A Tribute to Those Who Got Us Here, by Holly Hudspeth



Be sure to check out Holly’s new website and fun blog.  Thanks for writing this Holly and thank you for reading.


“When you call upon a Thoroughbred, he gives you all the speed, strength of heart and sinew in him. When you call on a jackass, he kicks…” Patricia Neal 1926
As a rider who has jumped around Fair Hill on multiple horses, I know how secretly taxing the cross country can be. So when I saw the top 3 finishers were OTTB’s, I was not surprised. Fair Hill is known to be a proper endurance course, with it’s gradual, yet long hills, that many underestimate. Then on Sunday, the horses are required to bounce back, and show jump a tough track. Fair Hill is one event that does not allow for half hearted thinking or an empty gas tank. It is obvious from the weekend, the Tb’s prevailed.
It is no secret my favorite breed is the Thoroughbred. My first advanced horse, Waj Mirage, who went on to a top 20 finish at The Rolex *** in 1999, was a $1000 horse off the Canterbury racetrack in Minnesota. My dressage stunk, mostly because I was not accurate, and could not come close to doing a half pass let alone a flying lead change. But what was amazing was Waz’s ability to coast around the cross country, allowing me to make one mistake after another and NEVER losing one ounce of heart. He allowed me to miss in the the show jumping, always looking for the next jump. Looking back now, I had no idea how lucky I was to be sitting on such an honest and brave horse, with the greatest work ethic. That year at Rolex I had 3 rails down after a double clear on the cross country, and know now it was because I never conditioned him properly. Yet he kept jumping, giving me the weekend of a lifetime. At that point in my life, I only knew Rolex through pictures in magazines!
With a shift in Eventing the past few years, people seem to be moving away from the full Thoroughbred. What makes the Tb so brilliant on the cross country and in show jumping, makes them tough in dressage. Liza Horan and I were talking recently about what our ideal 3 or 4 star event horse would be. We both agreed that hands down, a full Tb was the way to go on the cross country for many reasons. But we also agreed that the dressage was much tougher! We then were thinking about all the amazing full Thoroughbred horses that gave many riders their first experience at the advanced level. And what is so thrilling, is that not only did these horses pilot their riders around advanced, many went on to compete at Rolex, Badminton, Burghley, World Equestrian Games, the Olympics, and more. It is clear that these horses stepped up to the plate, even if their riders were a bit green.
So what is the answer to the perfect event horse? Everyone is still working on it. Movement and ride ability in the dressage are a must, no one discredits that. But so is generosity, heart, and stamina. I think the trick is to find a Tb with all of it’s natural amazing qualities, and a good brain and movement in the dressage. I have compiled a list of all the fabulous full Tb horses who gave their jockeys rides of a lifetime, and helped to launch their careers. Without these true and honest athletes who allowed us to make mistakes without punishing in return, who knows where we would all be today.
So thank you to the Thoroughbred horse, we could not have done it without you!
Buck Davidson-Trans Am A Flirt
Kim Severson-Over The Limit
Lainey Ashker-Eight St. James Place
Karen O’Connor-March Brown
Hawley Bennett-Livingstone
Phillip Dutton-True Blue Girdwood
Liza Horan-Baystreet
Holly Hudspeth-Waj Mirage
Dorothy Trapp-Molokai
Boyd Martin-True Blue Toozac
Sharon White-Ready About
Becky Holder-Highland Hogan
Jessica Hampf-High Society
Lynn Symansky-No It Tissant
Bobby Costello-Class Action
Will Faudree-Antigua
Hanna Sue Barnett-Keep The Faith
Mark Weissbecker-Best Seller
Jan Byyny-Out Of The Park

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