Gimp feedlot TB who raced 78 times now ‘sings’

Tri is pasture sound and enjoying his life as companion to other horses at Traveler Rest Farm in Maryland.

Tri is pasture sound and enjoying his life as companion to other horses at Traveler Rest Farm in Maryland.

He gave and they took.

And for too many years, that was the life for Tri Tower’s, an unremarkable little horse with a body weakened from racing, but a heart strong enough to love his people.

By the time he retired in 2003, the unremarkable looking racehorse had ankles the size of large naval oranges, and a body and spirit so worn and tired he was incapable of fending off the herd for a simple bite of the hay bale.

“Tri was always at the bottom of the pecking order,” says Beth Kokoruda, a Maryland-based equestrian who runs a retirement farm for aging horses. “He’s not dominant at all, so if another horse pinned his ears, Tri would be easily pushed off his food; I had him in with a pony who used to push him off his food until he realized he was bigger than that pony” and finally held his ground.

Though his place in this world has been secure for 10 solid years, he was once destined to go the way of so many used-up animals. That’s when Kokoruda agreed to take him, following his last-minute rescue from a kill pen by University of Maryland students studying nutrition in starved animals.

Tri Tower’s
Sire: Belek
Dam: True Carier
Foal date: March 27,1993
Earnings: $119,448 in 78 starts
After running his last race at Penn National in 2003, he had logged 78 starts and just shy of $120,000 in earnings.

Advertised briefly in the sales listing by re-homing organization CANTER, the animal eventually wound up at the New Holland auction later in 2003, where he was discovered.

University of Maryland students seeking to develop best practices in the feeding of emaciated horses purchased the ragged horse from New Holland, and determined his Body Score was between 1 and 2 at that time, she says.

After weeks of care and feeding however, the animal regained a healthy weight, but the toll from years of racing made him unsuitable for any future career, Kokoruda says.

But through a lucky change of fate, Tri found a home with Kokoruda in 2004, and though he has not carried a rider in 10 years, has proven his worth beyond measure.

Tri enjoys the sweet life as a pasture ornament with his pony buddy.

Tri enjoys the sweet life as a pasture ornament with his pony buddy.

She first learned about the horse from reading his biography on University of Maryland’s website, which published the sad stories of the horses they’d obtained from kill pens. In Tri’s case, she learned that despite the best intentions of people who helped him get listed for sale after racing, and the further effort by students to restore his health and retrain him for a job, that his poor body could no longer be counted on to carry the weight of a rider.

What he needed was like finding needle in a haystack: He needed a job as a pasture ornament.

“I’m a sucker for a horse with a story, and when I saw his picture—he’s just a plain brown horse with a small white star, there’s nothing flashy about him at all—and I read his story, I looked up his race record, and thought, man, this horse just needs a break.”

By chance, she was looking for a companion horse to share a pasture with her retired show horse Traveler, who eventually died in 2009, and agreed to take him in August 2004.

And that’s how an undistinguished horse, with a quirky pension for bolting through open doors like a jet through a starting gate, entered her life for good.

Tri had some difficulty keeping weight on as low horse in the herd. But recently given a pony pal, he has finally seized control of the hay bale.

Tri had some difficulty keeping weight on as low horse in the herd. But recently given a pony pal, he has finally seized control of the hay bale.

An animal, still sore and prone to lameness, who can’t even defend a claim to a hay pile, makes up for physical shortcomings with his charming personality.

Every morning, as she leaves her house to head to work, Tri Tower’s greets her at the fence line, and offers up a melodious sound that seems part whinny and part nicker.

“I call him my songbird,” she says. “He has this beautiful little whinny, which is really a quiet song. And in the morning when I come out to my car to head to work, he’ll sing to me when he sees me—it makes it all worth it.”

Since agreeing to give a home to Tri Tower’s, Kokoruda has offered a retirement home to other aging horses. It is her second full-time job, supported by her full-time career at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station, in the office of the chief information officer.

“I feel obligated to help Tri, and others like him, complete the journey. Tri was a horse who has given, given, given, and people have taken, taken, taken,” she says. “This is my way to give something to a horse who didn’t have it as good as some other horses.”

20 responses to “Gimp feedlot TB who raced 78 times now ‘sings’”

  1. jay a romig

    another one saved and heralded in a story line by Susan, good job Sue

  2. Debby

    What a super sweet lady. Thank you for the lives you share your love with. They all deserve it and I know you can only do so much as the rest of us who care. You are a blessing in the lives of these sad and forsaken lives. God bless you and thank you on behalf of those you touch.

  3. Leslie M. Bliman-Kuretzky

    What a sweet horse. Bless all those who helped save him

  4. Delrene

    Thanks Beth for opening your heart and home to this weary racehorse. His life sounds perfect. Lovely story

  5. Karen maw

    Thank you, I own two off the track TB’s, and they will be with me until the end. it’s so nice seeing people who give everything to these wonderful animals!

  6. Barbara Griffith

    Every time I read about a horse that gave his all and then was tossed on the trash pile after being starved almost to death, you begin to wonder if humans were always like this or has greed taken over completely. If I had to bet it looks like greed won out. Tri would never have survived the trip on the slaughter truck to Canada. I doubt a kill buyer would have bought him because kill buyers want heavy horses that will bring the most by weight at the slaughter plant. He most likely would have been left in a pen in the back with no food or water until he simply dropped and couldn’t get up. It was just pure luck the students happened to be at the right place at the right time. I hope he lives a long happy life just being a horse cared for by a special lady named Beth.

  7. Daryl

    I praise these popel who took this horse in and will let him live his natural life out with the cute pony, he did nead a break and he got one, at the end of his, but better now then never…
    Thank you for all you do and have done , God is smiling down at you .

  8. cheri vaughan

    *Tears* I think Tri is quite remarkable! So does Beth… and Tri likely thinks the same of her and her generous, wonderful spirit.

  9. Gloria Kersey

    Poor baby had a tough life and didn’t deserve to be in a kill pen. (Of course, I don’t think any of them should be)! Thank you so much for rescuing this lovely horse! Sounds like he’s trying to repay you for your kindness with his song!

  10. Joan Stephens

    What a beautiful story. Tri sings his lovely song of thanks to Beth every morning.

    Thank you Susan for sharing Tri’s story.

  11. Rebecca

    Tearing up……what a wonderful ending to what could have been so awful. May your sweet songbird whinny for many more years to come! Bless you both! 🙂

  12. Lisa Melone

    We are lucky to have people like Beth who take care of the “pasture pal” horses. Tri deserved so much better–glad he found safety with her.

  13. Susan Crane-Sundell

    It’s good to see another horse who has paid in so many ways, get back something special for all he’s done. He knows. He knows who hurt him and he knows who saved him. He says thank you everyday in the best way he knows how and that is the greatest reward for a noble life. Beth you are a true fried to Tri and he is as honest a friend as you will ever have.

  14. Cynthia Minchillo

    What a great story and that’s the way it should be!

  15. SusanA

    Keep singing Tri….for a long, long, long time! Your song is the best!

  16. Michelle

    Yes, he is singing to Beth Kokoruda because he knows she saved him and is giving him the loving forever home he deserves and he is so grateful.

  17. jon

    The lucky ones know who are their saviors are. He is repaying the favor.

  18. Jan/ Springtime Farm

    Often times, beautiful gifts come in small, unremarkable
    packaging. It seems by taking in and caring for this
    horse that no one wanted, you were given the
    gift of song and music. It sounds as though she
    Is expressing her gratitude through her winnies and nickers…..
    How very lovely.

  19. Fran

    Great story!! Wonderful home for this guy! Thanks for sharing it! Wish we had homes for them all!

  20. TBDancer

    Super. Just … super ;o)

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