Vulcan: A Trial By Fire. A former race horse named “Louisiana Gumbo” endures gruesome neglect and injury until saved by Heart of Phoenix in West Virginia

Vulcan (aka Louie) is the God of Fire in Roman Mythology, and the name conjures up amazing imagery of strength and flame and iron will. It makes us think of war and a battle. Seems fitting since his ancestors are the likes of Man O War and War Admiral.


So, Vulcan is the name this courageous gelding received upon being saved by Heart of Phoenix Equine Rescue in West Virginia (That said, we quickly learned, Louie must have been his barn name, a take on his registered name, and he does know it)

I  received a heavily pixelated video and photo on Thursday from our local animal control officer about a gelding they had been called out to check.

From what I could make out, the horse had an injury and was emaciated. I explained we could accept him if they seized the horse and recommended action be taken immediately.

Transport was secured for the following day at 2pm, but we truly had no idea how extreme a case this would prove to be until we arrived.


The grey gelding had been living in manure and mud and trash for, at the least, many months, someone reported for over a year. His body was skeletal and his topline covered in extreme rain rot wounds. He halter cut into his face and his feet were riddled with thrush which made walking on the gravel down the road out of that hell hole he had called home very painful. But that wasn’t enough abuse, apparently, to have endured.

He also had endured unaddressed trauma for many months, and the exposed, infected wound truly had to have been and continues to be unspeakably painful. While we are not certain whether this is due to an injury or cancer left without medical care, it is one of the most extreme instances of disregard for treatment of a very sick animal we have seen.


The owner signed him over to animal control that day, and he came a Heart of Phoenix in West Virginia. This is, sadly, the first day in his 15 year life he can be sure all of this tomorrows will hold kindness. We do not know what his future will hold given how horrifying his condition and untreated medical issues are, but we have hope. Regardless, he will know only kindness.

He loaded like the gentle soul he clearly is, and we heard the owner tell us he’d been a “buggy racing horse.” It seemed unlikely to us, and upon checking his tattoo, we quickly found out our newly named Vulcan is an off the track Thoroughbred.


His registered name is Louisiana Gumbo. He raced 28 times from 2005 to 2008, and his last two races were at Mountaineer Park. His owner and trainer is listed as John W. Baird. His sire was Alphabet Soup, a ’96 Breeders Cup Classic winner who bested Cigar and set a record during the same race.

Apparently he was well bred, but really wasn’t successful on the track. Following his last race, something happened that lead him to this:


He unloaded at his foster location and looked around, interested in seeing other horses, as he was alone in his misery without another equine friend where he has been neglected. We are told the other horses there with him died there. So it is hard to say when he last saw another horse, but we are happy to say he will not be alone, anymore.

Thankfully, as gruesome has his condition is, thankfully, he is able to urinate though the condition has been left untreated for many, many months already. He has an appointment with one of the premier vet clinics in the nation tomorrow at noon (Hagyard in Lexington, Ky). We are hopeful. If he is to survive, his recover and vet costs will be extensive.


This is where you come in. On the heels of the rescue of 8 other horses from various seizure and owner surrender cases from law enforcement all over West Virginia, we need your help more than ever before. The costs just for veterinary care are poised to be many, many thousands of dollars. The additional costs to rehab these horses after they are vetted is enormous, as well. But the fact is, they are worth the effort. And we are asking our supporters to share Vulcan’s story far and wide to not only raise funding to make sure he will have every chance to recover possible, but also to raise awareness about the plight of the horses of a poverty riddled area of Appalachia.


Heart of Phoenix is working in an area that has so much gross neglect, it is really beyond the scope of many people in America’s understanding. The poverty here means when horse ownership goes bad, the results are what we see in this blog, not just a bit of weight loss or lack of routine vet care. Vulcan’s story is not singular.


POST SURGERY / Amputation at Rood and Riddle  (SPRING 2017)

————- AUGUST 2017 —————-

Vulcan’s story seemed so bright for many months. Sadly, lameness surfaced once he was nearly rehabbed, after beautiful spring and summer of living the life of leisure. At Rood and Riddle, he received a diagnosis that left his future one of pain only and never any soundness. He has been through enough, and in a short time, had we not acted, he would have been utterly crippled.

We made the decision on 8/12/17 to lay him to rest.

God’s Speed you sweet, loving boy.




8 thoughts on “Vulcan: A Trial By Fire. A former race horse named “Louisiana Gumbo” endures gruesome neglect and injury until saved by Heart of Phoenix in West Virginia

  1. How do I sign up to sponsor Vulcan specifically? I can’t find a way on the page that comes up. Thanks for the help.

  2. When can we fill out an application for him? I have a fat Walking horse who loves every horse she meets and would love a buddy. I loved Vulcan from the moment I saw him. He’s been through so much but still has the kindest eyes. I promised myself my next horse would be a rescue and I love him. The barn I board at has mostly senior horses and my mare so she would love someone to play with.

    1. It says in the article. He either had trauma, like being kicked by another horse or cancer that was untreated. But it basically boils down to neglect, Vulcan aka Louie died because someone decided his life wasn’t important enough to get medical attention for a horrid injury. It breaks my heart that he suffered, fought and ended up loosing his battle. HOP did the right thing laying him to rest.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: