Just looking at Epic Strike in the ring with adopter Erica Kraemer, you’d never have an inkling of his backstory. “Epps” is a 4-year-old gelding, with pretty movement and classic presence. Looking at his owner, you would see some big smiles and someone who clearly loves her Thoroughbred. Like many of our adoption stories, though, the tale of Epic Strike brings together a network of individuals striving to ensure the welfare of a horse. The first part of Epic Strike’s journey began as the lanky son of Smart Strike sustained a saucer fracture in his shin prior to racing. Owner Christine Hatfield ensured that he had surgery and was rehabilitated, but when he again came up sore in training, she decided to donate him to New Vocations. Epic landed at the Mereworth Farm Facility in Lexington, Ky. There, in the second part of this story, the lovable gelding soon became known as a gentle giant - still growing at 17h, and a bit of a push ride. Part three of the gelding’s journey involved being adopted by Erica Kraemer of Virginia. Erica looks back nostalgically on her first 12 months with Epic Strike as a year of growth. In a bit of a love letter to her Epps, she shared, “From the day you arrived where you just chilled as you looked over the farm, to the snowy day you decided to leap into my arms, to our first show where you won 1st in Walk-Trot, we both have come a long way. You are learning that jumps, artificial flowers, gates, and coups are not nearly as scary as what they first seemed. You are learning that four ground poles placed as a square will not swallow you whole.” Erica loves that Epps takes joy in working. She loves watching him discover “how to just be a horse,” and she is grateful for the healing presence that he’s brought into her life. Again, just watching the pair move gracefully by in the ring, you’d never know about the owner that decided to retire Epic early instead of too late, about his transition at New Vocations and about the love affair between this woman and her horse.