A number of weeks ago, Donna and Dallas Keen received an email from a young woman,
Hi ... I have one of your race horses that you used to have, Kinoko Man. I found him at a auction sale and saved him from the slaughter man.
The Keens were aghast! Dallas and Donna Keen are devoted to the care and training of horses, as well as rehabilitation and placement of retired racehorses. And the idea of one of their previous trainees ending up in the possession of a “killer” was incomprehensible.
Donna flew off the handle, initiating emails with unsubstantiated information, questioning the integrity of the owners. They’re good people, she thought, but how could they let that wonderful horse end up in the hands of killers? She immediately contacted the owners, informing them of the news all the while passionately decrying horse slaughter. Their racehorse had been destined to become paardenvlees in Brussels. What gall!
The news was even more upsetting to Kiniko Man’s owners, Bob and Pat Sheetz, because Kiniko Man was living in their backyard!
“I have no idea what this is all about”, said Bob Sheetz. “Kinoko Man is indeed at a farm in Argyle, Texas. He's doing very well.”
Kinoko Man (Runaway Groom - Rabbit by Clever Trick) broke his sesamoid bone at Sam Houston Race Park last February and had to be retired from racing. The Sheetzes initially elected to keep Kinoko Man in the Houston area for the first few months of his recovery so he would not have to travel on his injured leg. Eventually, they brought him back home to North Texas.
Bob Sheetz went on to describe that they had recently taken Kinoko Man to the Las Colinas Equine Clinic to have Dr. Jake Hersman perform a comprehensive exam that included digital x-rays of the injured sesamoid. He received six weeks of Adaquan injections. He had his teeth floated. He got a cribbing collar to help kick his cribbing habit he developed because he was bored by his confinement and limited activity. Rumor has it that they tacked up a photo of his favorite pin-up girl, Sweet Catomine. “So, as you can see we are definitely taking very good care of Kinoko Man.”
Pat emphasized, “We would never send him to a slaughter house!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
(Author’s note: Mrs. Sheetz actually used 15 exclamation marks. That’s pretty emphatic.)
“I don't know what horse this [young woman] has,” wrote Bob, “but it is not Kinoko Man.”
As it turns out, the young woman acquired a former racehorse at auction and, wanting to learn more history of her new riding horse, sought out information via the internet, having never heard of the Jockey Club. She eventually ended up on the Keen’s website upon googling “gray gelding”, where she saw a photo of Kinoko Man. Same colorings. Same markings. No longer racing. Probably cast aside since he could no longer earn a paycheck. So, she innocently believed that she had Kinoko Man. Well, at least until the Sheetzes informed her to look at the lip tattoo, a requirement for identification purposes for all racehorses.
Apparently, the young woman now alleges to have saved Johns Rush from slaughter, a horse that raced in Maryland a few years ago. Check your backyard, just in case.
Johns Rush (g. by Not For Love). 5 wins, 3 to 6, placed at 7, 2007,
$159,710, 3rd Maryland Million Starter H. (LRL, $5,500) [Fasig-Tipton 2006 catalog, referenced in Hip 91]
Regardless, the gal deserves a medal. She saved a horse from slaughter and has given him a new career off the racetrack. “He was so skinny it was painful to look at him, but now he’s doing so good and he’s fat and healthy and he is now my English show horse,” the young woman informed Donna.
After the mystery was solved, it took a few days for Bob and Pat Sheetz to calm down from the accusations and misunderstanding. As owners, they take great pride in caring for their horses.
“In the past two and a half years we have either claimed or purchased nine thoroughbred horses. We either still have these horses located on farms for rehabilitation in the hope that they will someday return to the track, or we have placed them in very fine homes where they will be well taken care of,” said Bob. “As we all know, this takes a lot of time and a lot of money, but it is our responsibility as owners.”
The horse racing industry should wish they had more owners like the Sheetzes. There are no unwanted horses. Horse slaughter is never an option.
Asked if Kinoko Man could look forward to a new career after he recuperates, Bob replied, “I don’t know if he’ll ever be a riding horse again because of the injury. Maybe he’ll just be an ornamental horse. But he’ll be happy and well-cared for.”
Responsible owners, indeed.