SportsRace to the Derby


Retired racehorses get extra love from residents at Georgetown retirement community

Posted at 11:45 AM, May 07, 2022

GEORGETOWN, Ky. (LEX18) — You're never too old to make a friend. At a retirement community in Georgetown, residents are getting plenty of fulfillment from the world's retired racehorses.

For some of these residents, times can be lonely. Growing older means limitations, and losing friends and family. Thanks to these retired horses, they always have another friend.

Eleanor McAdams says she sees the horses just about every day.

"I've missed two days and the horses have let me know," she says. "They wouldn't come over to me."

For them too, she's a familiar sight for these retired racehorses from Old Friends Farm in Georgetown.

"I would tell them 'good morning' and 'good night,' and I would see them during the day," said McAdams.

She has since moved from this senior living community but still makes her way back.

"They don't ask questions," she said with a smile.

Once you visit Kentucky and see the beauty of the horse farms, it's hard to walk away. It's that way for Bev Passerello and her late husband, John.

"Horses brought me here and the people have kept me here," said Passerello. "I'm a horse person from way back. I trained professionally for about 16 years."

They moved to Ashton Grove and had a vision for incorporating Old Friends in the back of the senior living facility. Throughout the planning, one thought kept running through her mind.

"Is this mish-mash going to work? Will people actually come down? Will they enjoy [it]?" she said. "These are people who have never been around horses. Many, many of them."

In the midst of a pandemic, where residents were stuck inside, after 10 months, Bev and John's vision became a reality. And the one, she won't forget.

"This is one of the grandest achievements of my career and I'm 85 years old, so there have been a few, but this is a big one," said Bev.

This grand achievement does more. It tugs at the heartstrings just a little bit, and for others, too.

"My husband lived long enough to see it happen," she said. "I just lost him in June, so it has been cathartic to me too."

After finishing this task, Bev can cross an item off the list her husband left for her.

"He said you have to finish it, Bev. You have to finish it," she said. "You have to get the handicap access. You have to do this, you have to do that. Yes, John, I will."

It brings peace, quiet, serenity, and most of all comfort and healing. Even for Eleanor who, like Bev, is mourning the loss of her husband, too.

"This has been a very healing place for me," she says.