We like to think that what we’re doing here at EN is making a little bit of a difference in the world, both for horses and the humans who love them. Our “Weekly OTTB Wishlist” series, presented by Cosequin, has been running since 2014, and it’s one of our personal favorites. Each week we shine the spotlight on three available OTTBs who are in the market for a new job with fingers crossed that they might catch the eye of an eventer.
Every now and again we catch wind that our little matchmaking service has paid off. The latest success story comes from Callia Englund, a Young Rider from Enumclaw, Washington, who blogged about her journey to the 2018 North American Youth Championships for EN last year. Callia put in a lot of hard work to represent Area VII in the CCIJ1* with her horse, Xyder, and it paid off in a team silver medal.
Recently Callia shared an update not about Xyder, but about an off-track Thoroughbred who has since come into her life in a big way: Latest Craze.
Callia’s interest in OTTBs goes back to when she was 14 and eventing at Training level with Xyder. Callia had a lot of faith in Xyder, a 15.1-hand Canadian-bred jumping machine, and he defied expectation to find success as her NAYC mount. But she already had feelers out for the future: “I wanted an OTTB because I thought it would be fun but also the bonus of potentially my next upper level horse.”
“My mother owned a big black OTTB mare, who was just a tad bit crazy (OK, maybe very crazy),” Callia recalls. “My old trainer used to train out of my small private boarding facility and she had a couple OTTBs come in from a Thoroughbred farm down that road, where my mom actually got her horse. I had been around them a lot and found them quite fascinating and really started to want one of my own. At the time my dream was to be able to compete two horses at events. So my mom decided if I started riding her horse and getting it ready for an event, I could compete her and then get one of my own.”
The pair took aim at Caber Farm H.T., and Callia spent the summer enjoying her rides on the mare. Meanwhile, she began combing the local track and Facebook pages for OTTB. On the way home from Rebecca Farm in July 2017, this CANTER listing in the latest edition of EN’s “Weekly OTTB Wishlist” caught Callia’s eye:
“Most of the time all the horses on these were too far for us to really consider it,” Callia says. “But the first horse on that article immediately caught my attention and was located at Golden Gates Field in Northern California. I showed my mom and he sparked her interest as well. It was like it was meant be, as we both thought this could be the one.”
Callia’s mother gave her the go-ahead to message the owner, who responded that the horse’s sale was already pending but that he would let them know if anything changed. Callia recalls, “I was pretty sad after that cause I thought my dream Thoroughbred was gone. A few days after we got back him we got a text saying the sale fell through if we were still interested. We jumped on the opportunity right away. Unfortunately we were not able to go down and see him but we got a vet check on him and he passed with flying colors. All the stars were aligned and we had to get this guy.”
One late summer evening, Callia’s new horse arrived on the doorstep: “A big tall pretty bay with three white socks — I was so excited. He had some down time and then I finally got to start riding him.”
The first couple rides were rough, and in combination with some feet problems, Callia decided to give him some more time off. “When he got back into work he was much better behaved,” Callia says. “He jumped for the first time in the beginning of 2018.”
Although much improved, Callia still wondered if Latest Craze (dubbed “Craze” around the barn) was particularly special. “At the time I was leaning towards him maybe just being a resell,” she says.
Callia was heading to California for two months in mid-February and Craze was staying home. Her dressage trainer at the time put a couple rides on him to keep him moving, and when Callia returned home she put him back into consistent work — with much happier results!
“It was like he was an entirely different horse,” Callia says. “He was showing tons of talent over jumps and was super confident, not stopping or running out at all. Showed that he has some nice moves for the dressage ring while keeping a level head. And at his first cross country school he was having the time of his life. He did his first event in June 2018 at the Novice level and did three others along with those throughout the season.”
Now that their partnership is off and running, Callia says, “I have grown to really love this horse. Xyder and him act like brothers and are big idiots when they’re together. He was an exceptional addition to our family and I am so glad he was the OTTB I ended up without of all the ones out there.”
Best of luck to this up-and-coming team! We couldn’t be prouder to play matchmaker. Many thanks to our longtime sponsor Cosequin for making “OTTB Wishlist” possible, and thanks for the endorsement, Callia: “If you’re looking for your next event prospect, Eventing Nation would be the first place I would check.”