The Work Begins
Truth’s rehabilitation began with routine desensitization, including regular handling and grooming. Goodnight also started the mare on quality feed, high-protein hay and a well-rounded nutritional supplement to support hoof growth, haircoat bloom and general health. It was clear that, because of her age and her demanding career history, she was going to need joint support, too. (A longtime fan of Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences’ products, Goodnight opted for Cosequin® ASU Joint & Hoof Pellets, noting, “It was the ideal supplement for her, as if it were designed for her.”)
Within a month, Goodnight noted substantial changes in Truth’s appearance: “I know that people can fall in love at first sight with a beautiful horse, and that Truth had (and does have) the potential to blow someone away once we got her slick and muscled. I was not disappointed!”
After six weeks, the defensive behaviors were nearly gone, as well. “She was extremely responsive to retraining and desensitizing, and turned around FAST,” Goodnight said.
As the mare became stronger, fitter and more comfortable, her once-stiff, reluctant trot also became a sight to behold—“free-flowing with floating extension.” As the trainer reported, Truth began racing around and had “a spring in her step.”
The Big Decision
Once Truth was reintroduced to tack, eight weeks of under-saddle work began. The mare seemed willing and able, but one unusual behavior raised some concerns. “It was only when we would first put the saddle on her that she would show signs of discomfort, not when I rode her,” Goodnight said. “But a couple times (over two months), she had dramatic and sudden pain reactions after saddling (and before mounting), which is why I scheduled her for a vet examsomething just seemed off.” X-rays revealed a condition called “kissing spines” syndrome: to be specific, four vertebrae with spinous processes that touched. “We have not ridden or saddled her since, and have been continuing with ground manners, groundwork [and] conditioning,” Goodnight said.
“Kissing spines” syndrome is common in Thoroughbreds, and there are many treatments including surgery. However, the decision was made not to go the latter route with Truth.
“It was a joint decision between myself, the ASPCA (who rescued the horse) and Nexus Equine, the rescue that has legal domain over the horse and will process her adoption,” Goodnight explained. “Treatments are not curative; they reduce or eliminate the pain to enable riding.
“For Truth, if you are not riding the horse, she has no pain,” she explained. “Given Truth’s age and how much she has already given of herself as a winning racehorse and then birthing five racehorses, we decided that the best thing for Truth is to let her retire from riding and help her find a family that wants a beautiful and regal mare, who needs
Today, Truth’s weight is excellent and her coat is positively glowing. She is happy, moving beautifully and ready to melt hearts come adoption time.
Even Goodnight, who’s worked with many Thoroughbreds over her career, admits to being surprised about the mare’s “total 180-degree turnaround” in attitude. After careful and considerate rehabilitation, Truth finally trusts humans again and is willing to engage with them. “Now she meets you at the gate—she’ll actually run across the pasture to be caught,” Goodnight offered. “She is well-mannered, and enjoys her grooming and exercise time (like most Thoroughbreds, she does love to move and particularly enjoys free-longeing with the other horses—and holding the lead!).”
So, when all is said and done, what’s in the name “Truth Takes Time”? Clearly, a reminder that it can take time to sort out a problem and the best solution for it. In the case of this amazing mare (and many rescues like her), it was well worth it.
For information about Julie Goodnight and her work, visit www.juliegoodnight.com. To learn more about Nutramax Laboratories Veterinary Sciences, Inc.’s equine supplements, go to www.cosequinequine.com.