Retirement farm: Elysian Fields spares lives of
reprinted with the approval of the News Tribune
Web Posted Saturday, September 06, 2003 HTTP://www.newstrib.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=207&ArticleID=10729
By: Brock Cooper
Tony emerges from the barn at Top-T Morgan horse farm in rural
Cedar Point. He holds his head high and sports a majestic trot
marred only by a front leg dragging across the ground when he
a 12-time world champion Morgan horse, broke his leg in 1992 and
may have been sent to slaughter if not for the efforts of Elysian
Fields, a nonprofit community for retired Morgan horses.
one of the most well-known horses in the Morgan world, anyone
that has been in Morgans for a while knows the name Valiant Tony,"
board president and Top-T owner Jann Currie said. "All these
guys (horses) are here so they don't go to the glue factory.."
Morgan is a breed descended from a horse named Figure owned by
Justin Morgan. The horse has a short, muscular body, with a thick,
arched neck and wide, chiseled head. The breed is considered the
first American breed of horse and is today bred all across the
Elysian Fields, Currie takes care of seven Morgan horses. Top-T
Farm is the flagship for a movement to offer alternatives for
elderly Morgan horses.
care of the elderly is a difficult task especially when they weigh
900 pounds a piece. Currie wakes up around 5 a.m. every morning
and cleans half the horse stalls before going to work at a Peru
furniture store. When she gets home, she cleans the other half
and gives the seven mature horses the tender loving care they
need and their former owners hope they would receive.
Legacy is a 27-year-old Morgan gelding from Bend, Ore., that still
trots around like a horse of 17. His owner became sick and had
to give up her farm, but because of Legacy's age it was difficult
for her to find a home for her most prized horse.
woman from Oregon just wanted to find a place he would be cared
for the rest of his life," Currie said. "She made him
a promise that he would stay with her for the rest of his life
and then she couldn't keep the promise."
the horses were human, many at Elysian Fields would be octogenarians.
Currie did not want the horses put to pasture all day, she wanted
them to be treated the same as when they were younger.
wanted them to be treated like they had been when they were the
stars," Currie said.
fate of these world champion horses is grim once they become too
old to show or breed, according to Currie. Many are sent to slaughter
or used as riding and lesson horses, far cry from the winner's
is really a tough life for them with kids on their back all day
long kicking them and pulling on them," Currie said. "It's
not really retirement."
of the perks the horses receive is comprehensive health care.
While the old gray mare may not be what she used to be, Currie
keeps the horses in peak physical shape.
Beauty was on lease in Rockford when Currie first saw her. The
26-year-old horse was thin and looked sick, so Currie took her
to the veterinarian and found out the horse had a thyroid problem.
got her on some thyroid medicine and she shed her coat and started
to put on weight," Currie said. "She's been in good
shape ever since."
some horses, the care at Elysian Fields creates a dramatic change
was diagnosed with Cushings disease, a disease of the pituitary
gland that causes severe arthritis.
mare wound up getting so lame all she would do is lay down a year
ago," Currie said.
the 25-year-old horse gets to roam around the barn at night when
everyone else is in their stalls to keep her joints from getting
Jones-Schauble of Compton is treasurer of the Elysian Fields board
and helps Currie clean the stalls when she can. As treasurer,
Jones-Schauble handles the finances and knows Currie is subsidizing
much of the costs herself.
not easy to raise money," Jones-Schauble said. "Our
goal is to become the sole financiers for the care of the horses."
has been taking in horses for about four years, but Elysian Fields
only became incorporated about a year ago. The board is made up
people from across the nation who care about the health and well-being
of retired Morgan horses.
fledgling organization has had a difficult time soliciting funds
because not many people are aware that the organization exists
and while the board members are good hearted, they are not savvy
at fund solicitation, Schauble said.
have yet to really to go after foundations and large organizations,"
chairman Linda Asher, a lawyer and horse breeder from Vermilion,
Ohio, said the key to growth is donations from organizations and
takes about $3,500 a year to take care of a horse, plus the cost
of any medical problems.
hopes to expand the organization to more than one farm once the
financial hurdles are over. She wants the board to attract someone
that can handle solicitations and write grants.
is a long-term commitment for these horses," Asher said.
"The horses continue to have a use."