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  • Bonnie McRae

Graduate Spotlight: Takful Lady


To talk about our graduate this Monday, we have to go all the way back to 2013, to the adoption of Takful Lady. Takful Lady is a 2009, bay mare who raced just 7 times, never hitting the board in her short career. She came to us by way of Barb Luna and the early days of Turning for Home.


Takful Lady is by Mutakddim and out of a Summer Squall mare, and once sold for $30,000 as a yearling. Unfortunately for her connections, she only made $3,690 as a racehorse, largely finishing in the back of the pack. As fate would have it, she was just recently arrived to After the Races when soon-to-be adopter Dana came to visit another horse, and the rest... well, you can read for yourself below.

Adoption Day!

Thank you, Dana, for chatting with me today. Let's start off with how long have you had Takful Lady, and what her barn name turned out to be.

I adopted her the first day of 2013 (New Years Day!). While we had signed the adoption contract a few days before, my friend and I picked her up on the first. It’s a pretty good coincidence that I adopted her the first day of 2013 and her and my other horse (also an OTTB) were born 13 days apart in the same month.

A far as her barn name, I named her Penni, after the character in The Big Bang Theory. My mother picked the name and since she helped keep my father in the dark about adopting her, I figured she earned that right. However, she also goes by Pretty Girl and Mama in the barn.

What drew you to her when you were searching for a horse? How did you know she was "the one?”

How could you not want to take this home?

Thankfully I had my friend Malin with me at the time. I was drawn to a different horse originally, Tatum Creek, but I remember that Tatum really needed a job "yesterday," and I knew that I wasn’t in a place to give her that job. I was in graduate school and I really wanted a horse that would benefit from the down time I knew I would be able to provide while I finished school. I also believe that she picked me. Looking back on when we, my friend Malin and I, went to ATR, there was a snow storm and we helped to bring in horses. Penni walked passed the woman in front of me, and came to me as if to ask me to bring her in.

I don't think we had her too long before you brought her home. How did she transition to life on a farm in Connecticut?


I think that she was there only a week. She was at a very small place (my friend’s house) when she came to CT. When we got her off the trailer I think around 1:00AM, she looked around the barn and put herself right into her stall. She settled in like she has always been there. What are the two of you up to these days?

It's clear there's a lot of trust with this pair.

So for a bulk of last year, she had some time off. I had a baby who is now 9.5 months old. He has made riding a bit more of a challenge. However I was blessed in that Penni took care of me while riding throughout my entire pregnancy, even when the doctors told me not to. She was always very careful with me and even now that I don’t get to ride as much as I like, she still tries her hardest to contain her excitement and listen.





How has she taken to her new job? You trail ride occasionally as well I believe. How is she on the trails?

She LOVES to jump. Loves, Loves, Loves. We were showing on the local hnter jumper circuit for a few years after grad school and she was doing very well! In addition to jumping she has also proven herself to be a great hunter pace horse. She led the last one we did. One of my favorite things about her is her ability to adapt to so many different things. She will go out on the trails alone or with a group. Either is fine by her. We actually had started trucking out, just the two of us to Wethersfield Park, and hacking around. She gave me the confidence to go out and do those things.


If I remember correctly, you have a little human now. Has he met Penni? How did she take to him?


I did! He’s 9.5 months old now. Being a parent is both great and not great. I love my human, but I’m not a fan of having less time to ride. Penni, from early on in my pregnancy, was very in tune to him. I have photos of me riding her when I was as far along as 36 weeks (I was then induced at 37), and when she felt me becomes unbalanced, she would just stop and refuse to move forward. She would also pin her ears at other horses that got too close to us. I also have a great photo of her in her stall, and I had Eli’s pack and play right in front of her stall. She very calmly had her head in his pack and play, just watching him. I tell her all the time that she’s on ‘Eli Duty’ which she takes very seriously. I joke that my son will be stealing her as she is just smitten with him.

Have you faced any challenges together over the years? If so, how did you overcome them?

No big challenges. She had a couple decent colic episodes when she first came home, but that’s it. She has honestly been a great partner and I am so blessed that she picked me.

Oops! This one was probably a fluke.

Do you have any advice for someone considering adopting an OTTB? Don’t let the label dictate the horse. Every OTTB is different, and in my experience I’ve never had a horse give me so much as both her and my other OTTB does.

Anything else you'd like to share about Penni? Does she have any quirks? Favorite memories? Quirks... she LOVES to snuggle before every ride. She will put her head on my shoulder and take quick snooze. It doesn’t matter where we are: at the barn, out at a local trail system, or at the CHSA Finals. She always has to get her snuggles in. At one barn we were at she started a snuggle challenge. Obviously we won, but if I was ever late for a lesson, my trainer would say that Penni needed a couple extra Z’s. I had to start cutting her off when her snuggles her taking almost 20 minutes. I can’t pick one favorite memory. Over our almost decade together, her and I have accomplished so many things I never thought I would do, and we did them together.

That's amazing, Dana. Thank you so much for sharing your story. Here's to your next ten years!

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