I received a text message a few months ago. It was my boyfriend asking me what I knew about a local off track thoroughbred sales barn, and if they had any credibility. I told him that I had heard of people donating horses to them, and had read of unhappy buyers on sites like OTTB Connect. I knew that their reputation wasn’t great, and asked why he was inquiring.

He told me that he had been approached by a friend as a plea for help. She was trying to get the two horses that she had donated to this program back, as she had become desperate to receive updates and notifications of their well being. Danielle was one of the “good guys”. She bred a few, sold a few, and raced the rest herself. And when these horses told her that they were done with the track life, she returned them to her personal farm and let them down.

tbsh-4

MyHeart’sreserved in retirement after some letdown on Danielle’s farm.

The majority of her horses were kept for life.  But with her fields filling up, and these mares being both sound and not of broodmare quality, she knew a different course needed to be found. So after a year of let down, when Valencienne and MyHeart’sreserved told Danielle that they were ready for a new job, she began hunting.

tbsh5

A good start with Valencienne

She was recommended a local facility called Thoroughbred Sport Horses (TBSH) by a fellow horsewoman. Being told that the woman was a  well-respected horsewoman, who had retrained and sold hundreds of ex-racehorses, she jumped at the chance of placing her horses with them. And on March 15th, 2016 Danielle’s two fillies were delivered to TBSH with the promise of a good start, a great home, and a future as sport horses.

Their pictures were immediately placed on the website the following day, with tropical backgrounds of rain forests and beaches, their bodies photoshopped and superimposed. Danielle had thought nothing of the strange advertising, but waited impatiently for the continued updates and potential sale. She was excited to follow their careers, and looked forward to the photos and videos to come.

But all she received were crickets.

For months she waited patiently, assuming that the horses were just not ready for advertisement. But then she became concerned. She messaged the owner of the operation numerous times, first asking for information, and then demanding.

And then she got desperate. Which is where Luke got involved.

Danielle was so concerned over her horses well being that she reached out to the owner and offered to bring them home. She knew that time was money, and the longer that the horses resided in their facility without even a video being uploaded of their ridability, that they were losing money.  But her offer was ignored, and her pleas denied.  And that’s when the story took a turn.

They asked Luke if maybe he or I would reach out, hopeful that they would be more accepting to an offer from someone unconnected to the owner, and yet even he was turned down.

tbsh-10

Valencienne training at Keeneland

A broodmare manager of a commercial thoroughbred and polo breeding farm, a lifelong horseman, and the owner of 2 retired racehorses – and yet his offer was ignored.

Which is where things got interesting, and the story began to unfold.

Danielle decided to pursue one last approach and asked a friend of hers from Pennsylvania to buy Valencienne in June. The facility refused to show the horse in person, and pre-purchase examinations could only be performed by their own personal veterinarian. But after asking only two questions – (1) “Have you ever ridden a horse” and (2) “Have you ever owned a horse,” the horse was sold.

Under the facade of the horse being sent out of state, we offered to go pick up the horse in order to deliver it and were denied. They claimed that only commercial shippers like Brook Ledge or Sallee were allowed on the property – and the horse was sent to a mutual friends farm.

What were once tiny red flags had quickly become an electronic billboard. This was not normal; this was not OK.

Valencienne arrived at Danielle’s farm on June 30th, 2016 in dire shape. She had dropped over a hundred pounds in only three months, and her feet were severely neglected, long, and chipped. Her mane was untouched, and her coat was dull. It was glaringly obvious that Danielle’s concern had been justified. What had started as a simple wish to provide a safe and fun future career for her horse had turned into a personal hell.

tbsh-3

Valencienne when she arrived home

And it was obvious, MyHeart’sreserved would need to be bought as well. And thankfully, she was.

tbsh-9

Myheart’sreserved before a race at Keeneland

On August 11th, 2016, MyHeart’sreserved was bought by another friend – this time from Iowa, but was instead shipped to the Sallee holding facility, and eventually to Danielle’s farm. Her ribs jutted out from under a layer of skin, her feet were long and chipped, and her mane matted with burrs. But, at the end, she was home.

tbsh-2

MyHeart’sreserved when she arrived home in August

Danielle contacted me soon after this to vent her frustrations. Throughout her ordeal with them, she had been contacted by numerous other people to alert her to previous situations with this same organization. She heard horror stories. She was informed of deceit and inappropriate behavior.

And she was appalled that this organization got away with this behavior. She was hurt that she had fallen for their lies. But mostly, she was devastated that her horses had to suffer for even a single day due to her decision.

Hers is a unique story because no aspect of it can be questioned as a rarity or slander.  She had owned both horses before donation–one since birth, one since she had claimed her.  She had let them down off of the track herself, and knew their soundness and disposition. 

There is no falsity in this claim or exaggeration – just a breeder and owner who wanted to do right by her horse – tried – and failed.

And she decided that she wanted her story to be heard. She wanted people to learn from her own personal heartbreak and decisions, even if it meant a cease and desist or a lawsuit.  And she asked me to help her; to be the voice.

So please, listen. Be a critical judge of character and a constant skeptic. Not all rehoming organizations are created equal, and not all rescues are in it for the horse. And heed the red flag’s – or the glaring billboards. Go with your gut. Your instincts can protect and preserve the lives of that animals that you love. Learn from Valencienne and MyHeart’sreserveds, and let their story affect your actions.  Do it for the horses – for no one else will.

****EDIT:  The daughter of the owner of this facility currently resides in California, and has no affiliation with the operation.

Advertisements

55 Comments on “A plea for skepticism

  1. This mother daughter duo have been screwing people and horses over for years. Every few years they will change the name of their “company/barn” to mislead people looking for history. I know of multiple horror stories and feel bad for any horse in their care… if you could call it that.

    Hopefully more people wil take this to heart.

  2. This is heartbreaking. I hope now that the horses are home they will return to their beautiful state. I do not know how or why people would or could do this. It makes me so angry because there are many more that aren’t rescued from this abuse. As much as I hated reading this I appreciate you being in it to.light.

  3. There are entire threads devoted to this “sales barn” on COTH Forums. The stories shared there are not good. I’m sorry your friend had to experience this first hand.

  4. Thank God for the internet. If only race horse people were more well versed in how to do searches they would have uncovered the problems with this organization. Bits & Bytes Farm has been placing ex-race horses for over 15 years. We have seen these kind of businesses come and go. Hopefully as more people do background checks on the internet, this kind of problem will not happen again. We work with Thoroughbred people, like this writer, who love and want the best for their horse after racing. We insist that potential buyers call us and talk to us about what they want to do with the horse and what qualifications they have. We then try to make a perfect match. Many times we refuse to make the sale and anger someone. Oh well. We place the horses directly from the track or the owners’ farms. We have no reason to push a sale to the wrong buyer. If for some reason the horse needs to find a new home, we will market it on all our social media sites and web sites and find it a new home – FOR FREE. There is NEVER a charge for this service. Buyers sign our sale contract that states they will update us with a photo at least once a year and let us know if the horse is being sold. This is how it should be done. The horses stay safe with their current owners/trainers until the right match is made.

    • I thought of you guys when I read this Elizabeth. If only this owner had found you first. FYI for anyone looking for a reputable person to help place a horse or to help you find a horse. I have bought two horses with bits and bytes help and have visited their facility a couple times as well. They are very knowledgeable and put the horses first always. I highly recommend them and would be glad to talk to anyone about them in detail. I am relieved the owner was able to get her horses back but I can’t help but wonder how bad it is for the others that are still there.

  5. Her daughter Geena does live in California but her xhusband is there working with Sandy the mother/ owner. They were Galin Academy in Connecticut, then Churchill Hunt Club in several barns in Ky , and now they are TSH…read all the lawsuits, bad articles ..Sandra and Jim Lattanzio…see for yourself..

  6. So what is the motivation/ money they get out of doing this? I thought there was an accreditation process for re-homing TBs. I know New Vocations is a good one. I don’t see the neglect motive other than they get donations and use the cash for themselves. It would make more sense if they sent them to slaughter for the $ while they were in good condition. Doesn’t make sense.

    I had 2 horses a few yrs ago and had to sell or rehome them. I had to sell my farm. I was frantic. You could not give a good horse away in my state. I would not take them to the auction. I was advertising and trying to screen owners. There was only one equine rescue in the whole state and they could only take abused and neglected horses. The lady that ran Heart of Phoenix put pics on her website explaining my situation. She was so supportive in one of the worst times of my life. To make a long story short, a woman in Texas saw them, knew a trainer (top for the breed) in my state. He tuned up their training and helped me find a great home for them. I am so thankful my horses did not end up like these. I am thankful she got them back and know how hard the process can be. I always went to the homes of prospective homes and asked for referenced. I passed on a new rescue just starting up because I knew they were not ready to take mine.
    You are right. I don’t trust many people. That’s a hard lesson in life to learn but saves you a lot of pain in the long run. God Bless you Carleigh! Keep on writing. There needs to be some new blood in the field of TB writers. The ones we like are getting old. You are good! Loved your Olympic coverage.

    • There’s only an accreditation if the facility applies to be part of the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance or to get grants, ect. Anyone can open up a barn and call it a racehorse rescue or whathaveyou. They just don’t get TAA money if they aren’t accredited.

  7. Wow. I follow them on FB and had no idea of the controversy. (Although I too alays wondered why the horses were superimposed in weird backdrops). Good to know and thanks for posting this

    • Nothing, don’t do anything. There are just as many happy people with Thoroughbred Sport Horses, probably more than unhappy, out there. I purchased a horse that looked like the photo and lived up to everything that was said about him. It is so easy to judge and focus on the negatives. Think about the positives as well.

  8. This is disappointing to read, as I previously looked on their website to purchase a horse (if you’re writing about the company that matches to http://www.tbshcares.com/) They have an “A” rating with the BBB. While I realize the BBB is a bit of a waste in and of itself, I would expect a worse rating if they are this bad with all their customers. Have they been investigated for animal cruelty?

      • They have multiple animal cruelty charges against them that somehow they made excuses out of. They threaten lawsuits to people that write articles like this. I have a personal friend with a similar story of her horse she bought being 200lb underweight

      • Carleigh- are these the same connections as Pink Charm? Two Hearts Farm?

      • TBSH adopted out Pink Charm, Two Hearts raced her and retired her. This farm that donated these two horses is not Two Hearts!

  9. As with any business customers have positive and negative experiences. I personally have worked with this company through my own business and have received fabulous horses from them! In the horse industry reputation is everything and this may be one person’s experience but not everyone’s. The horses we have worked with have been sane, sound, and healthy. We could not have asked for a better horses for the tasks that we face them after retirement whether it be TIPS, foxhunting, hunter/jumpers, trails or therapeutic riding. I am in no way shape or form affiliated with this business and live 8 hours away, but what I can attest to is that everything we have received from them has been kind, quality caliber horses with manners and ready for their next career.

    • I 100% agree with you. It is easy to rip apart anyone or every organization who spends time and energy . Sandy has exceeded my expectations and has checked in with me to see how my horse has been doing. Stop hating on those who try to do well and I also wonder if some of these people know what a healthy thoroughbred should look like, you should see some ribs. People are so eager to hate and bring others down, well Sandy and Thoroughbred Sport Horses has elevated the quality of my life and the quality of horses at my barn.

  10. So glad we went thru CANTER-Michigan. I was actually able to go see and ride the gelding before we adopted him. He was at a reputable area show barn and I had trained with the trainer in the past. So I think she put in a good word for us. Plus I felt like she would tell me anything I needed to know It was a thorough but painless process and we knew that if for some reason it didn’t work out they could take him back. I looked at Thoroughbred Sporthorses and something about them just seemed too good to be true and then I saw all the bad reviews and stories on COTH.
    So glad we went thru CANTER. We adore our 9 year old war horse and wouldn’t trade him for the world. There are lots of options out there. Do your research and find the good ones. It may cost a little more but in the end you know it will worth it.

  11. Yep, I was a wounded horse purchase sucker of her. It was called Churchill hunt club at that time. I knew nothing about this bitch. I made the mistake of not asking on Coth first
    When I told my story, I got an earful about this piece of trash. I was looking for a certain breeding” jump Start”
    I am glad she got her horses back.

  12. They also threaten lawsuits all the time. Just google Lattanzio – lawsuits. They never have a lawyer and they always get thrown out because the husband represents himself. They basically just get laughed at but unfortunately drag it out and the poor person they are screwing over at the moment. How in the heck they are still even in this area is beyond me! Bad bad news! I hope they get exposed for everything they are!

    • I did receive a cease and desist letter from an attorney who says he has represented them for 3 years. I sent it and my original post to my lawyer who said if everything in my post is factual, there is nothing they can do. They can try taking me to court but I will counter sue for harassment in a heart beat.

      • I bet it was from her husband pretending to be a lawyer. They pretend to be different people all the time lol. Just look up all their past lawsuits!

  13. Why must people break our hearts. So glad your friend got her horses back. I’ve seen the ads on facebook and always thought they were a bit strange.

  14. I don’t understand what’s in it for them to do this? Apparently there are a few happy people. Is it possible these 2 horses were too much for them to deal with so they stuck them in a dark corner somewhere? In any case I’m glad it turned out ok for these two, I wonder what would have happened to them if they hadn’t had such a great owner to begin with.

  15. This is so disturbing. I just got done perusing their website, and it is seriously creepy. Horses photo shopped onto fake backgrounds, they are all priced at $2,868, and you add them to cart to buy them, just like buying a pair of shoes online! I noticed many misspellings as well. And that’s just a little of the weirdness that is that website. There’s no way they are ever getting my credit card info.
    Isn’t it illegal to sell things that aren’t as advertised? What can be done to sink this ship?

  16. I went to the website to see for my self, as a professional horseman. The first thing I noticed which has not been mentioned in any of the posts, is the representation of the same horse photo under multiple names.
    As a professional I have had my handful of rough experiences with, negative and assuming uneducated owners. Truly all would have been avoided had they come to see the horses. I do pictures and videos and have” open gates” for the owners. It is very important that anyone and everyone involved with the horse feel comfortable coming and going as they please. There is negative information of me on the web. I choose to tell perspective clients it is there and,ask them to please research anything and everything on my business before choosing to to do business with me. I have found actions speak louder than words, by the product we produce speaking for itself. Even with the negative web post we have a long waiting list, of clients who believe in what they see and hear after researching.
    Point being if someone is willing to use photo of the same horse under 2 to 3 different names,that should be a huge warning sign.

  17. Carleigh, I see Danielle Obert has “found an ear”. It is a good thing there are two sides to every story! First off, the only thing (THE ONLY THING) people like her, now you and the negative commentators do is HURT re-homing efforts of good intentions. You of all people (if you do re-home) should know the many problems that come especially with successfully re-homing hundreds each year “that’s hundreds”. Our re-homing efforts are truly noble and we are the largest in the country. Anyone can put in their (2 cents) which doesn’t go far with horses.
    Why don’t you ask Obert and the others – the 2 cent’ers – to go down to the feed stores and help pay for the 3 tons of grain or the 30 thousand pounds of hay we use monthly, not to mention the straw and our Vet bills – as we do not turn injured horses away. Don’t you think people should put their money where their mouth is…….
    You also do know, Obert in legally relinquishing all rights, title and interests gave up her right to put her 2 cents in, (when she could not care for the horses). Then Obert disrupted our busy efforts by “nagging” on how we spent our money with “not her horses”. The horses were cared for, checked by a thoroughbred track Vet, and we have real pictures. We have a pre-purchase application that we review, each horse is under legal contract prepared by an attorney, with clauses to protect the horse, (we also will exchange the horse if it doesn’t work out and we recover them (buy back) from auction if that’s where they end up), we micro-chip and register every horse to track and protect them, we go way beyond all other re-homers. We also have many jealous people who simply try to hurt our efforts and look for ways like your blog to do so. Shame on Obert and the others for using you and your (blog) ear for two-cents worth of comments and hurting our efforts but most of all hurting horses! Not a one of them think of the horse, our cost, effort, time not to mention all horses sell for just $2,800. They should try it.
    Carleigh, before you helped these 2 centers, and hurt our horses, get the whole story. And, until you do you should remove your story about poor Obert from your blog and the one sided negative comments from people who have never walked in our shoes.
    Regards,
    Jim Lattanzio

    • You are not re-homing, you are a for profit business. You are trying to make it sound like a not for profit organization, there’s even a “donate” button on your web page, which I find misleading. If you sell on average, a 100 horses per year for ONLY $2,800, that’s a nice little earner, with which you should be able to afford the 3 tons of grain and/or the 30 thousand pounds of hay you claim to be using. Evidently Danielle Obert is not the only person who has experienced horses coming from your facility in poor condition. I don’t trust words, I even question actions, but I never doubt patterns…

    • Hey Jim, I know how hard it is; I work transitioning thoroughbreds for another organizations. That’s accredited.
      They lose condition fast when they are not in work, they need tons of food. Those mares though had already been let down.
      I bought a horse from you last year, to say your employee was embarrassed to bring the horse out and show it to me is an understatement. She was covered in rainrot, skinny, and lame. I took her anyway. The heart wants what the heart wants. Your wife told me had she had more notice the horse would have been cleaned up better.
      In the least, I did not get what I bargained for, yes I got the animal I thought I was getting but she was in much rougher condition than represented.
      I get thoroughbreds are expensive to feed, hard to keep weight on, it’s a struggle with some of them. You know, I tell people if the horse is a hard keeper. If we are going broke feeding it. I don’t have them show up to expect the horse to look good and have it be a rack of bones that is lame from a bad farrier.

      • Lori, I completely agree. I TOLD Sandra and her help that these 2 mares were on the bottom of the pecking order and if they were turned out with a big group, they would never get any food. I’m not sure there was any food. At my farm they were getting 6-8 quarts of sweet feed and all the hay they could eat every day, which is why they looked good when they went to TBSH. As far as farrier work, my guess from the condition of their feet is that they had none. Their feet were badly cracked, chipped and uneven, but not too long, as if they had just stopped growing. Now that they are getting good nutrition again, their feet are growing very quickly and starting to recover.

    • A few corrections, I have never had horses that I couldn’t care for. I gave the 2 horses to TBSH because they were fairly young, 3 years off the track and needed a new career. They should have been easy to sell being that they already had plenty of “let down” and were sound. I told Sandra that they could easily spend they rest of their days living on my farm and not be a problem, but I thought they would make nice show horses. I also told Sandra that I didn’t want them to be a burden on TBSH (after seeing how many horses you have on that property) and that if they didn’t sell quickly, I would be willing to discuss taking them back. These were not horses Sandra would have to care for long term if she couldn’t sell them. I do not know what this “nagging” you speak of is about. I texted Sandra once after dropping off my horses to see how they were doing. I was told they were beautiful and that there would be videos posted soon. That never happened. As far as putting my money where my mouth is, I do, but on a scale I can afford. I have taken in rescues that were starving. The difference is I know my limits and only take in what I can care for properly. To say I am not think about the horse is absurd. This is all about the horse. I gave you my 2 horses thinking it was the right thing because you came recommended by a friend. Sadly I didn’t do the proper amount of research beforehand. And most of all, I bought back my 2 horses because it was definitely the right thing for the horses.

    • Checked by a track veterinarian…that’s rumored to be having an affair with Sandra.
      You’ll have to forgive us for questioning the credibility there.

      • No it is not a rumor it is a true fact I know from first-hand I seen it!!!!

    • Jim, thanks for the response. I do in fact rehome quite a few off the track thoroughbreds, both for profit and not. I assist many breeders and trainers as well; and do it all for free. Or, if I put training on them, I market them accordingly. I don’t ask for people to pay my bills, nor do I let horses leave my property nor exist on my property in any state of disarray.

      With that being said, I would love to see your side of this story. I would love a tour of your facilities and learn more about what you do. You’re located out in Paris, right? Maybe I could stop by one day?

    • Actually a lot of track vets are corrupted and will run a horse even when the horse shouldn’t run. (I’m not saying all, but a lot)…..

      • Well they have been kicked off the farm they were renting in Paris. They apparently have stalls at Victory Haven the last I heard.

  18. The largest re-homer of TB’s in the country?!?!?! Please!!!!!! You are right all the other reputable rehoming organization that The Makers Mark Secretariat Center and the like pale in comparison to all the good you do (extreme sarcasm).
    You and every organization you cahnge your name to (Churchill Hunt Club, The Galen Institute, Thoroughbred Sport Horses, and Animal Therapy International) are complete and utter Ponzi Schemes. I mean right down to the address on Alexandria Drive and the Google image you stole of your “Headquarters”. I mean an utter and complete joke. You can make up fake names, emails, etc. to try and make you legit but at the end of the day it will only catch up with you like it has!

  19. I knew of a trainer that gave an injured horses to them back when they were called Churchill Hunt club. He had a torn suspensory but had been rehabbed to the point where he was ready for a small paddock ALONE. The trainer said that he would keep him another couple months but Sandra insisted he would be well cared for.
    Weeks later, he found out from a lady who shared the barn with Sandra that they had turned the horse out in a big group of horses and the sweet horse DIED from colic caused by pain! A vet was never even called! When questioned, Sandra told everyone that trainer’s horses were in terrible shape and she had tried to save them.
    With all the people coming out of the woodwork to share their bad experiences, Jim Lattanzio is going to have to put his internet law degree to work.

  20. Hey Carleigh and Danielle, Carleigh, I read your blog all the time and happened upon this today; funny thing, a girl who retrains OTTBs out of California who then moved to Gillette, WY of all places (not far from me here in SD) got screwed by these guys last year. Same story as many, she bought sight unseen (not something uncommon for her) they screwed around shipping him and when she finally got a shipper there he couldn’t believe the condition the horse was in. Not dying, but not the horse she thought she had bought- of course they blamed it on the shipper and that he had been on the road a few days- all bs! I would venture to guess the only people who have walked out of there not feeling completely screwed were people who bought horses that were ridiculously easy keepers or horses that hadn’t been there very long at all. I’m sorry for Danielle, you try to do the right thing and unfortunately there will always be sh*tty people in the world to ruin it for everyone, in this case an already scrutinized industry. Way to share the story, it’s not slander if it’s truth, and you’re right to offer to go tour the facility; bet not many people get to step on property and look at the horses **eye roll**. Keep up the good work helping ponies and writing stories!!
    -Randi

  21. I just read ok Facebook the daughter just put up a status saying she is moving back to Kentucky to work for Thoroughbred Sport Horses so per her she is now affiliated with them.

    • She is! I don’t want the organization to fail, I just want the horses to be taken care of. The daughter is claiming she is doing this to fix the problems. I hope she is able to.

  22. Pingback: The Best of 2016 – A Yankee in Paris

  23. Just bought a horse from them, came off of the trailer friday night in horrible condition. Our vet on monday gave her a BCS of 3/9. She is very, very thin. Sandy refused to acknowledge that the horse was not in the condition as advertised and was completely unhelpful and very defensive. We had a PPE done as we were buying sight unseen and the vet, who works for the organization (yes, should have been a red flag..) did not mention her condition at all and reported that she “appears to be in good physical condition”. Such a disappointing experience and I can only imagine what their property and other horses look like. Will be reporting the vet and the organization so they will hopefully be investigated.

  24. Since Sandra’s daughter took over, a bunch of horses were euthanized, they have moved farms and now she is telling people that her mom tried to ship a bunch to slaughter just this week! These are horses that were given to TBSH with promises of rehab and forever homes. Sandra should be in jail for fraud and animal abuse/neglect. Hopefully the hell hole that was TBSH is finally ending.

  25. I’m so glad that Sandra lattanzio the owner of thoroughbred sporthorses, the hell is finally coming to an end!!!! I tried to do something about it but I was just a little person but now it’s getting attention from everywhere!thank God

  26. Pingback: The untold stories – A Yankee in Paris

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: