Friends With Cows: The Story of Quest

A few years ago, Nicole Matthews decided she was ready to adopt a horse.

“It was a big, but natural decision for me,” said Matthews, who has owned horses off and on throughout the years. “My grandparents raised me, and horses were always a main element in my life. I was a horse crazy child and that has never changed.”

When a local barn advertised they had a stall for rent, Matthews knew the time was right and began looking online, where she stumbled upon a good-looking Thoroughbred bay gelding named Pouf Postive, who was stabled at Shannon Hahn’s Double L Equine Rescue and Sanctuary near Argyle, N.Y. 

“Shannon was more than helpful in helping me determine whether Poof was a match for my riding ability, my experience, and my goals in owning a horse,” said Matthews, who after meeting Pouf was even more determined to bring him home. She renamed him Puzzle Quest, and calls him Quest for short.

“We chose that name because my little guy has autism and a puzzle piece is the symbol for autism, and we are always on a quest to overcome the barriers that autism has put in his path,” said Matthews of her son.

Quest, who won just once in 13 career starts while racing on the northeast and Florida circuits, was campaigned by Parting Glass Racing, a Saratoga Springs, N.Y.-based partnership group headed by Tom Gallo. The gelding had sustained an injury at one point where he had pins put in one leg, but he was approved by veterinarians as a sound pleasure riding horse.

“Tom Gallo has always been up front with us about his horses and that makes him a trainer we try extra hard for when a horse needs a home,” said Hahn. “To have an ex-racer with pins needing a home in the middle of winter is a tall order, but the stars must have been lined up right because Nicole came along right away and a great match was made between her and Poof Positive.”

When he first arrived at his new home, Quest was stabled with more than 30 Quarter Horses and 20 cows. “Imagine my surprise when we dropped him off at his new home and he was the tallest horse there, the only Thoroughbred in a barn full of penning Quarter Horses and cows,” said Hahn. “But he learned to adjust very quickly and became a cherished member of Nicole's family.”

“The barn where Quest moved into his new life was an active and competitive Quarter Horse breeding farm where they taught and held team penning, sorting, and other gaming activities,” Matthews explained. “At first he was a bit nervous around all the other horses, and especially the forever mooing cows. However he settled in nicely and they became part of his everyday existence. 

“I started with lunging Quest for short amounts of time to increase his flexibility and to gain his trust.  It didn't take long before I could see that he was ready to have me on his back. We started on the lunge line, however moved quickly to riding in the pasture (yes, where the cows were).” 

Matthews said Quest’s personality was sometimes “full of vinegar,” but he was never out of control or tried to hurt her. “He has always been very sweet and calm in the stall and has learned very quickly that our rides are to relax and see the scenery,” she said.

Quest has now had several riders.

“My 7-year old son is able to sit on him and be lead around, and you wouldn't know that Quest was once on the race track,” said Matthews. “A young cousin (age 21) also rides him and has no difficulty with handling him at all. At first, he put her in awe and fear from his size, but he has proven to be a trustworthy mount.

“Quest now lives in a barn with only one other horse and a huge field to graze in, and he seems to be just as happy as when he was with his bovine buddies,” Matthews continued. “Quest will never chase down cows to sort them into pens, and he certainly won't be running for the roses, but he will be cherished and pampered for the rest of his life, and I think he is just fine with that!”


In the past, I have highlighted Hahn’s Double L Stable Equine Rescue and Sanctuary on this blog, and I’ve decided to do so again in lieu of the facility’s upcoming Valentine’s Day fundraiser.

The purpose of the fundraiser is to continue helping the facility’s horses in need. Some of the sanctuary horses help local people through Double L’s handicapped volunteer program and the Alternative Sentencing program with the Washington County Court System.

Many of the horses who come into Double L’s program are in need of rehabilitation, and the only way the facility can continue to help them is to rely on others for financial aid. Double L has no paid staff and operates as a not-for-profit organization.

“We are asking the folks who can to send a Valentine card to the horses here at the stable and include a single dollar bill inside,” said Hahn, who has hosted similar fundraisers in the past. “Of course you can send a bit more if you are able, but each dollar helps us to keep up our work here. Cards will be accepted all through the month of February. Each card will be hung in the barn for visitors to see. At the end of the first week of March all the cards will be put into a feed bucket and a winner will be chosen to receive a $20 gift card to Tractor Supply. The gift card can be used online or in the store.”

Cards should be sent to:
The Horses
Double L Stable Equine Rescue and Sanctuary
9 Tilford Rd.
Argyle, NY 12809 

“We usually raise about $500 and it helps more then you can imagine,” said Hahn. “(Beyond the Blinkers) has some very wonderful readers! So many of them will send notes of thanks or encouragement with their dollar, and it is so uplifting to know we have friends keeping our rescue in their thoughts even if we have never met.

“So many ex-racers have so much to offer after the track. Helping them move on to new families is very rewarding. Just think, Quest was once a fired up speed demon racing around the track reaching and extending to carry his rider as fast as he possibly could, and now he is meandering through fields with an 7-year-old with autism on his back. Amazing!”



Leave a Comment:

Dreamers Mom

I gave my 5yr old mare to a 16yr old girl last summer, the mare being right off her last race.  She didn't want to be a race horse and I didn't want to breed her.  In October I went to see her and her new girl in their first horse show together.  Yes, there is life after the track and much love!

25 Jan 2011 12:30 PM

Great story, all the best to Nicole and Quest. My card will be on it's way in February.

25 Jan 2011 1:27 PM

Count me in for a card!

25 Jan 2011 8:25 PM

Shannon Hahn was a great ally in my enforcement of PA anti-cruelty law.  Oh, the stories to be told of horses removed from horrid situations!  Many of those horses remain in her care and are living the lives of Riley in the meadows of her farm.

25 Jan 2011 9:17 PM

The card is a good idea, I will do it.

26 Jan 2011 8:39 AM
Windy Lane

Great story!!  I love it when an ex-racer finds a forever home.  My 14 year old gelding (Windy Jim) only raced 3 times and injured his right front ankle.  He was given to friend of mine and she gave him to me when he was 8. At the time I hadn't been on a horse in 20 years.  We bonded the moment we met. He has changed my life and given me more happiness than I'd had in years. His ankle still flares up from time to time, but when he's sound, we trail ride for miles.....and when he sees an open field he still loves to run and throw in a little playful buck!!

By the way, does anyone know the status of the horse Dyna King that was rescued in Arizona.  I've been thinking about him since I first read his story.

26 Jan 2011 9:08 AM
Donna Melendz from Grayslake, IL

Best of luck ! Keep up the good work and my card is on it's way!

26 Jan 2011 9:31 AM
Dr. Patty Hogan

I am so happy to hear of this story - I had repaired the fracture in Pouf Positive's leg when he was a young racehorse.  It was actually a serious spiral fracture that required 14 screws and a long bone plate.  But it healed very well and all but 2 of the screws were removed for him to return to racing.  Tom Gallo and the Parting Glass Partnership are a class act and there was never a question for them to pursue the right course of action for the horse and fix him - even though it was an expensive endeavor and the horse was unraced at the time.  It is great to see that things worked out well for this horse and that he finished one career and then transitioned so well into another.  It it my hope that we can all continue to be mindful of the idea that there can be a future for these racehorses and that we strive to provide them with that opportunity.  I think we would all reap many rewards from that sort of mindset.

26 Jan 2011 1:14 PM
Suellen Hahn

It`s great when someone cares,,,GREAT JOB SHANNON,,,,Love Grammy

26 Jan 2011 1:24 PM
Love 'em all

This is a great story!  

Immediately thought of Barbaro's bovine friend, Mocha, that he met at New Bolton Center.  Mocha and Barbaro got along very well together.  

Will be sending a valentine, and wish you much success with the fundraiser.  Again, great story, and thanks for sharing the information.  

Puzzle Quest ... great name!  I'm sure your son and "Quest" both enjoy their time together.  

26 Jan 2011 2:19 PM
Donut Jimmy, DVM

Thank you Dr Hogan. I appreciate it that you remember your patients. Many of our colleagues, however good they may be in other ways, don't connect enough to recognize their patient's names years later. It is to your credit that you do.

I cannot claim to remember all of mine either, but I try.

26 Jan 2011 3:00 PM

My OTTB, Fred, lived with his very best friend, a Holstein steer named Mootallica, for 9 years. They were amazing buddies. "Mooey" passed away at 11yrs old in 2009 and I had to put Fred down this past December due to colic.

I miss them both so much and hope they are grazing in heaven together.

26 Jan 2011 3:00 PM
Asst. Hotwalker

I love horses and goats. I'm sending a card as soon as this storm moves. Love Puzzle Quests new life. Breeders should all have to pay another $200 to a fund for their horses retirement. Added together in a trust it would really help these great racehorses have a guaranteed good life after the racetrack.

26 Jan 2011 6:36 PM
backside sweetie

Great uplifting story!These rescue stories give me hope that all the horses I have cared for and loved in my career will be rescued and loved by a new owner.I will be sending a card.It was also great to hear that DR PATTY HOGAN after all these years is still the caring DR.she was,at New Bolton Center.I worked there and one 1st Saturday in May,she was a student and we watched the Derby together on a little TV in my office.I read about her often and feel honored to have spent time with her and now I know for sure she is still the same horse loving person she was then!I wish you all the best Dr. Patty, Quest and Double L Stable and all the loving people that rescue these wonderful horses.

26 Jan 2011 7:19 PM

Thank you, Esther, for sharing this lovely story of Quest and his journey to a new life after racing.  The more these kind of stories are told and passed around, the better chance of more Thoroughbreds finding a new career after racing.  Thanks!

26 Jan 2011 8:06 PM

Esther - thank you for the reminder.  I think you've found the 'purpose' for your blog. May you reap a thousand-fold all the good karma you sow.

26 Jan 2011 9:18 PM

this was a great story and you can count on my card.  i just love horses and it makes me so happy when another finds a home after the racetrack career is over.  ferdinand and exceller are happy :)

26 Jan 2011 11:41 PM

There are way more horses that need rescue than rescues available. The east coast auctions are swamped with OTTB's. One resuce managed to save a 2009 Kentucky Derby Contender. You can go to New Holland in PA and find them. Camelot in NJ has a lot set up to try to find homes for all horses but they have several OTTBs go through on a regular basis. Several rescues have deals set up with the killer buyers and try to rescue as many as they can before the truck loads Monday morning to go to the slaughterhouse in Canada. If Senator Sue Willis has her way we as Americans will be eating horsemeat. She was to take all the mustangs and excess horses inculding OTTBs and process them to sell to China in celophane. Some think horse slaughter is a good option to be rid of this supplus horse population. Look up horseslaughter on youtube and you will change your mind. I did. No where in the world are horses slaughtered "humanely". The method uses on cows and hogs doesn't work. The horse Knows it is beinging gutted alive. Ask your vet.

God Bless them and all the rescues.

27 Jan 2011 10:23 AM

It's a real joy to hear stories like this.  It's the entire life of the horse, and the quality of it that truly matters...not just what they do or don't do on the track.  I am so grateful for the truly caring people in the business and for these sanctuaries that are able to save and transition some of these horses.  You've got cards coming from friends and family.

27 Jan 2011 10:57 AM
Shannon -Double L Rescue

Thanks you all for the wonderful thoughts and comments. It brings tears to my eyes to know that so many caring people are out there.

Bless you all!

Shannon -Double L

27 Jan 2011 1:58 PM

My husbad and I had Pouf Positive is our care at our barn in Lexington for several months before he went back up to New York.  He was a real character and wonderful to ride and I am delighted to hear that he has found such a good home.

28 Jan 2011 12:44 PM
Barbara W

Thank you so much for this story. Horses are not "commodities". They have names and pedigrees! People who treat them as objects need to be in another business.

I'm sending my Valentine card next week. What one person cannot do alone can be done if we all band together. When everyone helps a little bit, it can change lives.

And thank you, Dr. Hogan!

28 Jan 2011 4:51 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

What a terrific idea! Thank you for letting us know about it! A card is on its' way from me!!!  I can't afford to own a horse of my own,so this is the perfect way for me to help the beautiful animals that I love so much.

Great work,Double L Stables!!!

28 Jan 2011 6:07 PM

Thank you for the story of Quest and for informing us on the work of Double L Stable. It is so important that we continue to hear such stories as hopefully it does do much to bring to light the happy endings that are possible through volunteer work and especially through donations that we the racing fans or just fans of horses in general can be a part of to help. I already have my special Valentines Day card picked out. Thank you for all you do. It does not go unnoticed.

29 Jan 2011 1:47 PM
Big Brown's Buddy

I believe Secretariat also had other animal friends - a donkey or mule, and a stray dog, wasn't it? Once he had comapny,he really calmed down.

29 Jan 2011 6:01 PM
Bettyann Pasinella

I am one of the partners who owned Pouf.I am so grateful for the update on his new life. Pouf was HUGE but always took his carrots from me very gently.  However, if you turned to give another horse a treat he would start banging his stall until you came back to him. When he returned to the track after his surgery, he won by about 7 lengths. What a thrilling win!..But nothing compares to this upbeat story about this former racehorse that achieved the biggest and most important win of all.. A loving home and a future beyond the racetrack.. Thank you.

30 Jan 2011 9:44 AM

Thank you for this uplifting story!! A Valentines card will be in the mail next week! I hope you set a new record for your fundraiser!

30 Jan 2011 4:00 PM

I post this on Tracking Barbaros Brothers and a lot of his fans say they will send a card. Also, finally got to post on and ask them to respond. Hope Shannon gets a lot of card.

31 Jan 2011 12:37 AM

As someone who resucued 3 OTTBs and a lead pony in the last 2 years, it is very expensive to keep them...I believe that with more and more owners and fans concerned about the welfare of the horses after their racing careers, we will read more happy endings.

31 Jan 2011 12:23 PM

@Windy Lane, Gifted aka Dyna King continues to improve. A good place to get updates is their Facebook page:!/group.php?gid=94549935886&v=wall

He is going to be on CNN!

01 Feb 2011 9:04 AM
Love 'em all

I know only too well the expense and hard work that is essential when caring for horses.  My niece and two great-nieces are most appreciative when their 'aunt' can spare a little money from time to time for their much loved horses, cats, dogs .... and donkey.

Sent Shannon's horse rescue my 'homemade' valentine yesterday with some 'mad money'.  

Happy Valentine's Day to all ... and especially to the horses.

01 Feb 2011 9:29 AM

Thanks, LauraJ.  Your FB link took me long 'way around to their website and this amazing video.

Words can't express...

01 Feb 2011 9:36 PM

What a great story, count on me for a valentine. I received a forwarded e-mail today about 23 Thoroughbred broodmares and foals on a farm on Wright Road in Barnesville, Ohio. They are to be sent to slaughter on saturday, 2/5 to licquidate the estate of the late Dr. Steams, DVM. They have papers and are free, a friend is trying to find them homes, there's also a stallion named Conley Key.

The contact number is 440-463-4288, maybe some of you can help or pass this info along.

03 Feb 2011 12:19 PM

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