We thought we were at the right place, but a retired racehorse named Germaniac had different plans for us.
One moment it was the spring of 2014 and we were moving into a brand new house with colors we picked and shiny new appliance packages with those yellow energy savings stickers slapped onto them.
Three years later we rented it out and moved into a historic stone farmhouse built in 1865, with an even older barn and one stall deemed, “It might be safe for a horse.”
Turning For Us
I met Kate Goldenberg when I was 10 years old, and she was 14. Our families had purchased properties next to each other. My mother was an equestrian and gave horse riding lessons. Kate was born an equestrian and gave us all horse riding lessons.
We grew up. Our families sold the properties. There were husbands, and kids and horses and life’s journeys until one day my sister invited me to visit Kate at her large stables where volunteers help with rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming off-track racehorses.
I was in my 50’s.
At the time, my husband and I had reached a point in our lives where we had outgrown the small Cape Cod house and had raised our kids. This is why we moved into our nearly 4000 square foot dream house in a small housing development surrounded by farms and open fields.
One day at Kate’s my sister put me on Gumby. I hadn’t ridden since I was 24 years old. She led me around at first but to my surprise, my legs and body remembered what to do.
I went to Kate’s more often after that. I’d sit on the cement stoop steps of the new house with dirt for lawns to put on my riding boots, hop in the car and drive to Safe Haven Thoroughbred Rescue.
Three years later the lawns had grown grass, I had my own saddle, my husband would often join me going to Kate’s and we met the horse that made us move again.
Turning for Home
Germaniac arrived at Kate’s after being released from his racing career by his trainers into a program called Turning For Home. He had suffered a sesamoid injury while racing.
This was no ordinary Thoroughbred.
For starters, he prances around as if the entire world is watching just him. He holds his tail up high and then it flops over into a curl, while his neck arches into the perfect imitation of a dressage horse. I’ve seen him lift up each leg as he gallops as if he is a ballerina. He snorts and blows into the air catching every scent.
I had promised myself to NOT fall in love with another OTTB from Turning for Home sent to Safe Haven. The first two were not going to be mine because for starters, we lived in brand new house on a tiny plot of land fifteen minutes away.
If I’m going to fall in love with a dream horse, the dream house would have to go.
And it did.
Germaniac was nicknamed named “Manny” by Kate’s barn of volunteers who exercise the horses, muck stalls and do the never ending chores that all stables demand.
I showed up one day and there he was in one of the round pens getting exercise.
Manny presented me with a peacock feather that he plucked from one of Kate’s peacocks that had strolled inside and presented to me.
We bought him a big blue ball.
Kate gave him all the time he needed to rest and heal until he was ready for his new home.
Nobody would take him. He was given the prognosis of “pasture horse” and “maybe lightly ridden”.
But he would have to calm down and this was a horse that was afraid of rain puddles.
We bought him a farm.
In less than 3 years of living the life of luxury, we bought a 5 acre farm with lots of trees because I wanted horses and my husband wanted trees.
In was 2017. We named the property Dancing Timber.
Shortly after moving in, during one of the coldest winters on record, Kate drove up with her horse trailer and dropped off Manny. We had no place big enough for the trailer to turn around, so for the first year the truck and trailer tire marks molded into the only possible grassy area she could turn around in were a constant, happy reminder of the day Manny was officially adopted by my husband and me.
Adoption of a horse through Turning for Home is an adoption for the life of the horse. If you can’t for any reason keep the horse, they take it back and find it a new forever home.
We lasted 2 years. The barn restoration would have taken years.
Manny needed a friend.
We called our Realtor again.
Still Growing Dreams
When we left the new sparkling perfect house with maroon shutters and drywall to live in the most incredibly gorgeous stone farmhouse with authentic wood floors, 3 working fireplaces (out of five), an inground pool and home office featuring real stone walls, everyone thought we had lost our minds.
In a conversation with my sister, who was really flabbergasted at this decision, I blurted out, “We’re growing dreams.”
That summed it up, until it was obvious we were not the only living souls doing to the dream work.
Manny and my husband really needed more land.
We settled at the end of December 2019 on a 10 acre property in the next county bordering a gigantic state park, with a cool looking house surrounded with gardens and woods tucked away on a tiny back road.
This is where we had a 3 stall, one tack room barn built while Manny lived at Safe Haven and ran with many horses. I was thrilled he was with friends of his own kind.
When the barn was up, and we had built the beginnings of space for horses to be horses, once again Kate arrived with her truck and horse trailer. This time she came with Manny and another horse to keep him company.
Ten months later, she switched out horses and delivered another OTTB nicknamed Billy. He and Manny became fast friends. We built a riding ring and wait for Kate to match me with a horse I can ride.
We know Safe Haven is a place of magic. Kate is gifted in her work matching humans and horses. When you visit Safe Haven Thoroughbred Rescue you might see stalls filled with horses in varying stages of healing or training for their next careers once they are no longer racehorses.
You also may figure out that this famous woman has made nearly every financial, health and personal sacrifice for them.
Kate asks for nothing and gives people their dreams. She was born that way.
There is a peacock feather stuck into a tree across from our long driveway that we see whenever we walk out the mailbox. There are no peacocks that live around here.
I realized one day that the last time Kate drove up with her horse trailer must be when the peacock feather arrived.
We leave it there, in the hopes that it means Manny is done property shopping and has found his forever home.