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Kristen Kovatch


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Thoroughbred Makeover’s ASPCA Makeover Marketplace Offers One-Stop Sport Horse Shopping

Bethel Wildcat, a 6-year-old 16.1-hand gelding (Discreet Cat x Excess’s Best, by In Excess), is one event prospect being offered for sale through the Marketplace. Since beginning retraining in February 2019, he has has won each of his three schooling events to date, including two horse trials and a jumper derby. Check out his listing here. Photo via

In support of helping more retired racehorses find second careers and new homes as sport horses and recreational mounts, the Retired Racehorse Project is once again facilitating the ASPCA Makeover Marketplace at the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover, October 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park. Made possible by a generous grant from the ASPCA, the Makeover Marketplace is expected to feature over 100 restarted Thoroughbred ex-racehorses ready for the next chapter in a variety of careers.

The Makeover Marketplace has made the Thoroughbred horse shopping experience as easy and enjoyable as possible. All in one venue, buyers can:

  • Watch horses compete in one or two of ten disciplines, including barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, show hunter, show jumper and ranch work.
  • Try horses in a designated trial ring right at the Kentucky Horse Park
  • Vet horses with veterinarians from Hagyard Equine Medical Institute on call all weekend

Recognize this guy? It’s Any Given Royal, a 2009 15.3-hand gelding (Any Given Saturday x Really Royal, by Unreal Zeal) — better known as “George” to our readers from his EN blog updates by owner Jennifer Reisenbichler. He has already been out and about at mini-trials this year, and Jennifer says, ” I would love to see him move up the levels with the right partner, Prelim/CCI2* could very well be in his wheelhouse. I have plans to move him up to Novice and step into recognized competition before the Makeover, so stay tuned for updates!” View his listing here. Photo via

The Makeover Marketplace offers an amazing opportunity to watch, try and vet multiple prospects in one weekend — instead of burning time driving all over the country to chase prospects.

Makeover trainers work hard to prepare their horses for the Thoroughbred Makeover and its big atmosphere: many of the horses offered for sale at the Marketplace will have plenty of off-property and show experience (check out #FieldTripFriday on Retired Racehorse Project social media), and many trainers are documenting every step of their process on social media leading up to the Makeover itself.

“Their racing careers may have ended, but these retirees still have much to offer as they transition into new and varied careers,” said Dr. Emily Weiss, vice president of ASPCA Equine Welfare. “Helping horses transition seamlessly to new careers and safe homes is vital to helping us achieve our goal of ensuring good welfare for all equines, and we are proud to be supporting the Thoroughbred Makeover Marketplace.”

Here’s a chestnut mare we can get behind: Tapanista is a 2015 16.3-hand mare
(K One King x Atlantic Tap, by Stormy Atlantic) whose main main focus has been in the hunters but has shown promise at local horse trials and dressage shows as well. View her listing here. Photo via

Don’t miss out on this opportunity to shop over 100 horses in one weekend: view the online catalog now. Trainers will be continuing to add their horses through July 31st and updating existing ads through the Makeover itself, so check back frequently for new listings and updates. Many trainers will also provide their social media links so you can follow each horse’s individual progress. In August, ride times and stall assignments will be posted so you can find the horses you want to see.

Need a hard copy? Sign up for the Marketplace catalog. The catalog will be printed and mailed in August so you can start planning your trip to Kentucky!

Learn more about the 2019 RPP Thoroughbred Makeover here.

Best of HN: 4 Farm Chores That Are Absolutely The Worst

Photo by Pixabay/CC.

Keeping your horses yourself is essentially one long non-stop chorefest, but there are a few chores that are standouts for being basically the worst things ever. Kristen Kovatch counts down her personal list.

Horses are a lot of work, obviously. But while some of those nonstop chores are therapeutic — mucking stalls is as good as meditation, as far as I’m concerned, and there’s something I find incredibly rewarding about bucking hay every summer, as examples — there are a few that I absolutely, positively do not enjoy every time they come up in the rotation.

These four chores are basically THE worst.

Hanging gates: Look, unless you’re some sort of magician, this job is basically impossible without at least one friend and the patience of saints, plus the upper body strength to casually wiggle a 10- or 12-foot panel by fractions of an inch in the air while someone says “up… no, I meant down… wait… too far… down again… no, a little up… hang on…” If you can make it through without clubbing your friend in the head while they try to dictate how you should be holding up your end, good for you. But even that magical moment when both hinge pins set just so and the whole thing locks into place and swings freely is not enough to make up for that truly excruciating exercise in patience.

Putting sliding doors back on their rollers: Admittedly, this is a chore that can be easily avoided if you can avoid slinging your sliding doors too far or maintaining the little pieces that actually keep the thing from going too far in the first place, but the knuckle-busting process of wrestling a barn door back onto that little roller so you can actually close the barn up for the night goes on the list of “things that make me shriek out loud in abject frustration.”

Cobwebbing: I have yet to find the exact combination of hoodie sweatshirt, hat, safety glasses and bandanna tied bandit-style over my nose and mouth that prevents me from inhaling what I imagine is some terrible concoction of powdered spider webs, dust, hay chaff, dead flies and live spiders (admittedly, my horses don’t live inside, so I also don’t cobweb as frequently as I ought to without that impetus of immediate equine health forcing my hand). If you can cobweb and still look like not a crazy person covered in schmutz when you’re done, please share your secret.

Cleaning drains: This is THE WORST. There is no drain cover yet invented that does not still occasionally allow hay, dirt, partially-dissolved manure balls, extraneous mane or tail hair, mud, small rocks and whatever stuff you hosed off the dog when they came in smelling like death to wash down the drain and inevitably clog up the proceedings, meaning that every now and then you have to slip on a breeder sleeve, knowing full well that that sucker will break anyway in the next two minutes and you might as well just go in bare, and manually fish out all of that junk while getting yourself soaking wet.

What would you put on your personal list? Tell us in the comments section. Go riding!

Best of HN: US Teams Announced for 2019 Regional Maccabi Games

Team USA 2017. All photos courtesy of Entrigue Consulting

This summer, Maccabi USA will be sending a combined delegation of approximately 700 team members to represent the USA delegation at the Pan American Maccabi Games and European Maccabi Games. The Pan Am Games will take place July 5-15 in Mexico City, Mexico and the European Games will take place July 28-August 7 in Budapest, Hungary.

The Games are hosted by the Confederacion Latinoamericana Maccabi (CLAM) and the European Maccabi Confederation, respectively. Both Games are conducted in cooperation with Maccabi World Union and are held every four years, two years after the Maccabiah is held. The Pan American and European Games are a high-level athletic competition for Jewish athletes all over the world aimed at connecting Jews from the Diaspora. Similar to the Olympics, Jewish athletes from all over the world will compete in sports including basketball, tennis, soccer, swimming, fencing, equestrian and more. Maccabi USA is designated by the US Olympic Committee as one of its Multi-Sport Organizations.

Maccabi USA European Games Equestrian Chair Sandra Cohen along with Head Coach Rebecca Cord are pleased to announce the Equestrian Team for the European Games. Cohen was a member of the Open Equestrian team at the 2015 European Maccabi Games in Berlin.

Sandra Cohen at Berlin

Head Coach Cord is the Head Dressage Trainer at Timberlane Equestrian and owner of Rebecca Cord Dressage. The Dressage team members are Kelly Artz of Corona, CA; Rebecca Cord of West Grove, PA; Connor Giesselman of Ocala, FL; and Leah Marks of Atlanta, GA. The jumpers are Carly Dvorkin of Parkland, FL,  Arly Golombek, Detroit Michigan, and Andrea Glazer of Louisville, KY. The team will attend a weeklong training camp hosted by the high-performance dressage farm, Mariakalnok Dressage Center, just 2 hours outside of Budapest. As tradition with the Maccabi Games, riders will “catch ride” horses leased or drawn from a pool, selecting their horses from Hungarian FEI Dressage rider’s Robert Acs and Aniko Losonczy’s stable for the games.

Rebecca Cord

Maccabi USA Pan American Games Equestrian Chair Sloan Barnett along with Head Coach Daniel Bluman are pleased to announce the Equestrian Team for the Pan Am Games.

Head Coach Bluman is a Colombian Israeli Olympic show jumping rider. He represented Colombia at the 2012 and 2016 Summer Olympics, placing 20th individually at the 2012 Games. He has been riding for Israel since 2016 and has competed at the 2010 and 2014 World Equestrian Games as well as two Pan American Games. The athletes are Violet Barnett of San Francisco, CA; Isabel Coxe of Palo Alto, CA; Isabela De Sousa of Lexington, KY; Allison Epstein of Manhasset, NY; Alison Raich of Pacific Palisades, CA; Alexa Schwitzer of Muttontown, NY; Alexis Sokolov of Rancho Santa Fe, CA; and Stella Wasserman of Los Angeles, CA.

The athletes will compete for team and individual medals riding the FEI Challenge Tests and in show jumpng competitions.

Maccabi USA builds Jewish pride through sports, generating the emotional intensity, high ideals, and powerful camaraderie of competition.  Maccabi USA connect athletes, volunteers, and supporters with the global Jewish community.  The athletic, educational, and cultural experiences build Jewish identity, perpetuate Jewish continuity worldwide, and strengthen support for the State of Israel.

About the organization:

Maccabi USA (MUSA) is a federally-recognized not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization with an extensive history of enriching Jewish lives through athletic, cultural and educational programs.  The organization is the official sponsor of the United States Team to the World Maccabiah Games, and the Pan American and European Maccabi Games, as well as a sponsor of the JCC Maccabi Games for teens in North America.  As the official Maccabi representative in the U.S., Maccabi USA supports Jewish athletic endeavors, enhanced by cultural and educational activities in the United States, Israel and throughout the Diaspora.

MUSA develops, promotes and supports international, national and regional athletic-based activities and facilities It strives to provide Jewish athletes all over the world the opportunity to share their heritage and customs in competitive athletic settings. MUSA supports programs that embody the Maccabi ideals of Jewish Continuity, Zionism and Excellence in Sport.  Maccabi USA Builds Jewish Pride Through Sports.

Maccabi USA has been selected by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) as a Multi-Sport Organization (MSO). The nonprofit organization becomes one of 35 MSOs nationwide to be recognized by the USOC for its ability to cultivate a national interest in sport and increase opportunities for participation internationally, nationally and at the grassroots level.

2019 Preakness Stakes Need-to-Know Guide + Field Preview

The 2016 Preakness Stakes. Flickr/Maryland GovPics/CC.

Thirteen horses will be contending for the second jewel of the Triple Crown on Saturday at the 144th running of the Preakness Stakes. While there is no Triple Crown on the line this year, the Preakness could still be a career-shaping race for the thirteen horses who will break from the gate for the black-eyed susans.

All the 2019 Preakness Links You Need: 

Where: Pimlico Race Course, Baltimore, Maryland

When: Saturday, May 18

Post time: 6:48 PM ET

Purse: $1.5 million

Distance: A mile and three sixteenths over dirt

TV: Starting at 2:30 PM ET on NBC Sports Network; moves to NBC at 5 PM

Live stream: NBC Sports Live Extra: pre-race coverage starts at 2:30 PM ET (cable subscription is required)

Stats: For details about each horse, see You can also get a quick preview of the field (and vote in our poll!) by reading our coverage here.

Picks worth pondering: ForbesNew York TimesWashington PostBleacher Report

Online Betting: If you’re looking to up the ante, a variety of online betting sites are at your service. We recommend for ease of use – it has all the bells and whistles for experienced bettors, but it’s simple enough for novices to use as well. is another useful resource. Gamble responsibly.

…plus one you don’t.

The Preakness: Remembering Pimlico infield’s ‘Running of the Urinals’. Because why not. Keep it classy, Preakness.

The Field

Post Position 1: War of Will (4-1)
Bay colt by War Front, bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Gary Barber
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Tyler Gafflione
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Risen Star Stakes and G3 LeComte Stakes, second in the G1 Summer Stakes

War of Will finished seventh in the Kentucky Derby, and was one of the horses affected in the controversial move by Maximum Security.

Post Position 2: Bourbon War (12-1)
Bay colt by Tapit, bred in Kentucky by Conquest Stables
Owned by Bourbon Lane Stable and Lake Star Stable
Trained by Mark A. Hennig
Ridden by Irad Ortiz
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Fountain of Youth

Bourbon War has yet to win a stakes race; his last start was a fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby.

Post Position 3: Warrior’s Charge (12-1)
Dark bay/brown colt by Munnings, bred in Florida by Al Shaquab Racing
Owned by Ten Strike Racing and Madaket Stables
Trained by Brad Cox
Ridden by Javier Castellano
Claims to fame: has never run in a stakes

This is a massive step up in class for Warrior’s Charge, but stranger things have happened… or have they?

Post Position 4: Improbable (5-2)
Chestnut colt by City Zip, bred in Kentucky by St. George Farm LLC & G. Watts Humphrey Jr.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd and Starlight Racing
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Mike Smith
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Los Alamitos CashCall Futurity, second in the G1 Arkansas Derby and G2 Rebel Stakes

Improbable, with his all-star connections (the same combination of trainer, owner and jockey as Justify… just sayin’) is the easy morning line favorite. He finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, becoming officially fourth with the disqualification of Maximum Security.

Post Position 5: Owendale (10-1)
Bay colt by Into Mischief, bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings
Owned by Rupp Racing
Trained by Brad Cox
Ridden by Florent Geroux
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Stonestreet Lexington Stakes

Owendale’s last start was his win in the Stonestreet Lexington Stakes. He is Brad Cox’ second trainee in this race.

Post Position 6: Market King (30-1)
Bay colt by Into Mischief, bred in Kentucky by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Robert Baker and William Mack
Trained by D. Wayne Lukas
Ridden by Jon Kenton Court
Claims to fame: third in the G2 Rebel Stakes

Market King had a disappointing run in his most recent start, the Blue Grass Stakes, while he was a bit stronger in the Rebel Stakes.

Post Position 7: Alwaysmining (8-1)
Dark bay/brown colt, bred in Maryland by Avla Pitts
Owned by Runnymede Racing
Trained by Kelly Rubley
Ridden by Daniel Centeno
Claims to fame: black type stakes winner

Alwaysmining is an accomplished black type stakes winner, with 12 starts and seven wins already under his belt. A win at Pimlico for a Maryland-bred would be a hometown success story.

Post Position 8: Signalman (30-1)
Bay colt by General Quarters, bred in Kentucky by Monticule
Owned by Tommie M. Lewis, Steve Crabtree, Dean Demaree, David Bernsen, Jim Chambers, Magdalena Racing
Trained by Ken McPeek
Ridden by Brian Hernandez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, second in the G1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity, third in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and G2 Blue Grass Stakes

While Signalman doesn’t have the major wins of some of the other contenders, he’s certainly clashed with them before and come away respectably.

Post Position 9: Bodexpress (20-1)
Bay colt by Bodemeister, bred in Kentucky by Martha Jane Mulholland
Owned by Top Racing LLC, Global Thoroughbred, GDS Racing Stable
Trained by Gustavo Delgado
Ridden by John Velazquez
Claims to fame: second in the G1 Florida Derby

Bodexpress finished 13th in the Kentucky Derby, and is back for redemption, looking to improve on his second place in the Florida Derby. He’s never won a race.

Post Position 10: Everfast (50-1)
Bay colt by Take Charge Indy, bred in Kentucky by Extern Developments
Owned by Calumet Farm
Trained by Dale Romans
Ridden by Joel Rosario
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Holy Bull Stakes

Everfast has certainly given stakes races a good shot, but his recent performances have been fairly poor. He’s the long shot.

Post Position 11: Laughing Fox (20-1)
Chestnut colt by Union Rags, bred in Kentucky by Chester and Anne Prince
Owned by Alex and JoAnn Lieblong
Trained by Steve Asmussen
Ridden by Ricardo Santana
Claims to fame: black type stakes winner

Laughing Fox has never placed better than fourth in a graded stakes, but his most recent start was a win in the Oaklawn Invitational.

Post Position 12: Anothertwistafate (6-1)
Dark bay/brown colt by Scat Daddy, bred in Kentucky by Pursuit of Success
Owned by Peter Redekop
Trained by Blaine Wright
Ridden by Jose Ortiz
Claims to fame: second in the G3 Sunland Park Derby and Stonestreet Lexington Stakes

Anothertwistafate did not qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but his recent form has been improving in graded stakes.

Post Position 13: Win Win Win (15-1)
Dark bay/brown colt by Hat Trick, bred in Florida by Live Oak Stud
Owned by Live Oak Plantation
Trained by Michael Trombetta
Ridden by Julian Pimental
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, third in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Win Win Win was a fan favorite for the Kentucky Derby where he finished 10th (placing ninth).

2019 Kentucky Derby Need-to-Know Guide + Field Preview

California Chrome wins the 2014 Kentucky Derby. Flickr/Bill Brine/CC Photo.

Here’s the ultimate quick guide to the 2019 Kentucky Derby field — because as the resident horse person, we know you’ll get grilled at your Derby party for the inside scoop.

“The fastest two minutes in sports” goes off on Saturday, May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, and as always, the field is full of intrigue, favorites and long shots. Headed to a Derby party? Want to fill up on trivia about the 20 horses entered in this year’s race? We’ve got the quick and dirty crib sheet that will give you the rundown on the field — make sure you vote in our poll for who you think will win this year!

If you’re really serious about picking based on workouts and form, click here to watch a playlist of Derby workout videos. Odds listed are morning line as of press time.

All the 2019 Derby Links You Need: 

Where: Churchill Downs, Louisville, Kentucky

When: Saturday, May 4

Post time: 6:50 PM

Purse: $2 million

Distance: One mile and a quarter over dirt

How to watch: NBC will have televised broadcast starting at 2:30 PM EST on race day. Live stream is available via NBC Sports Live Extra, but a cable subscription is required. will stream the race; an account is required.

Stats: For details about each horse, including racing history, pedigree, post position and photos, check out For the quick and dirty guide, check out our field preview (and vote in our poll!)

Picks worth pondering: Washington PostNew York TimesChicago TribuneSports Illustrated

Online betting: If you’re looking to up the ante, a variety of online betting sites are at your service. We recommend for ease of use – it has all the bells and whistles for experienced bettors, but it’s simple enough for novices to use as well. Brisnet.comis another useful resource. Gamble responsibly.

…plus one you don’t.

The Field 


Post Position 1: War of Will (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by War Front bred by Flaxman Holdings Limited
Owned by Gary Barber
Trained by Mark Casse
Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 LeComte Stakes and G2 Risen Star Stakes

War of Will has experience running on both turf and dirt; his sire War Front has developed a reputation for siring great turf runners but if War of Will’s performances in the LeComte and Risen Star are any indicator, he’s certainly not limited to just the grass! War of Will took some strange steps in his most recent performance, a distant ninth in the Louisiana Derby, but the colt seems to be back on form.

Post Position 2: Tax (20-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred gelding by Arch bred by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider
Owned by R. A. Hill Stable, Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Lynch, Hugh and Corms Racing Stable
Trained by Danny Gargan
Ridden by Junior Alvarado
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Withers Stakes, second in the G2 Wood Memorial, third in the G2 Remsen Stakes

Tax showed improvement, moving up from a third in the Remsen to win the Withers Stakes. Aqueduct winners haven’t traditionally fared terribly well in the Kentucky Derby, with most of the recent winners taking southern routes to the first Saturday in May.

Post Position 3: By My Standards (20-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Goldencents bred by Don Ladd
Owned by Allied Racing Stable, LLC
Trained by W. Bret Calhoun
Ridden by Gabriel Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Louisiana Derby

By My Standards was an upset winner in the Louisiana Derby, going off at 22-1. This was the colt’s only stakes race of his career so far, having only broken his maiden one start prior in his fourth career race. Stranger things have happened at the Derby, however — By My Standards might be an interesting pick if he’s peaking at the right time.

Post Position 4: Gray Magician (50-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Graydar bred by Twin Creeks Farm
Owned by Wachtel Stable, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners and Gary Barber
Trained by Peter Miller
Ridden by Drayden Van Dyke
Claims to fame: second in the G2 UAE Derby

The globe-trotting Gray Magician hasn’t won a stakes race in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby, and only broke his maiden in his fourth career start at the end of 2018 at Del Mar. He’s certainly been coast to coast AND to Dubai, but has yet to claim his big score. He’ll be a long shot on Saturday.

Post Position 5: Improbable (6-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by City Zip bred by St. George Farm LLC and G. Watts Humphrey Jr.
Owned by WinStar Farm LLC, China Horse Club International Ltd. and Starlight Racing
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, second in the G2 Rebel Stakes and G1 Arkansas Derby

With Bob Baffert in his corner, plus the same combination of owners as last year’s Triple Crown winner Justify, it’s hard not to see a lot of appeal with Improbable (he even looks a little bit like Justify too, at a glance). The colt had two strong second-place finishes on his road to the Kentucky Derby and if he’s peaked at the right time, he should be a serious contender.

Post Position 6: Vekoma (20-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride (ARG) bred by Alpha Delta Stables, LLC
Owned by R. A. Hill Stable and Gatsas Stables
Trained by George Weaver
Ridden by Javier Castellano
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Toyota Blue Grass Stakes

The lightly-raced Vekoma has never placed lower than third — and his other three races have ended in wins. Whether or not he has the class and depth of experience to take on the rest of a strong field remains to be seen, however.

Post Position 7: Maximum Security (10-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by New Year’s Day bred by Gary and Mary West Stables
Owned by Gary and Mary West
Trained by Jason Servis
Ridden by Luis Saez
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Florida Derby

Maximum Security rocketed to fame quickly: he has a perfect four-for-four record, but made his leap from the claiming ranks to the Florida Derby with shocking ease. Can he keep the streak going in the Kentucky Derby, or will that fairy tale come to an end?

Post Position 8: Tacitus (10-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Tapit bred by Juddmonte Farms Inc
Owned by Juddmonte Farms
Trained by Bill Mott
Ridden by Jose Ortiz
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Tampa Bay Derby and G2 Wood Memorial

Tacitus’ sire Tapit has certainly established himself as a breed shaper in recent years, so many are expecting great things from Tacitus. He’s certainly proven some ability with two wins on the road to the Kentucky Derby both in Florida and in New York, and with favorite Omaha Beach out of the running, Tacitus’ stock is rising.

Post Position 9: Plus Que Parfait (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred ridgeling by Point of Entry bred by Calloway Stables, LLC
Owned by Imperial Racing, LLC
Trained by Brendan Walsh
Ridden by Ricardo Santana Jr.
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 UAE Derby, second in the Fleur de Lis

With limited data to compare, it’s hard to say how UAE Derby winners traditionally fare in the Kentucky Derby with only Mendelssohn to go on — but Plus Que Parfait certainly had great success in Dubai for Derby first-time trainer Brendan Walsh. He’s certainly an interesting long shot.

Post Position 10: Cutting Humor (30-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred colt by First Samurai bred by Dell Hancock and Bernie Sams
Owned by Starlight Racing
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Corey J. Lanerie
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Sunland Park Derby

Cutting Humor does have a stakes victory to his name and the likes of Todd Pletcher on his side. Still, the Kentucky Derby seems like a tall order for this colt who will have his work cut out for him.

Post Position 11: Haikal (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Daaher bred by Shadwell Farm, LLC
Owned by Shadwell Stables
Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin
Ridden by Rajiv Maragh
Claims to fame: winner of the G3 Gotham Stakes and third in the G2 Wood Memorial

Haikal has certainly looked the part in his stakes races at Aqueduct, though the Derby will be his first start outside of his home track. He’s never finished worse than third.

Post Position 12: Omaha Beach

Post Position 13: Code of Honor (15-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Noble Mission bred by W. S. Farish
Owned by W. S. Farish
Trained by Claude R. McGaughey III
Ridden by John Velazquez
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes, second in the G1 Champagne Stakes, third in the Florida Derby

Code of Honor has certainly sparkled in the past, but doesn’t look like the most consistent entry. If the winning form of Code of Honor shows up on Derby Day, he may be a contender.

Post Position 14: Win Win Win (15-1)
Dark bay Florida-bred colt by Hat Trick (JPN) bred by Live Oak Stud
Owned by Live Oak Plantation
Trained by Michael J. Trombetta
Ridden by Julian Pimentel
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes, third in the G2 Tampa Bay Derby

Win Win Win has never placed lower than third in his racing career, which includes two graded stakes as well as a listed and a black type. He hasn’t won a graded stakes race and the Derby field may be a tall order.

Post Position 15: Master Fencer (50-1)
Chestnut Japan-bred colt by Just A Way (JPN) bred by Katsumi Yoshizawa
Owned by Katsumi Yoshizawa
Trained by Koichi Tsunoda
Ridden by Julien Leparoux
Claims to fame: Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby

Master Fencer is the Japanese qualifier for the Kentucky Derby, and while he has his work cut out for him to be considered a serious contender, his presence in the field is a positive sign for Japanese racing.

Post Position 16: Game Winner (9-2)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Candy Ride (ARG) bred by Summer Wind Equine
Owned by Gary and Mary West
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Joel Rosario
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 American Pharoah Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby and G2 Rebel Stakes

The champion two-year-old colt has now been named the favorite after the scratch of Omaha Beach: he was undefeated as a juvenile, and finished a strong second in both of his 2019 starts. With Bob Baffert in his corner, he’s an easy pick as favorite.

Post Position 17: Roadster (6-1)
Gray Kentucky-bred colt by Quality Road bred by Stone Farm
Owned by Speedway Stable LLC
Trained by Bob Baffert
Ridden by Florent Geroux
Claims to fame: winner of the G1 Santa Anita Derby

The Santa Anita Derby has been a stepping stone en route to winning the Kentucky Derby for many recent stars, and Roadster is a strong candidate to follow in those footsteps with all-star connections.

Post Position 18: Long Range Toddy (30-1)
Dark bay Kentucky-bred colt by Take Charge Indy bred by Willis Horton Racing LLC
Owned by Willis Horton Racing LLC
Trained by Steven Asmussen
Ridden by Jon Court
Claims to fame: winner of the G2 Rebel Stakes, third in the G3 Southwest Stakes

Long Range Toddy put himself on the Derby map with his gritty victory in one split of the Rebel Stakes, defeating some key favorites. Whether or not he peaks at the right time remains to be seen.

Post Position 19: Spinoff (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Hard Spun bred by Wertheimer et Frere
Owned by Wertheimer et Frere
Trained by Todd Pletcher
Ridden by Manny Franco
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Louisiana Derby

The lightly-raced Spinoff has never placed below third, but he’s never won a graded stake. The Kentucky Derby would be a huge race for this colt.

Post Position 20: Country House (30-1)
Chestnut Kentucky-bred colt by Lookin At Lucky bred by J. V. Shields Jr.
Owned by Shields, Jr., Mrs. J. V., McFadden, Jr., E. J. M. and LNJ Foxwoods
Trained by Bill Mott
Ridden by Flavien Prat
Claims to fame: second in the G2 Risen Star Stakes and third in the G1 Arkansas Derby

It took Country House three attempts to break his maiden, but he then broke into graded stakes company and ran competitively. He’s still a long shot to win, but he may be a contender.

Post Position 21: Bodexpress (30-1)
Bay Kentucky-bred colt by Bodemeister bred by Martha Jane Mulholland
Owned by Top Racing, LLC, Global Thoroughbred and GDS Racing Stable
Trained by Gustavo Delgado
Ridden by Chris Landeros
Claims to fame: second in the G1 Florida Derby

Bodexpress is winless in five starts — could he finally break his maiden in the biggest race in the nation? That would be quite a feat… but by drawing into the Derby thanks to Omaha Beach’s scratch, Bodexpress has already surpassed expectations.

The Thoroughbreds of the 2019 Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event

The Thoroughbred has long been revered as the ultimate horse for the sport of three-day eventing, so it’s no surprise that 12 entries in this year’s Land Rover Kentucky Three-Day Event chose them as their competitive partners.

The Retired Racehorse Project is again teaming up with Eventing Nation to tell you all you need to know about the Thoroughbreds who will be galloping across the rolling terrain at the Kentucky Horse Park the last weekend in April!

Horses being horses, we expect the list of entrants to change right up until the competition starts. We’ll indicate below when particular horses have scratched, and will keep this article up-to-date with the most current numbers we have.

TB stats 4 16Stats as of 4/16/19.

Of interest this year is that all 12 Thoroughbred starters were bred for racing, and seven of those horses did start on the track. Two were winners — Jessica Phoenix‘s mount Bogue Sound and Chris Talley‘s Unmarked Bills. In total, this year’s Thoroughbreds combined ran a total of 78 starts with earnings of $91,783. Unmarked Bills was the most successful of these, earning $67,250 with three wins in 24 starts.

The oldest Thoroughbred competing is Sound Prospect at age 17. (Update: Sound Prospect has since been withdrawn.) The youngest Thoroughbred is Unmarked Bills at age 10.

If you’ll be at the event, make sure to stop by the RRP booth #130 on the floor of the covered arena to pick up an order of go for the Thoroughbreds, and some logo wear to show your OTTB pride. You can find all of the Thoroughbred-centric activities going on throughout the weekend by clicking here.

If you’ll be following the action from home, bookmark Eventing Nation’s Land Rover Kentucky coverage for great photos and up to the minute coverage of everything going on at the Horse Park! We’ve also included links to the riders’ social media pages at the end of their horses’ bios below — just click on the Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter icons.

Read our previous years’ summaries of the OTTBs competing in Kentucky (note that not all of the horses profiled in the articles actually started the event):

2012 / 2013 / 2014 / 2015 / 2016 / 2017 / 2018


We’ll have a downloadable order of go as soon as ride times are published.

Jessica Phoenix and Bogue SoundJessica Phoenix and Bogue Sound. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

BOGUE SOUND (Jessica Phoenix, CAN)
Amara Hoppner
Breeding: 2007 gelding by Crafty Shaw (Crafty Prospector) out of Carolina Blue (Victory Gallop)
Racing name: Bogue Sound (KY)
Racing record: 7 starts (1-1-1), $11,358
Breeder: James M. Herbener Jr.

When Bogue Sound, or “Bogie” as he’s called in the barn, sets foot back on the bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park, it’ll be a full-circle journey for the gelding: one of the photos that Jessica Phoenix first saw of Bogue Sound was the horse hacking out in a group at the park. Bogue Sound was originally owned and restarted by Sharon Shepard, a trainer in the Lexington, Kentucky area; Shepard sold the horse to Dorothy Crowell.

Crowell, herself an international event rider, knows a thing or two about off-track Thoroughbreds: her partnership with the legendary Molokai (JC: Surf Scene) included top-10 finishes at Badminton, Burghley and Kentucky, plus an individual silver medal at the 1994 World Equestrian Games. Crowell was also accepted as a 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover trainer.

“Bogue is one of those rare horses who has a caretaker personality,” Crowell details. “I would have thought he’d make an amazing horse for an amateur. And it wasn’t until one of the last jump schools before I sold him, I felt what he had. I looked at my husband and said ‘I think we’re wrong … this horse can really jump!'”

Bogue Sound ran in the maiden claiming ranks for his entire race career, retiring upon finally breaking his maiden. Crowell acquired Bogue Sound when the horse’s racing career was over and competed the horse through Training level. Amara Hoppner, who trained with Phoenix as a young rider, purchased the horse from Crowell and produced him to the 1* level. When Hoppner made a permanent switch to competing in the jumpers, Phoenix took over the ride on Bogue Sound.

“He has an insanely awesome jump,” Phoenix shares. “His forte is definitely cross country: he has an easy gallop and a consistent performance. He’s truly a joy to ride cross country; you cannot sit on a better jumping horse.”

Bogue Sound will be contesting the first 5* of his career in Kentucky. So far in 2019, the pair placed seventh in the Intermediate at Ocala Winter I, sixth in the Advanced at Red Hills International, and twelfth in the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills. As the horse returns “home” to Kentucky, one thing’s for sure — he’ll have a big local cheering squad from the Shepard and Crowell barns!

Pinney number: 43

Final score:

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Daniela Moguel and Cecelia MEX2Daniela Moguel and Cecelia. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

CECELIA (Daniela Moguel, MEX)
Owners: Esperaza Alzola Navarro and Laura Margarita Henriquez Ripoll
Breeding: 2003 mare by Connecticut (Ogygian) out of Penny Stock (Spend A Buck)
Racing name: Constock (IA)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Timber Creek Farm

Daniela Moguel and Cecelia are back for their third run at Kentucky; the pair’s best finish to date was their Kentucky debut in 2016 where they finished 28th with no cross-country penalties. Moguel has the distinction of being the first rider to ever represent Mexico at Kentucky, which she’s done without any financial support from her national federation.

Cecelia is an unraced Iowa-bred who was campaigned through the then-three-star level with Leslie Chelstrom Lamb when Moguel’s supporters purchased the horse in 2014. Coached by Karen O’Connor (a poster of whom inspired Moguel at age 13 to be an eventer!), Moguel and Cecelia have enjoyed success at the upper levels, most recently at the CCI4*-S finishing 17th and 14th at Red Hills International and the Fork at Tryon, respectively. In addition to being the first pair to represent Mexico at Kentucky, they were also the first pair to represent Mexcio in eventing at a World Equestrian Games; the pair finished 44th in 2018 in Tryon.

Cecelia earned the Best Thoroughbred Mare award at Fair Hill 4* in 2017, and Moguel credits her blood with the partnership’s success. “I can’t count the number of times I’ve walked a cross-country course and said to myself, ‘I’m so happy I have a Thoroughbred.’ There’s no better feeling on cross-country than being on a Thoroughbred.”

Pinney number: 20

Final score:

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Marcelo Tosi and Glenfly (BRA). Photo by Leslie Threlkeld.

GLENFLY (Marcelo Tosi, BRA)
Owner: rider
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Presenting (Mtoto) out of Dorans Glen (Over the River)
Racing name: Glenfly (IRE)
Racing record: 9 starts (0-0-0), $0
Breeder: R. Ryan

Sired by Presenting, the Irish-based leading National Hunt stallion, Glenfly failed to live up to likely expectations of greatness in jump racing: given nine starts over three years, he never placed in the money. Less than 18 months years after retiring from England’s hurdle tracks, however, Glenfly was making his CCI2*-S debut in 2013 under Marcelo Tosi, a professional originally from Brazil operating out of the UK.

Through the end of 2014, the partnership continued to compete at the CCI2* and 3* level; Tosi relocated back to his native Brazil by the start of the 2015 season. In August of 2015, they tackled the test event for the looming 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, finishing third overall with one of only two double-clear cross country rounds.

Named to Brazil’s World Equestrian Games eventing team, Tosi and Glenfly took their first trip to the U.S. in 2018, where they completed the cross country with only time penalties; ultimately, the pair finished 53rd.

Tosi and Glenfly have won five events in Brazil at the 3* and 4* level. This will be their first attempt at a 5* track and first trip to Kentucky, representing the continued growth of Brazilian eventing.

Pinney number: 32

Final score:


Andrea BaxterAndrea Baxter and Indy 500. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

INDY 500 (Andrea Baxter, USA)
Owner: rider
Breeding: 2005 mare by Cromwell (A.P. Indy) out of Tensofthousands (Spend A Buck)
Racing name: My Gifted Indyanna (CA)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Clyde and Colleen Hunsaker

Some 5* stories have unlikely beginnings, and “Indy’s” route to Kentucky is certainly a winding road: unraced, due to to the liquidation of her breeding farm when she was a weanling, Indy was purchased by Linda Miller and subsequently passed over as a retraining prospect by Andrea Baxter twice. The third time proved to be the charm: Baxter took Indy on as a resale project when the mare was four when her primary horse was sidelined with injury.

Baxter competed Indy 500 through Training, opting to breed her in 2010 to the Holsteiner stallion Linaro. (Baxter’s family operates Twin Rivers Ranch in Paso Robles, CA, a competition venue and a training, lesson and breeding program: all of her horses have been either homebreds or off-track Thoroughbreds.) The resulting offspring, named Laguna Seca, has competed through Preliminary with Tamie Smith. While Laguna Seca is developing into a talented athlete, Indy didn’t display a lot of love for motherhood, so she returned to the competition string. From that point on, it was onward and upward, moving through the levels on the West Coast.

Baxter and Indy have made the long haul from California to Kentucky twice: they finished 35th in 2017 and 31st in 2018. They also completed Burghley in 2018, finishing 36th. This year, the pair placed fifth at the CCI4*-S at Galway Downs.

Pinney number: 38

Final score:


Buck Davidson and Jak My StyleBuck Davidson and Jak My Style. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

JAK MY STYLE (Buck Davidson, USA)
Owner: Kathleen Cuca
Breeding: 2005 Thoroughbred
Racing name: unregistered
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: unknown

If there was ever a rags-to-riches story of a horse with so many unknowns in his history making it to the upper levels of the sport, that story is embodied in Jak My Style.

What we do know about “Jak’s” background is that he was bred to race: never tattooed or registered, the gelding did enter training but notoriously dumped most of his riders. An estate sale broke up the entire farm in New Jersey, and the 3-year-old Jak, without papers, was purchased by a local family with intentions of training him in hunters and jumpers.

57277923 2234322200153146 157742921737568256 nJak My Style with Matthew Bryner. Photo courtesy of Matthew Bryner.

“He was pretty naughty,” laughs Matthew Bryner. “He was not cut out to be a hunter.” Bryner, who operated out of a nearby farm to where Jak lived, took the horse on as a 7-year-old  — but Jak had other plans, regularly jumping the four-board fence to gallop back home. While the horse was clearly blessed with natural talent, it took a little bit of time for Bryner to work through his quirks.

But once he and Jak had reached an understanding — Bryner shares that at one point he whispered in the horse’s ear “you could make it to Kentucky if you stop trying to dump me” — it was as though a switch had been flipped. The combination competed through Advanced and CCI3*-S before Bryner made the decision to offer the horse for sale. He was purchased by Kathleen Cuca, with Justine Dutton taking over the ride. Dutton and Jak competed through CCI4*-L before suffering a rotational fall: Jak was unhurt, but Dutton was sent to the ICU.

Buck Davidson then took over the ride and piloted Jak to top-10 finishes at CCI4*-S and CCI4*-L. An injury sidelined Jak for much of 2018, but the combination came back with a vengeance in 2019: they placed ninth in the Open Preliminary at Rocking Horse, 17th in the Open Intermediate at Ocala Winter Horse Trials, seventh in the Advanced at Carolina International and most recently won the Advanced at Chattahoochee Hills.

Buck Davidson has an appreciation for Thoroughbreds himself. “Thoroughbreds are so smart and willing and trainable. If you can explain things to them and encourage them, then they’ll do anything for you.”

Jak My Style may have no bigger fan in the crowd at Kentucky than Bryner, who credits the horse with opening many doors for him as a horseman. For a horse with such an obscure beginning, Jak’s story is a fairy tale indeed.

Pinney number: 28

Final score:

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Joe Meyer and Johnny RoyaleJoe Meyer and Johnny Royale. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: Team Johnny Syndicate
Breeding: 2008 gelding by the New Zealand stallion His Royal Highness (Grosvenor) out of the New Zealand mare Chivaney (Tights)
Racing name: Chivas Royale (NZ)
Racing record: 8 starts (0-0-0), $170
Breeder: John Wheeler

A minor injury and a little bad luck prevented this New Zealand-bred from competing last year, but one year later the Team Johnny Syndicate’s Johnny Royale is poised to make his CCI5* debut at Kentucky. As a “New Zealand ten-year-old,” Johnny Royale’s career is really just beginning.

Originally purchased by investors as an Sdvanced prospect with the intent to resell, Johnny Royale quickly proved to Joe Meyer that he was the real deal; the investors provided the opportunity to syndicate and keep the horse. After withdrawing from Kentucky last April, the pair had an outstanding fall season, capped with a fourth-place finish at the Ocala Jockey Club in November. This spring, they’ve placed top ten in three of their four outings, including the Intermediate at Rocking Horse I &II H.T. and the CCI4*-S at Red Hills International.

Johnny Royale was originally brought to the UK by Lizzie Green after a racing career of eight starts and just $170 in earnings; the pair competed through Novice (the UK equivalent of Preliminary) before he was purchased by Meyer in 2015 and brought to the U.S. When asked what made Johnny Royale a special horse, Meyer quipped, “he’s a New Zealander, and so am I!”

More seriously, Meyer describes Johnny as “comfortable”: “I’ve ridden horses similar to him a lot. I knew he had weaknesses, of course, but I was comfortable on him, with his fast gallop and his scopey jump.”

The Thoroughbred is the perfect horse for the job, as far as Meyer is concerned: “I’d rather ride a Thoroughbred than any of the other horses that are a bit more warmblooded. At the end of cross country, you can just shake the reins at a Thoroughbred and they’ll find another gear.”

Pinney number: 15

Final score:

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Paddy the CaddyErin Sylvester and Paddy the Caddy. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

PADDY THE CADDY (Erin Sylvester, USA)
Owner: Frank McEntee
Breeding: 2007 gelding by the Irish stallion Azamour (Night Shift) out of Slamy (Grand Slam)
Racing name: Paddy the Caddy (IRE)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Frank McEntee & David O’Reilly

The stars never really aligned for Paddy the Caddy to become a racehorse: bred and started in Ireland, “Paddy” was too small to be a yearling sales prospect. Owner Frank McEntee shipped him to the U.S. to train under Graham Motion, but little things prevented the horse from ever making his first start — though he did mark four timed workouts in 2010 and 2011. McEntee finally took the horse home and turned him out. Coincidentally, McEntee’s daughter was taking lessons from eventer Erin Sylvester, so after six months, he asked Sylvester if she could restart the horse and get him quiet enough to make a riding prospect for his daughter.

After two months, Sylvester called McEntee with a new plan: turn Paddy into an eventing horse. McEntee drove all the way to the horse’s debut event just in time to see him drop the first three rails in show jumping — but fortunately, there was nowhere to go but up, and under careful and patient management by Sylvester with plenty of guidance from trainers including Boyd and Silva Martin, Phillip Dutton and Michael Matz, Paddy slowly worked his way up the levels.

2017 was a breakout year for Sylvester and Paddy, including a win at the CCI4*-L at Rebecca Farm in Kalispell, Montana, as well as a third place finish at the Fair Hill CCI4*-L in Maryland. In 2018, Paddy made his rookie debut at Kentucky, finishing clear and within the time on cross country despite losing a shoe partway through the course. That lost shoe would come back to haunt the pair the following morning when Paddy did not pass the final veterinary inspection prior to show jumping.

Sylvester and Paddy finished second at Bromont in the CCI3*-S and second in the Ocala Jockey Club International to wrap up 2018. This year, they’ve placed fourth in the Advanced at Pine Top H.T.

Pinney number: 34

Final score:

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Allie Knowles and Sound ProspectAlexandra Knowles and Sound Prospect. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: Sound Prospect LLC
Breeding: 2002 gelding by Eastern Echo (Damascus) out of Miners Girl (Miner’s Mark)
Racing name: Sound Prospect (KY)
Racing record: 13 starts (0-2-1), $2,546
Breeder: Bradyleigh Farms Inc.
Auction: 2003 Keeneland January Horses of All Ages Sale: $10,000

From the first ride, Tessa Beckett knew Sound Prospect was special. Just a few days after his last race, Beckett — who was working as a gallop girl for a Washington trainer at the age of 13 — hopped on “Sounder” and fell in love with his personality, plus his good conformation. In the market for a new riding horse, she brought Sounder home and started training in eventing.

SoundProspectTrackSounder on the track. Photos courtesy of Tessa Beckett.
Beckett produced Sounder through the then 2* level, including a fourth place individual finish at the 2010 North American Junior/Young Rider Championships. In preparation for NAJYRC, Beckett had started training with Hawley Bennett, who immediately saw the horse’s potential. When Beckett’s interest in eventing waned in 2013, Allie Knowles — another connection through Bennett — put together a syndicate to purchase Sounder.

It took about two years for Knowles and Sounder to really click, but their list of top-ten finishes in 2015 really put them on the map — their performances earned them the 2015 Rood & Riddle Thoroughbred Sport Horse of the Year Award. 2015 was also the year that the pair contended their first trip to Kentucky, where Knowles elected to retire on cross country.

They returned to Kentucky in 2016 in top form after a second-place finish at the end of 2015 at Galway Downs; this Kentucky attempt culminated with a finish in 14th place and no cross-country penalties after a scrappy round in which Knowles really felt their partnership gel. She describes her relationship with Sounder: “The oneness that he and I have [on course], I haven’t felt with any horse before or since. I just think something, and it translates through. So we’re very fast and very efficient — there’s no discussion. It’s just the best adrenaline rush. He’s very special.”

Already in 2019, Knowles and Sounder won the Open Preliminary at Rocking Horse H.T. and placed second in the Open Preliminary at Ocala Winter H.T. They unfortunately had a TE in show jumping at Carolina International, and elected to retire at Chattahoochee Hills.

Pinney number: 19

Final score:

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Ashley JohnsonAshley Johnson and Tactical Maneuver. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: rider
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Thunder Gulch (Gulch) out of Chelle Spendabuck (Dare and Go)
Racing name: Shykee’s Thunder (FL)
Racing record: 12 starts (0-0-1), $4,588
Breeder: Les Steinger

Ciaran Thompson’s loss was Ashley Johnson’s gain: the Irish rider was working for Bruce Davidson and acquired “Gucci” from Katie Ruppel, who herself had acquired the horse off the track — his last start was at Penn National in May of 2009. Thompson didn’t have time to work with the horse, so Johnson purchased him for herself.

Johnson has produced Tactical Maneuver from humble beginnings in Beginner Novice in 2011 all the way to the upper levels. Their Kentucky debut was in 2016, where they finished 45th: they incurred only time penalties on cross country. The pair was entered again in 2017, but a fall in a prep event led Johnson to withdraw and regroup. Time once again proved to be their nemesis in 2018 for their second trip to Kentucky: they again went without jumping penalties but their slow trip dropped them to 34th; after show jumping, they moved up to 30th.

This year, the pair has achieved top-ten finishes in the Rocking Horse Winter I H.T. in the Intermediate and Rocking Horse Winter II H.T. in the Advanced, followed by a 13th-place finish in the Advanced at Red Hills International. Most recently, Johnson and Tactical Maneuver finished 16th at the CCI4*-S at Chattahoochee Hills.

Pinney number: 10

Final score:

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Will Coleman and Tight LinesWill Coleman and Tight Lines. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

TIGHT LINES (Will Coleman, USA)
Owner: The Conair Syndicate
Breeding: 2007 gelding by Turgeon (Caro [IRE]) out of the French mare Merindole (Tel Quel [FR])
Racing name: Tight Lines (FR)
Racing record: 5 starts (0-1-0), $5,871
Breeder: Henri Devin

Tight Lines is a French Thoroughbred who had a brief and fairly uninspiring steeplechasing career in France. After retiring from the track, he headed to the barn of eventers Nicolas and Thierry Touzaint, where he was produced by Paul Gatien through CCI2*-L. In 2014, the horse was sold to Coleman’s connections: Coleman has obtained several French Thoroughbreds through a friend of his wife Katie, French-based Canadian eventer Lindsay Traisnel and her husband Xavier.

Tight Lines made his Kentucky debut in 2017, finishing 34th with two stops on cross country. In 2018, Coleman and “Phish” delivered a strong performance in all three phases and finished 12th at Kentucky on their dressage score.

Coleman and Phish were selected for the U.S. team to compete at the World Equestrian Games in Tryon, North Carolina. The combination were the pathfinders for Team USA, eventually finishing six seconds over time with 40 jump penalties. Since then, however, the horse has had two successful outings in 2019, finishing 11th at Rocking Horse Winter II in the Intermediate and seventh at Red Hills International in the Advanced.

Pinney number: 33

Final score:

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Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills 1200x800Chris Talley and Unmarked Bills. Photo courtesy of Eventing Nation.

Owner: rider
Breeding: 2009 gelding by Posse (Silver Deputy) out of Kelli’s Ransom (Red Ransom)
Racing name: Unmarked Bills (KY)
Racing record: 24 starts (3-6-2), $67,250
Breeder: Diamond A Racing Corp.

Unmarked Bills has the longest, most successful racing career out of all of this year’s Thoroughbred starters in Kentucky: his racing career started in California and he ran through his 5-year-old season with his final start at Penn National. Incredibly, it’s just five years after making the initial transition into second-career training that “Billy” is making his five-star debut under young professional Chris Talley, who will himself be a Land Rover rookie.

Bills at RacetrackUnmarked Bills fresh off the track. Photo courtesy of Kate Samuels.
Billy came to Talley’s barn via Kate Samuels, who was selling the horse for then-owner David Nuesch. Just four months later, Billy debuted at Training level; less than a year after his last start on the track, the horse was running Preliminary. The meteoric rise continued over the course of the next years, culminating in three CCI3*-S completions in 2016, a 15th-place finish at Carolina International CC3*-L and the USEF Reserve Champion Young Horse Award. “Nobody but Chris could have taken this horse and just gone up the levels,” shares Samuels. “He’s not a conventional horse, but he’s brave and a good worker. I’m glad I could play a small part in this story.”

Talley, who partnered with Antonio and Hannah Salazar to create a multi-disciplinary equestrian program out of the Salazar’s Zaragoza Acres in Virginia, credits Billy for making this fast-track to the upper levels possible. The horse’s Thoroughbred heart has made cross-country easy, and Talley has worked hard with Hannah to develop the horse’s gaits and accuracy over fences to strengthen his dressage and show jumping.

Talley and Billy’s 2018 season included top-ten finishes at Fair Hill in the CCI4*-S and Rebecca Farm in the CCI4*-L; so far in 2019 they’ve completed the Advanced and Advanced/Intermediate at Pine Top, and most recently placed 20th at the CCI4*-S at the Fork.

Pinney number: 25

Final score:

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Adelaide 3DE 2018 1893Hazel Shannon and Willingapark Clifford. Photo courtesy of Willinga Park.

Owner: Terry Snow
Breeding: 2005 gelding by Passing Shot (Quick Score) out of Twin Pearls (Double Income)
Racing name: Sidespin (AUS)
Racing record: unraced
Breeder: Ms. S Monks

Bred in Tasmania, Australia, Willingapark Clifford — under the racing name Sidespin — did run a trial: in Australian racing, horses run trials, or “mini-races,” in which there is no purse money or permanent record. Trials are like schooling shows: they put a horse in a race-like situation, but without the pressure of winning; they’re used as a tool to determine if a horse is ready for the rigors of entering an actual race. Clifford appeared to be too slow to continue training, and his trial was his last appearance on a track.

His owner Sue Devereux liked the horse, so she sent him to her sister Wendy Ward, who operated an equestrian center in Newcastle, New South Wales with her partner Allen Jennings, with the hopes that Ward would find the horse a good home. A working student for neighbor Heath Ryan, Hazel Shannon began riding Clifford for Ward; the horse was so quiet that he was often used as a school horse. Shannon and Clifford clicked to the point that Ward and Jennings decided to keep the horse for her to ride, but no one had any inkling at the time just how far the pair would go.

Shannon and Clifford worked their way steadily up the levels, but it wasn’t until they reached the CCI4*-S level that Clifford truly began to show his colors: the pair racked up several wins in 2015 and 2016, including their first career win of the prestigious CCI5*-L at Adelaide — Australia’s equivalent to Kentucky. For his efforts at the five-star level, Clifford was named 2016 Australian Domestic Horse of the Year.

The partnership was in danger of falling apart, however, when Allen Jennings passed away, and it appeared that Ward would need to sell Clifford for financial reasons. At the eleventh hour, Terry Snow of Willinga Park purchased the horse and Shannon was able to retain the ride; Clifford formally became Willingapark Clifford in 2017. In their fourth run of Adelaide at the CCI5*-L level in 2018, Shannon and Clifford made history by winning a second time — the only combination to ever do so in the event’s history.

This will be the pair’s first run in Kentucky but they’ve got plenty of experience at home under their belts: they have a remarkably clean cross country records in terms of jumping penalties, and have finished double clear on cross country three times at the four-star level.

Pinney number: 17

Final score:

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RRP Kentucky Schedule

Inaugural Horse Industry Safety Summit  
Tuesday, April 23rd, 7:30 am – 6:30 pm at Spindletop Hall, 3414 Iron Works Pike

The event focuses solely on ways to keep riders and handlers safe and will host researchers, equestrians and equine enthusiasts in a format that combines expert panels, individual speakers and poster presentations.

Retired Racehorse Project Booth 
April 25-28th, Booth #130 on floor of Covered Arena

Shop for everything OTTB and RRP and learn more about our programs!

Cross Country Course Walk with Elisa Wallace
Thursday, April 25, 3 pm, meet at Fence 1, presented by Buckeye Nutrition

Get the inside scoop on how riders tackle this big cross country course from top rider Elisa Wallace, who is also the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion.

Thoroughbreds of the KY 3-Day 
Lynn Symansky poster autograph session at RRP Booth: Saturday, April 27th after conclusion of cross-country (specific time TBA), presented by ProElite

This year’s commemorative poster features Lynn Symansky and Donner. Get yours by completing our scavenger hunt or making a donation to RRP.

RRP Scavenger Hunt 
April 25th – 27th, Trade Fair

Stop by the RRP Booth to pick up your scavenger hunt clue card, solve the clues and collect stamps from participating vendors and turn in your card by 3PM Saturday. Complete the hunt and receive a raffle ticket for a chance to win one of three gift baskets and a free Thoroughbreds of the KY 3-Day poster.

Thoroughbred Makeover Previews 
Friday, April 26th, 4:00 pm, and Saturday, April 27th, 10:00 am, Walnut Ring

Riders at the top of their disciplines present their 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover hopefuls with commentary from eventer Dorothy Crowell.

New Vocations Open Barn and BBQ
Friday, April 26th, 5:30 – 8:30 pm, Mereworth Farm

A celebration of Thoroughbreds in second careers, enjoy tours, a meet-and-greet with the horses, demonstrations and a delicious BBQ meal. Four-star eventer Nick Larkin is the featured presenter for the evening, along with Jen Roytz as moderator.

GHB 72DPI LogoRRP Meet-Up Breakfast at USHJA Offices 
Sponsored by Guardian Horse Bedding
Sunday, April 28th, 8:30 – 10:00 am

Join RRP staff, Makeover trainers, members, and volunteers for a social hour with light breakfast (and mimosas!).

Buy tickets here

Thoroughbreds in the Trade Fair
Visit all the great Thoroughbred Charities

New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program (Booth #230)
Maker’s Mark Secretariat Center (Booth #227)
KY Equine Adoption Center (Booth #228)

Horse Country Tours

Horse Country is an organization of thoroughbred stud farms, nurseries, clinics, a feed mill, and aftercare facilities united for the purpose of fan development and tourism experiences. At one of our twenty-five touring locations, guests can learn about the operations and day to day life of the people and athletes of the equine industry.  Click here for more information!

Best of HN: Twitter Ponders ‘If Cow People Made Inspirational Memes Like Horse People’

… really, it’s a valid thought experiment.

Humankind’s relationship to the horse is fraught with emotion. After all, there’s no other large livestock species that we keep purely for personal relationships, whether for companionship or competition. The horse inspires us and drives us to be our best selves while also giving us a roller-coaster ride of emotion: there are no higher highs or lower lows than the ones you’ll discover in a lifetime with horses.

And that emotional relationship expresses itself best sometimes in meme form. Sometimes, when the days are darkest or the light is brightest, we find common ground in a good ol’ inspirational meme. A quick spin around Pinterest turned these up right away:

Et cetera.

Hey, it takes a serious amount of grit to make it in the horse world — and by “make it” we mean “continue to fall in love with these giant walking babies who are really good at breaking our hearts,” let alone the competitive aspect of our world. We get the meme thing.

But when you view it objectively, the meme thing is pretty hysterical. Enter the cow people of Twitter.

(Okay, to play devil’s advocate, there’s a lot of grit needed to make it in the dairy or beef industry too, so we get it. People just don’t tend to meme it very often.)

The responses were pretty solid.

Like, we’ve all definitely said this about our horse lives before.

And who hasn’t said this to themselves, especially when they have any kind of horse who is slightly unique for your chosen discipline? (Which is to say, you know, all of them.)

Cow people of Twitter, we salute you. Keep those inspirational memes coming.

6 Creative Ways to Incorporate Hill Work This Spring

Hills are a component of many cross country courses, but fitness work on hills can benefit your work on the flat as well. Photo by Leslie Wylie.

Spring is finally here (yes, even up here in the snowbelt — my daffodils are coming up and my horses are finally shedding!). While it’s tempting to throw that saddle on and hit the trails or the show ring, the reality is that for a lot of us, our horses are probably out of shape.

Yes, we have ridden all winter long, but chances are we were relegated to the indoor arena, or if we were lucky, maybe a nice outdoor. I myself was able to hack out in a big snow-covered pasture of cover crop a few days a week. But no matter how many miles we might put in through circles and figures in a flat, winter-safe space, our horses are probably still lacking in true condition: the kind of muscular strength and endurance that comes with long, slow miles out of the arena, traversing the hills.

In this recent run of good weather, I’ve launched my hill work plan to better my horse’s fitness. Here are six ways you can work hills into your springtime conditioning regimen for a fitter equine athlete!

1. Put on your hiking shoes.

Okay, we probably don’t want to admit that we ourselves as riders might be a little out of shape after winter too — so why not accomplish two goals at once? Put on your hiking shoes, put a halter and lead on your horse, and head out to the hills to put conditioning miles on both of you. Start small with short hills and a gradual include before you try scaling mountains.

2. Work hills on the lunge line.

This one is a little easier on you as a handler: lunge your horse in a gentle circle at the walk around you, letting him traverse up and down the hill on a roughly 20′ line. You can move up, down and across the hill as you go, letting your horse navigate varying degrees of slope and flat. As above, start on a gradual slope and work your way up to a steeper incline. Especially for horses lacking muscle tone or green horses who are not used to traveling over hills, this is a great way to let your horse find his own footing and balance without also carrying a rider.

3. Hill work under saddle.

Once your horse is strong enough to carry a rider up and down hills, you can saddle up and head out! If you sensed a “walk before you run” pattern developing, you’re absolutely right: walk hills, starting with a gradual slope and short distance, before tackling bigger hills or moving to the trot or canter.

Ascending hills under saddle builds strength in the horse’s front and hind legs as well as builds muscling over the top line — the neck and back muscles of the horse. Ideally, a horse should ascend a hill by lowering his head and reaching under himself with his hind legs; if you’ve done your homework with a green horse working hills from the ground he should develop this form naturally. If your horse wants to rush up the hill by pulling himself along on his forehand, correct him and ask him to walk.

Backing up and down hills is also a great strengthening exercise.

4. Descend via switchback.

One of the particular reasons I employ hill work is to strengthen my horse’s identified weak stifles — ascending hills can help strengthen that joint, but descending hills is counterproductive and places too much strain on that area. Generally speaking, while a horse should be able to safely navigate a downhill slope, especially as a trail mount, descending a hill on a switchback (a zig-zag pattern that allows the horse to descend gradually) is more comfortable and reduces the load on joints and soft tissue.

If you have the option to create a switchback down a hill, allow the horse to descend at an angle, zig-zagging gently back and forth to come down the hill.

As a visual, here’s a look at one of my recent hill rides via the Huufe app’s ride tracking feature: you can see my direct route up the hill, and my much longer, gradual descent as I switched back down the field.

5. Traverse the sides of hills.

Equally important to traveling up and down slopes, navigating across a slope helps build balance and nimble footwork on horses. Trekking the shoulder of a hill in both directions (putting the right side of the horse on the uphill side, then the left) will improve a horse’s coordination, and better prepare them to tackle uneven footing.

6. Don’t have access to hills?

While hill work in its pure form has many benefits — including getting the horse out of the arena for a mind-refreshing hack and putting him on different footing — you can still gain some of those rewards even if you live in an area that’s flat as a pancake or you don’t have easy or immediate access to any good hills that you can work safely. Working over obstacles such as poles (start flat on the ground, then raise them on one or both sides) can help the horse to use his body in similar ways as he would if he were climbing a hill, though the rider must be sure that they are encouraging correct form and engaging the horse from behind.

Go Eventing.

Another great resource: Fitness Work on Hills: An Excerpt from ‘Training Horses the Ingrid Klimke Way’

Best of HN: What’s the Deal With Bisphosphonates?

What are bisphosphonates, and why are they suddenly in the headlines? This class of drugs is intended to treat horses with symptoms of navicular syndrome — but off-label use may be doing more harm than good. The racing industry is beginning to fight back against such off-label use. Horse Nation reports. 

Photo by Pixabay/CC.

No single cause has been determined for the rash of fatal breakdowns earlier this year at Santa Anita, in which 22 horses suffered injuries too severe for rehabilitation and were subsequently euthanized. Plenty of speculative theories abound from the track surface to the long-term effects of certain pharmaceuticals; the Stronach Group, which owns Santa Anita, issued a ban on the drug Lasix as well as jockeys’ whips, which has been criticized by some as a knee-jerk reaction to pressure from animal rights groups.

However, a class of drugs intended to treat horses with symptoms of navicular syndrome is making its way into the headlines in the wake of Santa Anita’s breakdowns: bisphosphonates, sold under the brand names Tilden and Osphos, are reportedly being used to help correct certain orthopedic problems in young sales horses. Bisphosphonates also provide some long-term analgesia. But there isn’t enough research yet to know exactly how bisphosphonates affect bone remodeling in race horses in strenuous exericse, and long-term effects are still unknown. There is no hard data for how many horses in the racing industry are treated with bisphosphonates, so there is no way to know for certain if the drug is at least partially responsible for the rash of fatal breakdowns.

How Bisphosphonates Work

Both Tildren and Osphos are approved by the FDA for use in horses four years old and older. Bisphosphonates work by inhibiting osteoclasts, which are cells that clear away woven bone — that’s a temporary bonelike substance that grows to fill in a fracture — so that osteoblasts can lay down better-organized and stronger bone. Inhibiting the osteoclasts and the clearing away of woven bone works to slow conditions such as osteoporosis in humans and navicular syndrome in horses. The analgesic effect is also helpful for horses suffering from pain associated with navicular syndrome.

The drug binds to bone material, and it’s currently unknown how long bisphosphonates remain active in a horse’s system. Current testing abilities can only show whether the drug was administered within the past 28 days.

Side Effects & Off-Label Use

Off-label use of a drug is not actually illegal; the warnings against off-label use that come in drug literature are intended to protect the manufacturer. That means that there is very little data to support any of the claims of benefits from the use of bisphosphonates for any reason other than to treat horses older than four with symptoms of navicular disease — all that exists now is anecdotal evidence. That in and of itself should be taken with a grain of salt, because of the risk of liability: some veterinarians are reporting no adverse affects, while others claim to have seen a massive uptick in catastrophic injuries since the administration of bisphosphonates. Many deny administrating them altogether, but it’s generally believed that their off-label use is widespread, especially in young horses.

Equine orthopedic surgeon Dr. Larry Bramlage of Rood & Riddle warned in 2018 that the use of bisphosphonates could delay healing — he observed many injuries that should have been healed months later just “patched up” with woven bone. Dr. Bramlage reported more recently, however, that he was seeing fewer surgical patients experiencing slow healing since his 2018 presentation.

Reportedly, bisphosphonates can be used to hide evidence of sesamoiditis in weanlings and yearlings in radiographs — which nearly all young horses undergo at sales so that potential buyers can assess any potential problems on the horizon. Sesamoiditis affects not only the sesamoid bones but the attached ligaments. As with other off-label use, there’s no way of knowing how many young horses might be treated with bisphosphonates in order to affect how the lower leg may appear on radiograph, or if the drug is intended to help correct other orthopedic problems.

The lack of hard data makes any discussion of bisphosphonates truly frustrating, but that fact on its own should give one pause — if we don’t know enough about how bisphosphonates work, especially in young horses, then why do we continue to use them in horses who will be in intense training and exertion while racing?

Racing Industry Response

While there is no research-banked link at this time to bisphosphonate use and increased breakdowns, anecdotal evidence certainly raises red flags — enough that the racing industry is responding.

The three largest sales companies in North America — Keeneland Association, Fasig-Tipton and Ocala Breeders’ Sales Company — announced jointly on March 25 that bisphosphonates were banned for off-label use in horses, enabling buyers to request testing of horses under the age of four. If a sale horse tests positive, a buyer has the right to rescind the sale. These sales conditions go into effect on July 1, 2019.

Testing can currently determine if a horse was administered bisphosphonates within the past 28 days, but horses could be receiving the drug months before the sale; research is underway to develop a more long-term test.

The entire Mid-Atlantic region, including regulators, horsemen’s organizations, breeders’ organizations, racetrack operators and veterinarians, came together at the annual Mid-Atlantic Regulatory and Stakeholders on March 21, 2019 and announced immediate prohibition on the use of bisphosphonates on horses under the age of four, until more definitive research on the effects of the drug use on young horses was available. The use of bisphosphonates on horses older than four has been limited only to horses who have been diagnosed with navicular syndrome by a veterinarian.

These bans are supported by Dechra, the pharmaceutical company that produces Osphos. The company has directed more resources recently towards client education to encourage veterinarians to follow the drug’s intended use and directions.

[Bisphosphonates and Navicular Disease in Horses]

[What We Know (And Don’t Know) About Bisphosphonates]

[Bisphosphonates: What We Know About Off-Label Use, And What One Drug Company Is Doing About It]

[Bramlage: ‘Price to Pay’ For Bisphosphonate Use Is Delayed Healing]

[Mid-Atlantic Region Bans Bisphosphonates For Horses Under Four; HBPA Calls For National Ban]

[Sale Companies Ban Off-Label Use of Bisphosphonates]

[Better Bisphosphonate Test and Tighter Controls Coming]

Best of HN: Photo Challenge — The State of the Blanket

Let’s pour a little out for the fallen blankets of 2019.

Spring is coming, and not soon enough for these reader-submitted blankets!

“I feel like my blanket should be in a Harry Potter story!” Photo by Nancy Adams DVM.

“Brand new white mesh rug. After 20 minutes.” Photo by Vivenne Evangelista.

“Is there even a horse or blanket in this photo? Oh wait yes, that’s my mare.” Photo by Lauren Pfarr.

“Razz is very proud of his ‘cold shoulder’ blanket he made.” Photo by MP Panos.

“Kate Kapura.” Photo by Rebekah Nydam.

“This is Daddy’s Diva … with what’s left of her blanket I put on just an hour prior.” Photo by Renee Scucci.

This is called the “miraculously still intact” state of the blanket. Photo by Hope Carlin.

“Vinnie, during the ever-popular 5th false spring, aka the mud season in Pennsylvania.” Photo by Becky J. Cocklin.

Roxy saying “What? It’s my day off.” Photo by Kathleen McDonald.

“Gizmo in his thug-rug. Keeps him dry though.” Photo by Christina Brock.

“The horse halter top look.” Photo by Kimberly Lanning.

Keep an eye out for next week’s Horse Nation 24-hour photo challenge! We announce challenge subjects on Monday around the middle of the day on both Instagram and Facebook.

Go riding!

Give Back to Go Scholarship Awarded to Thoroughbred Makeover Trainers

Emily Daignault-Salvaggio and Gin Joint, winners of the Field Hunter division at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo by Heather Benson.

It’s not just a scholarship that Emily Daignault-Salvaggio launched, with the intention of refunding one 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover trainer’s entry fee through her family’s Daignault Family Foundation. The Give Back to Go Scholarship may just have launched a movement — of paying it forward, looking outside of one’s own experience and raising awareness of off-track Thoroughbreds in new and creative ways.

Always a lifelong believer in the concept of “paying it forward,” Emily had enjoyed great success at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. Believing wholeheartedly in the mission of the Retired Racehorse Project, she wanted to provide a scholarship opportunity that would refund an applying trainer’s entry fee — with a twist. In applying for the Give Back to Go Scholarship, each trainer had to make a donation, however large or small, to a horse-related charity of their choice.

Twenty-four applicants donated over $1,000 to a total of 19 different 501(c)3 charities across the United States and Canada, surpassing Emily’s hopes for the inaugural year of the scholarship.

“The applicants really did embrace the concept of giving back to their communities,” she said. “Through this scholarship I’ve been privileged to be introduced to some truly amazing horsemen who are already walking the walk and giving back.”

In their applications, trainers had to describe — either in writing or in video — what it would mean to them to receive the scholarship. A first round of judges, consisting of Tik Maynard, Isabela de Sousa, Kasey Evans, Sarah Hepler, Lindsey Partridge and Nicole Valeri, had their work cut out for them, narrowing the pool of 24 applicants to a final round of three. A final round of celebrity judges, including retired champion jockey Ramon Dominguez, award-winning Thoroughbred photographer Barbara D. Livingston and Olympic eventer Boyd Martin, placed the top three.

The winner of the 2019 Give Back to Go Scholarship is Ali Dacher, founder of CANTER’s California division. “Ali is a testament to anyone who believes that with some hard work, determination and belief in yourself that anything can be accomplished,” Emily said. “She truly does embody the spirit of giving back to go.”

Judge Barbara D. Livingston said, “Ali has obviously put so much of her heart, and no doubt resources, into the care and placement of OTTBs for more than a decade now. Imagine the number of Thoroughbreds who now have good and productive lives, partly or largely due to Ali’s efforts.”

“She also recognizes that, regardless of receiving recognition for her efforts, her life will be spent in this pursuit,” Barbara added. “Paying it forward seems only right, in granting her this scholarship.”

With such a pool of deserving applicants who embraced the “give back to go” spirit, however, Emily couldn’t stop at awarding just one scholarship. “This idea, this result, these people and their stories touched me quite a lot. Because of this I have made the decision to give my own entry fee to our runner-up Megan Waelti.”

Megan described how she would use her scholarship to attend more eventing competitions in her equestrian community and displayed a strong commitment to raising awareness of off-track Thoroughbreds as sport horses. Ramon Dominguez was impressed by Megan’s story: “I, as well as anyone who loves horses and riding, can relate to the way she beautifully describes her experiences with her horse.”

Lauren Nethery stepped forward to donate an additional $300 to the Retired Racehorse Project as part of the Give Back to Go Scholarship, ensuring that all three trainers in the final round would have their entry fees refunded. This allowed third-place applicant Kallie Zeinstra to receive her entry fee back.

Emily said, “Kallie’s story — she runs an equine non-profit and uses horses to provide therapy for seniors and youth — is inspiring enough but adding to it her mother who is fighting breast cancer and who attended the 2018 Makeover one week after being diagnosed, well that’s an awful lot of stuff that a little bit of good karma could help give back to!”

Ali Dacher said, “I love that this experience of applying for the scholarship encourages others to pay it forward, keeping the roots of the Retired Racehorse Project in the forefront of our minds. I found the experience to be both inspirational and motivating!”

Meagan Waelti said, “I’m really proud to be a part of all of this. I’m grateful for the reminder to keep paying it forward when you can!”

Kallie Zeinstra said, “I think it is easy at times for us equestrians to lose perspective on what or why we are doing something when faced with unexpected challenges. Writing my essay to apply for this scholarship encouraged me take a step back and look at the larger picture.”

Emily added, “We cannot thank the RRP staff and board enough for listening to and being receptive to this idea. Our hope is that the path we have cut this year will lead others to want to give back with their own efforts, funds or items in their sphere of the horse world in the future. I look forward to being at the Makeover and cheering on all who applied to this scholarship. I hope that in 2020 we can do this again and look forward to seeing what those applicants look like and what they have done to give back in their own lives.”

For more information about the Give Back to Go Scholarship, please visit the website.

Retired Racehorse Project’s ‘Sire Madness’ is Back for 2019

Combining the best parts of March Madness — so, you know, the bracket — with the 16 most popular Thoroughbred sires of sport horses, the Retired Racehorse Project has rolled out “Sire Madness” for another year. Keep an eye on the Retired Racehorse Project Facebook page to cast your vote in daily match-ups! 

2019 bracket as of March 5. Courtesy of Retired Racehorse Project.

As the off-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) enjoys another surge of popularity — it was once THE choice of America’s horsemen, but was replaced by the warmblood or Quarter horse, depending on discipline — more equestrians want to know: which bloodlines make the best sport horses?

One could argue that breeding is less important than individual horses’ talent, movement, jump or mind. One could also argue that all of those things — talent, movement, jump, or mind — are created by a horse’s breeding. Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a place to access all of this collective information we know about Thoroughbred bloodlines … in a sport horse context?

Seeking to fill that need, the Retired Racehorse Project created the Thoroughbred Sport Tracker (formerly known as Bloodline Brag). It’s the internet’s only user-driven database that allows participants to create profiles for their OTTBs and provide information about their movement, soundness, jump and show careers along with their sire, dam and damsire information, providing, for the first time, a detailed look at how certain lines might perform in individual disciplines.

As a user-driven database, it’s certainly not a perfect system — but it’s the only one of its kind currently available for anyone to access, and there’s a wealth of knowledge at your fingertips ready to be accessed. To help recognize the incredible resource of Thoroughbred Sport Tracker, the Retired Racehorse Project launched “Sire Madness” in 2018, ranking the top 16 most popular sires from the database in a bracket and posting daily match-ups on social media for popular vote. Giant’s Causeway was voted the 2018 Sire Madness winner, represented by numerous talented offspring in the hunter, jumper and eventing arenas and praised for his offspring’s excellent movement.

Courtesy of Retired Racehorse Project.

With hundreds of new horses added to the database over the past year, the Retired Racehorse Project has launched a new bracket for 2019. Some of the old familiar names are back again — Two Punch, Malibu Moon, Giant’s Causeway, Smarty Jones — but many rising stars are spoiling for an upset — Bellamy Road, Broken Vow, Smoke Glacken, Holy Bull.

There’s a new poll every other day for followers to vote for their favorite sire of sport horses, and already this month, there was an upset: the #16 seed Bellamy Road narrowly defeated the #1 seed Two Punch on the very first day of voting. Bellamy Road offspring have been making their mark in a variety of disciplines, from eventing to jumpers to barrel racing to trail. A new match-up will be published tomorrow as Sire Madness continues to work through preliminary rounds.

While this year’s bracket is already set up, there’s no reason that your OTTB can’t also be part of Thoroughbred Sport Tracker. Check out the database here, and with a free website account, you can add your horse’s profile and help contribute to the internet’s only OTTB bloodline database.

Go riding!

Thursday Video from SmartPak: Have You Started the 2019 Horse Health Challenge Yet?

It’s not too late to start the challenge, unlock special offers and rewards, and get entered in the grand prize of a $2,000 package — plus, learn and review a ton of great horse health information!

Want to be rewarded for learning more about horse health? Of course you do! Take SmartPak’s Horse Health Challenge, learn new ways to keep your horses as healthy and happy as they can be, and earn rewards and special offers for new products and supplements.

Here’s a recent new-for-2019 challenge I recently tackled:

Challenge #8: Change up your routine

Just like you can fall into a rut in your everyday life or job, you and your horse can get bored doing the same exercise routine every day, too. That’s why this year, we’re challenging you to change up your routine and try something new with your horse. Not sure what to try? We’ve got a few ideas to get you started:

Take a lesson in a new discipline No matter what discipline you normally ride in, giving a new discipline a try can be fun, challenging, and help you and your horse develop new skills that you can incorporate into your regular riding routine.

Head out on the trails If you spend most of your days in the arena, consider heading outside the ring. Whether you just take a stroll around your farm or hit the nearby trails, you and your horse will both enjoy the change of scenery.

Try clicker training Clicker training can be used to teach a good habit or skill or behavior, or discourage or remove a bad habit. If you’ve got a horse who kicks or bites or doesn’t trailer load or moves away from the mounting block, all things we would consider negative, you can clicker train. On the other hand, if you want a horse to do some positive behavior like drink water, you can also use clicker training.

Whether you tackle one of these challenges or change up your riding routine in another way, learning a new skill will be fun and engaging for both you and your horse!

Take the quiz at and earn 20% off SmartPak polo wraps! Plus, there are 19 other challenges, each with their own special reward. Take all of the challenge quizzes and you’ll be entered to win the $2,000 grand prize.

Go Eventing.

Best of HN: 15 Artful Body Clips

For horses who stay in heavy work over the winter, a full or partial clip can be a lifesaver, ensuring that horses don’t overheat in those thick winter coats. When it’s all the same to the horse, why not express yourself?

A few photos submitted for this week’s Horse Nation photo challenge:

Clip by ClipClop Bodyclipping by Morgan, inspired by Paisley Magazine’s Paisley Pony mascot/logo and photo by Sweet Fresno Equestrian Photography

Danielle Keating: My BN team for Team Challenge this year was “Superheroes”; my mare and I were Batman and I decided she needed a matching clip. Photo by Heather Dawson.

Photo by Kate Fremlin.

I always put a heart in my clip as this horse has my heart! Clip and photo by Victoria Tunis.

A snowflake for Snow Cat ❄️
Work of art by the amazing Ashleigh Rauen and photo by me, Madeleine McEntyre!

Pic and clip credit to Jamie Leuenberger.

Clip and photo by Christina Brock.

Clip and pic by Christie Hanson.

Nagi is a St. Patrick’s day baby, so I used to clip a clover into his hip☘️ photo by Sarah Marie

Game of thrones inspired clips, done by Mika Leah.

Clip and photo by NC Adams.

Go Seahawks! Clip and photo by KC Cordell!

Photo credit: Kelly Peine.
My daughter on our “Super Pony” Redford.

Keep an eye out for next week’s 24-hour photo challenge! We announce challenge subjects on Monday around the middle of the day on both Instagram and Facebook.

Go riding!

Best of HN: 3 Truths About Winter Horsekeeping


I’ve been guilty of extolling the virtues of wintertime riding in the past, proclaiming how much fun it is to ride in a snow-covered field or take your horses sleighing or even just the simple pleasures of letting the seasons dictate your horse life, reminding us all to slow down and enjoy some quieter moments before the summer season ramps us back into high gear.

Now that I’ve lived well over a decade of winters in the snow belt, where normal winter temperatures range from the teens to mid-twenties and snowfall is measured in feet rather than inches, I still believe these things to be true.

But there are a few other truths about winter that I’ve come to accept as fact as well:

1. No matter how inviting you make your run-in shed, the horses won’t use it.

Because who would want to stand in a (from a human perspective) perfectly nice three-sided shelter providing a windblock from blowing, sticking snow when they could instead hang out in a veritable blizzard turning into mammoth-like ice monsters? They literally stood around and watched me re-bed the shed before the last polar vortex, walked in, pooped, and left. To the best of my observational awareness, they have not returned. So glad I spent all that money to have this thing custom-built for you ungrateful feral jerks.

2. Your blanket “system” will inevitably break down.

Every autumn, I take stock of my sheet and blanket inventory and invent a nice little weather scale in my head for when each sheet or blanket will be used, depending on the individual horse and his needs (the high-metabolism OTTB and the 20+ year old seniors get some special care… the fat, yaklike middle-aged Quarter horse who receives approximately 8 pellets of grain a day could probably live happily at the Antarctic research station with the penguins).

By the end of January, this neat little temperature/precipitation gauge has totally broken down into a revolving door of wet, muddy blankets, with the ones whose waterproofing has finally given up the ghost dumped unceremoniously over a stall wall to be pirated later for parts and patches, with Jobber wearing what used to belong to Winston and vice-versa, Rocky going naked because he trotted joyfully away from you into the sleet when you tried to switch his medium for a sheet, and the yaklike Quarter horse suddenly decked in a waterproof sheet with a fleece liner when he turned up shivering in the last major snowstorm.

3. Something is going to freeze.

This year, so far, it was my heated automatic waterer in the winter paddock (fortunately, it was an easy fix once the weather warmed back up and only required about 36 hours of manual watering and a new heating unit) and one of the sliding barn doors (which in our valiant attempts to unfreeze, managed to break off of its track, requiring a much more obnoxious repair than if we had just sat on our hands and waited like patient people).

This is still a step ahead of previous years in which all of the automatic waterers froze, the driveway froze into a sheet of totally untraversable ice and both barn doors froze requiring us to hike through three feet of snow to the back door and dig it out with our hands.

Chin up, Horse Nation. Only a few more months until spring!

673 Trainers Accepted for 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover

Elisa Wallace, whos2018 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred contest, accepting their $10,000 prize check. Photo by Anne Litz.

The Retired Racehorse Project announced yesterday that a total of 673 trainers have been accepted for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover and Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America. Becoming an increasingly-popular event for off-track Thoroughbred lovers and often a gateway goal for first-time OTTB owners, the Makeover will take place Oct. 2-5, 2019 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky.

The 2019 trainers come from 44 states and four Canadian provinces, representing professionals, amateurs, juniors and a new team entry format. For initial application, trainers selected a primary discipline in which they had the most experience, though they’re not locked into entering this discipline for October.

Eventing and show hunter are the most popular disciplines heading into the 2019 training period; a total of ten disciplines are represented at the Makeover including barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, freestyle, field hunter, polo, show hunter, show jumper, and ranch work.

Trainers are competing for over $100,000 in prize money and a chance at being voted America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred: the winners of each division are eligible for popular vote by text message from spectators watching in person and via live stream. For many trainers, however, the Makeover is less about the competition and more about the experience of taking a Thoroughbred from track to second career successfully.

Numerous big names will be participating in this year’s Makeover: 2018 eventing champion Elisa Wallace, world champion colt starter Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship, world champion barrel racer Fallon Taylor and two-time Breeders’ Cup-winning jockey Rosie Napravnik (now an eventer).

Other event riders accepted as trainers include Ellen Doughty-Hume, Dorothy Crowell, Hillary Irwin, Kendal Lehari, Natalie Neneman and Cathy Wieschhoff. Click here to view the full list of accepted trainers.

The entire Makeover rulebook underwent some changes for 2019, with an increased emphasis on equine welfare: all horses competing in the Makeover must be microchipped, and microchips will be scanned at a new vetting-in upon trainers’ arrival at the Horse Park in October. New scoring, including overall “impression scores,” keep the Makeover’s emphasis as a training competition rather than an end-goal horse show.

Trainers don’t need to have selected their Makeover horses yet; in fact, some may not acquire their horses yet for several months. Others are well on their way in training already. Trainers will take to social media to share their progress; check out the #TBMakeover hashtag to follow along. We’re also planning to line up some bloggers across all three Nation Media sites, so keep an eye out for those as well.

Nation Media was well-represented at the 2018 Makeover, with Eventing Nation’s Kate Samuels placing fifth in eventing and sixth in show jumping with Turkomani; Horse Nation’s Kristen Kovatch Bentley placing seventh in ranch work and participating in the freestyle with Jobber Bill; and Jumper Nation’s Meagan DeLisle participating in field hunter and competitive trail with Flashback Justice.

[The Journey to the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover Begins!]

Stop What You’re Doing Right Now & Watch: 2019 Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl Commercial Is Here

Budweiser has earned itself a reputation that will take many years to fade away in regards to its Super Bowl commercials: the “golden age” of Budweiser Clydesdale mini-movies seemed to take place from 2005-2015ish, (one exception being the incredibly moving 9/11 tribute). When they started pre-releasing these things on social media a few weeks early, I for one was grateful, because then I would know in advance to excuse myself from the room at whatever Super Bowl viewing party I was attending so I didn’t ugly-cry in front of friends and family.

And then in 2016, Budweiser’s marketing strategy shifted — perhaps actual beer sales to weeping horsewomen weren’t the target demographic after all — and the Clydesdales took a bit of a backseat, at least as far as emotionally-gripping storylines and heart-wrenching music was concerned. The 2019 ad, just released as of this morning, appears to be following in that vein: no anthropomorphism, no riveting storyline… just those big, beautiful horses, doing what they do best.

The post was originally featured on our sister site, Horse Nation.

Best of HN: Missed Connection in the Grocery Store

Photo by Pixabay/CC.

I was browsing salad dressings when she walked by: unmistakably an equestrian.

Honestly, the first thing I noticed was the super-cute pair of red Noble Outfitters muck boots. That’s not an “over the counter” brand that anyone can just pick up at Tractor Supply or Wal-Mart. That’s an equestrian brand. If boots like that walk by you, take note.

Those, and the breeches, and the vest, and the deliberate trajectory she was taking through the store. She walked with purpose, and in the brief glimpse I got of this equestrian before she vanished into the frozen foods, I imagined that surely she had just come from the cold barn, needing to pick up a few things at Wegmans before warming herself back up at home.

“Did you see that?” I said out loud to my husband, while he inexplicably put two different kinds of mustard into the cart.


“That was an equestrian. That was a horse girl!”

He blinked. “How do you know?”

See above. It was like being part of a secret club.

But we did not live in a region known for harboring equestrians. We were a county in which it seemed that everyone had horses, but no one actually rode them. Maybe they pulled them out of the field every now and then for a little trail ride, or hauled them down to the game show for laughs. But a real, live, breeches-wearing equestrian? Now that was a rare thing.

He continued to look at me strangely as I kept my head on a swivel, striking up the courage to say hello, ask her where she rode, strike up a friendship, should our paths cross again, our carts colliding in the bakery section. I did not see her again. Perhaps she was never there at all.

Wegmans equestrian, if you’re reading this, I want to be your friend.

Go riding.

This article was originally posted on our sister site, Horse Nation.

Product Review: The Outlander Wool Riding Skirt by Arctic Horse

Photo by Chloe Petry.

A hazy sort of freezing mist hung in the air around the trailer where the horses were tied, fully harnessed and hitched to their partners waiting to hook on to the big bobsleds for a day of wagon rides. It was a damp, inhospitable day, but there were still plenty of people lined up waiting for their ride — so it was time for us to bundle up, now that the horses were ready. I reached into the back of my car and folded my new Arctic Horse riding skirt around my waist, zipping it right on over my jeans. The old-timers in our draft horse club watched me critically, no doubt wondering what crazy thing the sole lady driver would do next.

“What in God’s name is that?” one of them called across the parking lot.

“It’s a skirt, gentlemen,” I replied smugly, zipping the skirt all the way down before untying my team.

And what a skirt it is: the Outlander Wool Riding Skirt from Arctic Horse might just be the coolest piece of riding apparel I’ve added to my wardrobe, ever. After all, there are only so many ways to reinvent a riding coat… but this? Arctic Horse’s riding skirts are truly innovative, targeting a unique need in the horse industry while looking totally gorgeous. Yes, as it turns out, you can have it all.

Photo by Chloe Petry.

Arctic Horse makes a variety of riding skirts in short and long lengths, all sewn in Alaska by an all-women team. Most of the materials are American-sourced. Depending on your individual needs and tastes, there’s a huge variety of skirts to choose from: I went with the classic, timeless look, durability and warmth of (humanely-sourced) wool in the Outlander Riding Skirt. Lined with recycled micro-fleece, the Outlander is serious about keeping one warm.

Front view. Photo by Chloe Petry.

Back view. Photo by Chloe Petry.

The Outlander zips open up the front, meaning that one can easily wrap it right around themselves without needing to remove boots or struggle with multiple layers. Snaps provide additional closure for windbreak, with fleece-lined pockets serving as the perfect spot to warm one’s hands or stash gloves. With the adjustable zipper, the skirt can be worn totally closed (for things like running errands or driving the team) or opened as far as you like for working around the farm or riding.

Elastic leg strap, with one side of the skirt snapped up for hands-free holding. Photo by Chloe Petry.

Even zipped all the way up, there’s so much room for ACTIVITIES. Photo by Chloe Petry.

Snaps hold the skirt up out of the way while working around the horse or mounting so hands can stay free, and leg elastics (attached with a snap for quick release) hold the skirt in place for windy days or fast riding. Belt loops can house a belt, including various belt-mounted accoutrements (for me, that’s a knife and a cell phone case, both of which I’ve needed in multiple situations around our working farm). It’s safe to say that as a horsewomen-owned company, Arctic Horse thought of pretty much everything.

The skirt keeps Jobber’s back and haunches dry and warm… even in blowing snow. Photo by Chloe Petry.

In the saddle, the Outlander skirt lays over the haunches of my horse, serving as a quarter sheet which is particularly useful on cold, snowy days — aka, most of my typical winter up here in the snow belt. I like to try to keep my horses relatively covered and dry while riding in the winter, both for their comfort and for the most efficient use of my time in post-ride grooming. The Outlander skirt also keeps my legs covered and warm, meaning that I no longer have to fool around with both a quarter sheet AND chaps on a cold, snowy day. There’s nothing worse than getting back to the barn in a pair of cold, wet jeans from riding in the snow, but that’s now a thing of the past.

Photo by Chloe Petry.

My driving student Chloe kindly came out to take photos for this review, and I let her hop on a horse for a few moments in thanks… and popped her into the skirt as well. She fell in love and I had to make sure she didn’t sneak home still wearing it — but especially on a bareback horse, she noted that it helped contain the horse’s body heat to keep both of them warm on their amble around the field. On a day where the wind chill made it feel like a brisk 9 degrees, that kept everyone comfortable and happy!

Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

Arctic Horse skirts are made to order, and customers are encouraged to take careful measurements to ensure they get the size that works best — especially if you plan to wear the skirt over jeans as opposed to breeches or leggings. The Outlander skirt is $299, which is certainly a bit of an investment, but should also last me a lifetime with care.

Photo by Kristen Kovatch.

If you’re an all-seasons rider, you can’t go wrong investing in an Arctic Horse skirt. I personally love the classic, traditional style of the Outlander skirt — also, because I really like feeling like a combination of Annie Oakley and Lady Stark of Winterfell — but there are a ton of options available at the Arctic Horse website depending on your riding conditions and specific needs.

Go riding — no matter what the weather!

Photo by Chloe Petry.

US Equestrian Award Winners Roundup

The US Equestrian Annual Meeting took place last week on January 9th-12th, 2019 in West Palm Beach, Florida. In case you missed it, check out our recap of the events’ proceedings from the 9th and 10th, plus the 11th and 12th.

One of the highlights of the Annual Meeting, of course, is the awards ceremony: over two nights, the Pegasus Awards are given to outstanding individuals, and Horse of the Year awards the national and international horse who had peerless performances in 2018.

Who took home top honors for 2018? Here’s the complete scoop, plus some of the inspiring acceptance speeches from honorees.

2018 Equestrian of the Year: Laura Graves

2018 Equestrian of the Year – Laura Graves

"I come from a family of athletes and it wasn’t until I settled into equestrian sport that I really became comfortable with myself. If it weren’t for the family I found in equestrian sport I would be just an uncoordinated awkward girl without very many friends, so thank you all for being my friends.” -2018 USEF Equestrian of the Year, Laura Graves

Posted by US Equestrian on Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018 USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award: Clea Cloutier

Clea Cloutier- USEF Youth Sportsman's Award

“For the young rider like me who’s never been able to afford a horse, the dedicated equestrian who always had to take the long way around, and the one who never realized their full potential: you’re worthy.” – Clea Cloutier, 2018 USEF Youth Sportsman’s Award #PegasusAwards

Posted by US Equestrian on Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018 USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year: Isabela de Sousa

Isabela de Sousa- 2018 Junior Equestrian of the Year

"A phrase that I think represents the Sportsman's Charter is that 'it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.' This is exemplified in our sport in the show horse of today with the Retired Racehorse Project and the Thoroughbred Makeover." – Isabela De Sousa, 2018 USEF Junior Equestrian of the Year

Posted by US Equestrian on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy: Anne Kursinski
Awarded for distinguished service to equestrian sport

Anne Kursinski- Sallie B. Wheeler Award

In her most courageous act of all, Anne shared her heart-wrenching story of abuse in order to protect the young equestrian athletes of today. #PegasusAwards

Posted by US Equestrian on Thursday, January 10, 2019

Walter B. Devereux Sportsmanship Award: Anne Gribbons
Richard E. McDevitt Award of Merit: Harry Chapman, Yum Kee Fu, E. Hunter Harrison, Michael Rheinhemier, and J. Richard Wilkinson
Pegasus Medal of Honor: Ellen DiBella, Janine Malone, Debbie McDonald, and Robert Ridland
Ellen Scripps Davis Memorial Breeders’ Award: Allyn McCracken
Sallie Busch Wheeler Trophy: Anne Kursinski
Norman K. Dunn Trophy: Bruce Griffin III
C.J. “June” Cronan Trophy: Victoria Gillenwater
Barbara Worth Oakford Trophy: Jody Strand
Bill Robinson Trophy: Eugene Sweeney
Vaughan Smith Trophy: Wendy Potts
William C. Steinkraus Trophy: Laura Graves and McLain Ward
Emerson Burr Trophy: Victoria Colvin

Lifetime Achievement Award: Georgie Green

2018 USEF Lifetime Achievment Award Winner: Georgie Green

Learn more about the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Georgie Green and her incredible accomplishments for our sport, but specifically the American Morgan Horse breed. #PegasusAwards

Posted by US Equestrian on Thursday, January 10, 2019

2018 National Horse of the Year: Cobra the mustang

Cobra: 2018 National Horse of of the Year

From Wild to World Champion, say hello to the 2018 USEF National Horse of the Year: Cobra #JoinTheJoy

Posted by US Equestrian on Saturday, January 12, 2019

2018 International Horse of the Year: Verdades

Verdades: 2018 International Horse of Honor

Verdades and Laura Graves made history for #USADressage this year finishing 2nd at the FEI World Cup Finals, securing individual and team silver at Tryon2018, and climbing to number 1️⃣ on the World Ranking List in October! Tonight he has a chance to add International Horse of the Year to his long list of accolades!

Posted by US Equestrian on Saturday, January 12, 2019

2019 US Equestrian Annual Meeting Links: WebsiteMeeting ScheduleBroadcast ScheduleLive Stream, Meeting App for iOS/AndroidTwitterFacebookInstagram

Image via US Equestrian.

As seen on Horse Nation:

Best of Horse Nation: Equestrichondria, or Basically Being a Horse Person

My last personal horse was so hardy and apparently indestructible (other than his somewhat tenuous grip on reality) that you might have assumed he was a mustang. He was never lame. He could go barefoot or shod with equal nonchalance for the footing. In four years, he never had an abscess, a stone bruise or one lick of scratches. Once, he got a bit of rain rot. That was pretty much it.

My current project Jobber has proven to be a much better match from an emotional, mental and physical standpoint — he takes up my leg, he’s athletic and talented, and he doesn’t have a truckload of mental baggage. The downside to this lovely animal — because few of them are truly perfect unicorns, after all — is that he has a tendency to be a big giant baby any time there’s anything even slightly amiss physically.

In some respects, I like this. A stoic horse can be kind of hard to live with if he just keeps soldiering on despite a raging abscess or strained tendon. I like knowing instantly, without a doubt, that there is something wrong, so that I can address it quickly and efficiently and call the professionals in when necessary.

On the other hand, there was the time Jobber maybe got stung by a bee, or something, and his nose puffed up on the bony part where I didn’t even know a horse could puff up, requiring the application of an ice pack.

This was cute. Photos by Kristen Kovatch

Then there was the time he stepped on the only rock out in the field and went immediately head-bobbing lame for the next ten strides until the sting of it went away, I suppose.

Oh, and the time he developed grass mumps, which I didn’t even know was a thing.

I don’t feel like Jobber is particularly accident-prone as far as horses go; he does live out 24/7 and there have certainly been many more fine and healthy days in the past year that I’ve owned him than days on layup. He’s just the kind of horse that things sort of happen to.

Prime example: Jobber’s hind legs stock up when it’s muddy out. When the ground dries up and he’s willingly moving around more, OR we get a nice couple of feet of snow and he’s cruising around on a nice pack, the swelling goes down. It also goes down with exercise, so I try to get him out for a bright forward hand-walk at minimum every day. Stocking up is typically a stalled horse condition, but Jobber is special. I was pretty concerned about this the first winter, but when I realized it was, in fact, simply stocking up and not cellulitis, lymphangitis or any other horrible -itis that would be indicated by slightly chunky but cold, sound legs, I learned to let it go and just manage it. The right hind tends to linger swollen just a little big longer than the left. I don’t know why, but it’s not enough of an issue that I’ve ever gotten a vet involved.

Bonus: hind legs stocked up when he wasn’t moving around much due to the abscess, so this required attention to three out of four legs.

Naturally, in the current weather conditions on the East Coast that have been dumping rain endlessly on saturated ground, it’s pretty muddy around here, and the combination of Jobber having his shoes pulled (hinds a few weeks before fronts, and all under the careful supervision of a devoted farrier) with soul-sucking wet mud means that again the horse has some chunky legs.

Naturally, any memory I had of last year’s stocking up went right out the window.

Despite all logic telling me that, once again, some marginal cold swelling combined with a lack of fever, no sensitivity and a perfectly sound animal was in fact just the new normal of Jobber stocking up a bit in the winter, I panicked. I moped. I hovered around Jobber’s hind legs obsessively while he happily and blissfully-ignorantly ate his grain every day, likely wondering what weird thing I was doing now. I dragged my long-suffering husband to the barn and pointed dramatically at Jobber, who by this point had reduced the swelling in the left hind and had just a bit left in the right.

“Look at his fat leg!”

Erik peered at the horse critically. “The left front? The one where the abscess was?”

“No. The FAT one!”

“… the right front?”


Erik stared first at one hind, then the other. “You’re bonkers. These look exactly the same.”

Later that evening, after a good friend had convinced me that since there was literally zero evidence to support my claim that Jobber must have sustained a deep digital flexor tendon injury or had lurking, silent and unusually cold cellulitis that was causing the lingering stocking-up, I was, in fact, bonkers, I was sitting on the couch stewing, still somehow convinced in the front of my mind that Jobber had suffered some sort of career-ending injury. Erik could tell.

“Are you thinking about Jobber?”


“What is it with horse people? There is literally nothing wrong with him. I couldn’t even see the swelling. He is FINE.”

I glowered.

“You’re an equestrichondriac. You are always worried about that horse. He is FINE. I just invented a word to describe you.”

He stood up to head to the kitchen.

“Also, I just gave you a story idea for tomorrow. So you’re welcome.”

Earlier this afternoon I returned to the barn — a colder day, with the ground finally starting to harden up. The stocking up was nearly imperceptible. Jobber trotted up sound, like he had every day. All was well.

The ’52 Free Thoroughbreds’ Are Ba-ack!

Photo by Pixabay/CC.

Autumn changes to winter; the snows come and go. And annually, the infamous “52 free Thoroughbreds” posts emerge from their slumber and start to make the rounds of the internet once again.

We’re not really sure about the mechanics of how exactly this works — every year, it’s a brand-new post, dated just a few days prior, but with the same old copy:

FREE HORSES!!!! 52 thoroughbred horses need homes. Will go to Sugarcreek this Sat. for slaughter. Gentleman died and his son wants nothing to do with them. Most broodmares are broke and some are in foal weanling, yearlings, 2 yrs. and 3 yrs. old most are gelded. FREE and papered. Friend of the deceased is trying to find homes. 440-463-4288 Barnesville, OH.
Please copy and paste this on your status
I would hate to see all these horses put down. PLEASE someone help they are FREE and papered!!!!!!!!

The most recent iteration was created on January 2. With a recent date stamp, to the unaware but well-meaning, this looks like an urgent, brand-new post with horses in need of homes RIGHT NOW. Likely, this has already been shared to you several times in the past 24 hours. It’s a bizarre phenomenon that this particular (fake) post, every year, goes truly viral … especially when there are horses in need of homes every single day.

The truth of the matter is that all 52 of these Thoroughbreds found homes… eight years ago. The original post is from January 2011.

On January 27, 2011, Daniel C. Stearns, DVM passed away, leaving his Thoroughbred breeding and racing operation in the hands of his son Dan Stearns to dismantle. Prior to his death, the senior Stearns made provisions with his son to place certain horses with certain people, with the rest to be placed in reputable homes preferably in the Thoroughbred industry. Stearns made it clear that none of the horses were to go to kill buyers or first-time owners who might put the horses in a bad situation.

A friend of the Stearns, Lynn Boggs, posted the first urgent message on Facebookto help network homes for the remaining 52 horses — and within hours, had reached an international audience. She fielded calls and messages from all over the world, and within four days, all of the horses had found new, safe homes, mostly right within the Ohio area.

Boggs’ original post did not include any language about the horses going to slaughter — but shares and copies of the post mentioned the possibility that the horses would ship to slaughter if homes were not found. That was never Stearns’ intention, though the newfound urgency with that changed language did help the post gain even more early traction.

The original story is a reminder of the positive power of social media — but the re-emergence of this post and its subsequent annual viral urgency reminds us equally of a darker side. For whatever reason, this particular post grabs the public’s attention in a gripping way that drives everyone to share it like crazy, while real horses right now in 2019 in need of good, reputable, safe homes linger at rescues and placement agencies waiting for new owners as their social marketing gathers dust.

Just now, while writing this story down at our family farm stand, my sister-in-law got a phone call from a family friend to tell her about a post she had seen on Facebook about 52 free Thoroughbreds and asking if there was anything we could do for them. Imagine if we could grab the public intrigue about horses in need right now and enjoy the same kind of viral marketing and quick networking that placed all 52 horses back in 2011!

So let’s use this viral post as a soapbox, horse lovers — when your friends and family share it to your wall or your messages with pleas for help, encourage them to make a small donation to your favorite horse-related charity to help horses in need of help RIGHT NOW. The more people we educate, hopefully the fewer will share this post next year — and the more will be encouraged to help animals in need today.

Oh, and quit sharing those stupid Johnny Depp memes. Those are almost as bad as the original post.

Go riding.

New Scholarship Offsets Trainer Fee for Thoroughbred Makeover

Emily Daignault-Salvaggio and Gin Joint, winners of the Field Hunter division at the 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover. Photo by Heather Benson.

When the Retired Racehorse Project raised the trainer application fee for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover to $300 — a $100 increase — not everyone took the changes in stride. Following heated debates on social media, Emily Daignault-Salvaggio decided to step in and create the Give Back to Go Scholarship to refund the application fee for one lucky trainer.

“Paying it forward has always been huge for me,” she describes. “We were the kind of family where our parents took us to soup kitchens at the holidays and taught us that it was our responsibility to help. My parents led with a really good example.”

Describing herself as “lucky in life and lucky in horses,” Emily has always made it a point to give back, selecting charities including CANTER Pennsylvania as an annual recipient of funds from her family’s foundation.

Emily is no stranger to the Thoroughbred Makeover, having won the field hunter division with Gin Joint in 2015, and knows the journey to the Kentucky Horse Park is an expensive one. With that in mind, Emily launched the Give Back to Go Scholarship, which will refund the Thoroughbred Makeover trainer application fee for one deserving individual.

Keeping in line with Emily’s philosophy of paying it forward, each scholarship applicant must make a donation to a horse-related charity as part of the application process.

“I hope that by encouraging others to pay it forward, I can help people realize how awesome it can be to help change the world positively,” Emily said.

Full details for the scholarship are on the scholarship’s website. Here’s a breakdown of the application process:

  • Scholarship applicants should apply to the Thoroughbred Makeover first. The Retired Racehorse Project will refund the entry fee of the winning scholarship applicant.
  • The scholarship should be applied for separately from the Thoroughbred Makeover — there is no automatic entry for the scholarship.
  • Scholarship applications must include either a written description or a two-minute video of what it would mean to the applicant to receive the scholarship, plus proof that the applicant has made a donation to a horse-related charity.
  • Finalists will be selected by a panel of judges consisting of other 2015 Thoroughbred Makeover division winners, with one winner selected by a group of well-known Thoroughbred-related individuals.

For more information and to apply, please visit the Give Back to Go Scholarship’s website and follow the scholarship’s Facebook page.

Go Eventing.