What’s in a name? A lot, if you happen to be a hard-knocking 18-year-old Thoroughbred called “Truth Takes Time.” Just ask gifted horsewoman Julie Goodnight, who has successfully fostered the racehorse-turned-broodmare-turned-rescue at her Poncha Springs, Colorado ranch since April 1 of this year.
A 15.3-hand chestnut who shipped in from Oklahoma City, “Truth” was described by the veteran trainer as “ … a gorgeous [and a] very typey Thoroughbred, reminiscent of Secretariat.” (The late superhorse was in fact Truth’s maternal grandsire.) A one-time winner at the track with $26,067 in career earnings, Truth was later dam to five foals, the youngest born in 2018. One of her offspring, a 2013 mare named Inagoodway, has won $459,676 over 49 career starts at the time of this writing.
During their time in foster homes, many rescue horses are retrained for second careers under saddle. Others can no longer be ridden and might simply need physical and/or mental rehabilitation. The ultimate goal is finding each animal, no matter the circumstances, a caring “forever home.”
Still, why take on a retired senior broodmare?
“Repurposing broodmares is a big focus currently for the people and organizations that help horses in transition,” Goodnight explained. “Today, there are far fewer breeding farms than there were a decade ago, putting a lot of broodmares out of work. Many of those broodmares are aged and have had multiple foals, and they have special needs when it comes to reconditioning, retraining and repurposing.
“Often off-the-track Thoroughbred broodmares have never been handled or treated like a recreational or backyard horse, and need [to be] re-oriented,” she continued, adding, “I’m interested in helping rescues and the trainers/handlers that work with broodmare rescues to develop good training protocols, so more of these horses are successful in finding forever homes.”
Good training includes lessons in “ground manners”: educating horses to be relaxed, willing and cooperative when handled, whether for haltering, leading, grooming, turnout, farrier work or saddling. Even if a horse cannot be ridden, excellent ground manners are a must for adoption as a “pasture ornament,” companion animal, or for non-riding activities. A horse that cannot be safely handled is a risk for all involved, including the horse.
A typical off-the-track Thoroughbred in many ways, Truth was underweight, shy and wary about being touched when she arrived at Goodnight’s ranch. She also had sensitive skin; a dull, shaggy haircoat; thin, brittle hooves; and an ugly quarter crack—not to mention “broodmare belly” and poor topline muscling.
“When anyone approached her pen, she would walk away and hide her head in the farthest corner,” Goodnight recalled. “She avoided people or being caught. She threatened to bite or kick when you touched her in certain areas … it was a couple weeks before I could handle her hind legs.”
The mare was a challenge, to be sure. Still, as Goodnight wrote on her website, “Underneath her rough exterior, I could see Truth’s beauty when I first met her, and I knew she was an athlete, too. After researching her online records, we found that she raced for three years, which means she’s been ridden a lot in her past.”
To Goodnight, that was encouragement enough. “So what if it’s been over a decade since she’s been ridden?” she asked. “At least no one has screwed up her training in the meantime!”
Which brings us back to the question: What’s in a name, if the name is “Truth Takes Time”? Perhaps a clue: that getting to the “truth” (the best way to help this mare) would “take time” … and patience.