Anyone that has volunteered at Mid America Horse Rescue knows that releasing a horse from its halter to join a corral full of others is a magical experience:
Enthusiastic and carefree, the horse kicks up a bit of dirt and canters over to his buddy to say hello, before rounding the corral in a series of footraces. The sleek brown figures float among the dust clouds, basking in their freedom.
Witnessing a moment such as this, one cannot help but feel the impact of Mid America Horse Rescue’s efforts in rescuing ex-racehorses from slaughter.
It's this awe-inspiring grace that inspired Normand Latourelle, creator of Cirque du Soleil, to develop the show Cavalia, http://www.cavalia.net/en. The "Equestrian ballet," opens in St. Louis on March 21.
Performed in the largest touring tent in the world, the horses to move freely, and are enhanced with multimedia projection, lighting, live music, acrobatics, dance and aerial artistry. The fairytale setting encourages the audience to discover the natural wonder of horses. Each act serves as a tribute to the relationship between man and horses throughout history.
According to Erick Villeneuve, director, "Everything is done with the horses in mind." Following a philosophy focused on nurturing the horses and maintaining their well-being, the bond is continuously strengthened by the amount of respect and tenderness given to the stars of the show. For the Cavalia team, performing each show is accomplishing "A dream of freedom, cooperation and harmony."
Touring for 9 years across North America and Europe, Cavalia features 38 riders, aerialists, acrobats, dancers, and musicians and 55 horses. The variety of breeds include: Appaloosa, Arabian, Ardennais, Belgian, Lusitano, Canadian, Comtois, Criollo, Oldenburg, Paints, Percherons, Quarter horses, Spanish purebreds and Warmbloods. Latourelle praises the horses as some of the greatest in the world.
At Mid America Horse Rescue, keeping the horses in the limelight is our mission as well. Saving them is our first act and enabling them to thrive is our concept.
We understand that each horse has a past and strive to understand them and their personalities. Each volunteer plays a role to fulfill the organization’s dream of second chances. Volunteers connect with the horses opening the gate for an exchange of hello and returning neigh, a good rub under the neck and a quick peppermint treat. Our horses find their own ways to get attention, following the fence line, prancing in pairs, or giving a grunt as you pass the stall.
Whether you are fortunate enough to see Cavalia or not, we invite you to come out for a visit to Mid America Horse Rescue, and experience the magic that takes place every single day at our stables.
The horse is at the center of everything we do, and it’s amazing what can be accomplished when horses and humans work together.
I would like to thank everyone for their kind words and support on the national news article about Letdetrumpetblare, aka "Buck", aka "Trumpet", aka "Cletus" which can be viewed here! Thank you Jim Suhr and Kent McDill of the Associated Press for making this story happen. I am grateful to our trainer, Michele Boyce, for giving her kind heart and talent to this incredible horse to see what he could do. James Graham, our jockey, is one of the best and looks at each race as "Buck" aka "Cletus" learning. Thanks also to Nate Ruffolo and the Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman's Association (ITHA) along with the tracks (Arlington Park and Hawthorne Race Course) for recently implementing their "After Care Program" a pension plan for retired Illinois racehorses. Programs such as these along with this type of support from our Illinois racing industry enable facilities such as ours continue our work by supporting these horses for their second chance. Our racing industry is full of incredible, kind hearted folks whose passion for horses and the sport is an inspiration to me.
Finding "Buck" was a life altering moment for me. Many of our incredible horses at Mid America Horse Rescue are retraining at this time for their second chance career. A vital component of their second chance at life is enabling them to use their unbridle spirit and courage to benefit our fellow two-legged family. Our horses have an undeniable ability to touch people's souls, and through touch therapy programs or therapeutic riding programs for children and adults who are physically or mentally challenged, these beautiful creatures can improve confidence, as well as emotional and physical capabilities in others lives.
We would love to invite all of you to attend our inaugural "Silks and Suits Gala" fundraiser and charity ball slated for Saturday, October 30, 2010 from 6 p.m. to Midnight at the Four Seasons Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri. Funds raised by the event will help provide shelter, rehabilitation and training for more than 65 ex-racehorses awiating adoption at our facility. Slated as the Midwest's premier 2010 equestrian event, the evening will include keynote speaker, Alex Brown, "Alex Brown Racing", a New York Times published author and horse welfare advocate.
Given the St. Louis Magazine article, and preparing for the "Silks and Suits Gala," this last month has been a whirlwind. And it just keeps getting better.
Our handsome brown boy, Letdetrumpetblare, aka Buck, aka Cletus, is now running under the professional training of Michele Boyce, located in Chicago, IL. James Graham, our jockey extraordinaire, has been teaching Buck the ropes on the track. What a great team!
To get to where he is today, Buck has overcome some incredible challenges. I purchased Buck off of a "killer truck" headed to Mexico when he was just a yearling (meaning he was still a baby). Buck had a front leg injury that was fixable (he was probably stepped on), as well as a shoulder wound. After rehabilitating him and giving him plenty of love and affection (and treats of course), Buck recovered and grew...And grew...And GREW...into a magnificent animal.
On Thursday, June 4, we entered Buck in his second race ever, at Arlington Park. Our boy ran a strong 6 furlong race and brought a 3rd place finish home after a several month lay-off. (He might have been ready sooner, but he sure enjoyed his home visit and all the snacks everyone gave him. It took a little longer to work that belly off of him... Ooops!!)
By Buck stepping on that track, he won so much for us!
Before the race occurred, Colonel Roy Arnold of Arlington Park had contacted some of the local equine media, who happened to witness Buck's triumphant return to the track. Thanks to Buck's ability to take his second chance and literally run with it, our boy and his trainer Michele Boyce, fast became national celebrities. (Thoroughbred Times recently carried Buck's rescue story, "Rescued Letdetrumpetblare finishes third at Arlington," which was followed by a brief piece from Chicago Sun-Times on June 8.) Since the stories debuted, fans from across the United States have been inquiring about Mid America Horse Rescue.
More exciting news followed the next day! Our dear friend, Nate Ruffalo, vice president of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horseman's Association (ITHA), along with some very incredible members who train, own and support Thoroughbreds, have been spearheading the "after care program" from the Chicago tracks to support horses once they complete their careers. Following Buck's win, the ITHA, in conjunction with Arlington Park Race Course and Hawthorne Race Course, officially announced that a percentage of purses will now be set aside for the care of these horses. Both tracks have committed "seed money" to start the incredible program.
Buck, you have done your job running for your brothers and sisters and bringing attention to their very valuable lives. I am so proud of you. I feel like we have won the Breeder's Cup Classic! Thank you Colonel Arnold for believing in our story!
By running for Mid America Horse Rescue, Buck has touched so many lives. He's helping us share the story about the vital horse rescue programs that allow the industry, breeders and owners to collaborate together and save more lives.
Thanks so much to all parties involved and thank you ITHA for allowing me to visit in February and witness the program's development. I am so grateful to all of you! What a great racing industry we have in Illinois! I hope you will all come support our tracks and our great athletes. Your dollars there go to the horses' support as well.
So, how can you help?
Mid America Horse Rescue is starting its annual budget and capitol fund drives. Interested in fundraising or contributing? Contact me, Margo Sutter, at 314-302-2216.
Interested in volunteering at the barn? Call me or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will put you in touch with our Volunteer Coordinator, Tom Helms.
Funds to purchase the facility and funds for our daily operation are important for the retraining and rehabilitation of our horses, as well as the creation of our new programs for physically and mentally challenged children and adults.
I hope you feel the power of being involved in the legacy that's being created right now. Come join us! We look forward to seeing you!
I will write soon and thank you to everyone (those both two- and four-legged), who have become a part of our mission and touched so many lives. For your support, we are truly grateful!!