Horses in need have good friends
By David Harrison | The Roanoke Times
SHAWSVILLE – When she was a little girl growing up in Roanoke in the 1950s, Carol Whiteside was obsessed with horses. As she got older, her fascination led her to become an avid follower of the Kentucky Derby, to the point that she has filled two notebooks with the lineups and the outcomes of every Derby since 1987.
So it was with an expert eye that she surveyed the field Saturday evening at a fundraiser for the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue, minutes before the 131st Kentucky Derby got under way. “The horse that I like best is Bandini,” she said. “His father won the Kentucky Derby several years ago. He has the same temperament as his father.”
As it happened, Giacomo scored an upset, but to WhiteÂside and about 50 other Derby fans who gathered in a Shawsville barn to watch the race, the outcome was almost less important than raising money for the Horse Rescue.
The fundraiser drew horse lovers from all over the area in support of the Horse Rescue, a nonprofit group dedicated to finding suitable homes for horses whose owners can no longer take care of them. Supporters watched the race on two big-screen televisions, bid at a silent auction, bought raffle tickets and sat on bales of hay to eat and drink.
“They are the sweetest people, and they work with horses that need help,” said Charlotte Sandy, referring to the group’s officers and volunteers.
Sandy hosted the fundraiser in the 100-year-old barn that sits next to the house she grew up in and where she still lives.
“I said, ‘You all need help, and I have a big barn. Let’s have a barn party.'”
Sandy already has five horses but, she said, “I may take on one of the little blind fillies” that the Horse Rescue is trying to find a home for.
Since the group’s inception in November 2002, the Roanoke Valley Horse Rescue has found homes for 19 horses, said president and co-founder Pat Muncy. The 36 horses waiting to be adopted live on Muncy’s property, where she takes care of them full time, she said.
“We watch them for the rest of their lives,” she said. “I gave up my job with the real estate board to do this. It just got so big so quickly.”
The group depends on volunteers, donations and fundraisers, she added. Muncy said she did not have time Saturday to calculate the total amount raised by the Derby event, but she said it would exceed $2,000.
Although this Derby party did not feature mint juleps, several participants got into the mood by donning ornate hats, another Derby classic. Few hats were as elaborate as Connie Stone’s. The Martinsville resident and owner of two horses spent an hour and a half gluing miniature bottles of Early Times Kentucky whiskey, copies of Derby tickets, miniature horses and roses onto a straw hat.
“I am a master at the hot glue gun,” she said.
Her husband, Elliott Stone, on the other hand, showed up under a plain cowboy hat. And that was fine with him.
“I’m the guy in the white hat,” he said.