Jun. 13, 2016

Highlighting: Canoodler

I guess you could say this is a bit of a "horsey" Cinderella story. A story of a horse who found his way into his forever home after some bad luck. A story of a woman who never forgot "the one" and then was given a third opportunity to make "Noodle" hers. There really are good people in the racing industry...read on and you'll see what I mean.

I remember admiring the photographic works of Wendy and Matt Wooley for years as I read through internet articles on the BIG races. I remember thinking how I wished I could do that very same thing. Photography has always been a hobby of mine so I loved to follow those that had the talent and means to be able to do something so amazing. I believe the first time I really followed Wendy Wooley personally was on The Chronicle Of The Horse Forums where I read the stories of her horse, Jaguar Hope. In a tragic turn of events, he broke his leg in the paddock and had to be put down. Eventually, with Facebook becoming such a huge form of social media, I was able to follow the amazing photos she and her husband took. 

One day there was mention of a horse at the track that needed a new home. Wendy was friends with his trainer, Liane Davis so she went to Hawthorne to take his pictures and help Liane rehome another horse as she had always done her best to do. Wendy was fond of this huge bay gelding but his owners had priced him where it was not financially feesible for Wendy to add a second horse to the family. 

Canoodler supposedly had gone on to be a foxhunter in Georgia. Wendy did eventually move on, purchasing a horse in Baltimore by the name of Hola C Bright. However, Canoodler would pop up in a thought and she would be left imagining he had the good life that he deserved. Then in the spring of 2014 Wendy was in the infield at Keeneland waiting to shoot the next turf race when she mentioned to another photographer that she still wondered how Canoodler was doing. She said oddly enough, she received and email that evening from a girl in PA who had purchased the big gelding at New Holland Auction. She had done some digging online and found some of Wendy's posts about him. Finally, she knew this horse was safe and his new owner was excited about their future. Sadly, they did not end up as a good match and the owner tried several times to rehome him...Wendy had two other horses and no way to take on a third so for the second time she had to watch her dream horse escape her grasp.

A little time passed by and Canoodler ended up listed on Craig's List. Once she discovered it, Wendy raced into action. She couldn't let this horse disappear again. Wendy said with the help of some great friends, Canoodler finally came home. 

"Coming to my aid were the staff members for Herringswell Stables - Graham Motion’s barn. Graham was the trainer for Broken Vow and I guess his people felt the need to help out a Broken Vow gelding in need. One of their former staffers now runs a rehab facility near Fair Hill, Gratton Farm. She took Canoodler in until I could get him shipped to Lexington.   Another staffer helped me get a discounted shipping fee for a “rescue” - which I suppose he was!  And Brook Ledge shipping helped us get him to me! Then another friend of mine in Lexington, Christine Siegel, gave up a stall at the barn where she boarded her horses so we had a place for him. I honestly  don’t know how to thank all these good people who helped me out! It took a village!" Wendy remembers.
Sometimes, it really does take an army. 
Did that hit you in the feels yet?
So what are Wendy and Canoodler up to today? I'll let her explain that:
"Canoodler and I have worked with our trainer Emily Brollier Curtis in dressage. Noodle (as we call him) seems to have a bit of a big and unpredictable spook in him. He can be tough to ride. And subsequently we have found that he has some foot issues that require special shoeing to keep him comfortable and not aggravate the problem. He has pedal osteitis (inflammation of the coffin bone) and his coffin bone looks a bit like swiss cheese. He’s much happier now in his orthopedic shoes and moves much better. Unfortunately, there is some permanent damage from years of it not being treated such as arthritis in his lower neck.  I’m sure that the pain he’s been in has caused his big spooks. Canoodler is a the friendliest horse to work with on the ground. When he has to go to work in the saddle he can become opinionated and perhaps he has learned that if he gets big and scary that people will back off in making him work. I’m not so gullible so I get after him and it makes our training become slower than it should be but he must be a good citizen in and out of the saddle. I don’t have big aspirations for him because my reality is that I can’t show often. As a photographer, I work almost every weekend there is a show. But that’s not why I ride. I want to become a better rider and help my horses along the way. Noodle will be a slow project but I have nothing but time. He’s not going anywhere. I’ve known him so long! I’m thrilled to have him!!"
I think he is thrilled to be with you too Wendy. Thank you for being so diligent. For following through even when you weren't sure you could make it work. For having such great connections to be able to get the help needed to keep this big guy from disappearing (because craig's list tends to be the drain where horses disappear from) and thank you for sharing your story.
Wendy and Matt Wooley own and opperate EquiSport Photos - www.equisportphotos.com