“The Cartilage Had Been Hammered and Was Virtually Nonexistent” – at Three Years of Age: The Heartrending Story of Lovetobehappy

Shedrow Secrets

by Mary Johnson

For those who follow racehorse deaths on America’s tracks, the descriptions are all too familiar – “cardiovascular collapse,” “fractured cannon bones,” “severed spines” and “broken necks.” Gruesome descriptions as we visualize the sickening scenes that occur regularly in racing. However, there are horses who do make it out of racing alive only to die later in virtual anonymity. There are some whose stories are simply heartbreaking, not only because a young life was snuffed out, but also because of the sweet nature of a particular horse. One of those horses was Lovetobehappy (Lovey), and this is her story.

Lovey was first brought to our attention in late May, 2019. She was being offered as a broodmare prospect and was marketed as “a super opportunity to add to your broodmare band.” Over the next week or so, her price had dropped precipitously to a few hundred dollars along with the proverbial “OBO.” Rose Smith and I sensed the urgency of the situation, and we quickly decided to step up for her. An offer was made and accepted, and Lovey arrived at my barn on May 30th for three weeks of downtime before she shipped to New Bolton for an evaluation and possible surgery on her knees. We were cautiously optimistic since she was only three and had raced just six times, all in 2019, with the last being on May 7th (which she “won”).

loaded and ready to go…

Upon arrival, I was amazed at how sweet and docile this little three-year-old was, especially since she had just left the track. I have been involved with OTTBS for well over fifty years, and Lovey was unequivocally one of the kindest horses I have ever encountered. She was simply a delight to have in my barn, which made her physical issues even more troubling. When walking, she seemed to have great difficulty knowing where to place her feet, and we initially suspected a neurological issue. We also thought she just might be body sore but, again, we were hopeful that with time and good care, her issues would resolve and she could have a normal life. An appointment was made with my equine vet for the following week, and I began limited turnout in a smaller pasture with my old Standardbred gelding, Friday. She adored my old guy and followed him around like a puppy dog, but was always ready to go back into the barn when I approached the pasture.

upon arrival…

Lovey with Friday…

My vet took initial radiographs of both of Lovey’s front knees and found chip fractures in both middle joints. She also thought that Lovey was body sore plus she had thin soles, so a treatment plan was initiated. The bloodwork came back fine, with no significant abnormalities, and neurological issues were ruled out. However, Rose and I realized that in order for Lovey to lead a relatively comfortable life, the chips would have to be removed and we both wanted to give her that chance. Her next stop would be New Bolton. Rose and I mistakenly believed that things were looking up for this incredibly sweet filly.

before heading to New Bolton…

Lovey’s surgery was scheduled for Monday, June 24th. Prior to, New Bolton took additional x-rays of both knees as well as her head since she had an indentation next to her left eye. Kelly Smith had graciously offered to rehab Lovey as well as take her into her adoption program at Omega Horse Rescue. On Monday morning, Kelly called and told me that it didn’t look good for Lovey. Chips were successfully removed from the left knee, but the right knee was in bad shape.

I immediately called NB and spoke to the surgeon about the prognosis. Here is what Dr. Levine shared with me: The cartilage in the right middle carpal joint had been “hammered” and was virtually nonexistent, making her prognosis for a long-term, pain-free life poor. He also said that Lovey was the worst case he had ever seen except for horses who had entered NB in order to have their joints fused, and those were usually high-end broodmares. I asked him if anything could be done for her and he said the ONLY possibility was to have the knee fused (a $20,000 procedure) down the road. In addition, he believed she had previously suffered from a fractured skull.

After discussing Lovey’s poor prognosis with Rose and the surgeon, we made the difficult decision to let her go. She never woke up from the anesthesia. Both Rose and I were overcome with grief, and I still become emotional when thinking about my sweet Lovey. For three weeks, while at my barn, nothing was expected of her. She was given the freedom to just be a horse, which is something denied her during her racing days. Although she is gone, she will NEVER be forgotten. The racing industry took her life, just as it has so many others. Lovetobehappy is a racing fatality and the industry is responsible for destroying her. You can be sure of that.

From the official NB diagnosis: “right middle carpal joint – osteochondral fragmentation, osteophytosis, ​end-stage degenerative joint disease; left middle carpal joint – osteochondral fragmentation, osteophytosis. There was complete denudation of the articular cartilage along the articular surface of the radial carpal bone, severe denudation of the third carpal bone, and moderate articular erosion of several others.” Also from NB: “Due to the severity of pathology within the right MCJ, which likely would result in a grave prognosis for return to athletic [function] and persistent lameness, the filly was humanely euthanized.”

Subscribe and Get Notified of New Posts


  1. My heartfelt condolences on the loss of beautiful filly ‘LOVETOBEHAPPY’ to her family, connections and doctors. Thank you for taking these majestic baby into your heart, home and family. Yes, she will never be forgotten and know she was welcomed into heaven with LOVE and more LOVE along with wings for her to soar for eternity!! You will sorely be missed MISS LOVEY, ANGEL BABY!!!

  2. This is one of the most heartbreaking stores I’ve read. I’m so sorry that Lovey suffered so much in silence, but thankfully she had some freedom and love and care in the last few months of her life.

  3. Another magnificent horse casualty of the horse racing entertainment scene. So sad for this beautiful horse.

    • This Holocost Horror Show Must End Now. How can the people who “work” in this industry live with themselves? They’ll be sorry one day when they don’t get in to heaven.

  4. The irony in her name “Lovetobehappy”. Thank you for letting her live up to her name in her last few months.

  5. To me what made this story particularly hard was seeing the pictures of this beautiful little filly whose life was destroyed for greed. It is a small consolation that she had a few months of enjoying life rather than die in agony and fear on the track like so many others.
    Someone should send this story to the Governor of California to show him that racing reform is NOT possible.

  6. Poor Lovey….My heart breaks for each and everyone of these precious animals. The owners, trainers, jockeys and so on can’t possibly have a soul or this wouldn’t continue to happen….I pass this information on to Facebook, hoping that it will sink in, and people will stop gambling, and contact their Congressman/woman.
    Thank you for all you do, Patrick, what a kind heart you have……

  7. And this sweet filly’s racing-induced euthanasia can NOT be recorded in the Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database as a racing-related death because her death did not come within that “72-hours since the race” window the JC demands.

    If her injuries were not from racing and training, then what WERE they from? This is just another way the racing industry HIDES their horses’ deaths.

  8. Beautiful filly and her name just said it all about her, that’s all she wanted in life and as Mary writes she was the kindest horse she had ever come across (and that would be many, many horses). Heartbreaking and gut wrenching but Mary and Rose gave Lovey what she desperately needed albeit for a short period in her life but probably the most important time of her life.
    I hate to think how hard this was for Mary and Rose especially when this filly should never have ended up with this prognosis in the first place.
    Lovey was incredibly lucky to land in the hands of Rose and Mary but what about all the other racehorses when they’re “finished with”, “disposed of”, “discarded” when luck is not with them…?

  9. A million thanks to you, Mary, Rose, and all the others who did what they could to try and save Lovey from the Horse Racing Death Machine. Please know that your efforts were not in vain; the very telling of her story is helping to secure the knowledge that horse racing WILL END in this country.

  10. Thanks for sharing the story of LOVETOBEHAPPY and to Mary, Rose who helped this filly out.
    Heartbreaking that the only humane option was to send her to horse heaven.
    There are so many more that this vile business destroys, but Lovetobehappy was afforded the luxury of excellent vet care and good times in her final days.
    There are hundreds, if not thousands, of racehorses who are being beaten to run with severe injuries like this.
    Their vet records are kept secret as they get shuffled around from trainer to trainer as they suffer in silence.
    The ones who make it off the track alive are deemed to be lucky, but how lucky are they really?
    Very few end up in good hands with experienced horse people like Mary and Rose who have the sense and the money to look into their issues with proper vet care.
    Many of them are re-purposed as trail riding horses or many other disciplines because very few become pampered pets and lawn ornaments.
    So they are put into another situation and many people don’t have a vet assess them, they just take for granted that everything is fine or they simple don’t know enough to know something is wrong.
    Many of these racehorses jump from the fire into the frying pan and it’s so incredibly sad.
    It’s a long life of suffering and it’s solely due to the horse racing business who views them as disposable commodities – temporary gambling chips to place bets on.
    Horse racing must end.

  11. News Flash Guys: Main race tonight at S.A. Gets Pulled Up (Collusion illusion) only 2yr. Old. I pray the poor baby is ok,he’s a little guy.

    • 2 yrs old to 13 yrs old, little or big, racing does not discriminate !!

      I share your concern for the baby.
      Racing a 2 yr old is bad enough but at night, too…Is these anything these people will not stoop to for a buck!?

  12. A cheap “trainer” had this to say on my FB post about Lovetobehappy…

    “Doesn’t sound like much of a rescue if you killed her. If you rescue something you save it not kill it. Maybe you should think up a better name.”

    Now, mind you, THAT coming from someone who exploits horses for a living.

    • “Not much of a rescue” because her knee was so badly damaged it was one of the worst the vet. had ever seen.
      It is profoundly sad to say it was too late for “Lovey” by the time racing had “finished” with her.
      Racing and racing alone is responsible for stealing her life.

      • Rose, the story was very clear – but you know his type – either has the reading skills of a 6-year-old or just hates the truth. Probably both.

    • This pro-horse racing moron would rather she keep running with extremely painful conditions for his stupid $2 bet or to flip money for the wagering coffers.
      If he’s so concerned than send him the vet bill – obviously that won’t get paid by him nor the exploiters of this filly.
      Nor will it get paid by the multi-BILLION dollar sales auction houses or wagering firms like TVG or the HBPA.
      Hardly people who care because in the end it was 2 generous ladies, that had nothing to do with her exploitation, who was there to do what was right UNLIKE this vile business.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: