How A Horse and His Caretaker’s Strong Bond Helped Them Overcome Life’s Challenges

Donnie MacAdams / Facebook

Waco Hanover was a horse that outlived most of his kind, but it was not just luck that got him there. Many believed it was because of his strong bond with a devoted friend and caretaker, Donnie MacAdams.

Every morning, Donnie would wake up to feed the horses owned by Everett Kettler, but there was one horse that always received special attention – Waco.

News reporters who showed up to ask Donnie about his relationship with the horse would watch him shout out to the horse, “Waco! How ya doing? Want your grain?” And it was clear to see that the two shared a unique connection.

Waco was a retired harness racer, living out his days on a farm in the Green Mountains of Vermont. He was not the fastest of horses, but he somehow managed to outlive most of the other horses.

Life expectancy for a horse is about 25 years and Waco was 40 years old at the time reporters showed up to film him and ask Donnie questions.

Just so you know, 40 horse years is the equivalent of about 120 people years, so yes, as you can see, Waco was living well beyond the norm.

Many believed that Donnie was a huge part of Waco’s longevity. Donnie lived in an apartment above the barn, so he was not only the caretaker but also a roommate. However, he was most importantly Waco’s best friend.

Donnie explained to news reporters that he himself personally was not a warm and cuddly guy, and neither was Waco, and both of them were just fine with that.

“He’s a cranky old SOB,” Donnie told CBS Sunday Morning, “just like I am.”

When Donnie moved into the apartment back in 2008, Waco was barely eating at all. Donnie thought he was sick, but it turned out he was just lonely.

He said, “I just talked to him one day for about a half an hour, and got him to accept the fact that I ain’t goin’ anywhere, I’m your buddy. It’s been going on now for eight years.”

The conversations continued over the years and the bond between them grew so strong that eventually, Waco ended up returning the favor to Donnie.

You see, Donnie worked at an information center where it had him dealing with people, which was not exactly his thing and would sometimes get him feeling down about life. However, at the end of the day, Waco was there for him.

“There were times in the wintertime when I’d walk into the barn, walk down there, just lean on the stall front,” Donnie explained. “He would put his head on my shoulder and just chew, just chew, and just calm me down.”

Even after Donnie had a heart attack, when he felt like he would never recover, Waco was also there for him to cheer him up and keep him company.

The friendship between the 40-year-old horse and 58-year-old man was so inspirational that The CBS Sunday Morning Show featured their story in an interview video you can watch on YouTube.

Watch The Interview Video With Donnie & Waco Below

Sadly, a couple of years after the interview video was filmed, Waco finally passed away at the ripe old age of 42 years old, leaving behind a legacy of tenacity and devotion. Rest in peace Waco, your relationship with Donnie was an inspiration to us all.