Phoenix waited for months for a plane to come and lift her away from the Cayman Islands, where she had suffered and was saved.
When a big, DHL flight finally arrived that could transport horses, the pretty bay Thoroughbred mare walked on with such calm that a veterinarian was overheard to ask if she’d been tranquilized. She had not.
But perhaps a sixth sense told her that getting away from the scrubby island where she’d nearly starved to death was her ticket to something far better, and she eagerly stepped onto the plane, and confidently rode 33,000 feet in the air. Destination: Miami.
Star of Reality
New name: Phoenix
Sire: Slice of Reality
Dam: Water Star
Foal date: March 19, 1999
Earnings: $65,809“I talked to her a lot” before she left, says her owner and rescuer Tricia Sybersma of Ontario and the Cayman Islands. “I told her that friends were waiting for her, and reassured her she would be OK.”
After she touched down on Jan. 9, Phoenix (Jockey Club: Star of Reality) agreeably waited out quarantine before wintering in Ocala, Florida at Forever Spring, a farm owned and operated by Sybersma’s friends Bill and Claudia Parkhurst. “They welcomed her into their herd in the spring, and I flew back and forth, visiting her,” Sybersma says.
Then finally after the long, miserable winter in Ontario yielded to spring, Phoenix walked onto a van in May and traveled from Miami to Ontario to begin the new life she was promised years ago.
Sybersma rescued the plain bay mare in 2011 from a wooded, scrubby lot on the Cayman Islands. The half-time Cayman resident, who stresses most horses are treated very well on the island, noticed the one Thoroughbred who was suffering. Shortly after the mare disappeared from her usual field in 2010, Sybersma went searching for her. She had always admired the beautiful T-bred from afar, and worried when she didn’t see her in her usual spot.
She later discovered her tucked away on a dirt road, lying down among a band of horses. Sybersma thought the mare was near death. And her only plan was to make her comfortable, and treat her well in her dying days. (Please see an earlier story in Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com).
But those days it turned out were far, far away. And with a regimen of fine imported feed buttressed by and abundance of TLC, the mare regained her health and by 2013 Sybersma started making plans to transport her to Ontario, where she would begin a new life.
When the odyssey finally brought Phoenix to Ontario in the spring, the excitement on her Ontario farm seemed to affect everyone, even the other horses.
“She had met my horses on the Cayman Islands, so when I introduced them again, the recognition was instant,” she says. “I brought her into the barn first, and then I brought them in and the expressions on their faces showed instant recognition. They were alert, but soft with each other. The next day I turned them out together, and they groomed each other and all shared hay.”
Sybersma is also folding herself into Phoenix’s herd. The pair recently attended a four-day natural horsemanship clinic in an effort to build the connection between her and the mare, to reassure the 15-year-old animal that even when life feels scary, she will be there to help.
“When something triggers her” insecurity response “I want her eyes to refocus on me, and to understand that I am here for her.” ♥