Children running around screaming or crawling around under her belly? You could say that is kid’s stuff for Chrysanthi, an eight-year-old grey mare who was retired from racing after nine starts and now the best buddy of two very young girls.

Anne-Marie Carrier was looking for an energetic jumping horse when she contacted Second Start Thoroughbreds in Fort Erie, Ontario in 2011. An accomplished rider, Carrier had given up a trio of riding horses when she moved to Montreal, QC and started a family, but she missed having a horse.

It didn’t take long to get back in the saddle once Carrier found Second Start on Facebook, a listings service run by Alexis Kacho-Sinke. She was matched up with a recently retired grey four-year-old filly named Chrysanthi who had just made her ninth career start but simply was not fast enough to be successful. Despite seeing only a couple of photos and one video of the daughter of the very fast stallion Button Raise, Carrier had a good feeling about Chrysanthi.

The old grey mare has certainly turned out to be more than Carrier had ever hoped. Chrysanthi is ridden by Carrier’s two daughters: six-year-old Amalia, who has autism, and two-year-old Arabella. It is a remarkable relationship considering the youngsters are fearless around their large playmate, make a lot of noise but can still cuddle up to her at any time.

“I was a little bit scared to bring Amalia around Chrysanthi [at first],” said Carrier. “But the first time they met each other was almost magic. Chrysanthi just smelled Amalia and you knew something special happened. Chrysanthi was curious about her and protective.”

Chrysanthi is patient and gentle with Carrier’s children when she is not living outside and enjoying some gallops around the paddock or trail rides and jumping with her owner.

“During the summer, we train her in jumper and dressage,” said Carrier. “She likes to jump and we vary her training. But every week or two I also go trail riding with her. Mentally, she can’t stay in an arena and round pen for weeks and weeks. She likes to go out and see other things.”

And while Chrysanthi likes to be on the go, much like most retired racehorses she has become an excellent partner and competitor.

“I think thoroughbreds, after they race, are the best horses for people,” said Carrier. “They are very versatile, they can jump, do dressage and be a member of a family. They also are intelligent: they saw everything at an early age so they are de-sensitized to mostly everything. They gave their heart during a race, but now they give their heart to their owner.”

Chrysanthi resides at Riverview Stable, just 10 minutes from Carrier’s home in Laval. She is surrounded by many other horses from grand prix jumpers to other former racehorses.

“She is a significant member of our family, I don’t really consider her a horse. In fact, it really surprised me how Chrysanthi is with children. I couldn’t dream about a better relationship [between] my horse and my daughters.”