"Gamblon Horton made it to 37 today. In the last year, he has developed cataracts and his hearing isn't the best, but he is doing exceptionally well for a horse his age and physically looks really good."
On January 1st almost each year, that post is made on a chat board, and people love seeing it.
It is from horse owner Keith Gamble. Keith is not a trainer, did not win the powerball or anything. He is a regular guy who keeps his retired racehorses near him and gives them the care they deserve.
It has been a tough year with his horses. Recently 26 year old Gamblon Jazzy passed and he was worried how Horton would take it.
"The first week of December, I went out to the barn and found Gamblon Jazzy dead in her stall. She was Horton's girlfriend for years and I wasn't sure how he would be, but he took it in stride. He has seen a lot of horses die." he wrote via a private exchange (which I have gained permission for).
In addition, Horton's pal Gamblon Sambo has had a tough run too.
"The next week Gamblon Sambo [another old boy] got colic and things were not looking too good for him. After a couple visits from the vet and about $1200 later after trying just about everything, we put him on some medication for ulcers and knock on wood he has seemed okay for the last week. It looked for a period of time like Horton was going to be the last man standing. I keep my fingers crossed that Horton goes before Sam so he will always have a buddy in the field, because he likes company where Sam couldn't care less."
As for Horton, Keith tells me that he still has some spunk, but feeding is a bit of a chore:
"He still does a half ass gallop when he gets excited and he is a little harder to feed now with few teeth left but I soak his hay cubes all day so they are like a thick soup and his grain I mix with apples, corn oil and hot water and turn it into a porridge. The vet was out a week ago and said Horton looks fantastic."
Gamblon Horton has now outlived several of his human racetrack connections. His racing lines are a walk down memory lane (I remember seeing old programs with him in them as a young fella). And he is alive and well for another New Year.
Keith is a tough as nails - a friend says "he has a rough exterior with a huge heart" - but toughness and kindness are not mutually exclusive.
It is often said that your strength as a person shows when you do something honorable when nobody is looking. Keith does not want anyone to know about what he does. In fact, I pointedly asked if I could even use his name in this story, because I know he wants it all to be about the horses.
For years upon years he has spent time, money and probably shed a tear over his retired racehorses not for a medal or an award, but because it is what good people do.
Character and honor are two things I hold in high esteem, and Keith Gamble has them.
Happy New Year to Keith, and Happy Birthday to Gamblon Sambo and Gamblon Horton. I hope you know lucky you are.
If you would like to help retired horses find their way, and are a standardbred lover like Keith is, please see our feature on New Horizon, which we wrote about a couple of years ago.As their website says ""There is no greater form of self
revelation than to look in the eyes of a
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