This is a story of survivors, both human and horse, a story of victory against insurmountable odds, a story of loyalty, and the type of story that movies are made of.
It's the story of a horse that should not be here, and of a rider who survived massive, life-threatening, injuries as a result of an horrific accident, but whose long struggle to recover from her injuries ended with a daring, winning ride at a major horse show.
The horse, Karl du Chateau (Shorty), is owned by Cathy and Alex Mendez of Los Altos Hills. Shortly after the Mendez’ bought the horse, he was stricken by colic not once, but 4 times and endured 3 life-saving surgeries.
The 4th time that colic struck in November of 2004, the Mendezes decided the animal had been through enough and that it would be inhumane to put him through another surgery, so they retired him to their Maple Leaf Farm in Los Alto Hills to live out whatever time he had left as a proverbial "lawn ornament.”
Miraculously, the horse began to thrive and show signs of improvement.
In July, 2005, Rachel Yorke, Shorty's young rider and trainer was thrown from a horse “which literally stood on my head.” Her head was crushed; her skull fractured in several places. Her face was smashed beyond recognition, and is still partially paralyzed.
Rushed to the emergency room, it appeared that the injuries Rachel had suffered could end her life. Five surgeries later, two of them on her damaged brain, Rachel embarked on her recovery.
“It was very difficult,” she says, but slowly she came back, and finally was able to climb aboard a horse again.
During the next 18 months, Cathy and Alex Mendez stood by, when they easily could have put the horse down and hired a new trainer to work with their very large, successful stable. Recently, their loyalty and support paid off when the two survivors were reunited again and formed an almost unbeatable partnership.
This last February, they defeated 66 horses in the $30,000 Grand Prix of the Desert in Thermal, California, the only entries to complete the entire course without any faults (mistakes). Quite an accomplishment for the two survivors! And a remarkable story of support and loyalty from the Mendezes!
Rachel and Shorty will be competing at the Menlo Charity Horse Show, August 7-12 at the Menlo Circus Club at 190 Park Lane in Atherton. The event, which showcases 700 of the West Coast's best riders and horses, benefits the Vista Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired.
The goal of the Center is to make self-reliance possible for the 19,000 visually impaired individuals in San Mateo, San Benito, Santa Cruz and Santa Clara counties.
For further information, please visit http://www.menlohorseshow.com , or call Nan Chapman at 650-701-0543.