The rescue of Incredible Moe

By Marsha Mongell

When children are born, sometimes their parents give them names that have been in the family for generations. As the children grow, some feel they have to live up to the names given to them. This story is not about a person, but about a horse that lived up to his name thanks to the help of a few human beings with big hearts.

The journey of Incredible Moe began 10 years ago. Moe was born a standardbred. He was given his name by his owner and was trained to race in Maine. During his first seven years, he was quite successful and won more than $213,000. After this success, his racing owners chose to retire him. Along with his equine companion Shadow, Moe was given to a person in Southern Maine where they were both to be used as riding horses for the family's children.

About 18 months ago, the person contacted the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of Maine and said he had lost his job and had no hay to feed Shadow and Moe. As a result, help arrived and hay was delivered by the SPHO-ME. Three months later, the person again contacted the same organization and said his property was being foreclosed and he needed to find a home for Shadow and Moe. The folks at SPHO-ME scrambled around to try to find homes for these two standardbreds.

In the meantime, the horses' owner packed up and abandoned them, leaving Moe and Shadow with no food or water. A neighbor noticed the two horses alone and not being cared for and contacted the SPHO-ME for help. While the organization tried again to find these two horses homes, the neighbor continued to feed and care for Moe and Shadow. Then one day the horses disappeared; no one knew where they had gone. No one knew whether the state had stepped in, a good Samaritan had taken them or the owner had returned for them.

In January 2010, just two months later, a member of the SPHO-ME just happened to be looking at horses in New Jersey that were waiting in a feedlot -- also known as a "kill pen." These particular horses were getting ready to be shipped to a slaughterhouse in Canada. Low and behold, among the horses was Incredible Moe. The member picked up the phone right away and called Moe's former racing owners. With their help and the help of owners who knew of Moe's plight, they sprang into action. They quickly paid the meat price to buy Moe back from the feedlot. Arrangements were made to bring Moe back to Maine. Sadly, no one was able to find Shadow since the feed lot owner said Moe had come in alone.

Moe was brought back to Midcoast Maine but was in terrible shape. He had lost a lot of weight and was in need of veterinary and farrier care. Thankfully Moe received this care, as well as some well deserved love and attention. He was evaluated for riding and it was discovered that his name continued to suit him well. He was calm, cool and collected under saddle -- nothing seemed to faze him. He was willing to do whatever was asked of him.

The story does not end here. Moe was being rehabilitated by a SPHO-ME member, who is also a longtime board member and program volunteer for Freedom Riders. Freedom Riders is the oldest therapeutic horseback riding organization in Maine. Freedom Riders' home is in Warren where the nonprofit organization provides a program of equine assisted activities and therapies for children and adults with special needs.

While Moe was being rehabilitated, the Freedom Riders summer session was swiftly approaching. The volunteer decided to train Moe as a therapy horse. Yet again, Moe proved to be truly incredible. Today he continues to gain weight and is willing to do whatever is asked of him. Incredible Moe loves having a job again. He has been exposed to having hula hoops hanging off his hindquarters, balls bouncing at his feet and barrels making all kinds of sounds around him. Perhaps people saw a horse recently wearing a sandwich board in front of our stable on Route 1, advertising the Freedom Riders tag sale.

Yes, that was Moe!

After Moe's incredible journey, he is adjusting well and loves all the attention. He is particularly fond of looking at himself in the rather large mirrored wall located in the indoor schooling arena. Maybe he sees himself as a lucky horse. To us, who have come to love him and know he has lived up to his name, he is incredible, Incredible Moe.

If you would like to join the list of the wonderful people who are giving Moe his life back by contributing to his care, you can send donations to Freedom Riders, 21 Limerock St., Ste. 203, Rockland, ME 04841 or go to our Web site at To learn more about the Standardbred Pleasure Horse Organization of Maine, visit

Marsha Mongell lives in Rockport. She is a volunteer horse handler and vice chairman of the board of directors of Freedom Riders.