Reins to run: Stagecoach gives former racers new life

Wayne Thompson and Kathleen LlewellynThe following article, written by Wayne Thompson and Kathleen Llewellyn, appeared on an internal communications site for Wells Fargo team members. We are pleased to share this remarkable story on GBH.

Wayne, a fellow blogger, is in Winston-Salem, N.C., and joined Wells Fargo with the Wachovia merger. He writes for the Corporate Communications team, and his “beats” include Banking, Marketing, Brokerage and Retirement, and many other Wells Fargo businesses. Kathleen is a Producer within Wells Fargo Creative Services team based in Charlotte, N.C.. She also joined Wells Fargo with the Wachovia merger. (CR)

“Yee-ah, get around here, Chuck,” stagecoach Driver Dan Cramer says as he helps a rookie-in-training adjust to stagecoach life from the bleak solitude of the horse track. “Easy boys, easy, easy.”

Cramer’s directions ripple through the reins to Chuck, who cocks an ear toward Bill, the veteran partner he’s pulling with for the first time. It’s necessary training to join a stagecoach team unlike any other in the Stagecoach Appearance Program—the only one featuring former racehorses.

Formerly harness racers, Chuck and Bill now pull the Wells Fargo stagecoach for Cramer as part of the team that covers the Pacific Northwest.

Cramer rescues as many as 150 horses a year and keeps 15 to work into the stagecoach team. Others go to horse lovers that he knows will care for them as well as he does.

Because the horses are so young—typically only two or three years old—Cramer sees nothing but potential in his rescuees.

“When I get them, their home is in a 12-by-12-foot box stall,” he says. “Sometimes we’ll open up the door to get in and it’ll take two or three of us to get the horse out of there. They really take to the more open spaces, eating grass and the more varied routine that comes with being part of the Wells Fargo team.”

Training time

Dan CramerTo help horses make the adjustment from the race track to parade route, Cramer first pairs the new rescue with a stagecoach veteran, training them on two-horse teams on a practice run. It only takes a glance to determine who’s new as one jerks at the as-yet-unfamiliar sounds and sights of the street. The other doesn’t flinch or miss a stride.

“He’s very nervous right now,” Cramer says of Chuck, spotting approaching traffic and a dog running out of a yard toward the horses. “It looks like he’s gonna get a chance to meet a car for the first time and dogs. You notice the difference in the way they travel, the two horses?” he added, noting the difference between Bill’s natural trot and Chuck’s pacer horse gait from harness racing which he must unlearn through training. “Quite a bit of difference. Here we go, boys, never mind the car. Easy now. Atta boy, Chuck.”

Once Chuck gets the hang of working together with another horse, Cramer will introduce him to the other two horses that make up Wells Fargo’s standard stagecoach team of four. But all in due time.

“To get that new one to team up, pull together, stop, listen and do everything exactly as a team takes a lot of practice runs,” Cramer says of the time-consuming but necessary homework.

Cramer is proud to be part of a company that has fueled not only his passion for the fair and humane treatment of animals but that of so many others.

One example: in 2010 alone, banking store team members provided more than $132,000 to equine and other animal rescue and welfare organizations through the “Community Partners” program—local grants banking stores make in their communities.

Cramer trains rescues (Click for larger image in a new window)“I’ve been able to apply all the training and knowledge that I have, and give these horses a new lease on life,” says Cramer, who joined the Stagecoach Appearance Program in 2007. “It’s been very rewarding to have saved so many horses over the years and represent how Wells Fargo continues to move forward together with its customers.

“When people see these beautiful animals in action, I hope they see what they and Wells Fargo are—a team.”

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One Response to Reins to run: Stagecoach gives former racers new life

  1. DEB SPANHAKE says:

    I bank with Wells Fargo and i am proud to know that wells fargo rescues racehorses and utilizes them for service so that they may still live a life. I just hope and pray that those you have trusted with these beautiful horses will not abuse or neglect them i hope you have strict policies in place to avoid this from happening GOD knows it happens and too much sad stories still exist. Nevetheless Kudos for thinking to help rescue the ones forgotten and toss away.

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