In early May I received a call from a local man named Kevin who owned an old thoroughbred gelding that he was no longer able to take care. He said the horse needed special senior feed, vaccinations, and needed major teeth work that he was unable to afford. I asked Kevin how old the horse was and if he had his registration papers to establish his eligibility for our racehorse rescue program. He told me he didn't receive papers when he purchased "Sonny" from a horse trader 8 years ago and didn't have any luck reading the faded, scarred tattoo for the Jockey Club to research him. Kevin mentioned the horse was very thin and that he had tried to donate him to several other rescues who refused him. Kevin's last call before dooming Sonny to the local sale barn was Wings of Hope, a therapeutic riding facility in Burleson, Texas who recommended that he try contacting us.
We arranged a time for Kevin to bring Sonny to Remember Me Rescue. He arrived in a stock cattle trailer and never picked up his head up even though all the other horses on the farm were whinnying at his noisy arrival. Kevin's 9 year old son opened the trailer and climbed in with the 16.3 hand white hide stretched over the big framey skeleton. Dallas and I were appalled at the horrid condition of this once beautiful thoroughbred. Kevin went on to justify why he was so thin. His age, who he thought to be around 15 to 20 along with being kicked in the mouth sometime during his life were his excuses.
Sonny was led to his new deeply bedded stall and given a timothy alfalfa hay mix. To eat hay Sonny had to chew, spit it out, pick it up and chew again. Trying not to cry I called Dr Gene White of Diamond W Equine Hospital to come perform a much needed power float on what was left of Sonny's teeth. Realizing how upset I was Dr White fought traffic and arrived for duty at 6 pm that evening.
After heavy sedation Sonny allowed us to examine his mouth. None of us had ever seen such a dental train wreck. One of his bottom teeth was growing straight out like a tusk and was pulled. The remaining front teeth resembled a roller coaster. While floating the back teeth a molar fell to the ground. There were 2 other top molars missing and the bottom molars had grown up into the top gum causing major pain and preventing his jaw from proper chewing motion. The sides of his cheeks were raw from the hooks that had developed from neglect. Upon further examination we found that Sonny's hooves were actually starting to turn loose from the inside out and required immediate attention to save them.
Sonny was immediately started on a special senior diet and hoof maintenance program and within a few days began to enjoy eating grass and walking without limping for the first time in years. He has continued to gain weight daily and his personality has bloomed.
During the first week Sonny was here I started my own research on this big grand gelding I had become so fond of. I called the Jockey Club and spoke with Andrew Chesser who was extremely helpful. Although the letter at the beginning of the tattoo and one of the numbers were not legible we searched through all the grey geldings born between 1980-1990 with 2 back socks and a blaze. Andrew told me we could be reasonably sure the horse we had was a 26 year old thoroughbred named YEAH ME DO. Yeah Me Do won six races in his career at Bay Meadows and Golden Gate back in the 80's. I was so excited about the possibility of learning this guys history that I posted on the Alex Brown Racing forum about our new discovery and talk about being in the right place at the right time.
I was notified by a member of the forum that her partner trained a horse called Romantically, Yeah Me Do's dam, and that they wanted to donate towards his recovery. Days later I received a call from Joe Shell, the trainer of Romantically who passionately referred to Yeah Me Do as Yammi-Do. What Joy this call brought to everyone. I asked Joe about Yammi's breeders and he said he would try to contact them.
Another miracle, Roy, Yammi's breeder was so excited to find he was still alive. They were told he has died by the folks who claimed Yammi from them during his racing career in California. Roy and Joe confirmed without a doubt that the horse we had was definitely Yeah Me Do through some unusual hoof markings.
Who knows how this once beloved gelding found his way to Texas but as many thoroughbreds do I assume he was brought here after his racing career ended to be butchered in a Texas slaughter house many years ago when it was still a booming practice. I am sure if Yammi could talk he would have an incredible story to tell about his life long journey.
At Remember Me Rescue we work hard to help all exracehorses find permanent homes after the careers at the track are over but occasionally one comes along that touches our hearts in a very special way. Yammi not only blessed us but left a lasting impression on everyone his life touched. I hope his story has brought joy to you and that people everywhere will recognise the importance of supporting your local horse rescues to keep helping horses like Yammi. Please visit our website at http://www.teamkeen.com/ for continuing updates on Yammi and our other horse rescues.