A local couple live happily in a Knoxville neighborhood with dogs, a cat, they both have day jobs. They lead pretty normal lives. But a decade ago, that was not the case. At all.
Yancey and Ruthie Carter are down-to-earth folks who love life, each other and their animals. He's a financial planner. She's a pet groomer. Pretty typical stuff.
However, their past includes Arabian horses, the Middle East and a royal family. It all started decades ago when these two were just kids.
"We had ponies out at my grandfather's farm that we used to ride, play cowboys and Indians so I always liked animals," said Yancey Carter.
"I was nine and I had to have a horse so my father said, 'I'll buy you a horse, but you have to ride for a year before I'll buy you a saddle'," explained Ruthie.
They both got into race horse training professionally and ended up at neighboring farms in Delaware.
"I needed a trainer and she was a real good one," said Yancey.
"I'm very good with the horses. He was very good with the people and the interviews so it worked out just beautifully," said Ruthie.
So Yancey and Ruthie teamed up in more ways than one.
"We got married and we had one night in Atlantic City," said Ruthie. "We were back at work at 3:30 the next morning, back training horses."
The Carters were at the top of their game. "Our Arabians actually became top class Arabians. We were running some of the best Arabians in the country," explained Yancey.
And then a phone call. "February of 92' we get a phone call and it was an English guy saying, 'Sheikh Tahnoon would like to speak with you.' And I'm going who's Sheikh Tahnoon?" said Yancey.
He just so happened to be the son of the president of the United Arab Emirates. Yancey and Ruthie started training race horses for the royal brothers. They were so successful, their dad got involved.
Then came another phone call. "The guys would like you to come over to Abu Dhabi and train privately for their father," said Yancey. "So we closed our stable, closed our farm, took our son, took our dogs, took everything and went to the Middle East in the fall of 95'."
They left to live a life of luxury in Abu Dhabi.
"Unlimited funds, unlimited funds, everything was state of the art," says Ruthie. "It was really beautiful. It was beautiful."
They were in charge of training Arabian race horses. "It's sort of like a Jack Russell. It's a small dog, but it's a big dog really in a small body," said Ruthie.
The two were also in charge of turning a piece of property into a whole breeding operation.
"We went from that 19 stalls to I guess we had about 110 boxes at that stable when we finished. There were three different units. We had a canteen, dormitory, full-on stores and we had a clinic there with breeding facilities," said Yancey.
The horses were top-notch in racing. "We were very successful. We won about every one of the big races you can win over there," said Yancey.
However, after ten years, it was time to come home.
"It wasn't America. There's nothing like home. So, I mean I was ready to come home," explained Ruthie.
And it is good to be here in East Tennessee. "I was in the grocery store and I'm sure it was the little Butler and Bailey down here and I sneezed and everyone from the cashier to the butcher, 'Oh darling bless you.' I just thought I don't know I got goosebumps. It's just a very caring country. It's the greatest country in the world," said Ruthie.
Yancey and Ruthie Carter, world famous horse trainers who left all the glitz and glamour overseas to settle in here at home. And they have.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.