Well, I think that part of what I am going to speak about today may seem controversial. But, if you step aside from the controversy and find the nugget in there, that’s what I’d like to discuss. Thinking outside of the box.
THINKING FROM ANOTHER VIEWPOINT
We all benefit by thinking in different ways and from different perspectives. And that’s what I’m saying here. Specifically, Equine Welfare Organizations and Rescues sometimes have a difficult time thinking of new ways to bring the same message: “We need donations!”
Bringing in money is a tough job…
So today, I wanted to bring attention to Margo Sutter who thought of a new way to bring in funds for her rescue, Mid America Horse Rescue.
WHAT DID SHE DO?
She saved a TB yearling, brought him to extreme health, trained him and then put him back on a less competitive racing track. What he wins goes back to his buddies at the farm.
Now, I can hear what you are thinking… horse racing is dangerous and bad for the horse. Well, it can be, yes. And, this is where we have to suspend our disbelief and think of the bigger idea here. I say that because not every trainer juices his horses or trains them too young or does whatever just to win… For today, I am going to go with the great idea of taking a TB and letting him do what he loves to do – for the benefit of his fellow horses. I’m going to believe that this rescue owner and horse lover is doing it in the right way, for the right reasons with the right attitude.
Why? Because in Margo Sutter’s interviews, she doesn’t seem very upset whether Buck wins or places or loses. She says she is doing it because he loves to run. C’est tout.
Buck was one of those TB industry failure yearlings. He had been sold for $200 and was on his way to a slaughterhouse in Mexico. Somehow, Margo heard of his plight, along with 6 others, and she hightailed it down to the yard. She was prepared to buy them all, but the new owner demanded $1000 each. Crushed, Margo had to decide which 3. Heartbreaking. She says she still sees the faces of the other 4 horses left behind. So sad.
(The fact that the hauler was charging so much is another story.)
Buck had a foot injury, was limping and also suffered a puncture to his shoulder. Margo knew no one else would rescue him so she took him as well as another mare and a filly. Thus began the Mid America Horse Rescue. She saved Buck and Buck saved her. Sutter says she fell in love with his soulful eyes and lovey personality. She nurtured him back to health.
He was gangly with a big head and big feet. Slowly but surely, he grew into himself and became very confident. Sutter noticed that he was kinda looking and acting like a real racehorse. He sure seemed like he could run. And, he seemed to have the mind… So, she took a chance on a hunch and sent him to training. Buck flourished.
Buck had his premier race in September of ’09. He didn’t come out of the gate well. Some say he looked drunk and wobbly. By the time he got it together, the other horses were way ahead. The race was being run while Buck brought up the rear. But somewhere in there, Sutter says, Buck had an epiphany. It happened on the backstretch. Buck finally realized that there were other horses and he was in a race. That extra TB gear kicked in and he managed to finish 4th! Brother Buck brought back a check for $1740!
Sutter says that Buck’s dark brown eyes were dancing after the race! He was so proud of himself that he goofy pranced all around with an expression of, “How’d I do? How’d I do?!” She felt that Buck loved it. He was like a giddy kid.
Well, he is no front runner in elite races. But, he has had a few good finishes in his several races with the top being 3rd. As long as Buck likes to do this, she’ll let him. If she ever sees him hang his head at the track, his racing days will be over.
Gosh! Think of the marketing possibilities here! It would be wonderful to start a “rescued horse” track — as long as all the other stuff didn’t go along with it. Imagine if they could create the same environment that they have at the mule races. I mean, heck, mules are so unpredictable that all the owners and riders laugh almost as much as they cry. The possible outcomes and inroads from this are spinning around in my brain. What a good idea – to race this discarded horse! In fact, I checked to see how many newspapers picked up this story and there were too many to count! This story ran everywhere. Everywhere.
And for Buck, what a great ambassador! Any way to bring horse rescue awareness to the general public is a good thing. He’s the grain winner in the barn, for sure!
MID AMERICA HORSE RESCUE
I was not able to find much on their website about Buck. I noticed that their rescue herd is up to 80 in numbers. So, I’m sure they need to bring in some donations… I did find that they are having a Fund Raiser October 30th, Silks and Suits. If you click here and scroll down, there will be an article about it.
What I find really interesting is that the Fund Raiser is fairly normal. It is black tie and the tables are expensive. Fine. That is a good way to secure donations. They have a popular Key Note speaker, Alex Brown. And, they have original artwork by equine and western artists for auction.
But, they also have a “thrown-away TB that has blossomed into a race horse”! I sure hope they have a display of his phoenix. I wonder if they are planning to use his accomplishments in any way? I wonder if he will throw down a challenge to any other rescued racing horse out there a la Seabiscuit? Wouldn’t that be fun to have clean style bets/donations taken during the Fund Raiser (when everyone is in the spirit or full of spirits)?! It could be such an uplifting display to have rival rescue horses pitted against each other. It is a total win-win. Winner and its rescue takes the larger share and loser takes his share. Fun!
THINKING OUTSIDE OF THE BOX
So this whole “rescue horse as his own marketer” got me thinking…
I was trying to think of something simple for an everyday rescue to accomplish that would bring awareness and hopefully, donations.
My best idea in the hour I’ve been contemplating this is (drumroll): Bring a very docile rescue horse out to the biggest local toy store and let kids paint him.
Huh, you say? Well, I think if you asked the local toy story if you could have some of his parking lot (sometimes the lots are owned by private parties), brought shaving, shade, a pen, water based paints, little smocks and other fun kiddy stuff, you could let the kids stick their hand in the paint and then put their hand on the horse.
I’ve seen something like this somewhere before. I think it was at a fair. The kids couldn’t get enough! But, if you did it in front of a toy store or some other store that needs kid traffic, and advertised locally, you would bring in crowds. And, if you had a nice placard about that particular horse and about his other friends back at the ranch… and offered a Play Day out there that they could sign up for, and had a big donation jar shaped like him, and the kids got their picture taken with Docile, and that photos would be sent to the parents via email, and you had a washing station that was manned by a goat or a dog or some other fun creature…, and the parents could purchase some items that benefited the Rescue, and everything was safe, well manned, organized and legal… well, I think a Rescue could come away with a whole new mailing list, a full donation jar, sign-ups for another event and perhaps a few more fans and a fistful of dollars.
Dunno. I’m just sayin’, thinking outside the box could possibly bring horse rescue awareness to people who don’t run in our circles… We need to break out of the stall if we want to delight and engage those that don’t know horses like we do… ;)
HEY LOOKEY LOOKEY!
THIS JUST IN AT 9:30 THIS MORNING! DARLA FROM STRAWBERRY MOUNTAIN MUSTANGS – OUR BUCKET FUND CHARITY THIS MONTH – THE PEOPLE WHO ARE SAVING GRACE “THE SKINNIEST HORSE STILL ALIVE”, sent these pics to me after reading the post this morning.
They evidently took part in a childrens cancer camp and one of the fun activities for the kids was just like what I was speaking about above, where you let kids hand paint on horses. Here are some pics. Too cute! I understand the B&W Paint was a stud just 6 months before. So, if you get the right kid lovin’ horse and the right horse lovin’ kids, it is a huge success!
HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!
The September Bucket Fund will benefit Grace, the skinniest horse still alive. To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate to this incredible horse, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)
Thanks for this post. I’ve been reading your blog for the past month or so and see you put a lot of time and thought into your observations – and have a lot of fun doing it. Good for you!
The racing industry is generally portrayed by those who’ve never been on a backside, or on the back of a racehorse. Funny thing is, I held some of the beliefs touted as universal truths before I saw what really happens. Interestingly, I’ve also had recent first-hand veiws of some of the practices of rescues, which has turned my head around too :-). I’m glad you’re doing your research to identify the good ones.
What I have found over the past 41 years of enjoying horses and learning so much from the ones who now come here as teachers excited to learn, is most relish a job. For TBs bred to run, sometimes that’s what they really want to do. I congratulate you and Margo for seeing this where Buck is concerned. Of course, if more breeders and/or owners took the time and effort to understand what a particular horse wanted to do, it would be a better world for horses and their human partners.
Hopefully you’ll continue to use this blog to encourage people to do their reseach (first-hand) before they join a bandwagon condemning an entire industry (or supporting a concept without investigating the players :-)). I enjoy seeing what you’re doing with this blog and your willingness to take the time to reseach your material.
A fun story – I have a yearling TB colt at the farm (Redford – he’s little but adorable – the nickname shows my age, I suppose). This spring, I received a call from a local assisted living center asking Halcyon Acres to host a field trip for their elderly and physically challenged residents. My instinct was to say no (liablity concerns), but then I got thinking about how I might set things up to be safe and fun for the residents and what a difference such a trip might make in their day, week – life. It turned out to be such a great experience for all, I wrote about it (at http://horsesenseandcents.com/blog/645/therapeutic-horses-can-merely-be-happy-ones/). I moved the herds around and errected a temporary fence for the primary farm-owned herd (they’re a friendly and kind bunch) in a way so the bus could be driven right up to a safe barrier yet still allowed residents easy access to the horses. I had one horse that I knew would be fine no matter what. So, I turned Redford loose when the bus arrived and he followed it until it parked. Some residents thought he was a dog (blind). Horses are amazing creatures that blossom when asked to jump in for a job they can handle.
Why not do a future blog post encouraging horse farms with the right kind of horses (or, more critically, handling) to open their farms to facilities housing the elderly, disabled, abandoned kids, crtically ill, mentally challenged, etc. for a day of discovery that will change their world? I’d be happy to share more about my experience with you.
oops – actually it wasn’t a fund raiser for us – we just took part in a childrens cancer camp – and this was one of the fun activities that our volunteers thought up!
Great way to spend time with the kids and give them the chance to interact with these amazing animals.