Roadside-rescue colt is children’s show pony

Barkinspider had a body score of 2 out of 10 when he was found on the Louisiana roadside

Barkinspider had a body score of 2 out of 10 when he was found on the Louisiana roadside

Nobody was looking for Barkinspider the day the shockingly thin colt was collected from a Louisiana roadside like a heap of discarded trash.

Just another unwanted ex-racehorse of no particular value, the petite white animal’s coat had fallen out in patches where the rain rot had gotten to it, and his eyes had dulled with a look of defeat.

When horse-rescue personnel from the Lafayette Parish Animal Control led him onto a trailer to drive him to safety, he offered neither protest nor fight. It was as if the energy to hope for a better life had been drained away by that time, recalls Anne Marie P. Muller, an attorney and avid equestrian.

“What struck me more than anything was how defeated he seemed,” Muller says. “After I saw his picture on Facebook, I drove an hour to go see him in person, and while I stood with him in his pasture, he allowed me to hold his head in my hands.

“I remember thinking, ‘How do you walk away from that?’ If it wasn’t going to be me, who else would it be? I had to take him.”

Muller decided quickly to take him. Not knowing what lay beneath the wreckage of an animal found wandering a highway—had he escaped from somewhere terrible, had a careless owner just dumped him? — Muller knew that this was the horse she wanted to help.

Race name: Barkinspider
New name: Regarding Henry
Barn name: Henry
Sire: Mom’s Little Guy
Dam: Star of Maurice
Foal date: April 17, 2009

“I’d been thinking about rescuing a horse for some time,” she says. Having ridden “made” horses herself, and having witnessed many excellent riders doing the same on highly trained animals, Muller felt in her bones that to be a truly great horseman, she would have to bring a horse along from the bottom up. “Anybody can ride a made horse if they’re a decent rider, but to be an excellent rider, a more complete rider, you have to train a horse from scratch,” she reasons.

And it so happened that on a late September day last year, as Muller was deciding to rescue the little animal from his lonely pasture, the Animal Control center that had scooped him up was about to grapple with an abuse and neglect case involving 75 horses. The all-too-common scenario was “overwhelming” Animal Control at the time, and Muller made haste to get the little guy she would rename Henry to a new home; her home.

“I drove back a week later with my trailer” on Sept. 21 “and I remember that after I opened the trailer, he walked right in, and he whinnied all the way back to the barn,” she says. “He seemed brighter immediately.”

The road to a new life wasn’t without its setbacks, but looking back on the past year, it’s remarkable to Muller how “easy” the little colt’s transition has been.

He regained weight eating good hay with a gradual addition of grain and other feed to his meal plan, and Muller was able to put him into light work a few months after he arrived.

Starting with light ground work, followed by light rides; her plan to gradually build up muscle as he put on weight rewarded her with a nicely rounded, not fat, horse with a mind ready to work.

He's just the sweetest ride now

He’s just the sweetest ride now

“He was putting on weight so fast that I didn’t want him to get fat. Instead I wanted to slowly develop his muscle at the same time,” she explains. “But being as frail as he was, I didn’t want to push him either.”

Another consideration in his training was that he was still a colt. “As his energy returned, I wanted him to have the brain to deal with it. I thought it was important to get him into a routine early,” she adds.

When she thinks of all the things that could have gone wrong, of the horror stories she’s heard about rescue horses, Henry seemed ridiculously easy to bring along. Aside from rain rot, which cleared up with medical treatment, and poorly shaped feet, which are slowly being reconfigured to allow his frog more comfort, Henry’s recovery from starvation and neglect was a very smooth ride.

“There are so many stories I hear about with rescues, with abscesses, and bucking,” she says. “He didn’t have any of those issues, and the first time I rode him, he was easy.”

In no time, Henry started competing in local shows with 8-year-old rider Emma Munroe. At a recent show, the pair was First Reserve Champions in a walk-trot equitation class, Muller says with pride. And in a pre-green 2-foot-six course, he has shown a great aptitude for jumping. He jumps so big with his balanced, well-muscled body that Muller fully believes her little throw-away horse will never go unvalued again.

Henry and his 8-year-old rider Emma Munroe makes the prettiest picture at a recent show

Henry and his 8-year-old rider Emma Munroe makes the prettiest picture at a recent show

“A horse needs to have some kind of value. It’s very important for them to have some kind of marketability,” she says. “There are so many Thoroughbreds in Louisiana that need training and need futures that there are not enough horse people to take them all.

“Henry has value to me, and he’ll have a home for the rest of his life now.”

With a job, a purpose, and an abundance of love, Henry has blossomed to the point that he is often admired by other show attendees as he steps into a show ring. Now gelded, he has grown to 15 hands, and conducts himself as well as any of the made horses he competes against.

Rather than hang his head in defeat, he carries it high, ears forward.

“It’s amazing what these horses can do, regardless of the condition you get them in,” Muller says.

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26 responses to “Roadside-rescue colt is children’s show pony”

  1. Connie Hendrix - Missouri Forget me Not Horse Rescue and Sanctuary

    As a horse rescue myself, I thank you SO much for bringing to the attention of everyone what value rescue horses have in this life. We have gotten in many that look like this that have thrived with love and attention and went on to a wonderful life! He is beautiful and you should be very proud of what you have done for him. Everyone…..PLEASE do not judge rescue horses in a negative way – most need only love, good care and understanding!

  2. Victoria Hardesty

    California too has many horses that come off the tracks to be “thrown away” by owners/trainers who no longer have use for them when they are injured or just stop winning. Fallen Horses, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) rescue in Pinon Hills, CA that does this work out here. We currently have 33 horses in our program. Some are in rehabilitation, some are being re-trained and several are now ready for their forever homes! Find us on Facebook (Fallen Horses, Pinon Hills, CA) and on the web We post pictures of our success stories.

  3. Lois

    We are eventually looking for one as a junior eq horse, taking our time to find the right one. Must have a good mind and sound, will be in a forever home for sure, like our other rescues

  4. Angie Francart

    We just took in 3 that look like this over the weekend.:-( it’s going to be a long road and seeing this reminds me that they will also hopefully be a special horse again to someone like this little girl. In the meantime, we have very, very, very long road ahead of us.

  5. Julie

    Loooooooooooooove this story and all your wonderful stories of saving lives! Thank you and your team for all you do to help horses and animals that others have shunned and neglected! So heartwarming! Thank you!!! <3

  6. Jon

    A woman with a big heart saves a beautiful little horse. It is a shame that it had to come to this and the horse had to suffer until it was found.

  7. Marilyn Lee-Hannah and Robin Hannah

    What a beautiful ending for a beautiful little horse…his story so shockingly similar to that of Prodigioso…another gem cast aside! I am happy to know he has a forever home with you…

  8. Darby Kachmar

    The story of Henry’s “rebirth” into a loving, thoughtful environment brought tears of joy to a non-equestrian, just plain animal lover. God Bless you for your big heart and for bringing Henry to A REAL LIFE!

  9. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Welcome back to the land of the living Barkinspider. You have made a miraculous transition into the handsome Henry. What love and belief and patience can do for a throw-away horse. Anne you have made so many people happy with your decision. Yourself, Henry and Emma;never mind the great number of people who will see him in the show ring and hear his story and be inspired to help others!

  10. Tom Yetter


  11. Rosemary Sabol

    A wonderful story. If only people would try and find people to take their horses before discarding them. Also it is wonderful that he had a second chance.

  12. Susan Hutchinson

    Truly an inspiring story!

  13. Mary-Joe Figueira

    Wow, what a cutie. He doesn’t look like a TB.

  14. Nance Walker

    Wonderful, heartfelt story! Many thanks to Ms. Muller for sharing this personal testament to tenacity & STEWARDSHIP over this world & the animals that are entrusted in our care!

  15. Sean Kerr

    Thank you Ms. Muller for taking Henry on and taking the risk of saving him, and for bringing us a positive story and example.

  16. Maureta Ott

    What a beautiful transformation and story. That’s what I love to see. This makes Cinderella look like a pauper.

    Thank you for caring for this wonderful horse!

  17. Debbie

    WHAT a very LUCKY BOY, and so beautiful, love this…. Nice to hear some wonderful outcomes like this one, cause there are SO MANY that are NOT… Thank YOU

  18. Sue

    Please help save horses like Henry!

    Money is needed to offer TB racehorses a nice retirement from the race track.

    Remember Me Rescue has set up a special fund which will enable them to contact owners and trainers of horses that have earned more than $500,000 and are running for a claiming price of $5000 or less and then offer them retirement, rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming. Please consider a donation in Monzante’s memory, or in the memory or honor of any other horse you love.

    A couple of TBs’ retirement are currently being negotiated, but funds are needed towards that purpose. Please feel free to post this request wherever you feel its appropriate.

  19. Faith

    Another great success story!

    I held my breath as I read, studying the “before” pictures… and then let the tears roll as I saw the “after.”

    Kudos to Muller and her philosophy. She’s an inspiration. And of course, to Henry, for blossoming under her care.

  20. Roadside-rescue colt is children’s show pony | Canadian Horse Defence Coalition's Blog

    […] Please continue reading this story here. […]

  21. Judith W

    You should show some better “after” pictures. He’s very pretty and deserves to be admired

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

    What a wonderful story and testament again to what love, compassion and trust can do. “Henry has value to me, and he’ll have a home for the rest of his life now.” Shame on the people who had Henry prior to Ms. Muller and thought he had no value and left him to suffer. All horses have value, unlike some humans who abuse them. Many more happy years for Henry.

    1. Jo-Anne Ward

      Ditto! “All horses have value, unlike some humans who abuse them”. Breeders Sales Company of Louisiana Yearling Sale is
      Sept24th,2013…be curious to know if any of Barkinspider’s former connections(Breeder,for starters) have entries listed in catalogue or make purchases at this sale. Obviously,little Henry who only foaled in April 09, was ditched not all that long after determination was made ‘Let him go’
      Makes me really happy that Anne Muller didn’t walk away from him, as we all know, so many TBs from coast to coast Need Homes.

  23. NicosMom

    The before and after pictures are AMAZING! Wow – what a miracle you have done with this sweet soul! Thank you for giving him a chance. 🙂

  24. gerda silver

    One of the lucky ones!!!

  25. gerda silver

    This is heart wrenching! So many, so sad this was one of the very very lucky ones.

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