When Tony first arrived at Nalani, he wasn’t what I was expecting. I knew he had been a show jumper and recently a school master, so I was expecting him to be easy, but when he arrived, he was angry and wanted nothing to do with me. When I got close to him, he kicked out at me. If he had wanted to hurt me, he would’ve. It was just a message to say, “leave me alone.” Teddy was still traumatized from losing his best friend, Lincoln. When we put Tony and Teddy together, they acted angry towards each other. I now know they were BOTH grieving. And one horse is not a replacement for the friend who was gone. Within a week of Tony arriving, his eye softened and he transformed into a gentle giant who was like a big puppy. He would approach me and tuck his head into my chest, and he had to be touching Teddy at all times.
I have now learned more about his past, and what a life he lived! He was bred to be a racehorse and was about to leave for Kentucky to hit the big time when he got sick, so he was kept back. As a result, he never raced. Instead, he was trained to be a show jumper and he cleaned up in ribbons. He showed under two names: Ticket to Tango and Beaujolais. At one of his early shows, the floor of the trailer collapsed underneath him, and his foot went through it severely injuring him. He had surgery to repair the damage and soon after that had a severe colic and went through colic surgery. The recovery from a colic surgery is no joke! But he made it through and continued to compete. When he had a ligament injury, he went on to compete in the Hunter ring.
During his competitive years he spent half of his time in the Hamptons and half of his time in West Palm Beach. Not too shabby! When he was retired, he became a school master. As a show horse he was kept in a stall most of the day and night, only put out in a small field for a few hours. He would paw at the gate asking to go back into his stall. Once he became a lesson horse, he lived out in a field. At first, he didn’t like it, but once he got used to the freedom, whenever he was brought into a stall temporarily, he kicked the stall door to go back outside. Now I understand why the first time I brought him into the barn for the farrier he took me skiing through the aisle to get back out to the field. The farrier did a quick glance at his feet and said, “they look good enough!” Subsequent farrier visits were done in the paddock where he stood like a perfect gentleman.
Tony’s owner loved him dearly, but she lost her farm in 2020. She scrambled to make sure that her remaining horses were taken care of. She found a place for him with his best friend, Speedo. Speedo passed away, and the care Tony was receiving was minimal. That’s when I was contacted. At first, I said I would help network him, but after hearing a little bit about his story, I knew that I had to take him. Nalani was bursting at the seams, but serendipitously the timing worked out perfectly. Tony was sent to heal our hearts only three days after Lincoln died.
Tony was only with us for five months, but time is not a measure of love. Today was a perfectly beautiful day. We gave him a pile of alfalfa hay and fed him peppermints until the end.
Rest easy, Tony. I was honored to know you. You were so well loved.