Horse reunited with owner

Published 1:44 am Sunday, January 15, 2012

Megan Chance Adams of Washington (above) has been reunited with her horse, Burma, after a series of remarkable events that has received attention from horse-lovers along the East Coast and made possible with the help of Facebook. (WDN Photo/Betty Mitchell Gray)

Around midnight Wednesday, a 15-year-old horse named Burma arrived at the Lazy A Ranch about nine miles east of Washington. Afterwards, the horse’s owner, Megan Chance Adams, stayed up most of the night getting the mare settled into her new home.
The arrival of the mare and her reunion with her owner after six years apart culminated an amazing series of events that has received attention from horse-lovers along the East Coast and was made possible with the help of Internet technology and social media.
“It’s very wonderful,” Adams said in an interview Friday morning with the Daily News at the stable, owned by her father-in-law Daniel Gray Adams. “There were a lot of factors that go into the story … and without Facebook, I never would have found her.”
“It had been six years since I had seen her,” Adams said of Burma. “I thought she was dead.”
A self-described “barn rat,” the Westfield, N.J., native began riding at the age of eight or nine and spent many long days in stables helping take care of horses.
After “begging and begging” her parents for many years, Adams was allowed to go horse shopping, and discovered Burma, the grand-daughter of 1977 Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew.
Burma raced briefly as a 2-year-old but did not find success on the track, Adams said.
A love of horses led Adams to Meredith Manor International Equestrian College, where she learned to be a horse trainer.
After graduating from college, Adams worked with Frank Chapot, a renowned horse trainer and Olympic gold medalist, and boarded Burma there. Tiring of all the travel associated with showing horses, Adams and her college friend, Katie Cox Gaylor, a Washington native, decided to take a break from their jobs in 2005 and travel across the country together.
Adams arranged to board Burma at a stable in the care of a woman in an exchange that allowed the woman to breed Burma and keep the foal. But when Adams returned from her trip, the woman and the horse had disappeared.
After searching more than a year for her horse, with no luck finding Burma, Adams said she assumed that the mare had died and “the woman was too scared to tell me.”
Since losing track of her horse, Adams moved to Washington, ran a horse stable with Cox, married Ryan Adams and had a son, Alex, now 4 years old.
But she never forgot her horse.
Last July, hundreds of miles from Washington, Burma was found alive, but destined for slaughter.
Annette Sullivan, a horse-rescuer with Zoar Ridge Stables in Newtown, Conn., was told that a horse at an animal auction had a connection to Chapot’s barn.
As Sullivan described to Eileen FitzGerald, a reporter with the News-Times of Danbury, Conn., she hoped Burma would be adoptable so she bought the horse for $200, and another thoroughbred, Anna, for $125, because they were friends.
“They were in good shape,” Sullivan told FitzGerald.
Slowly, however, Sullivan began to piece together the story of Burma and Anna’s recent past.
“The two mares had spent at least five years in a testing facility in New Jersey where they were bred over and over by stallions that entered the country and had to be tested for a contagious equine metritis. The bacterial infection has no clinical sign in a stallion. So the practice is to require the stallion to breed a mare, and if the mare does not get the disease, the stallion is released from quarantine. Each time, the mare’s organs are flushed over and over to ensure they don’t get pregnant,” Sullivan’s story in the News-Times reads.
After Burma arrived at Zoar Ridge Stables, Sullivan realized that the horse was pregnant and knew that giving birth would be life-threatening to Burma because of the damage to the horse’s organs.
As she had with other horses she had rescued, Sullivan posted a photograph of Burma on the Zoar Ridge Stables Facebook page that showed the horse’s distinctive white markings on her face.
A friend who rode with Adams as a teenager in New Jersey saw a photograph on the Facebook page and contacted Adams through Facebook telling Adams that she thought the rescue horse was Burma.
It was then that Sullivan received a telephone call from Adams saying she thought it was her lost horse and providing Sullivan with a photograph from her younger years and describing Burma’s habits.
Although her foal died, Burma survived the ordeal of giving birth, cheating death once again.
And while visiting her parents in New Jersey for Thanksgiving, Adams traveled to Connecticut and was reunited with Burma on Sullivan’s farm.
After reading about Burma’s story on Facebook, a woman — Adams can’t recall her name — volunteered to bring the horse to North Carolina.
Burma’s return has been a joy for all of the family as well as for Sullivan.
“When you rescue horses you always hope there’s someone out there who will love them,” Sullivan said in a telephone interview with the Daily News.
But, she said, this is the first time that Zoar Ridge Stables has united a horse with its owner.
“It’s been a wonderful experience,” Sullivan said.
Adams’ family agrees.
“I think we’ve been just as excited as Megan to get her back,” said sister-in-law Lou Stout.
Despite all of her trials over the past six years, Burma’s personality is little changed, according to Megan Adams.
Like many thoroughbred race horses, she still shows signs of boredom by swaying back and forth in her stall, she still tries to suck air into her stomach while biting down on things — a habit that could lead to a dangerous illness — and she still, according to Adams “has bad feet.”
For the past few days, Burma has been under Megan Adams’ watchful care with Daniel Adams ready to supply treats for the stable’s new arrival.
In about two weeks, after Burma settles into her new home and has had time to recover from the trip, Megan Adams hopes to ride her horse for the first time in six years.
In the meantime, she is just happy to have the horse she loved as a girl back in her care.
She said that Burma seems to know that she’s back in a loving home.
“I think she knows me,” Megan Adams said. “She knows that I’m somebody safe.”
To see a video taken by Ashley Adams of Burma arriving at the Lazy A Ranch around midnight on Wednesday, see the following link: