Tubby Time, the 2011 Canterbury Park Horse of the Year who was seized from a Pennsylvania kill lot in early May, traveled over the weekend to his new forever home in Ocala, Fla.
With more flesh on the bone and in overall better health than the day he was plucked from a destined death in a slaughterhouse, Tubby was carefully loaded onto a trailer in Michigan and shipped southward with Vicki Henderson of Double HH Ranch Transport.
Along the way, as the pair stopped at layover barns where Tubby unloaded, relaxed, and stretched his legs, Henderson posted photos of the one-time racing star who but for a fluke would have been dead by now.
Instead, following his rehabilitation at Beyond the Roses Equine in Michigan, Tubby was en route to live with a prominent equine attorney who asked that her last name be kept confidential.
Sire: Devil His Due
Dam: Gentle Princess, by Tejano
Foal date: April 23, 2006
Earnings: $263,515 in 35 starts;
Multiple stakes winnerAnd late Saturday/early Sunday, Tubby found sanctuary with Laurie, an Ocala-based attorney and horseman who recently helped a client track down and retrieved Thoroughbreds from the slaughter pipeline, and thus, became inspired to help Tubby.
So moved by Tubby’s sad story, and by an early photo of the bewildered animal standing in a kill pen (please read earlier article here: http://offtrackthoroughbreds.com/2015/06/01/minn-horse-of-the-year-rescued-from-kill-pen/) that she stepped forward to offer Tubby a permanent home among her show horses and racehorses.
“When I saw his picture,” Laurie begins, fighting back tears, “it was just horrible. For some reason that I can’t explain, I felt a connection to Tubby. It wasn’t his fame— I have another horse who has won more money. I just knew it was the right thing to do.”
Laurie immediately contacted the rescue where Tubby was recuperating and told proprietor Gail Hirt that she could offer a permanent home.
He thrived on the track according to his former owner Dorene Larsen, who spoke with Off Track Thoroughbreds in an article in June. Having Tubby wind up in a Pennsylvania feed lot May 7, the property of a meat buyer, was her worst fear realized, Larsen said.The bay Minnesota-bred, named after popular basketball coach Tubby Smith, was, in his heyday, a hard-trying racehorse who had the habit of flaring his tail as he crossed the finish line.
As she explained, she never would have let the horse out of her site if she hadn’t been confident he was headed for a good home.
“We took such great care of him,” Larsen says. “We loved him. And the only reason we let him go was because we were told he was going to a 14-year-old girl who would ride him in the hunter/jumpers. I never would have let him go for something like barrels, because it’s so taxing. But, when I heard that the manager of the farm where we sent him to layup after his last race had found a hunter/jumper family for him, I thought, ‘Oh my God, Tubby would love doing something like that!’ ”
Laurie, his new owner, explains that the plan of action is to get him comfortable in a stall, have a complete veterinary workup, and allow him to acclimate at his own pace. In other words, she will let the horse tell her what he wants.Now Larsen and others who have worried about Tubby can breathe a sigh of relief. The 9-year-old gelding will live out his days on a Florida horse farm where he will get all the TLC he could want.
“It’s a matter of seeing what he’s comfortable with first,” she says. “I want him to feel comfortable moving around first, and I don’t want to put him out yet with my guys after what he’s been through. For now, he’ll be getting acclimated to his stall and paddock, and we’ll monitor him to make sure everything is working properly, and we’ll also check him for body soreness.”
Laurie’s decision to step up to offer a home was tremendously appreciated by Gail Hirt, whose small charity has at times been bursting at the seams with rescued horses. But to Laurie, her action was nothing compared to the hard work of rescue advocates who save horses from slaughter everyday.
“There’s a lot of good people out there trying to do the right thing,” Laurie says. “I’m only a small person in this, but I will make all the difference for this one horse.”