We welcomed two new horses to The Lily Pond this winter. Each stands at 17 hands and have larger-than-life personalities to match. Meet Wyatt and Lou De Fontaine!
What do you get when you breed an 18-hand Percheron mare with paint coloring to a Thoroughbred stallion? You get Wyatt. A 17-hand, 1400 pound horse that thinks he’s a puppy and always wants to play…and get into mischief.
If Toberlerone is Head of the Department of Mischief at the cat house, Wyatt is our chief troublemaker in the barn. His favorite pastime is grabbing a swatch of clothing in his teeth and trying to play basketball with his caregivers. He once caught the hood of our Barn Manager Brenda’s sweatshirt and lifted her right off the ground.
This hobby is not limited to people. Wyatt also managed to catch our mare April’s blanket in his teeth. Realizing she was caught, April turned and gave Wyatt a loud scolding before breaking away. April went to the other side of the paddock and deliberately ignored Wyatt to teach him a lesson in manners. But we secretly think April enjoyed the attention, because it wasn’t long before she was back by his side.
In less than a month, Wyatt managed to smash April’s window, rip the salt block from his stall wall, and bust through the paddock fence. If our resident enfant terrible doesn’t get his way, he can throw a holy tantrum, rearing, yelling and kicking the walls of his stall such that we are left praying that he won’t reduce the barn to a pile of toothpicks. We gave him a Jolly Ball to keep him entertained and less focused on wanton destruction of the barn. He loved it… until he popped it an hour later.
But Wyatt’s behavioral issues are better understood in the context of his past. He was born on a nurse mare farm, where mare’s who have just given birth are leased out to the Thoroughbred racing industry to nurse their new foals. This left Wyatt all alone without his mother, receiving bottle feeding and later a milk substitute in a trough. For this reason, Wyatt is considered an orphan foal. He did not receive the proper nurturing from his mother or behavioral training from a herd or trainer. In fact, Wyatt was kept isolated in a round pen.
And then a miracle happened. Three women in horse rescue – Tracey Rostron, Theresa Wasula and our barn manager Brenda Izzo – showed up at the farm to investigate the conditions. The owner wanted to downsize and word on the street was that the horses were not living in good conditions. The ladies discovered Wyatt standing alone in a round pen with no shelter and the mud and manure so heavy that it reached his knees. That was enough for them to decide that they needed to get this horse out.
They negotiated the purchase of Wyatt from the farm and brought him to a paddock at the home of Theresa and then later with Brenda. He lived there for a year until January, when Wyatt developed cracks in both front hooves that reached all the way to his coronary band. You horse people know that this is a bad. Very bad.
That’s when Brenda and Tracey approached The Lily Pond about providing Wyatt with a home where he could have a dry stall for his hooves to be treated and healed. We had an open stall, so Wyatt arrived on a cold January day to his new home under the sponsorship of Tracey and Brenda. We immediately had our vet and farrier out to begin treatment for Wyatt’s hooves, placing him in special shoes. We’re pleased to share that we’ve seen much improvement over the past three months.
Despite Wyatt’s talent for causing trouble, he keeps us smiling with his goofy personality. He loves to stick out his tongue and if you scratch just the right spot on his withers, Wyatt will break out in a delighted and completely adorable smile. If you visit the barn, be sure to bring bannanas – his favorite treat!
Lou de Fontaine
If you want to meet a superstar, come visit our newest arrival at the barn! Lou de Fontaine is a 22-year-old retired Standardbred Trotter. At 17-hands, he is a majestic horse with the manners of a gentleman. He was born in France – his dam is Ceres de Caeiu and his sire is Bonheur de Tillard.
Lou had a talent for racing. While calm and friendly at the barn, when Lou arrived at the race track it was game on. He would transform into a warrior: teeth barred and a lightening spark in his eye, he focused his enormous power into achieving thundering speeds.
Lou loved his job and did it well, winning first place 10 times, coming in second 12 times and third 8 times out of an incredible 118 races for total earnings of approximately $400,000. His main jockey was Jean Paul Piton, considered one of the best in Europe. Although Lou raced primarily in France, he traveled internationally to compete in Spain, Belgium, Switzerland and Sweden.
After eleven years on the track, Lou was retired. His owner considered selling him to another trainer who would have continued to race him. But his exercise rider, Alexandra Dewez, knew that Lou was tired and arthritic from such a long, demanding career. She bought him and kept him as her companion horse. Lou came with her when she moved to the United States, living at a local equestrian facility near Hudson for many years.
And then the unimaginable happened: Alexandra was unexpectedly notified in September 2020 by the U.S. government that her green card would not be renewed and she had until December to leave the country. She left her home and job to relocate to Europe but did not have the resources to take Lou with her.
Alexandra found an adoptive home for Lou, but after a year she was shocked to hear that things weren’t working out with the adoptive home. She knew that if Lou were sold at public auction, his age and arthritis would make him a likely candidate for purchase by a kill buyer to be shipped to slaughter.
Concerned for Lou’s future, she even considered euthanization as a humane option. Because Lou’s life was on the line, a friend suggested The Lily Pond to Alexandra as a potential home. That’s when she contacted us from Europe, asking if we could provide him with a safe place to land under her sponsorship. We agreed and Lou was trailered the sanctuary on March 24th.
Upon arrival, Lou was introduced to all the horses and promptly fell head over hooves in love with Waverly, our off-the-track Thoroughbred mare. This will come as no surprise to those of you who are familiar with our herd. Waverly is our resident femme fatale. She merely has to bat her pretty lashes and all the geldings become instantly besotted.
Lou is not the first to fall under the spell of her charms… and that posed a problem. Our gelding Dutch Treat has shared a paddock with Waverly for over a year and they are a bonded pair. Dutch took instant offense to the prospect of a rival for her attentions, letting Lou know that Waverly is his lady love. So Lou will share a paddock with three other geldings. He’s also the lucky recipient of lots of friendly attention from our Palomino mare April, who is fascinated with him. Lou is content to quietly graze the field in happy retirement after a long successful career. If you come to visit this champion, be prepared to practice your French – he is fluent!