THE DEETS: Alydeed's Leader (a.k.a. “Norman”)
Name: Alydeed's Leader (a.k.a. “Norman”)
Dam: Sounding Joy
Sale History: Sold for $5,000 at KEENOV in 1999; Sold for $8,423 at ALBAUG in 2000
Race Record: 40-2-10-5
Race Earnings: $40,845
Alydeed's Leader was a flat-out, hard-knockin' racehorse. Bred in Canada and built big, strong and sturdy, he never sold for even $10,000 at any given time, but he always tried his best and left it all out on the track every time he raced.
After a 40 race career, Alydeed's Leader was adopted off the track as a trail horse. He was bold, calm and game, the perfect mount for meandering through the woods, over creeks and across fields, but at the same time he was big and pretty and let up the ring when ridden properly as a working hunter.
Before long, however, his first owner began a family of her own and, after two years of sitting in a field without a purpose, he was once again adopted out, this time by Heaven Can Wait Equine Rescue in Ontario, Canada.
“He was so sweet and gentle,” said Heather Young of Ontario, Canada. “I was there at the their annual barbecue fundraiser to buy some riding apparel, but he caught my eye and I fell in love with him.”
Heather went home to talk with her husband about her new-found crush and, after a significant amount of convincing, Heather called the rescue to inquire about the gelding only to find that he'd been adopted out and was leaving the next day.
“I was heartbroken, but received a call the next afternoon from the rescue saying he had been returned,” said Heather. “They said that if I wanted to try him out for a week, they could drop him off the next day. I agreed and he never went back.”
For the next year Heather and Norman (as he's fondly known now) worked together to refine their jumping and flatwork skills and their relationship as horse and rider couldn't have been much better.
Then, in June, 2011, Norman started squinting in his right eye.
“I called the vet, who called an ophthalmologist,” said Heather. “Norman had an eye infection and we were treating him three times a day, but we couldn't seem to get ahead of it,”
Eventually, Heather decided to send Norman to the local equine hospital where, after 72 hours of intensive lavage treatment, the decision was presented to Heather to either remove the eye or put Norman to sleep.
“Norman was getting tired of people poking and prodding at him,” said Heather. “If you were in a white coat, you were coming to look at his eye, so he'd turn his head in a corner so they couldn't get close. They'd actually have to leave the stall, take off the white coat, and come back in before he'd allow them to get near him. Funny guy!”
Heather thought long and hard about the choice in front of her, considering what Norman's life would be, and what hers would be like with a one-eyed horse.
“He was calm enough and smart enough to figure stuff out with just one eye,” said Heather. “After everything he'd gone through, he deserved the chance to give it a go, so we removed his right eye.”
Norman recovered better than could be expected physically and, within about six weeks, he was cleared for light riding.
“He was extremely spooky at first,” said Heather. “One of his issues was the mounting block being on his blind side, so we switched to mounting from the other side, and that worked with no problems. He just needed to get his confidence back.”
One way Heather tackled restoring Norman's confidence was through the methods of Pat Parelli, a training philosophy in which the rider/handler instills confidence in the horse through extensive ground work, rope work, games and more.
“The change in his was night and day,” said Heather. “We've once again started over fences to amazing results. He's a natural jumper with amazing form and hopefully this year we'll really be able to show just how impressive he is .Everyone who meets or works with him absolutely adores him.”
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm's Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns two retired Thoroughbreds: Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is just starting back under saddle to find his forte as a riding horse, and Shotgun Shine (by Tale of the Cat, a.k.a. Gage), who is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.
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