I was lucky enough to go along for the ride this year with Neigh Savers Foundation to the Retired Racehorse Project‘s Thoroughbred Makeover at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, KY. This event brought together hundreds of OTTBs, their owners, trainers and fans from all over the country to compete for $100,000 in prize money. Each horse had less than a year of under saddle training and competed in a number of disciplines: barrel racing, competitive trails, dressage, eventing, field hunters, freestyle, polo, show hunters, show jumpers, and working ranch. Vendors, seminars, and training demonstrations filled in any time not spent watching the OTTBs compete in their individual events. It is a large and ambitious show for an event that has only been run since 2013. We cannot wait to see what it becomes in another 5 years time.
This was Neigh Savers’ first year participating in the show. They took a horse they had rehabbed from injury, placed him with Northern California trainer Sigourney Jellins and watched the magic happen. Oso Smart was a bit behind schedule compared with many of his fellow competitors. While others were able to start January 1 (with 15 off-track rides allowed before that date), Oso had to wait until March for his first ride off track and didn’t go to his first show until September. He went from rehab to green to attending a huge show in 8 months. Pretty impressive if you ask me. While Oso didn’t walk home with any awards (other than The Cutest Horse…I gave him that award), he showed some real promise in dressage and was one of the lucky ones to go home with a new owner after the show. We wish Oso lots of luck with his new mom and her Paralympic dreams. He has the talent and brain to get her there.
Besides Oso, I had the pleasure of watching a few really special horses compete. One of those was Dancing Commander (who caught my eye during warm ups) ridden by Emily Brollier (sponsored by our friends at Enter at A). They finished in 3rd place overall in dressage out of 60 horses. We also greatly enjoyed watching the 3 year old filly Greeley’s Magic pull out a top notch Show Hunter performance under Tyler Weith. She looked like she had been showing hunters for years and never batted an eyelash. Carajillo and Junior rider Isabella de Sousa won the Jumping class. Carajillo looks like one to watch out for and was purchased by Bernie Traurig. Russell Littlefield’s Trick Roper (winner of the Working Ranch division) had many tongues wagging and he went home with Grand Prix dressage rider Yvonne Barteau. Other horses catching my eye at the event were Dad’s Glad with rider Elizabeth Firth, Stauffenberg with rider Erika Campbell, and Streakin Easy with rider Dorothy Crowell.
There was plenty of good shopping and I was excited to meet Claire Painter of Clever With Leather and will be bringing you not only a Company Spotlight, but a review as well! I was also excited to meet Lisa Spillman of TheraPlate, artist Julie Rizzi of 16.3 Stemware, Bethany Padgett of Equiderma and Loriece Boatright of Loriece and I will be bringing you future articles or reviews on some of these companies as well.
Of the training demos we watched on Sunday, my favorites were the Freestyle with Tik Maynard and Mr. Pleasantree (this horse looks like a real character), Polo with Charles Muldoon (how is this the only time I’ve seen polo in person? I want to take a lesson!), and the legendary Wise Dan (how could I not be thrilled to see the two time Horse of the Year again).
I loved seeing riders, trainers, spectators and horses gather together from across the country to celebrate the almighty Thoroughbred. This show goes a long way in helping to increase the value and public education on these awesome horses. I cannot wait to go again next year! Neigh Savers wants to take two horses next year! If you want to donate towards that project, you can visit their website here and note that your donation goes towards the RRP TB Makeover 2017!