As a child, little Megan Hansford was shy to the point of being a bit of a loner. She tended to hang back from family gatherings, and well out of the limelight.
“She never had much self-confidence,” says her mother Tracey Hansford. “She was always a quiet one who’d come home from school, do her homework and pretty much kept to herself.”
But all that began to change last July, shortly after the sweet-natured 9-year-old accompanied her parents and older sister on a trip to look at a sale- horse, a retired racehorse named E Factor.
When the group bustled into the barn and presented themselves to the tall, dark bay, the animal lovingly gazed at the shy girl, and, from that point on, hasn’t taken his eyes off her.
“E Factor didn’t want my attention or my older daughter’s,” Hansford says. “He only wanted Megan’s. He started nuzzling her and pulling her hair; and Megan made it pretty clear that she wanted this horse.”
The Florida-bred gelding wasn’t a great performer on the racetrack, earning only approximately $24,000 before he was listed for sale by CANTER Kentucky. But it appears that his true calling was as cheerleader and perhaps life coach to the young Ohioan who has simply blossomed since they met.
No longer a wallflower, Megan speaks her mind and stands up for herself, Hansford says. “It’s incredible. She’s opened up much more, and now she talks to everybody.”
Race name: E Factor
Sire: Forbidden Apple
Dam: Forgotten Secret
Foal date: March 16, 2005Everyday after school when homework is complete, Hansford and her daughter drive eagerly to the nearby barn where Megan boards E Factor, and the pair then proceeds to just charm the heck out of each other.
“Megan has taught him to give kisses and hugs,” she says. “She’ll tap her shoulder and he’ll stretch his neck over the top of her shoulder, and pull her close to him.
“His personality is amazing. He’s just got a big heart, and the love he is showing Megan has pulled her out of her shell.”
Megan has been content to play with E Factor on the ground as he is retrained for 4H Showmanship and western pleasure horse; but, last week, she finally climbed into the saddle, and the 16-hand gelding took extra care with his special passenger.
“It was so cute. He turned his head and watched her as she got on,” Hansford says. “Then she clucked to him, and he slowly walked forward.”
They’ll take it easy at first, while Megan gets accustomed to riding an ex-racehorse.
Her world has already grown so much, and her confidence too, as the pair begin to shine bit by bit, and people notice them.
On the phone, Megan speaks confidently, happily: “I think he’s the most kind and generous horse!” she says.
He has given her what no other could: inner strength.
A horse who couldn’t battle to victory on the racetrack has somehow instilled in his young friend a backbone of steel. On the outside, the young girl looks unchanged; but everyone has noticed how a child once meek has learned to be strong.
“Everybody notices it!” her mother says. “She doesn’t care what anybody says about her anymore. She used to be so quiet. Now she stands up for herself. This horse has taught her that.”
E Factor and Megan, what a pair: look out world! Another young lady has grown strong loving a racehorse nobody else wanted.
Author’s note—This story was originally published on Jan. 11, 2013.