be a fat, round pasture ornament.

He has now been entered in a 90-day training program called the Re-Run All Stars, which is funded by an ASPCA grant and promises to turn him into the perfect riding horse for an intermediate rider, Molloy says.

Though he may not be destined for great competition, he will most likely make a fine riding horse, says Molloy.

It is a tribute to the good nature of the breed, that makes this special horse a prize, even after all he has been through, Baker says.

“I wish more people understood how wonderful these horses are, from backyard horses to first-class athletes,” she says.

13 responses to “Never forgotten, Honorable Ruler brought home”

  1. Judy

    Sorry I had a typo above. It should say the new owner can race them if they want. Once they have the papers in their name you can’t hold them to a verbal or written agreement which I think is wrong.

  2. Judy

    Such a wonderful story. Also we must all beware if you sell your horse for breeding stock . Hold onto the papers as long as you can because I was told that once the new buyer has the papers they can race them if you want. After retiring a stallion for breeding purposes an unscrupulous woman just shipped him out and ran him in another state. Through a rescue group I found the supposed buyer and the whole story was bogus and lies. The race offices and stewards said sorry about your luck. The jockey club said to keep papers. It still haunts me .

  3. Lizabeth

    Happy Ending! Everyone is entitled to one.. Thanks for the wonderful story. Love to hear of Honorable Ruler in his next career!!!

  4. Lizabeth

    Happy Ending! Everyone is entitled to one.. Thanks for the wonderful story. Love to hear of Honorable Ruler in his next career!!!

  5. sybil

    Shauna, there is the Jockey Club program, but I don’t know how effective it is or if many owners/trainers use it.
    When was the last you knew of the 4 horses you can’t find?

  6. Kristi Johnson

    That is such a good story and it is great to see a person like Diana that cares. I used to help break Spring Hill horses for Legacy Stable and have met Chris Baker a few times. What a great guy and Mr Evans used to breed some very nice horses that deserve great homes when they are done (of course, all the OTTB do). I’m glad this guy got a good home and there are many people out there working together to help the cause!!!!

  7. Heidi Rockhold

    Another GREAT story of a rescued OTTB.. This breed is so loving and forgiving.. And from experience, i can definitely say that he landed in the hands of one of the most amazing and caring ladies i have had the pleasure of knowing. Lisa has been a great advocate for these horses and what she truly believes in… Well done Lisa.. and Diana Baker – thank you for never giving up on finding this beautiful animal.. Wonderful people such as yourself as well always give me hope that these horses will thrive in happiness off the track…

  8. L. Melone

    Once again I’m getting all teary reading another of your stories. So nice to see another one was saved.

  9. Linda Moss

    What a great story; there are aspects of this that remind me so of my story with Milyone!! Having a connection with a horse and hoping someday they will be yours – such a wonderful thing when your paths cross and it happens! Rock on Honorable Ruler!!

  10. Shauna Harrigan

    Thank you for the great story. I can totally appreciate what this woman went through. I was a yearling groom in KY in 2008. I tried to follow the careers of the 5 colts who were in my care. I wanted owners to know they had a place to go after retirement. I tried reaching out to trainers and owners. Emails and phone calls went unanswered. Today, I only know the whereabouts of 1 of my colts (now a gelding). It breaks my heart. I wish there was a system or a way for people to attach notes to a horse’s record to let current and future owners know there is a home waiting at the end of the line for them, should one be needed.

    1. Kim S

      Shauna, I asked some friends and fellow animal welfare advocates and they advised that if you have the yearling’s names and dam’s names, that would be the place to start. Also if you know any of the owners or trainers that handled them most recently. Hope I’m not stepping out of bounds but just wanted to help. If you can post any of this info on Facebook to RIP Deputy Broad page, we can network with you and hopefully find the 4 missing horses.

  11. TBDancer

    What a GREAT STORY, Susan!! Congratulations to Diane and Lisa and Re-Run All Stars, and good luck to Honorable Ruler in the competition. These stories happen all the time, without fanfare, but the more the word gets out that horses do “fall through the cracks” and need someone to either take them in or foster/sponsor them during their recovery and retraining, the more options are open to owners and trainers of horses that aren’t competitive or that get injured. Keep up the good work–this is the BEST kind of “Christmas” story!

  12. Ethel Cooney

    That is a wonderful thing to know that you have saved him we have in our family a retired thoroughbred. They are usually well mannered and happy to do anything that is asked of them, he is a part of a herd of seven each and everyone is unique and lovable returning that love many times over!

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