Retired trackhorse 'Mateo' prepares for the flight from Puerto Rico to Florida.

BREVARD COUNTY – Between driving Roman chariots and founding the American West, horses have been inspiring and supporting humans for ages.

Sometimes, however, it is the horse that requires support.

Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds (HART) helps to rescue and rehabilitate thoroughbreds.

“[Our] mission is to rescue and re-home off-the-track thoroughbreds,” officials stated in a recent press release. “We believe that education and outreach will improve the lives of those in our community and the lives of the equine athletes we rescue.”

One horse that has recently been taken in by HART is “Mateo,” a racehorse from Puerto Rico. HART teamed with Caribbean Thoroughbred Aftercare Inc. (CTA), which is based in Puerto Rico, to retrieve Mateo from “hurricane-ridden conditions” in Puerto Rico.

“We had been contacted by CTA, and they had a few horses that they needed help getting placed,” said Suzanna Norris, HART founder and executive director. “So, I said, ‘Absolutely we’ll help, but we are currently looking for a horse to compete with the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover in Kentucky, and we were hoping to have a horse viable for eventing,’ so they went and found me the perfect horse.”

Mateo, previously known under his racetrack name as “Big Twist,” underwent examinations and x-rays to determine his viability for racing and was flown to HART in Cocoa.

“Mateo was flown in an airplane,” Ms. Norris said. “What they do is they load the horse on the ground into a box (there’s usually two horses per box), then they use a big crane to pick up the whole box and load the horses into the plane.”

At HART, Mateo’s care is supported through fundraising and donations.

Mateo will be racing on Oct. 4 -7 in Lexington, Kentucky at the event at the Kentucky Horse Park. After the race, HART will help Mateo find a retirement home.

For more information about HART, visit hartforhorses.org, or call (321) 543-2924.

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