The story of Nopie is the second in the series of December stories. I met Nopie at GEVA (Glen Ellen Vocational Academy) in Northern California in June of this year. A four year old colt, he was already well traveled by the time he arrived at GEVA. As a colt, he has tons of personality and was charming and pulled me in with his talent for getting into mischief (including figuring out how to open up the refrigerator door located just outside his stall).Photo of Nopie by Christine Churchill
Here is his story and the ladies that saved him, Joyce and Chelle: (As told by Anne Koletzkep, GEVA volunteer):
On a cold winter day at Nebraska's Fonner Park, February 20, 2009 to be precise, just three days before his 4th birthday-- a dark bay horse with improbable name Nopie ran his last race. At least he tried to. He stumbled coming out of the gate, pulled up lame, and was vanned off the track. We now know he pulled his suspensory ligament and in doing so tore away a piece of the sesamoid bone in his left front ankle. The real tragedy of this already sad story is that Nopie should never have been entered in the race in the first place.
Nopie's story, what we know of it, began on a happy note in Northern California in December 2008, when he won two races back-to-back at Golden Gate Fields. But the note quickly turned sour when he didn't even place in his next race. Something had to be wrong. And it was- X-rays taken in January 2009 revealed that there was an irregularity developing in the sesamoid bones of his left ankle. Instead of giving the horse's ankle the rest it needed--which would have been costly especially for a lower level claimer as Nopie-- his owner transferred him to a trainer in Arizona to see how he would do in al lower-level claiming race. Again, Nopie finished in the back of the pack. So Nopie was sold to an owner/trainer in Nebraska, who was fully aware of Nopies' compromised ankle, kept Nopie in training and entered him in the race at Fonner Park.
Fortunately, Nopie had something going for him that, in a very real sense, saved his life-- his BIG, PLAYFUL, SUNNY personality. A personality that two women, Joyce and Chelle, had fallen in love with when they had met him at Golden Gate Fields. Assuming Nopie had been retired because of his ankle, Chelle and Joyce were horrified to find out he was entered to race at Fonner Park. Desperate to save him from what they feared was certain disaster, they pulled out all the stops to try and buy him before that race, but the owner refused, because he was absolutely certain his horse was going to win. After the race, of course, he was only too eager to sell. Chelle and Joyce hadn't been able to save the horse from disaster, but at least they had him. Nopie was coming home.
But Nopie needed a place to stay where he could be tended to while he gained some much needed weight and his leg healed. To the delight of everyone at GEVA, Chelle and Joyce chose to place him in Pam's capable hands until he was well. Since Nopie was looking at 6 to 9 months of confinement, Pam created a small paddock for him in front of his stall so he could spend his days getting lots of fresh air and watching the other horses on the farm. Her original plan was that Nopie would spend his nights inside the stall, but Nopie soon made it clear he didn't think much of that idea, so the paddock become his full-time home. Now, 7 months later, he has graduated to having simultaneous access to both his paddock and his stall, and judging from the number of times he moves from one to the other during the day, he very much approves of this new arrangement.
Such long term confinement is a lot to ask of a horse, but Nopie has not only risen to the challenge, he has managed to maintain his BIG, PLAYFUL, SUNNY personality through it all. That said, there's no denying that BIG, PLAYFUL, SUNNY, however endearing, is not always easy to live with. For example should you decide to tidy up Nopie's paddock, here is what awaits you:
Oh boy, look, a playmate is coming to my paddock. Can we play? Can we play? Huh? Can We? No? You have work to do? Well, OK, I can help, I can help. Yes I can. Oh, I'm sure I can. Like what's this? Your hat? Well what's that for? Don't you think it'd look better over here on the floor? Hey, what's this long pole? Handle of the pitchfork? Wow, look at how I can move it around with my shoulder; I'm sure that helps you so much. Here, let me move it some more. Hmmm. Maybe if I chewed on it, I'd be helping you even more. Wow, you got a carrot in these pockets? No? I'll bet you do. Let me just check and see for myself. Boy, this is really a deep pocket. You sure there's nothing in the bottom here, just over here in this little corner? Hey, what's this funny looking tab on the front of your jacket? Oh, wow, if I get it between my teeth and pull it, it goes up and down. This is really fun, don't you think? Up and down and up and down. You leaving? Why are you leaving? We were just getting started. Oh, oh my, maybe you're going to get me carrots. No, no, not that way, over here, in the big white box that's cold inside and has the door I know how to hold open with my chin. Oh nuts, you're going over to visit that other horse. Phooey! He gets all the attention. Like I'm not hurt, too. See, here my left leg? See? The one I'm pawing up all the bedding with? That's the one. It's hurt really, really, bad. You need to come check it out. I'll bite all the wrapping off if you don't. Oh wait! You're not stopping to see that the other horse after all, you're going to the buckets. The buckets! Food! OH WOW, you've got MY BLUE BUCKET! You're rinsing out MY BLUE BUCKET. YOU'RE GOING TO BRING ME FOOD! But no, you've put my bucket down. You must have forgotten I'm over here. I'd better make some noise to remind you. Hey, I'm over here! Here! Here! Over Here! Me!!! The one with the hurt leg and all his ribs showing-well, they used to be showing-- I'm hurt! I'm starving! I'm.....Excuse me, but where do you think you're going? You're leaving me here? All alone?! You're going off to do what? To go clean water tanks? You're going to clean water tanks instead of staying here to play with me? Are you out of your mind?! Hello...anyone there? Hmphf! Oh well, She'll be back. She always comes back. They all do. They dote on me. And how could they not. I'm Nopie!
To learn more about Nopie (or visit him) and the other residents of GEVA go to the website at http://www.glenellenfarms.com/