When Kimberly Compton DiCostanzo (known as “KC”) and Matt DiCostanzo opened Thunder Moon Farm in Wingdale last November, it was the culmination of years of planning for them and the beginning of a lifetime of possibility for the rescued horses that live there. The three-and-a-half acres of this lovely and charming horse farm are the current home of Topaz, Zeus, and Siggy, each with an individual personality and story to match.
Topaz is the old lady of the group, having been in KC’s family since she was five days old. KC explains that, although Topaz has had a grouchy streak since birth, her maternal instincts take over with children and she is patient and gentle with little riders, making her the ideal horse for young beginners learning to navigate the bumps and sways of a horse’s gait. Topaz’s best horse friend of twenty-two years, Midnight, died suddenly last winter, soon after the opening of the farm, and KC and Matt felt that a replacement friend was needed right away. That’s when Zeus came into their lives.
Zeus was so named because his entrance into Thunder Moon Farm was incredibly majestic, with steam rising from his warm body on the coldest day of January, as he stepped out of the trailer into his new life. Zeus is a rescue horse with an amazing pedigree. The great-great-grandson of Secretariat and the great-grandson of Seattle Slew, he was sent to auction because, after thirty-six races, his owners felt he wasn’t a superstar, and they wanted their financial resources spent elsewhere.
KC’s expertise lies in training, or sometimes retraining, difficult or abused horses to be responsive and calm riding horses. Ex-racehorses are particularly challenging because the conditions under which they are trained to race are the antithesis to those conditions under which one would train them to be show horses or riding horses. KC explained that the horses must learn to relax under the rider and to develop power in their backs instead of in their legs.
It was March before Zeus was actually ridden. Until then, he was on vacation, adjusting to his new world of loving care and freedom. When KC finally saddled him up and mounted him, he took off, a throwback from some rough handling at the track. It took extraordinary patience and skill to persuade him to stand and wait, and to listen to the gentle and encouraging words that KC constantly spoke in his ear…to trust. Today, Zeus is like a “thousand-pound puppy,” according to KC. He follows her around the ring and back to the barn without reins to pull or lead him…only soft whispers, encouraging him to follow. She is his “center,” his “happy place.”
The DiCostanzos describe Siggy as the best example of the change that can occur when a former race horse is retrained into a gentle and safe riding horse. It’s almost as if he knows how close he came to extinction and is grateful for his life at Thunder Moon. Siggy was literally pulled from the “kill pen.” How he ended up there is not completely known. What is known is that at one time, his owners paid over half a million dollars for him. That’s pretty alarming, considering he was about an hour away from a dire future and was rescued by Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue, which is based right here in Pawling(a huge coup and incredible organization right in our community). KC and Matt agree that Siggy (his racing name was Pleasant Signal) is an ideal riding lesson horse. He is easy and predictable, and he loves it when Matt scratches him under his chin. He stands quietly in his stall, sucking and gently nibbling on Matt’s work gloves.
Matt clearly has a special way with Siggy as well as with Topaz and Zeus. Matt keeps Thunder Moon beautifully maintained, and the horses have learned to count on him for the best in grooming, treats, and constant conversation. He is solidly in tune with them.
KC’s specialty, aside from working with young or difficult horses, is Eventing and Dressage, a sport that requires incredible grace and bravery from both horse and rider. Her expertise comes from having trained with several Olympic riders including Captain Mark Philips and medalist Kerry Milikin. She teaches riding skills to students from ages four through adult and offers lessons at all experience levels, even coming to your home or farm to teach riding or to help with training.
There is a unique connection between KC and horses. Ever since she was a very little girl, she knew that horses would always be a big part of her life. Now that Thunder Moon Farm is a reality, she and Matt could not imagine any other life for themselves, or for Topaz, Zeus, or Siggy. This horse whisperer, her loving mate, and their horses have found a little piece of heaven right here in our community.
Currently, Thunder Moon Farm has an open stall available that has been reserved for boarding. They offer additional services such as training, lessons and grooming. KC and Matt can be reached at www. thundermoonfarm.com or by calling 917-721-3420.
Photo Courtesy of Tina Quatroni