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Jon Holling

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Jon Holling’s OTTB Blog: Ragtime Rebel on the Road

EN is delighted to follow Jon Holling’s blog chronicling his journey with upper-level prospect Ragtime Rebel, a 5-year-old OTTB gelding he found through the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center. Ragtime Rebel (Union Rags X A.P. Elegance, by A.P. Indy) is Kentucky-bred and last raced in April 2018. Click here for his Equibase profile, and here for previous posts. Take it away, Jon!

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

Hello everyone, it’s been a while since my last update on Rebel. Since last time Rebel has gone out to compete at two recognized horse trials and one cross country derby.

On August 31st weekend Rebel went on his first long distance trip to an event when we headed up to Chattahoochee Hills in Atlanta. While this is a regular stop on our calendar it was a big deal for 5-year-old Rebel. He was wide eyed a few times, but he really stepped up and put in a great performance to finish in second place. The cross country was tough enough for him, and I did discover one small detail at this event. Occasionally when Rebel gets worried about something on course I will have to touch him with the whip or at a minimum put my leg on hard and drive him up to the jump. Fair enough, he’s just five. The problem is that he takes that encouragement to a whole different level the rest of the way around the course. More on that later… 

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

Two weeks after Chatt Hills I decided to take Rebel to Barnstaple here in Ocala. My friends Derek Strine and Mark McCleary where having a cross country derby that sounded like a fun and educational time. In the warmup Rebel had a hard look at a shark’s tooth jump so I tapped him off the ground with the stick. Well like I said before, he took this as a personal insult and spent the rest of the day ripping my arms out of their sockets. In truth he was really good on course, just a little overly motivated.

After this the next stop for Rebel was the following weekend at the Florida Horse Park. Rebel was entered in what we hoped would be his last Novice before moving up a level to Training. The dressage was pretty good other than one moment where he thought he saw a horse killing butterfly and needed to whack it out of the air with his front feet. Despite this display of athleticism he finished that phase on a respectable 30. The show jumping was, if I am being honest, superb. Again, he did have one moment after fence two where he may have prematurely celebrated his absolute domination of the second phase of competition, but all in all it was a great round.

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

Then came the big moment. The cross country was a good fair track that asked all of the question you would want a horse to answer before moving up. He jumped every fence like an absolute champ, but here’s the thing. Twice on course as Rebel left a jump, following some extra encouragement from his jockey, he grabbed the reins and pulled me over my stirrups and made me lose my balance. Now I am not saying I am the strongest guy in the world, but I am pretty fit. I work out regularly and have been competing for a long time. So when I say a horse can pull me out of balance it’s for real. He is one STRONG horse. After he successfully pitched me forward he would then lower his entire body two to three inches and proceed to TRY to take off like he was breezing at the track. Both times I was able to get myself put back together and laugh at him as we slowed down, but seriously I don’t know how he didn’t win more races. To be fair to Rebel I have to say that he was truly great in all three phases at the Florida Horse Park and he will be moving up in a few weeks time when we head across the state to Rocking Horse.

Producing a young thoroughbred really is fun. You learn a little more about them every time you take them out. I hope you continue to enjoy Rebel’s journey with me. Until next time I hope you all have a great Autumn season and ride well!

Jon Holling’s OTTB Blog: Ragtime Rebel’s Show Jumping Dress Rehearsal

EN is delighted to follow Jon Holling’s blog chronicling his journey with upper-level prospect Ragtime Rebel, a 5-year-old OTTB gelding he found through the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center. Ragtime Rebel (Union Rags X A.P. Elegance, by A.P. Indy) is Kentucky-bred and last raced in April 2018. Click here for his Equibase profile, and here for his introduction post. Take it away, Jon!

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

We are in the count down to Rebel’s next recognized horse trial. He heads out to the Ocala Horse trials on August 17 and 18th. So with that in mind we took Rebel over to jump around at Chris Barnard and Justine Dutton’s Nottinghill jumper show.

It was a great experience for Rebel. His first course was pretty good but he was a little tight and nervous. The great part about taking these young horses like Rebel to the jumper shows is that you can go in and jump multiple rounds. So after his first trip around, Rebel and I patiently waited for our second course. As luck would have it during that break that the neighbors across the street decided it was time to breeze their Thoroughbred on the track.

Poor Rebel hardly knew what to do with himself. The flashback was almost too much for his little 5-year-old self to handle. However, after he was informed that he would not in fact be going out for a race around the track, he actually put in an even better second course. He gave me pretty consistent jumping efforts and tried his hardest to make good shapes over the jumps. I did get one cannonball over the oxer before the double of verticals, and then at the butterflies of doom, just two fences from the finish, we had an unfortunate rail.

All in all I was really pleased with his effort all day. Here is the video from Rebel’s second round. Wish us luck at the Horse Trial!

Jon Holling’s OTTB Blog: The Restarting of Ragtime Rebel

EN is delighted to introduce Jon Holling’s blog chronicling his journey with upper-level prospect Ragtime Rebel, a 5-year-old OTTB gelding he found through the Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center. Ragtime Rebel (Union Rags X A.P. Elegance, by A.P. Indy) is Kentucky-bred and last raced in April 2018. Click here for his Equibase profile. Take it away, Jon!

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

One of the most rewarding things you can do in the sport of eventing is starting your own horses. So with that in mind, I contacted my good friends here at Eventing Nation, and they graciously accepted my offer to write a semi-regular blog on the journey of myself and The Rebel Restart Syndicate’s Ragtime Rebel. Seeing as this is the first installment of the story, I thought it might be best to bring everyone up to speed as to where we are and how we got here.

Last October, my longtime friend Dorothy Crowell called me and asked if I might be interested in becoming a part of her brilliant new idea to pair upper-level riders with top class off-the-track Thoroughbreds. I was initially fairly interested, but the idea of sorting through numerous Thoroughbreds has always been daunting. So when Dorothy told me that she would do the initial work for me and that I could come up and look through a small group of horses that she had handpicked, I was sold.

I jumped in my car as soon as possible and drove to Lexington to meet Dorothy and see the group of horses she had found. Needless to say, when Dorothy Crowell tells you she has found some nice Thoroughbreds, you need to listen. This is, after all, the person who found, produced and competed the great Molokai and Radio Flyer, not to mention the hordes of upper-level horses she found, produced and sold on — the most recent example being Bogue Sound.

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

While looking at the horses with Dorothy, I found one in particular at The Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC) that I felt might be exceptional. His name was Ragtime Rebel, and he seemed to have most of the right things that make a good event horse. He was put together correctly, had a nice uphill build, and was strong with good bone. When I watched him free school, I knew he was the one I had to have. He was smart, he moved well and he figured out how to use his body to work around the jumps. When I sat on him, all it took was feeling his canter to close the deal with me. The walk was good, the trot was decent, but wow — that canter was out of this world.

As is the case with any event horse, I now needed to put together the money to purchase Rebel. So I reached out to some like-minded people and was fortunate enough to put together a syndicate to purchase Rebel. Chuck McGrath, Meghan Richey, Irene Lampton, Page Flournoy, Chris Lies, Alysia Cook, and Brian and Norma Murray make up the “Rebel Restart Syndicate.” We also had help from Kathleen Sullivan to make the initial purchase. Without these people, I could not have gotten this super young horse into the barn, and then I wouldn’t be able to share his story with you. So I thought it was only right to make sure they all got their names mentioned right from the beginning of Rebel’s journey.

Jon Holling and Ragtime Rebel. Photo by Lisa Madren.

Rebel showed up to my farm having been well started under saddle by MMSC. The nice thing about getting a horse through them is that they have some really great trainers who work with the young horses and give them the basics they will need for wherever they end up. So with a good portion of the initial work done, I was able to get down to business with Rebel as soon as he showed up. We spent the first couple of weeks working on basic flat work and letting him get comfortable around the farm. After a few more weeks of jumping, Rebel was able to start cross country schooling. I wouldn’t say he was easiest horse I ever started, but he did take to it relatively quickly.

Since those initial few months, Rebel has competed in one schooling event and one recognized horse trial. He has proven himself to be a very promising young horse. I am not a person that favors one breed of horse over another. I currently have horses in my string that are Dutch, Irish, Zangersheide, Holsteiner, English Thoroughbred, Trakehner and American Thoroughbred. Seeing that this is just the initial installment of Rebel’s story, I am going to leave you with this: I am thrilled that Rebel is one of the members of my string of prospective upper-level event horses. It truly doesn’t matter to me where these horses all came from, but I am happy that he has his chance to be a great event horse. Over the coming years, I hope we all get to be a part of his journey to greatness. I am excited to be a part of it.