A horse they never gave up on

Lady MacJazz has been beset by injuries in her young life, but her connections stuck by her. Here she is with her new owner/rider Kyle Rothfus.

Lady MacJazz has been beset by injuries in her young life, but her connections stuck by her. Here she is with her new owner/rider Kyle Rothfus.

Most would have given up on Lady MacJazz.

Hers was a hard-luck story right from the beginning.

Born in 2009, she spent so much time in a hospital stall alongside her sickly mother that there was never even time to get a good baby picture of her.

And her mother took a turn later that year and died of colic, leaving Lady MacJazz with the sad distinction of being the last in that line.

So from bad luck to bad luck her journey would unfold. In a series of missteps and accidents, Lady MacJazz was plagued: In 2011, the now 2-year-old broke her front, left tibia in a pasture accident, after somehow tangling with a fence.

She was rushed to the very Toronto clinic where she’d spent her first months of life with her sickly mother, laid up before she even got to the starting gate.

When she turned 3, after a year of care by the kindly Toronto horseman Yvonne Schwabe, the unlucky beauty finally made it to the Woodbine Race Track, where she put in two very unremarkable races, and wound up lame.

Lady MacJazz
Barn name: Freja
Sire: Shakespeare
Dam: Jazz Lady
Foal date: April 14, 2009
“She just wasn’t holding up,” says owner Kyle Rothfus, who purchased the mare last year, becoming the fourth successive owner in a single year to own the accident-prone animal.

Before Rothfus purchased her, the mare passed from her Toronto breeder to a horseman who purchased her for $1,000 at the Keeneland broodmare prospect sale. Then she sold again, three months later, to an Ohio Hanoverian barn, where the owner hoped to breed her. But that didn’t stick either.

“The last person to have her before me, Laurey Raeburn, is a really good horse person, but she fell on some poor health issues herself last spring, and couldn’t keep her,” Rothfus explains. So Rothfus, who had heard about the mare through friends, agreed to purchase her and give her a good home.

The pair enjoy a snowy hack.

The pair enjoy a snowy hack.

But the hits kept on coming.

The mare injured herself on the trailer ride from Raeburn to Rothfus, sustaining a puncture wound in her hind, right fetlock, which missed the critical synovial membrane by a quarter inch. And after she recovered from that, she developed a case of cellulitis on her legs, where scratches made her susceptible to the painful ailment.

Yet, as pathetic as the mare’s misfortune might sound to some, the silver lining in the story of Lady MacJazz is of the mare’s inexplicable something that somehow draws everyone she meets to her side. Whereas other horses with her health history and penchant for setbacks might drive away the average Joe, the big, beautiful bay had everyone, from her breeder to her successive owners, wrapped around her little hoof.

“This mare is not a sob story case. She’s the Thoroughbred that for some reason, no one gave up on,” he says. “Every person who had this mare really loved her. She was never skinny, her feet were always trimmed … and everywhere this horse goes, people fall in love with her.”

He adds, “So many people would have given up on a horse like this. But nobody did.”

—Kyle Rothfus and Lady MacJazz will compete in the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky later this year.

33 responses to “A horse they never gave up on”

  1. Ellen Hogate

    I came across this story and couldn’t believe how much this looks like my horse who was also bred in Canada. He too had a rough start and I rescued him from the track and we made it through several very serious health issues but he never gave up on life! He is happily in a new career as a show hunter living a life of luxury. I would love to share a picture with you because these two have to be related. He was out of tethra and sounding joy in 2005 and his racing name was Dudley’s Lawyer. Happy trails to you!!

  2. Susan Crane-Sundell

    A beautiful partnership-you can just see this was meant to be!

  3. David Allison

    She’s a special mare and a beautiful one. I’m happy for the outcome.

  4. John Moore

    Sue –

    A touching story beautifully told.

  5. Daragh Coulter

    happy ending, but why in for gawd’s sake was this horse ever put on a race track?

  6. Mary Jacoby

    I am so happy for both Kyle and Lady MacJazz. They make a great team and have already developed a beautiful bond. I am so excited for what they will accomplish together.

  7. Heather

    Lovely story and a lovely mare! Thank you for sticking by her.

  8. cheryl landis

    What a sweet story

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks Cheryl. Susan did such a great job putting it into words 🙂

  9. Donna G. Portree

    Freja – could easily be Freyja: a powerful & famous goddess (Viking): She was the daughter of the most important Vanir God Njord SO a horse that can evoke images of the powerful, fierce Viking warriors is sure to win hearts of horse lovers/owners – a beautiful story of people who care & a horse that inspired them

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      You’re right on Donna 🙂 That was the reason I picked that as her barn name. I went with the spelling to have a double meaning as there is a somewhat famous supermodel named Freja but I mostly chose the name to represent the Norse goddess of love that you referenced 🙂

  10. Karen H.

    Congratulations to Kyle and his Lady on the start of a wonderful, life-long relationship! So very glad she’s found her forever home.

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thank you so much Karen! I’m looking forward to many years of fun with my awesome mare…and who knows, maybe there will even be a little baby Lady MacJazz sporthorse in a few years 😉

  11. Susan B.

    Beautiful and lucky mare with an incredibly kind eye. She looks so much like my own OTTB mare, I had to look twice. Best of luck in the RRP, enjoy the journey.

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks so much Susan. I’d love to see a picture of your mare. Feel free to share it with the Lady MacJazz Facebook page. We’ll actually be having a photo contest for a leather halter in the near future so you could share it for that and I’d also selfishly get to see Freja’s doppelganger 🙂

  12. Megan T.

    Beautiful. God bless you for never giving up on her. You both look fantastic! I’m sure she’s an absolute joy!

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks Megan. She is an absolute joy…when she’s not being a mare 😉 Yvonne Schwabe, her breeder, actually deserves the most credit for not giving up on her during her critical early years when she had the worst injuries. I’m so happy that Yvonne was the kind of breeder/owner to put her horses’ health ahead of finances and easy decisions. Ever since I tracked her down she has been nothing but supportive and excited to learn about Lady MacJazz’s progress. She truly is a caring horse person.

  13. Stephanie

    You have found your heart . God has blessed the both of you ❤️

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      I sure have Stephanie…just don’t tell me dogs and cats that 😉 She is truly a blessing.

  14. Michelle Y.

    Beautiful mare and I hope for many years together with her new owner!

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks Michelle. No matter what happens, she has a place with me for as long as she is alive. Heck, she already got written into my will just in case she outlives me 🙂

  15. SusanA

    I’m so thankful there are people out there who don’t give up on these horses! But what a remarkable “heart” MacJazz has….I’m glad she didn’t give up either! Best wishes to her for a long and happy life (and Kyle too!)

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks Susan! You’re exactly right about giving credit to Lady MacJazz as well. She definitely has heart, and that’s why I’m certain she and I will get to enjoy a VERY long and happy life together 🙂

  16. Kyle Rothfus

    Thanks so much to Susan for eloquently turning my long-winded conversations into a great article! I am so honored to have Lady MacJazz featured here!!!

  17. Cynthia

    She is gorgeous.

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thank you Cynthia. I’m a little partial, but I have to agree 🙂

  18. Judith Ochs

    A terrible history – true. But we have a horse in our barn who also spent literally years in a stall due to one thing and then another. He was on his last chance after multiple, multiple efforts by his owner our barn owner and was sent to someone who finally got him sound. For the past 6 yr or more, he has been incredibly sound, healthy and happy. His now owner rode him at a summer camp and they clearly were made for one another. How has an owner who adores him. The affection is clearly returned for he adores her right back and visibly lets when she comes into the barn. All of us are somewhat envious of their remarkable relationship….Kyle may find the same thing if he is very lucky.

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks Judith. Lady MacJazz is actually my first horse after 30+ years of dreaming about having one so there is no chance she’ll be going anywhere else. We’ve got a great bond after only a few months so I’m excited to see how it continues to develop. Thanks for sharing your story as well. It’s so nice to hear about horses who, despite several setback and challenges, ultimately end up in the right situation because no one gave up on them.

  19. Callie1983

    Gorgeous Mare and a great story!

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks so much Callie! She’s certainly special 🙂

  20. Stephanie Morse

    Really good story. Although she looks a little tense (but perhaps she’s concentrating on ‘dashing thru the snow’) I think she looks like a good dressage prospect. Good luck in the challenge.

    1. Kyle Rothfus

      Thanks Stephanie. You are correct. We were both somewhat tense that day as it was only our 2nd time ever riding outside…in nearly a foot of snow…in a large open meadow…our first outdoor ride was the day before in the same meadow bareback 🙂 All things considered, she handled it very well.

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