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Beaver Brook woman gives retired race horse a new life

Shelley Whidden gets a nuzzle from her newest family member, Bagel Man. She had such a good experience with her first standardbred that she adopted this one in December.
Shelley Whidden gets a nuzzle from her newest family member, Bagel Man. She had such a good experience with her first standardbred that she adopted this one in December. - Lynn Curwin

BEAVER BROOK, NS

Bagel Man isn’t finding retirement dull; he’s busy seeing new things and getting to know his new barn mates.

The standardbred gelding was still racing in early December, but because he was 14 he was facing mandatory retirement at the end of the year. Luckily, his owners found him a new home with Shelley Whidden.

“He looks at everything with huge eyes because so much of it is new to him,” said Whidden. “He’s just fascinated with things, including the pheasant who often comes around. As soon as his stall door opens he’s gone to run around. He loves being outside.”

 

Shelley Whidden’s horses, from left, Mattie, Bagel and Reggie, could go in the barn but they choose to spend much of their time outdoors. While the thick coats on the other two protect them from the cold, Bagel needs a warm blanket this time of year.
Shelley Whidden’s horses, from left, Mattie, Bagel and Reggie, could go in the barn but they choose to spend much of their time outdoors. While the thick coats on the other two protect them from the cold, Bagel needs a warm blanket this time of year.

 

Bagel was born in Indiana and raced both in the US and Canada, with his most recent races being at the track in Bible Hill.

He’s now getting used to running around barefoot, going in and out as he pleases during the day, and learning to live with Whidden’s other horses- Mattie (a standardbred) and Reggie (a quarter horse). Because he doesn’t have the thick winter coat the other two have grown, he has a warm blanket and is kept inside at night.

Whidden’s experience with Mattie, who has been with her since 1999, is one of the reasons she decided to adopt another standardbred off the track.

“Mattie has just been amazing,” she said. “She’s going to be 23 and she’s always been kind, willing to do what I ask, great to work with, healthy… She has a kind look in her eyes, and I could see the same thing in Bagel’s eyes.

“I didn’t go looking for another horse; I was approached by someone I know. When I met Bagel I really liked him.”

Having a third horse will it easier to go for a ride in the spring easier, as Mattie and Reggie become very upset if left alone.

 

Reggie, a quarter horse Shelley Whidden rescued years ago, doesn’t let the new horse get all of the attention.
Reggie, a quarter horse Shelley Whidden rescued years ago, doesn’t let the new horse get all of the attention.

 

Whidden said one of the great things with ex race horses is that they’re used to being handled, picking up their feet and wearing harness.

“They’re just so even,” she said. “My sister’s horse, Rocky (who lived to be more than 30), was the same way. I would recommend the breed to anyone.

“ I love happy endings and it’s rewarding to give a retirement home to a horse who raced all these years.”

 

He may have icy whiskers but Bagel Man is keeping warm in his new winter blanket. The gelding recently retired from racing.
He may have icy whiskers but Bagel Man is keeping warm in his new winter blanket. The gelding recently retired from racing.

 

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