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Dark Horse Grabbed Her Jacket & Sealed the DealThoroughbred Retirement Foundation

Dark horse grabbed her jacket & sealed the deal


Fallon Nunes, a member of the US Army military police, combat support, sits with her 22-month-old daughter on Mercuriandarkside, her heart horse.

By on October 14, 2016

A black Thoroughbred who embodied every little girl’s dream horse, reached his head over his stall door and grabbed the sleeve of a stranger.

He clamped his teeth down tight, refusing to let go.

And before Fallon Nunes could free her jacket sleeve from the beautiful horse’s grip, it seemed a deal was struck between her and the dark bay ex-racehorse, Mercuriandarkside.

“My friend Julie Baker took me to Bay Meadows racetrack before it closed to look at horses. She knew I was really depressed because my quarter horse had died the month before. We were walking around enjoying the horses when a guy came out and asked if we wanted to buy a horse,” says Nunes. “And the next thing I knew, this beautiful black horse reached out over the top of his stall and grabbed my jacket. And Julie said, ‘We’ll take him!’

“And after that, the wheeling and dealing began. He said $800 and Julie said $300 and that was it. I was still in high school at the time, but I had enough in my savings account, and that day, I bought my perfect horse. That was February 2000, and I’ve had him ever since.”

As Nunes went on to enjoy a military career, serving in the Army military police, combat support, her beautiful black OTTB welcomed her home after deployments and duties, always up for anything.

“I’ve ridden him in parades, cattle penning, barrel racing, and I’ve gone horse camping with him far up in the mountains,” Nunes says. “You could say that I’ve really broadened his horizons.”

Though she has not ridden Mercuriandarkside in any official capacity, she swears her horse can do just about anything, even carry her 22-month-old daughter on his back.

Having a Thoroughbred ex-racehorse has so impressed Nunes that she volunteers helping Julie Baker retrain OTTBs atHealing Arenas in California. Most recently, she has helped retrain OTTBs from theThoroughbred Retirement Foundation, helping de-sensitize and acclimate horses who’ve lived in a herd environment.

The work has been her joy and inspiration. “One day I hope to get more involved with the therapy side, helping veterans through the


Nunes and Mercuriandarkside have been a team since 2000.

horse-therapy program at Healing Arenas,” she says. Veterans and other individuals coping with psychological issues can benefit from the deeply loyal Thoroughbreds, she adds.

“Since I’ve had my OTTB, he has shown me 100 percent loyalty. The bond I have with him is so incredible that my Mom once said to me that he wouldn’t follow anyone on a trailer but me. You know how some people say some animals pick their owners? I think he picked me that day at Bay Meadows. And he’s been my saving grace.”

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