DESCENDED FROM GREATNESS, LEFT TO DIE
Dorothy tells the story of War Celeste, a Thoroughbred mare by War Front – one of the most expensive sires in North America today – and granddaughter of Danzig, sire of sires and the son himself of the great Northern Dancer.
“War Celeste was born in 2012 and sold a year later for £240,000 (about $450,000); by 2015 she was only worth £15,000 and her descent to the bottom was fast. We met her for the first time one wintry day in February 2018 when the doors of a large hay barn in County Cork were prised open to reveal a sight that those of us present that day will never forget. Inside were 11 starving Thoroughbred horses. Some had access to a small muddy paddock, others were trapped inside individual stalls, standing on manure so high that the stall doors had to be broken off and the manure torn out with a digger so as to create a slope that the horses could then climb down. They came out slipping, falling, terrified,” recalls Dorothy.
“War Celeste was in one of the four stalls. She was on her own, emaciated, head down, slowly dying. She was one of the horses in the worst condition and was in danger along with four others that day of being put down on site. MLHR took all five and in time we managed to save three, including her.
“As we loaded her into our horsebox that day we had no idea who she really was. To us she was simply another horse who desperately needed our help. From the beginning she had this unbreakable spirit. She didn’t hide from us at the back of her stable like so many of our rescue horses do. She came to us with this amazing ‘we’re in this thing together’ type attitude. The one major psychological issue that she had was her fear of open spaces. She hated them and would get into such a panic, literally crying to be let back inside and only calming down when ‘safe’ once more within the stable walls. Like a prisoner emerging from the dark, she eventually learned that freedom was a truly wonderful thing. Her recovery was slow, but she made it.
“Celeste today is a wonder of a horse. She remains the quiet, reserved horse she was when she first came to us. She’s very ladylike in all her movements whether standing, walking, or eating. She will follow her fosterers around off rein and has responded so wonderfully to their love, kindness and experience. She is more a woman’s horse than a man’s, we’ve noticed.
“She enjoys flatwork and can be stubborn at times about jumping, but when she jumps she soars. She is nine years old now and in the best condition of her life and secure in her future with MLHR. She has begun entering showjumping competitions, but we don’t push her too hard. She’s a champion to us even if she never wins anything.”