Off-track horses who have found productivity and happiness in second careers deserve an extra round of applause, and a growing number of incentives have been developed in recent years to give credit where credit is due. Among the most recent is the Maryland Thoroughbred/Standardbred Eventing Series, which awards over $1,750 in cash and prizes to off-track horses who accumulate the most points throughout the year at USEA-sanctioned events in Maryland.
2018 Winner’s Circle
The inaugural winner is Lindsay Berreth of Leesburg, Virginia, whose name you’ll recognize from bylines in The Chronicle of the Horse, with her own Oh So Extreme. The 18-year-old Kentucky-bred Thoroughbred gelding raced under the name Private Pleasure (Private Terms x Plum Thicket, by Wild Again), starting 43 times with one win before coming off the track the summer of his 7-year-old year. He was restarted by Michelle and Dustin Craig in Upperville, Virginia, and clicked with Lindsay.
“He was my first OTTB, and I brought him through the levels to Prelim,” Lindsay says. “He gave me so much confidence at Training and Prelim and taught me so much about patience, bravery and the importance of basics. We gave him the show name Oh So Extreme because everything he does is to the extreme. Whether it’s a cross rail or a Prelim drop into water, he loves every minute of life. It’s kind of inspiring!”
Their journey hasn’t been without trials and tribulations, notably an unfortunate injury in 2013.
Lindsay recalls, “After a pretty stressful rehab in which he tried to kick down our barn on a daily basis, we were given permission to continue to compete cautiously to keep him sound. The injury healed well, but after a few other little physical things popped up as he got back into work, we decided if I wanted to continue enjoying him it was best to stay at a lower level.”
The fences these days may be smaller, but reduced height hasn’t diminished Oh So’s enthusiasm. The look on his face when he’s attacking Novice cross country jumps is still 100% “let me at it, mom!”
“As much as I’d love to keep going Prelim, I’ve come to accept it’s not in the cards anymore, and honestly, I’ve realized I’ve become a better rider by staying at the lower levels and revisiting the basics,” Lindsay says. “Things can get lost in the shuffle of trying to move up, and while I regret not getting to meet the goals I had at Prelim, I’m setting new goals for us in his twilight years. I’m hoping my stronger basics will carry over to my next horse. I’m a perfectionist by nature, so it’s working so far!”
This year the pair earned their USDF bronze medal in four shows and bested nearly every event and dressage class they entered. They topped the Open Novice division at Seneca H.T. in June and followed that with a win at the Maryland Horse Trials in July and a second-place finish there in October. Both venues are special to Lindsay and Oh So as she’s been competing him there since his Beginner Novice days — in fact, he did his first event ever at Seneca.
Lindsay and Oh So scored a total of 83.8 penalties in their three qualifying competitions to clinch the MDTSE title. The MDTSE series spans the 17 USEA-sanctioned events in Maryland, with scoring based on total penalties for the season. Competitors had to compete in a minimum of three events; originally, the minimum was five competitions, but because a number of events were forced to cancel all or part of their competitions due to weather, the minimum was lowered to three for 2018 and will return to five for 2019. “We had a few more events planned, but the weather just didn’t want to cooperate!” Lindsay says.
“I’m so thankful to have won this award, and especially grateful to Carolyn Mackintosh who’s always a friendly face when we go to Loch Moy,” Lindsay says. “We spend a lot of time there, whether it’s Twilight Eventing, starter trials, dressage shows, recognized events or derbies; it’s so wonderful to have the venue, as well as so many other wonderful recognized events in Maryland that I’ve been going to since I started eventing as a teenager.”
Lindsay credits her eventing trainer Lisa Reid, who found Oh So for her in 2007, and her dressage trainer Heidi Berry for helping the pair every step of the way. Here’s wishing their 11-year partnership continued success in 2019!
“Sometimes when I find myself thinking that going around Novice for the rest of his career is boring, I have to remind myself of the feeling he gives me on cross country — always looking for the next fence, never saying no,” Lindsay says. “I remind myself every day how lucky I am that he’s still going strong at 18 and actually going better than ever. I’ve learned to never take a ride for granted, even if it’s just a hack down the road where he’s spooking at branches on the ground that have been there forever. He’s 18 going on 5, and it just makes me laugh!”
For their MDTSE series win, Lindsay and Oh So were awarded $500 from the Maryland Horse Council as well as a $250 gift certificate and swag bag from Maryland Saddlery in Butler, Maryland.
“We’ve enjoyed quite a few TIP (Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program) wins in the past, and having this new series is a great way to honor Thoroughbreds,” Lindsay says. “Mine is my horse of a lifetime, and I know a lot of others can say the same.”
Jaclyn Burke of Mt. Airy, Maryland, also a Maryland Horse Council member, and her 2011 Maryland-bred Thoroughbred Sandy the Bear (Gators N Bears x All the Guile, by Smarten), bred by Bonita Farm, earned both second place and the High Score Maryland-bred award. The pair earned 106 penalties in three qualifying competitions. Jaclyn was presented with $300 from the Maryland Horse Council, $250 from the Maryland Horse Breeders Association for having the highest placed Maryland-bred, and a $100 Maryland Saddlery gift certificate.
Monica Fiss of Aberdeen, Maryland, and her 2009 Pennsylvania-bred gelding Old Fashioned Love Song (Jockey Club name Tractor — Partner’s hero x Yanni’s Girl, by Commadore C.) finished third for the year. The pair earned 130.1 penalties in three qualifying competitions. Monica received $200 from the Maryland Horse Council and a $50 Maryland Saddlery gift certificate.
A Well-Supported Series
After a successful first year, the MDTSE series will continue its mission in 2019 to promote the post-track careers of Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds, two breeds with deep roots in Maryland. Series founder Carolyn Mackintosh started the series to shine a light on the capabilities of these athletic horses in their second careers: “I want eventers to recognize the wealth of equine talent available locally. Maryland produces and imports wonderful horses with great potential.”
Seed money for the series came through the Maryland Horse Industry Board. Executive Director Ross Peddicord says, “There is so much racing, both Thoroughbred and Standardbred, in Maryland and the wider Mid-Atlantic region, that a lot of effort and attention is put into second careers for these horses. So it’s only fitting, and worthy of our support, that there is now a three-day event series to complement what has been done in the show ring. Thanks, Loch Moy, for initiating this program.”
Maryland Horse Council, the Maryland Horse Breeders Association and Maryland Saddlery all signed on as early supporters. Hope Birsh, Maryland Saddlery’s owner, supplied prizes for the top three finishers and also donated $25 Maryland Saddlery gift certificates to the finishers in 4th – 6th place. MHBA Executive Director Cricket Goodall found the series an easy fit, explaining, “The Maryland Horse Breeders Association wants to support the non-racing careers of its Maryland-breds. This series demonstrates the versatility of the Thoroughbred.”
Eventing and Thoroughbreds go hand-in-hand, and we’re glad to see so much support for the new MDTSE program. Says Maryland Horse Council President Neil Agate, “Eventing in Maryland is on an incredible up-swing and the Maryland Horse Council wants to do everything we can to not only encourage its continued growth but also make sure we grow with it. This series is the perfect way for us to do both.”
Learn more about the Maryland Thoroughbred/Standardbred Eventing Series at the website here.
Report edited from a press release. Many thanks to Tara Jelenic Photography for providing photos!