Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Zodiac: The King of Maryland

-Sarah Andrew

No drive to Kentucky is complete without a visit to Zodiac, one of the gamest Thoroughbreds I've ever met.

You can read about Zodiac in my June 2011 post on the TDN blog (click here). The 8-year-old stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding was placed in the care of Days End Farm Horse Rescue in Woodbine, MD after he and over 50 other horses were seized as a result of a West Virginia cruelty case.

For many months, Zodiac's condition was touch-and-go, from his severely emaciated condition, to the ulcers in his digestive system and eyes, to the fevers, to the lymphangitis. I followed the Days End Notes from the Barn blog every day, smiling with every improvement and wincing with every setback. I visited the farm twice during his most critical times; despite his weakened condition, he always turned his head to greet visitors in his stall.

In November 2010, he took his first walk without the sling (video).

In May 2011, he put on a show for me in his paddock, leaping and playing with wild abandon.
In December 2011, I planned a quick trip to Kentucky, and of course, stopped to visit my friend Zodiac on my way. Gone was the brittle coat and gaunt frame. Before me stood a handsome chestnut, full of life and basking in the attention of the volunteers at the rescue.
He no longer stood meekly for photos, but instead tossed his head impatiently if I took too long setting up my shots.
His coat glowed, eyes full of life, and he carried himself with pride. During our session, he posed this way and that; it is such a joy to photograph a horse like Zodiac.
I wasn't sure if "Zody" would appreciate wearing a wreath and Santa hat for his Christmas photo, but he handled his new attire with aplomb, carrying the pine wreath like a blanket of roses. I should have known that the "Miracle Horse" would not disappoint me.
Although his racing days are over, Zodiac continues to earn money and gain loyal fans. A recent calendar contest raised over $15,000 for the rescue, and my photo of Zodiac was selected for the cover. You can learn more about the efforts of Days End Farm Horse Rescue at this link or by visiting their page on Facebook.


Vickie said...

What a success story complete with poignant photos- love it!

Alison Slater said...

Thank you to all that made this the happing ending that it surely is, the journey must have been full of many emotions and expenses. Days End Farm you should be very proud, Zodiac looks beautiful :-)

Jonathan said...

Great to see he is still making progress. And, love the photo of Zanta Claus.

Steve D said...

This is a stunning before/after story and truly brings horse rescue to life. Thanks.

Mary Ann Gimble said...

Days End Farm Horse Rescue, volunteers, Vets, and donors should all be so proud of what they accomplished. As always, Sarah captures the very spirit of Zodiac as he transitions back to the proud being that he is. Remarkable animal saved by Remarkable people.

Sue said...

What an amazing transformation- such neglect and cruelty made visible in early photos to his present condition, speaks louder than words.

Gudl said...

this is wonderful to see.
thank you to all the great people at the rescue center!

Anonymous said...

Although the story of Zodiac brought me to tears, I wonder if anyone knows what happened to the other horses that were rescued? The ones that were not famous but still had the right to live?

Anonymous said...

There were 8 horses who were taken in at Days End during the seizure. One mare died from her physical issues shortly after arriving at the rescue. The rest of the "West Virginia 7" are either at Days End or have been adopted out. - Sarah Andrew

Unknown said...


Anonymous said...

All of the horses from the seizure were adopted out except for two who were sent to the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue. Zodiac is a fighter...a survivor and we new that the day the needle was ready to end his suffering and he decided to fight!