On the morning of May 12, 2020, Rose Marie Lawson and her Oak View Stables family had a surprise waiting for them in one of their broodmare stalls.
Normandie Belle, Rose Marie’s 4-year-old Thoroughbred, gave birth to her foal ten days early. The tiny foal named Mystery Channel “Chan” was laying next to Belle when morning came and could not stand or nurse on his own. Due to being 10 days premature he had contracted tendons, and as Rose Marie recalls, “He had the most crooked legs, and his little ears curled.”
The Lawsons had the foal examined by their team of veterinarians, and unfortunately, Chan was not given a good prognosis. Due to not being able to stand and nurse on his own, his vet team said he might live up to two days.
This news did not sit well with the Oak View family and soon Chan had up to 8 dedicated caregivers determined to give him a chance at life through around-the-clock care. His determined team of caregivers consisted of lesson kids, barn helpers, and the vet team; the first thing that had to be done was develop a nutritional plan and schedule to give Chan a shot at life.
Every 30 minutes to two hours Chan was bottle fed to make sure he had adequate nutrition. This included feedings throughout the entire night. One of his caregivers, Kayla Benson, slept in the stall with him to make sure he was well cared for and fed.
They made homemade splints for his tiny legs with wraps and PVC pipes. Kayla remembers how tiny he was, saying they would pick him up and carry him to his mother to try to encourage him to nurse directly from her. Rose Marie recalls, “The kids saw every aspect from the beginning.” Wes, Rose Marie’s late husband was ill at the time, so she depended heavily on those kids. “Responsibility builds character. They were all so dedicated to making sure that baby was going to make it.”
After about two weeks of 24/7 care and bottle feedings they found Chan standing on his own with the assistance of his splints. Even though this was a huge step in the right direction, the tiny foal had an uphill battle to climb with his development and progression.
Due to the splints and wraps on Chan’s crooked legs he would bite and itch his legs so much that he developed open wounds on his knees, which caused an infection in one. He also had to have therapeutic trimmings and shoeing to help slowly and properly stretch the tendons in his legs. Kayla remembers he had tiny wedge shoes that overtime slowly allowed his heels to touch the ground.
He wasn’t allowed to be turned out or socialized with other horses until he was at least 8 months of age. He then had to learn what it was like to be in the pasture with other horses and learn herd behaviors.
Through all of this Chan displayed a sweet temperament. When he was able to be turned out he grew and many started to notice he was becoming a fancy mover while playing in the pasture. Once he was able to get past the first six to eight months of constant care, he did not have any complications.
In May of 2023, as Chan turned three, it was time to see if his fancy moves and soundness would uphold enough to be broke to ride. Rose Marie said, “Let’s get him broke and see if he holds up.” She acknowledged that, “You really don’t know if they are going to hold up until you start putting pressure on them.”
Kayla took the lead on his training. She worked closely with Billie Anderson and they worked through consistent groundwork that led to him being bitted up, then saddled, and then slowly introduced pressure and weight on each stirrup, to finally carrying the weight of a rider.
After only the third to fourth ride he was steering and trotting under saddle, and not too long after that, he was able to canter both directions. Kayla said, “He has been a little spoiled and was mouthy, but now that he has a job he is very pleasant and sweet.”
She attributes his good temperament to being a Thoroughbred and his breeding. He is a pleaser and moves forward and trusts his rider. She says, “He has a very rhythmic and calm demeanor, but he is game for anything. He is very brave, has a good brain, and is very willing and likes his job.”
In September Trey Lawson and Kayla took Chan to his first big test as a Hunter/ Jumper prospect at the Sallie B. Wheeler Hunter Breeding Championships at the Texas Rose Classic held at the Texas Rose Horse Park. Kayla showed Chan and he exceeded her expectations. Chan’s Texas Rose Classic Hunter Breeding Results include: 5th place 3 yr old in-hand conformation, 3rd place JR/AM Handler, 1st place 3 yr old under saddle, 1st place 3 yr old hunter hack.
His Sallie B. Wheeler Hunter Breeding Championships Results include: 4th place 3 yr old in-hand conformation, 4th place JR/AM Handler, 3rd place 3 yr old Under Saddle (out of 9), and 3rd place 3 yr old Hunter Hack.
Chan currently stands at 15.2, making him a good size for a child or junior rider. Rose Marie said, “This horse is special.” She predicts Chan will be her granddaughter, Aria’s Children’s Hunter and looks forward to seeing him progress as a young hunter/ jumper.
Chan came into the world with the odds against him, but like many really good Thoroughbred underdog stories, he thrived with the help of his dedicated and determined young caregivers. The next steps for his training are to continue and maintain his rhythmic hunter style and demeanor. Rose Marie described Chan’s mentality as, “I can do it; I will do it; just hang on.”