I ran across a post on a forum called, Alex Brown Racing which is also called FOB or Friends of Barbaro. Alex Brown is a race horse person who started this board. However now, it is a huge rescue and do-good forum which I watch as often as I have time. Here is the link, in case you are interested in checking it out. Alex Brown Racing
So, back to Gabe… A lady named Marilyn started a thread several months ago. I read the first post and have been reading ever since… (better than any TV Reality show!). Since I found this so heartwarming, I decided to compile the highlights for you. Here is Marilyn’s first entry:
My new to me neighbor about 2 miles away had an elder OTTB walk into her mountain yard, her hubby tried to run him out but Gabe kept coming back, it seems Gabe has picked Jackie to be his possible end of life caregiver and her yard as his little paradise. Jackie is a caregiver of many years, has fostered many children and adopted some too. She’s 64 and doesn’t know anything about horses but has attached herself to Gabe, that’s the name she gave him, and is in a struggle with her hubby Daniel who doesn’t want to feed an animal he can’t eat, Jackie doesn’t have much money, she only gets a small SS check a month and relies on hubby’s checks, so when I approached her about getting Gabe’s teeth (he needs it badly), done she was all for it but very concerned about the cost and her hubby’s reaction. Jackie really loves this old guy, and is spending on his grain and hay, (I was able to purchase over 3 tons of 2nd for him), but she wasn’t expecting Gabe’s dental.
Hunters in the area had told Jackie that they had seen a truck and horse trailer on the road about the time Gabe showed up. I’ve heard that old man Beitey who has a trout farm has used horse meat to feed his trout, so I got this spooky feeling that Gabe may have become fish food had he not rescued himself.
Gabe’s tattoo is too faded for me to read and he’s not too happy about any messin’ with his mouth. He has a bad knee but it doesn’t seem to be causing him pain. He’s got lice, and filth scabs on his legs. We’ve treated him for lice and are working on the other. It’s been a long time since he’s had any TLC. He’s about a 1 or 2 on the scale.
OK, so basically, this dumped horse who was destined to be meat for the neighbor’s trout farm, wandered into Jackie’s yard and attached himself to her even though Jackie’s husband was kicking and screaming about feeding an animal that you cannot eat.
So, the lovely people of the forum started donating money to help this aged TB get some dental work. As you can see by the photos, he really needed it! At the time, the vet suggested that Gabe was around 26 – 30 years old. Now, can you imagine. Here is a gelding who has survived the track (hence the tattoo), lived an entire lifetime, starved almost to death, gets dumped in some backwoods area to be trout supper and now ends up at a dentist??!! He must be quite a character to keep creating such an interesting life for himself!
Meanwhile, what was really fun for me to watch, many of the racing folks on the forum were desperately trying to read the tattoo. Everyone wanted to know the history on this old and charming guy. Emails were flying back and forth on what the numbers could be, how old he should be, which registry to try… you name it! I loved that so many strangers were getting involved, using their Photoshop skills to outline the tattoo, and doing anything they could to help this codger, somewhere in Washington, who was wandering around a woman named Jackie.
As an aside, Jackie and her husband Daniel have no fencing. None. Gabe just hung out there. Jackie would feed him and Gabe would love the attention and the scratches and the brushing… Why leave? Gabe settled on their front lawn, looking at Jackie through all the windows of the house. I was glued to reading the every day news and schnannygans of Gabe.
All the while the emails are still flying back and forth about his tattoo. One member did some hue altering to see if it could be read easier. At one point the TB registry had enough of the zillions of guesses and stated that they couldn’t help with this horse. The tattoo was too old and worn. Boo hoo. Sadly, no other registry had a match so the forum just had to quit searching for his identity. It was settled that he would be “Gabe the Wonder Horse” and that was that.
I was amused to read that Jackie had to figure out a way to enclose Gabe at night because apparently he was visiting the neighbors. They surmised that he was lonely and went cruising to find his deer buddies at night. Evidently, Gabe had a few deer friends, one in particular that Jackie named, Bucky. Bucky was more active at night and they think Gabe just wanted to join in on the fun! But, the neighbors didn’t like a 1000 pound animal crashing about in the middle of the night. So, a solution had to be found.
Happily, the FOB figured out a way to get some extra panels to Jackie. (That forum is really wonderful.) Jackie was able to convince her husband Daniel to find some tarps and enclose a part of the shed. Now, Gabe had a nighttime shelter and a place to eat out of the rain. Ahhhhh. A pretty good life for a dumped and starved TB!
At Christmas, family arrived. What a joy to meet children! Gabe perked up and looked like a teenager with these kids around. And, what a good sport to let the kids sit on his back! There is no way my 20 year old broodmare would allow any small humans to disgrace her back! I was truly amazed that he just loved it and loved the kids. Here they all are coming through the back door. Yes, Gabe was a regular at the “back door”. That is where Jackie keeps the grain. We all know how that works…
These two pictures crack me up. I see that Jackie has a drive-thru window. I guess that Gabe noticed the kitchen window was an especially good window… Treats! I love this picture taken from the inside of Jackie’s home. She has a hairy stalker! Anyway, Gabe would spend several hours a day just watching his girl. At some point, Jackie gave into his equine charm and started giving him treats through the window. Ooops. Yup, now she has a horse that sits and waits at the drive-thru for it to open daily…
As Spring rolls around, you can see Gabe rubbing off his winter coat on a nearby tree. And, we notice that Jackie has started to put shavings under his favorite tree so that he can take a snooze during the day in comfort. Isn’t it amazing how they just worm their way into our hearts?
At some point, they put up a corral of rope or cable. I think they were keeping him in for the farrier or some appointment. Anyway, the funny part is that Gabe thought it was hot and totally respected it. I loved that! This picture says it all! “I can only peek around this much because that wire will ZAP me otherwise!” What a good boy!
Speaking of which, a few posts later we see Daniel, who was totally ANTI horse, is now driving the tractor to create a new paddock for Gabe in the back of the house. Ha! Amazing. I think the t-posts were donated through the help of the FOBs. They strung wire and Gabe had an enclosure. I’m not sure that he cared since the open space was quite nice… but I think Jackie wanted to know where he was at all times. Love will do that to you.
Here is a pic taken on Valentine’s Day. Gabe and Jackie are happy as clams and Gabe has obviously put on some pounds! They look great together! All the FOBs were thrilled to see this picture and again, an email flurry happened regarding his robust health!
All this time, the other animals on the homestead (cats and dogs) started to get a bit jealous that Gabe had his own drive-up window and started to hone in on the action. I love this picture. It is titled, “If looks could kill” and it is totally right! Look at Gabe’s ears! He is so pissed!
A bit later, it was decided that Gabe needed a friend. I don’t know if he was just taking too much time away from Jackie or if he was just mopey when she wasn’t around. Dunno. But, it was a good idea whatever the reason. So, a woman from Kindred Spirits Equine Rescue had the answer. His name was Topper. He’s a Shetland. I have Shetlands. They are a pony to be reckoned with. They are ponies with the mostest, they are bigger than life and full of prank. If ever there was a pony who could stand up to a huge TB, it would be a Shetland. And, here he was… coming to share Gabe’s good fortune!
The entire FOB board was poised to hear how the meeting went down. These pictures say it all! First, Gabe perked up when he heard the horse trailer. (They had Gabe in his night time space just to be sure there were no fights.) Then the pony emerges with the total I AM HERE attitude! They sniff and squeal and then it was over. Friends for life! Pony rules.
And, in typical pony fashion, if you are a white pony, you must roll daily to really frustrate your owners. Also, it is a good camouflage when living in the woods, or a barn or a stall… whatever. These pictures just crack me up. You can totally see the pony influence on the well behaved TB. Here they are deciding who will steer and who will work the pedals while the dog sits as witness!
Meanwhile, we see Daniel succumbing to Gabe and Topper’s horsey ways. Here he sits on the back porch, feeding his new charges. Daniel seems pretty happy if I may so say myself… I think these two furry hooligans have warmed his heart!
This last series of photos just killed me! Typical pony. Here, Gabe is totally out, probably having the best sleep of his life. The pony notices. Of course, the pony’s mind starts whirling on how to destroy his friend’s happy sleep. You see his little white head approaching for the kill. (I hear the theme song from JAWS… na-na, nananana…) “I know, I’ll bite his face!”. Nothing. When that didn’t work, the pony got angry, as ponies do. Ponies get angry often. I have never seen any of my horses snake their necks at me more than Shetlands. Anyway, obviously Gabe didn’t awaken so the pony had to step it up a notch. In the next photo, he pummels poor Gabe with a huge bite to the neck. Opened mouth and teeth bared like a good Shetland should. Ouch! Gabe erupts! The pony dodges out of the way and then runs off laughing. Typical pony.
So, I’ve now caught you up to date on Gabe the Wonder Horse. I have so enjoyed watching him worm his way into everyones hearts. And, it is such a pleasure to see two humans grow to love two horses. Especially since these two humans are not horse people! One was most definitely an anti-horse person! I also totally warmed to see all the strangers jumping in to help find Gabe’s identity (even though fruitless), help with food and clothing, help with shelter and shaving and whatever else this old guy needed. It is amazing how wonderful people can be when they feel that animal love. It can move mountains! Literally — because I am pretty sure Daniel is a mountain of a man! And look at him, totally in the clutches of his two new furry, non-edible, animal friends!
So, here we have a heartwarming story. A very lonely old ex-race horse found wandering around the woods… finds a woman he fancies who names him Gabe. With the help of a kind neighbor, this woman meets a whole bunch of strangers who help her care for this sweet, funny old guy. Gabe the Wonder Horse who has hardly any teeth and was totally abandoned has now worked his way into the hearts of so many and is now thriving in his new pasture and stall, with a new buddy and soaking up the love of his best girl.
Ahhhh. It doesn’t get much better than that.