Lauren Snider of Starfire Eventing and Racing in northern Kentucky is a lifelong Area 8 eventer, having competed through the CCI2* level. She galloped racehorses for 18 years and trained her own stable for five. In addition to eventing her own horse, training another two, teaching a handful of students, and attending Northern Kentucky University, she just got a new yearling to break and get back into racing. “I was coerced,” she says, “since full-time school and showing horses isn’t enough apparently.”
Lauren admits that it is a full plate, but that it works for her. “The more I have to do, the better I perform it seems,” she says. “I thrive on it. My typical day is non-stop riding, teaching, homework and horse care, not necessarily in that order! I sometimes forget to eat and often fall asleep with a pen in my hand or the laptop in my lap with my hand on the mouse pad. My husband is a long-haul truck driver, so I also have to manage things around the house most of time, as he is away from home more often than not.”
Eventing has always been Lauren’s passion. She enjoyed success as a young rider, training with Phillip Dutton in high school after winning a Bit of Britain scholarship. She went on to earn a team bronze medal for Area 8 in the NAJYRC CCI2* in 1999.
Having worked in the racing industry for many years, Lauren is a big fan of the Thoroughbred breed and an advocate for OTTBs. She got her current horse Pedro, a 2009 Kentucky-bred gelding who raced under the name Mrthreeofive (Tenpins – Crowning Mood, by Chief’s Crown ), off the track in May for free, sight unseen.
“I’m madly in love with him,” she says. “I found him through a connection at the track and took him on a hunch. He’s a dreamboat, but he’s tough too. I was horseless and in a very dark place since I had to euthanize my 5-year-old last fall. He really helped me get my mind back in the right place.”
Pedro won his very first mini trial at Leg Up in August and was fifth at the Spring Run mini trial a few weeks ago as well. Jump Start Horse Trials, taking place this weekend at the Kentucky Horse Park, will be his first recognized event.
“I think he has all the makings of an upper-level horse, fingers crossed! He has serious ADD, which is one of his biggest obstacles,” Lauren says.
Lauren’s relationship with the racing industry is bittersweet.
She left the sport in March 2016 after plenty of internal debate. The timing seemed right: Her old reliable mare My Cherry Pie was retiring sound and happy, her best horse was hurt, and the others weren’t running well.
“I was working so hard and had nothing to show for it anymore.” Her own body had taken quite a beating after 18 years of galloping racehorses and eventing, and she felt like it was time to take a step back. But moreover, she was having a hard time reconciling her own ethics with those predominant in the sport.
“I left frankly because I had become disgusted with all the cheating and general ways of the racetrack,” she says. “I love Thoroughbred horses, and being on the back of a racehorse is one the greatest feelings in the whole world, but I have trouble reconciling my horse care beliefs and the way I believe horses should be trained with how things are done in the racing industry, especially regarding medication use and misuse.”
She thought she had left that world behind for good until one of her old owners, Tommy Horan, called her out of the blue two weeks ago. He was considering purchasing a yearling filly by English-bred Grade 1 winner of $2.2 million dollars Noble Mission — a classy prospect for sure, as most of Noble Mission’s babies went for between $100,000 and $350,000 at a recent sale. But he would buy the filly under one condition: if Lauren would break her and train her.
“I wanted to say no right away, but he has always been so good to me as an owner and his other horses are with a much bigger trainer, so I was honored that he wanted to trust me with a horse of this caliber,” Lauren says. “We both pretty much feel like we won the lottery! She is royally bred for the turf on both sides of her pedigree. I’m just going to roll with it and see what happens. She’s beautiful and her stride is amazing.”
Lauren feels like having just one racehorse in training will be much more manageable than the multi-sport, multi-horse operation she was running before.
“Having a racing stable and trying to event is very tough because I do everything myself and have no grooms,” she says. “So every time I would go out of town for a show, I’d have to find reliable people to care for four to five racehorses for two to three days. The whole time I was competing I would be stressing about the racehorses. I did at times think I needed to choose between racing and eventing. I think with just one horse it will be a lot easier.”
Lauren is juggling four classes this fall at Northern Kentucky University, where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s in Social Work, and is on track to graduate in May 2019.
Her long-term goal: “I plan to get my Master’s in social work and work in the field of substance abuse counseling. I would eventually like to open my own inpatient substance abuse treatment facility, and incorporate equine therapy into a program of other traditional therapies.”
Lauren wears her heart on her sleeve, mindful of the people around her and especially those who are suffering or in need.
“I decided to go back to school because I want to help people with substance abuse problems get better,” she says. “I want to save lives. The final push for me to re-enroll was this winter when I found out that someone I was close to in rehab had died as the result of her addiction.”
This weekend at Jump Start H.T., her myriad endeavors — eventing, school and social work — are coming together. For her Ethics and Advocacy class at the university, she is conducting a personal hygiene item drive to benefit The Henry Hosea House of Newport, Kentucky.
“As eventers we are privileged to be able to work with our beautiful horses every day and attend competitions on the weekends,” she says. “Some of us have even been able to make horses our livelihood. For each one of us, there are many more who aren’t so fortunate. While we wince at the cost of that glue-on shoe or hay price increase, people in my community and yours are worried about where their next hot meal or tube of toothpaste is going to come from.”
The Hosea House is a charitable organization that provides a hot meal every evening to an average of 150 people, along with offering a foot clinic, personal care items, Thanksgiving baskets, and referral services to a network of other agencies within the community for any other service a guest may need.
“I chose the Hosea House because I think they do great work and don’t get the publicity or support that some of our other local organizations get,” Lauren says.
Her request to fellow eventers competing at Jump Start this weekend: “While you’re at the story this week picking up your bottled water, snacks and zip-lock bags, grab one of the personal care items listed below and drop it by our stalls.”
- lip balm
- feminine products
“When you drop by our stalls, you can grab some free treats for your horse and feel good that you helped someone less fortunate than yourself,” she says.
Lauren is in stall #2005 at Jump Start H.T. Let’s all give her a hand!