A black Thoroughbred who embodied every little girl’s dream horse, reached his head over his stall door and grabbed the sleeve of a stranger.
He clamped his teeth down tight, refusing to let go.
And before Fallon Nunes could free her jacket sleeve from the beautiful horse’s grip, it seemed a deal was struck between her and the dark bay ex-racehorse, Mercuriandarkside.
“My friend Julie Baker took me to Bay Meadows racetrack before it closed to look at horses. She knew I was really depressed because my quarter horse had died the month before. We were walking around enjoying the horses when a guy came out and asked if we wanted to buy a horse,” says Nunes. “And the next thing I knew, this beautiful black horse reached out over the top of his stall and grabbed my jacket. And Julie said, ‘We’ll take him!’
Barn name: Sonic
Sire: Just Bobby
Dam: Martian Duststorm, by Bob’s Dusty
Foal date: March 19, 1994“And after that, the wheeling and dealing began. He said $800 and Julie said $300 and that was it. I was still in high school at the time, but I had enough in my savings account, and that day, I bought my perfect horse. That was February 2000, and I’ve had him ever since.”
As Nunes went on to enjoy a military career, serving in the Army military police, combat support, her beautiful black OTTB welcomed her home after deployments and duties, always up for anything.
“I’ve ridden him in parades, cattle penning, barrel racing, and I’ve gone horse camping with him far up in the mountains,” Nunes says. “You could say that I’ve really broadened his horizons.”
Though she has not ridden Mercuriandarkside in any official capacity, she swears her horse can do just about anything, even carry her 22-month-old daughter on his back.
Having a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse has so impressed Nunes that she volunteers helping Julie Baker retrain OTTBs at Healing Arenas in California. Most recently, she has helped retrain OTTBs from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation, helping de-sensitize and acclimate horses who’ve lived in a herd environment.
The work has been her joy and inspiration. “One day I hope to get more involved with the therapy side, helping veterans through the horse-therapy program at Healing Arenas,” she says. Veterans and other individuals coping with psychological issues can benefit from the deeply loyal Thoroughbreds, she adds.
“Since I’ve had my OTTB, he has shown me 100 percent loyalty. The bond I have with him is so incredible that my Mom once said to me that he wouldn’t follow anyone on a trailer but me. You know how some people say some animals pick their owners? I think he picked me that day at Bay Meadows. And he’s been my saving grace.”
6 responses to “Dark horse grabbed her jacket & sealed the deal”
FYI….he’s a dark bay…not a black…lol…
Fallon is exactly that – steadfast. We’re so lucky to have her here. Thank you Susan Salk and OTTTB for posting this wonderful story!
Thank YOU. She’s a great persona and wow, what an impressive career!
We humans like to think horses don’t care when they go from barn, or home, to barn. They miss those humans, horses, and other animals with whom they have bonded. For example, I truly think if Eddie had stayed with Secretariat, his dam’s genes would have kicked in and that evil laminitis would not have taken him at a relatively young age, given his dam’s family. The other week, someone commented to me that the trouble with horses is that they live so long. That remark cut my heart for what I would not give for any of my fur babies, i.e., dogs and cats, to have had a 30 year life!
I love this story of the strong bond between these 2 dear ones. xoxo to ALL, Mary in Boone
What impressed me about this story is that the owner KEPT her horse through all her life changes. She is an example of what all horse owners should strive for. Hats off to you!! There are too many horses at auction or on craigs list because owners claim they “have life changes ( plan ahead before you buy a horse) or just bored of the horse or the horse is not “fast enough” or is too old to bother with or some other version of ” I am too lazy, selfish to step up and take care of a horse that gave its best years to me” Horses live 30 years, take care of your horse and you will find joy in that relationship.
Once you have earned your OTTB’s trust, there is no stronger bond … and no greater honor, in my opinion. Took eight days for my ex-racer to nicker when I came to his pen after our ride (I always had carrots). Took another two days and he nickered when I got out of my car. I’ve had my “Huey” two years longer than Fallon has owned her OTTB, but I feel the same way about the whole “trust” thing.