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Cusack is on his way to Kansas

June 4, 2011

by Neil Clarkson

Kiwi thoroughbred Cusack has bid farewell to his friends at the Back Forte Equestrian Center in Washington, and has started his journey half way across the US to Kansas.

Cusack in his racing days
He was uplifted by Paul Lynch's 4Rail Horse Transport today, to begin a journey which should see him arriving at Deb Johnson's home early on Monday.

The North Canterbury-born racehorse was saved thanks to the efforts of Horsetalk readers around the world, after it was revealed he was in the kill pens in an auction house in Enumclaw, in Washington.

Readers raised enough money to buy Cusack, pay for a share of his board at the Back Forte, and his transport to Kansas, where Deb hopes Cusack will be suited to a career in competitive trail-riding.

The well-travelled horse raced in New Zealand, California, and across the border in British Columbia, Canada, before his career ended.

Kansas is a long way from Washington, but Deb is offering Cusack a life-long home on a property with plenty of pasture, creeks and trees.

Cusack had his final health checks ticked off in the 24 hours before he began his trip, which hung in the balance for a time as the extent of an Equine Herpesvirus outbreak in western US states became clear.

Deb has spoken with emotion of the efforts from around the world that have given Cusack a new life.

"I'm trying real hard to be calm and KNOW that everything is flowing smoothly in Washington," she said.

"When I think about how so many people came together so this could all happen, it amazes me."

"There are some pretty amazing folks in the state of Washington," she said, singling out, among others, the network at, dedicated to saving horses down on their luck at the monthly Enumclaw horse auction.

Lisa O'Gorman was another, who kindly paid for Cusack's first two weeks of board at the Back Forte.

Then there was Stacy, who showed real care and compassion for Cusack's wellbeing at the boarding establishment, where he got some much-needed sustenance and a rest in preparation for his Kansas trip.

"Then there were all the people I don't know that visited Cusack and gave him a scritch and kind word," Deb says.

"Even Stacy's barn cat made Cusack feel welcome, safe, and helped with his healing process.

"I'm so relieved that Paul is the one that is transporting Cusack. He really is one of the best horse transporters in the country."

Deb says she still wonders at the circumstances that forced Cusack's previous owner to drop him at the auction house, effectively surrendering the horse.

"What are the odds that Cuscack is posted by and that link finds its way to my Facebook page, thanks to Alona Millison?

"I see tons of these horses, and every one of them breaks my heart. I don't go out and rescue any of them. I can't.

"[Husband] Tony said, 'no more horses'. He's right. I don't need any more horses.

"And then, I see Cusack. I didn't just see him, I gasped. The breath caught in my throat, and time stopped. It was just a 2D picture, and yet I found myself falling into his eyes, and feeling what he felt. Lost, confused, and a little afraid.

"I remember saying out loud, 'He can't be there!' No horse should be there, so why I felt so strongly about Cusack, I just can't tell you.

"When I found out he only had a few days, I was frantic.

"The group auctionhorses.nmet was also moving quickly to save all these horses. I didn't know. I only knew I had to save Cusack.

Enter Kiwi-born Susan Young, living in Florida, who recognised his New Zealand branding.

"What were the odds of someone from Florida, from New Zealand, someone who knew about Horsetalk in New Zealand, seeing his brand and putting it all together?

"I don't even know how Susan knew Horsetalk would help. It all had to happen quickly, with everything clicking into place perfectly, at exactly the right time, with just the right person showing up at just the perfect time.

"And the biggest miracle of all? Tony just shaking his head and asking me, 'Do we have another horse?'

"You'd think I'd trust this by now, and be a peace that everything is flowing as it always has.

"Paul will arrive, Cusack's papers will all be there, in order, his 'carry on' of hay, grain supplements, ready to go, loading without a hitch, and winging his way home. Home. I think it's all he's ever wanted. Maybe it's all any horse ever wants. A home.

"I think I can say, Cusack would like to thank everyone for hearing his heartfelt wish, and appreciates everyone's efforts, prayers, and good thoughts. Love really does conquer all."



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