Clever Peaks (Peaker) was born in 2007 in Milton, Ontario. Typical of most thoroughbreds, the daughter of Peaks and Valleys out of Too Clever had an idyllic foalhood, dancing in the field with her mom and other broodmares and babies. She was handled regularly and loved on frequently.
She is a pretty chestnut and even as a baby her determination to be a success was apparent. To this day, “She can be sweet and friendly, or she can be grumpy and aloof! She was a competitive racehorse and likes to have a job, though the injury she has from racing prevents her from doing much more than hacking about,” says her current owner, renowned equine artist Linda Shantz.
Peaker went on to be a racehorse, racing 19 times before being claimed and ended up racing in Minnesota. She did well for her new owner, and when she injured her suspensory, that owner did the decent and proper thing and retired her.
Shantz, the Ontario agent who foaled and raised her for a client, tried to bring her back to Ontario at that point, but her American owner found someone closer who said he was going to breed her. A year and a half later, however, when she was a nine-year-old, he had her back in race training.
She had been sold on the agreement she was not to race again, but her newest owner forced the track and its veterinarians to back down, much to everyone’s horror. She raced twice in 2016 ‒ badly ‒ but at least without injuring herself. She was re-retired; with 34 races to her name including five wins and over $160,000 (USD) in earnings, it was time!
In 2016 a listing for her appeared on the Canter Minnesota Facebook page, containing enough mistruths to be concerning. Linda saw the post and quickly realized that her third owner was looking to dump the mare.
Linda’s heart sank. Her first homebred mare was at serious risk of falling through the cracks and was hundreds of kilometres away across a border. Rescuing Peaker was going to be a challenge much bigger than heading to an ATM, hooking up a trailer and driving for a few hours.
But Linda’s determination, tenacity and courage shone through. She started reaching out to friends, to her art collectors (an impressive group of clients), and to LongRun Thoroughbred Retirement and Team Valiant, two groups that work tirelessly to help horses in need. Everyone was happy to support Linda in her quest to save this unfortunate mare.
When one transport company took a deposit but failed to pick the mare up, Ecclestone Horse Transport stepped in and was finally able to bring Peaker back home. Linda was fortunate to be able to rally a team to help a mare they had never, and likely would never, meet.
Peaker’s tale is not uncommon. Some racehorses are loved and cared for their entire lives, but others go on to second careers or homes, then a third, gradually slipping beneath the radar and eventually vanishing. Linda says the hardest part of this rescue was “seeing what liars some people are and knowing you have to find a way to trust people so you can help the horse.”
Linda found someone interested in breeding the mare in 2017 and decided that Peaker deserved to be someone’s special horse. But Peaker knew where her heart belonged and before long Linda was bringing her back home, helping her regain some lost weight, and loving on her all over again. Special souls belong together.