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August 30, 2012

An Olympic Champion Donates "Moneigh" To Help Race Horses

The Olympic gold medalist has taken up art in his retirement to help race horses transition to a second career.

Many celebrities and athletes who’ve retired from their professions take up charity work, and Carlsson vom Dach is no exception. This August, Will Simpson’s gold-medal partner from the 2008 Olympic Games took a little time out of his regular routine to help ex-race horses.

On Aug. 15, Carlsson showed off his creative side by painting a few pictures for ReRun Inc.’s Moneigh program, which recruits equine celebrities to create artwork using their muzzles, tails and hooves. The paintings are auctioned on eBay, and some are available for a set donation.

Moneigh artists include an impressive list of race horse stars like Curlin, Zenyatta, Cigar, Smarty Jones, Funny Cide, Big Brown, Street Sense, Dynaformer, Storm Cat, A.P. Indy, Sky Away and Rags To Riches. ReRun has started recruiting horses from outside the Thoroughbred world like four-time USEF Horse of the Year Rox Dene, who preferred to paint in green and yellow.

ReRun’s Mary Simons, aka “Moneigh Mary,” and Karen Bailey selected an Olympic theme for Carlsson. The Holsteiner gelding (Cassini I—Gelsa, Grundyman) started out painting in red, white and blue, “signing” the painting with a gold horseshoe print, and he also created his version of the Olympic logo with multi-colored shoe prints in place of rings.

Simons uses nontoxic children’s paint for the project. Some horses are eager to hold a paintbrush in their mouths, while others prefer to dispense with the formalities and use their muzzles to spread paint on the paper.

“It just depends how nosey they are,” she explained. “Some of them love it; others aren’t as into it.”

ReRun, a nonprofit Thoroughbred adoption program started in 1996, began the Moneigh project in 2001 to raise money to help Thoroughbreds transition to second careers.

When Carlsson retired from the show ring last year, he was originally slated to go to Old Friends sanctuary in Georgetown, Ky. Limited space meant that he headed across the street to Jane and Frank Lyon Jr.’s Summer Wind Farm, which regularly partners with Old Friends and accepts overflow. Summer Wind proved a perfect fit, as the Thoroughbred breeding farm is also home to a host of retired and rescued animals. Bailey, a licensed wildlife rehabilitator and former amateur show jumper, also runs the Kentucky Wildlife Center at the same location.

Carlsson still relishes the pampered show horse lifestyle. His days are filled with grooming, treats and occasional trail rides with Bailey, who dotes on him. He splits his time between the field and an oversized stall across from his Quarter Horse pasture mate. At 16 he looks like he could step into the show ring, and he recently reunited with Simpson, who visited him at the farm and rode him in a retirement ceremony at the Adequan/FEI North American Junior and Young Riders Championships.

“It was so nice to see him in a pasture, just relaxing” said Simpson, Westlake Village, Calif. “Karen is just amazing with animals and has a real connection with him. To see a horse I’d done so much with—all in high pressure situations at the trials and the Games—it was great to see him super healthy mentally and physically, and so happy.”

If you enjoyed this article and would like to read more like it, consider subscribing. The original version of "An Olympic Champion Donates “Moneigh” To Help Race Horses" ran in the Sept. 3, 2012, issue. Check out the table of contents to see what great stories are in the magazine this week.

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