Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Visiting Remember Me

One of my favorite places in the world is Remember Me Rescue. Nestled on a farm named Keen Farms in Burleson, Texas, Remember Me is known for retraining and rehoming ex-racehorses. Yet, there is more to the farm than just the rescue. It is also home to racehorses needing some rehabilitation, breeding stock, and some great people.
I have visited Remember Me Rescue several times and have enjoyed myself every time. From riding the now twenty-nine-year-old Yeah Me Do (Yammi) bareback and brideless on my first visit, to meeting and adopting my horse Dexter, to meeting and riding the rescued 2001 Texas Horse of the Year Lights on Broadway, and to meeting and riding the amazing King of Speed, some of my greatest memories would not exist without Remember Me Rescue and the three main people that come to my mind when I think of the organization: Lilly Armstrong and Dallas and Donna Keen.
Remember Me Rescue has recently made the headlines because of a heartbreaking horse seizure in Many, Louisiana. They currently have four horses rescued from Many at the farm: O’l Little Mike (Mikey), Straight Eddie (Eddie), Ol Suzie Q (Suzie), and Prince Alyzig (Kipper).
Those four horses were on my mind when my mom pulled up to Keen Farms on Monday. Yet, though those four were in the vanguard, there were several other horses on my mind, including Lights on Broadway, Yammi, King of Speed, Future Covenant, and Hy Danger.
From left to right: Lilly, Peace, Beau, King,
and Rio (below King)
Photo: Terri Cage
After visiting with Donna’s beautiful pony horse, Wyatt, my mom and I then headed down to the barn, where we met up with Lilly. The three of us – and the official greeter of Remember Me, an adorable dog named Rio – made our way to one of the back paddocks, where we visited King of Speed, Perfect Peace, and Heather’s Prince (Beau). In order to get the horses to do more than stand around, my mom used an app on her phone that made the sound of a whinny. Lilly grabbed the phone, taking off across the pasture. My mom and I couldn’t help but laugh as we watched Lilly, Rio, and the three geldings run across the pasture.
For several minutes, Speed, Peace, and Beau galloped and pranced along the fenceline. Before long, the whole farm was joining in. In the closest paddock, Lights on Broadway and his pasture buddies did the same. Down by the barn, horses pranced in the pens and the yearlings frolicked in their pasture. All this chaos was caused by an iPhone app that makes a whinnying noise.
After we let ourselves out of the paddock, we stopped along the fenceline of the next one over. Lights ambled over to us and we fed him some rich green grass. The beautiful chestnut gelding nuzzled against me, rubbing his velvety nose on my hand. As we headed back down to the barn, I stopped to visit Yammi, affectionately giving the near-white gelding attention.
We continued making our rounds, visiting the horses in the pens behind the barn before walking into the barn. I stopped outside of Future Covenant’s stall, rubbing the chestnut’s soft face as he let his head hang over the stall door. I stood outside his stall for several minutes, reminiscing on when I’d watched the gelding brilliantly win at Santa Anita on HRTV. He’d suffered an injury in the race, which is why he is currently on stall rest, but he also won a large bottle of Grey Goose vodka that raised $1,000 for Remember Me. Future Covenant is not just a winner of three races, but he is a contributor to Remember Me. Not to mention he’s one of my favorite horses on the farm because of his endearing personality.

Hy Danger
Photo: Terri Cage

While in the barn, I paid a visit to my favorite newly-turned two-year-old, Hy Danger, who is out of a half-sister to the multiple group stakes-winning Strong Suit. The colt, who I have always thought resembles Zenyatta, stood at the front of his stall. I approached him, allowing him to sniff my hand before I reached up to rub his nose. When I moved my hand with the intention of stroking his neck, the colt flinched, jerking his head away. I murmured reassuringly to him, allowing him to sniff at my hand yet again. I stroked his head comfortingly while whispering to him and slowly, I moved my hand closer to his neck. Before I knew it, Hy Danger was allowing me to pet his neck without a problem.
As Lilly headed to the front paddock to bring Wyatt to the barn, my mother and I visited two of the yearlings in a nearby paddock. The chilly wind was picking up, but I stood along the fence and tickled the silky muzzles of the youngsters despite it.

Brushing Mikey
Photo: Terri Cage

Then it was time to visit with the horses that had arrived from Many, Louisiana. Though they were all either newly-turned two-year-olds or three-year-olds, they looked like skinny yearlings. We first led Mikey out of his pen and as Lilly held the chestnut colt, I brushed his copper-colored coat, admiring his long, thick forelock. The colt had an extremely sweet personality and stood serenely as I groomed him and also later as I allowed him to graze.
The next colt we brought out was Kipper. The bay two-year-old grazed calmly, relishing the green grass as Lilly held him. Just like Mikey, Kipper had a very kind personality.
We then brought out Suzie, who had been attempted to be saddled in Many by trainer Bill Young, who laughed when he told the story of her running loose for two days when she was saddled. There is physical proof along her withers and topline – white hairs and saddle sores – and also evidence in her apprehensiveness. When my mom and sister had visited the horses a few days earlier, Suzie hadn’t even been brave enough to eat grass. This time, though, she grazed contentedly while Lilly held her.
Eddie with Dallas Keen
Photo: Terri Cage
Donna and Dallas soon arrived – just in time for the most difficult horse of the four to be brought out. Dallas led Eddie out into the open and I looked on as the trainer worked with the three-year-old. Just a few days prior, the gangly colt had given Donna much trouble and had taken hours to finally begin to show signs of trust. Yet the malnourished colt had changed since then and was much more willing this time around. It was as if Eddie is beginning to realize he is in much better hands now.
Mikey, Kipper, Suzie, and Eddie are some of the lucky ones involved in the Many, Louisiana seizure. Over sixty horses were involved and more than twenty-five did not survive. Now that these four are at Remember Me Rescue, they have bright futures ahead of them.  Before long, they will nearly fit in with the rest of the horses on the Burleson farm. Every single horse that resides at Keen Farms receives the care every horse should get. Not only are Lilly and the Keens incredible at working with horses, but they have an immense love for the animal. When these four horses were under the “care” of owner Charles Ford and trainer Bill Young, they were not receiving the right care. But now, they will get the kind of care every horse deserves and each horse on the Keens’ farm receives: plenty of TLC.

To hear Charles Ford's story, click here.

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  1. Ann Maree: What a fabulous story! I really enjoyed it and the photos were wonderful. I agree with you about Hy Danger -- I thought it actually was Zenyatta before I read the article!!! Love & hugs, Abigail

  2. Such a cool blog, Mary! Thank you for sharing your visit and all the photos with us. My very best wishes for the recovery of all the horses, but I know they are in the best hands as evidenced by Yammi and Lights. Thanks!