Bring On The Dancing Horses

Do you remember that 80’s hit single “Bring On The Dancing Horses” by Echo and the Bunnymen? The song is about people gazing at three stone statues of horses. Well, we are pleased to announce the arrival of three trotting horses to The Lily Pond!

Roll to Thunder, Mastoris and Itzatrooper in the kill pen tagged for slaughter

In the spring, The Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) put out a call for help for yet another group of Standardbred horses that had landed in a kill pen in Pennsylvania. Bail funds were being raised to secure their freedom, but the horses had no place to go. The Lily Pond reached out to offer a home to Mastoris and Itzatrooper. We saw the look of despair in their eyes. When SRF discovered that we are a 501(c)3 sanctuary in good standing specializing in senior horses with excellent vet references, the adoption coordinator jumped on the phone to ask could we please, please offer a safe landing to any of the senior Standardbreds they had already bailed from the kill pen but who had no home. Old and arthritic, they were of little interest to adopters who generally seek a horse they can ride and compete with in events. We agreed to take Roll To Thunder, a 23-year-old ex-racehorse that had been sitting in quarantine for over six months, lonely and unwanted. And so the wheels were set in motion.

Mastoris as a 2-year-old, Summer 2006
Mastoris in the kill pen, March 2022
Mastoris at The Lily Pond, June 2022

Roll To Thunder was transported to the same quarantine facility holding Mastoris and Itzatrooper. We began fundraising for the cost of vetting, transport, additional hay and grain, halters and blankets while preparing a paddock that would be their future home. We want to especially thank Cynthia and Ernie Rao for donating the installation of electric fencing to reinforce the safety of the paddock.

We know very little about the background of these three horses. Mastoris was bred at a harness training facility in New Jersey but never raced. Itzatrooper is also a registered trotter who never made it to the track. Perhaps they were considered too slow to compete. Roll To Thunder did race the tracks with 25 starts, but was not successful. With no wins and only placing 3rd a handful of times, he was sold to the Amish as a buggy horse like Mastoris and Iztatrooper. These three endured years of hard labor under less than ideal conditions. Roll To Thunder had a wounded leg and they were all severely underweight when finally dumped in a kill pen. And then their fate took a turn.

Max, Thunder & Trooper the day of their arrival at The Lily Pond
Founder Susan Bandy with the Standardbreds
Max, Trooper & Thunder, July 2022

The three arrived at the Lily Pond in June, with Itzatrooper needing medical attention due to an abscess in his hoof and a cut on his face from being kicked in the head by another horse while at the quarantine facility. We were delighted to find that all three are very sweet, gentle horses. We nicknamed them Max, Trooper and Thunder. Max exhibited confidence and curiosity, happy to engage with people. At first we thought he was the alpha of the herd… but no, it’s Trooper. He reminds us of a bulldog, pushing the others aside to be first to the food bowls and hay. Thunder was the lowest in the herd pecking order. Shy and reticent, we recognized the unmistakable signs of abuse in his past. He would need time and lots of love to establish a trusting relationship with us. We noticed that Thunder was having trouble chewing. The vet was brought in to float his teeth and confirmed that due to his advanced age, most of Thunder’s teeth are worn completely down. So we started soaking his grain into a soft mash, which he loves! He was also given his own stall where he can eat in peace. This put him in the same paddock as Lou de Fontaine, another off-the-track Standardbred at the sanctuary. An unexpected friendship was born.

Thunder & Lou sharing a snack

Both are Standardbred Trotters retired from the race track. Lou was successful; Thunder was not. Lou is confident; Thunder is not. Lou had a loving home upon retirement; Thunder was sold into farm labor then dumped in a kill pen. Fate brought them together at The Lily Pond, where they became best friends. Thunder used to get pushed around by the more assertive horses in the herd… but not anymore! Lou is his champion and very protective of his friend.

So our three dancing horses have settled in well in their new home. We want to thank all who generously donated to make this rescue a reality!

Won’t you please consider sponsoring one of these horses with a monthly donation? They have been through so much and deserve the best care we can give! Sponsorship is tax deductible and sponsors receive regular updates and a gift. Thank You!