September 11, 2001
It was a beautiful morning — clear blue skies without a cloud in sight. It was a great morning to be riding and training our newest off-the-track Thoroughbred, Irish Morning Mist. It was the first year of Bits & Bytes Farm’s mission to retrain Thoroughbreds for new careers as sport horses. “Irish” was full of himself and at one point my husband Barry was spun out-of the saddle only to land on his feet facing “Irish”, eyeball-to-eyeball. Little did we know that at the same moment, an airplane was hitting the World Trade Towers a 1000 miles away in New York City. It was only when we returned to the barn that we learned of what was happening to our country, yet still not understanding the full impact these events would have on all of our lives.
September 11, 2009
Fast forward eight years to today. The day is dark and rainy both here in Atlanta, Georgia and in New York City. As we take a moment to pray for all the people affected by the events of 9/11 we also take a moment to thank God for allowing us to continue our mission that was started so many years ago. No one will ever forget where they were when the Twin Towers were hit.
We will never forget the horse we were training – Irish Morning Mist. He has had several owners but now seems to have found his forever home.
We kept an eye on Irish all these years (read Irish Morning Mist’s Success Stories) and supported his owners with help and advice and when necessary we found a new home for him. His first mom lacked time, Megan, his second (and current mom) gave him up due to finances only to regret it later. Irish’s third mom started a family and sold him to a woman who loved him but it was not a match. Irish now continues his training with Megan (second & fifth mom) who came to us as a teenage “Friend of Bits & Bytes Farm” and stayed later as a boarder when she purchased Irish for the first time.
The years have gone by quickly. Irish and Megan are now away at college. We have placed more than 300 horses into non-racing homes. Barry and I are even more committed to this mission of finding homes for Thoroughbreds after racing. Our Web sites (yes it has gone to multiple Web sites) offer help and advice for anyone who has, or hopes to have, a Thoroughbred off-the-track. We have worked hard to dispel the myths surrounding Thoroughbreds.
Critics spread myths and point to our short comings while hiding behind anonymous forum postings. This only serves to deepen our commitment to these horses and make us work harder to make the sales process a win-win for everyone. Our Web sites are educational tools for people looking for more information on Thoroughbreds and what it is like to be involved with racing. We tell the true stories of these horses and what it is really like to be privileged enough to own one.
Our OTTB Success Stories Web site lists the names and locations of the horses we have sold. The stories are written by their owners. Learn the truth straight from the horses’ mouth. If you have doubts – pick up the phone and call us. We are happy to put you in touch with our buyers if you need a better understanding of what it is like to retrain an OTTB. Get the facts. Forget the myths, lies and innuendos of what an ex-racer is really like. Passing on these falsehoods does not hurt Bits & Bytes Farm but it might talk someone out of getting a horse off the track and it is the horses that suffer. They might not get a chance at a second career. Think twice before passing on myths and criticisms. Who do you really want to hurt?
We are not a rescue but we too see the underbelly of the racing industry. There are many wonderful trainers who take great care of their horses and want a new home for them after racing. And yes, some horses still do go to slaughter. This is not a marketing ploy to get you to buy. This is the fate of many horses. Occasionally one of these “at risk” horses is offered for sale on our Web site because we just cannot turn away from helping — even though we are not a rescue. We are guilty of being passionate in finding homes for even the less than perfect horse. Don’t mistake passion for marketing hype. Most of the horses we sell ARE sound for a new career. If we find out they are not, we still try to find a home for them anyway BUT we explain why they are not sound. We cannot guarantee the future soundness but no horse leaves the track without a vet check, optional x-rays and your approval. We have everyone’s best interest at heart – the horse and the buyer. This is not a profit driven business, it is a mission.
The world has changed since September 11, 2001 – some ways for the better and in some ways not. This year Barry and I will celebrate our 24th wedding anniversary. This poor man had no idea what he was getting into when he asked me to share his life. It has not always been easy but it has been very rich in the rewards of making friends with the buyers of our horses and watching their successes even if sometimes you are tossed to your feet and land eyeball-to-eyeball with a 17 hand beauty! All I can say is, “Wow, what a ride”. Thank you to all our supporters and buyers. Thank you to our critics for keeping us motivated and on (the) track! And, most of all thank you to the horses that have made it all worthwhile.