Di Arbuthnot, Chief Executive
T: 01488 648998
Retraining of Racehorses
75 High Holborn
London WC1V 6LS
UK Registered Charity No: 1084787
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With the right retraining and the right rider an ex-racehorse can adapt to any equestrian activity, as illustrated by these stories of former racehorses in their second careers. The RoR is always interested to hear of other success stories so please email us and send a photograph of your own story.
RoR Star - Philsons Run goes to church
"Philsons Run had a successful racing career winning over £230,000 in prize money. He won the Midlands National and the Scottish National, and came fourth in the John Smiths Grand National in 2007.
During most of his racing career I was his stable lass, but when he was 11yrs old his trainer and owners decided to sell him at Ascot sales - I was devastated to see him go as he was the star of the yard. Two years after, I decided to contact his new owner, Sophie Breen, to find out how Philson was doing and to see if he was still around. On the day I called I was told that he had just come back in to work to give some youngsters a lead and that "he is naughtier than the youngsters". I said that if it ever got too much and he ever needs a home call me and, luckily for me, a week later he was delivered to me.
It is amazing to have a horse in the yard like him, he is such a character. Philson stands at 17.2hh and never acts his age, I hunt him during the winter and show him at a local level during the summer.
This year I got married and rode him in my wedding dress to church escorted by a pack of foxhounds. Beforehand alot of people said I was crazy and should have a rehearsal in case he went mad. I knew he would be fine, he is 100% bomb proof. I was right, he was the star of the show, and we even made it into the local newspaper. Alot of the locals know Philson from his racing days which made it extra special!''
(written by Charlotte Williams, November 2012)
RoR Star - Sister Lucy beams with pride for Becky and Fuzz
""My sister Becky bought Fuzz (Racing name Golden Fitz) just over a year ago and ever since they have gone from strength to strength. Becky didn't have the best start to her riding life but when Fuzz trotted into it, everything changed. Fuzz is one of the nicest ex-racers I have ever met, he has bags of character and never fails to make you laugh. He's got such a fantastic jump and brilliant paces and is also enormous fun to hack!
Since buying him Becky has competed regularly in BSJA, jumping up to Discovery and won the RoR/SEIB Regional Elite Performance Award for region G, and were 33rd nationally, qualified in the 1m scope qualifier and qualified for Amateur 2nd rounds in both 90cm and 1m.
They have also both been cross country schooling for the first time and had a great time, jumping everything and anything! Becky also entered her first Dressage competiton with Fuzz and won their intro test and placed a decent 10th in their prelim. They have both had a fantastic 2011 and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.
After all of Becky's hard work I have now got the pleasure of owning Fuzz as things didn't turn out well with my horse and Becky began her first year at Uni. I wasn't keen at first but I've now owned him for a month and we haven't looked back.
We've already qualified for the Trailblazers second rounds and have got our first Discovery double clear. I am hoping to start newcomers with him soon. I cannot thank Becky enough for all the hard work she put in with Fuzz and for letting me take over as his owner.
Ex-racers probably give you the highest satisfaction and pride out of all horses, and I'm so glad my sister and I have the pleasure of owning one.''
(written by Lucy Blain, May 2012)
Bobby's and Boo's story
"My riding career has been inundated with set backs, so much so that I feel it's only really beginning since I've taken on ex-racehorses. I took on 7yo Bobby (Fairlea Bob), who was trained by Rose Dobbin, with 4yo Charlie who had been bred to race. Both horses were sent down from Yorkshire to Hampshire and Bobby just turned up at the stables with Charlie, another ex-racehorse deemed unbreakable.
I have never had any funding from anyone not even my parents. I got a pony on loan aged 14 without my parents knowing and from that day when the pony arrived, I have worked so hard earning money to keep the horses going without any support at all from anyone. Bobby's career consisted of 8 starts and not being placed above 6th. I hope to compete him BE and BSJA this year which I am very excited about. I have put together a video of Bobby's story from straight off the track to how he is now.
I have taken to schooling other peoples horses, taking on full, part, backing liveries and doing the odd bit of buying schooling and selling to fund the horses. I also have a lovely mare Boo trained by Alan Mcabe, she had 10 starts and no placings above 8th place, she is now competing showjumping and competed last weekend 2ft 9 and 3ft and hopefully with be eventing BE this year. I am hoping to find sponsorship so that I can continue to take on ex-racehorses and turn their lives around then loan them to lovely homes so that they maybe enjoyed and loved.
(written by Lucinda Peat, February 2012)
Solo Volumes - overall 2011 RoR Heart Awards winner
I would like to nominate Solo Volumes (Charlie) for the RoR Heart Awards. Now aged 22, I bought Charlie from Ascot sales, 14 years ago. He had run on the flat and over hurdles. I instantly fell in Love with the 16.3hh, stunning, chestnut, gelding. Rehoming ex-racehorses wasn't so popular then, and most people thought I was mad.
Charlie always tries 100% in what ever I have asked him to do. He settled quickly with my other horses and in no time we were competing in dressage, jumping, cross country, endurance, showing, hunting (in a snaffle) and over the years I think we have had a go at everything, except polo, including BHS Trec and even gymkhana races at a 40th birthday party. Charlie got to 'Silver' in affiliated Endurance, never once failing a vetting and we have been 'County Show Champions!
My son now seven-years-old has ridden Charlie on the lead rein since he was two, even competing in a five mile fancy dress ride last year. Charlie invited 12 of his friends to his 21st birthday party ride last year, complete with rosettes, cake and party bags. Charlie is loyal, loving, an amazing friend and absolutely beautiful as well. He is still fit and well and hopefully has many years left. I have spent a lot of time in hospital over the past few years with Crohns disease and have ridden Charlie at times when I shouldn’t have, but never once has he taken advantage. He has never in 14 years bucked or reared (quite good at jogging sideways though). Charlie is a rare combination of family horse and successful competition horse.
He is a much loved member of the family. I have three ex-racehorses but he is 'Simply the Best ‘!
(submitted by Melanie Yarham, Norfolk - 2011)
Lucius Locket - RoR Healthy Heart short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
We would challenge anyone to find a more versatile and special horse than Lucius. We may well be very biased, being that we have had him in our family 13 years -he is now 20. He has thrilled three generations of my family and is still going strong.
He has shown immense fitness and staying power. As a two-year-old he ran nine times on the flat with Jack Berry and four times as a three-year-old. He was also tried in two point-to-points. Since his retirement from racing he has hunted over the Cottesmore, Pytchley and Quorn’s biggest hedges and won round the country’s biggest team chase courses. Just last autumn he came 2nd in the Cotswold Intermediate with the” Relentless Fight the Ban” team. His staying power is all the more remarkable since he is sprint bred.
My father, Mike Vergette, bought him as a seven-year-old (he was 78 at the time!) They enjoyed countless terrific days hunting always right up front in the action, and competed in the odd local WH class or Team Chase! When my father retired from hunting, Lucius came to us.
He spent summers teaching the children doing Open Pony Club eventing, winning Inter-Hunt relays and has represented the Pytchley in the Pony Club Show Jumping at Burghley. He has also won BSJA Showjumping. We have just added a new string to his bow this year with a couple of RoR Showing Classes, where he won the Best Veteran twice! He has the most phenomenal jump, he never touches a twig and has even jumped rabbit holes out hunting, to get us all out of trouble!
He often schools over National Hunt fences with numerous racehorses and nannies many youngsters. We have also put some Western tack on him and played at barrel racing.
The Greatest Family Horse you could ever wish to own. Thank you Lucius.
(submitted by Tik Saunders, Northamptonshire - 2011)
Alfie - RoR Healthy Heart short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
This big bright bay gelding caught our eye in the ring at Doncaster: with one undistinguished hurdle race behind him, we thought he might make me a point to pointer. Alfie is very laid back but once fit it became apparent that it was not just his attitude slowing him down but the fact that he needed a wind operation.
As he was then fit and ready to go, I decided to have a go at eventing instead. Alfie proved to be a neat accurate jumper and took to this new career well - less so I who rapidly lost patience with dressage and being balloted out.
His wind operation unfortunately made no difference to his speed and the highlight of his point to point career was a third in our members race. Finally, he became a team chaser. He has excelled at this, proving a consistent open team member with regular placings. He actually has brakes so is good on turns and has come to love his weekly outings.
Alfie is also very well travelled: we regularly take our team chasers down to the Pyrenees in the summer where we can enjoy a holiday as well as getting them fit for the autumn season. He has tackled the steep mountain tracks with his usual unflappability and has even enjoyed camping out on the mountain tops with his friends, enclosed behind an electric fence.
Finally he has a superb temperament, the proverbial gentle giant that is a pleasure to have around. All in all, he has done every thing we have ever asked of him and is surely a great example of just how adaptable and successful these ex-racehorses can be in all spheres of equine activity.
(submitted by Simon Coady, Wiltshire - 2011)
Bob Justice - RoR Heart Throb winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
I feel that my dearest horse deserves a little more recognition for all that he has achieved so far in his life. Bob Justice started his racing career at 4 years running in 57 races, winning 5 including a big win at Aintree, and his earnings totaled £94,979. Bob ended his professional racing career at 10 years and began Point to Point racing until he was 14 years. Bob then came to me for his “semi-retirement”.
In the last year I have been re-educating Bob to learn to “chill” and take life more slowly, we have done lots of hacking, some hunting and schooling. We are currently working with Natural Horsemanship and this has proved very rewarding. I have learnt that Bob loves nothing more than praise, a rub on his forehead and lots of polos. Bob is totally sound, has no injuries, has very good feet and is extremely well.
Bob is a real “Heart Throb”, he is extremely handsome and has an amazing presence. He is very genuine and sincere, always giving 100% in all that you ask of him. When we are out hacking, people stop in their cars and admire him telling me how handsome my horse is, which makes me very proud.
I am very proud of his successes and he will spend the rest of his days with me at my home where he will be thoroughly loved and spoilt.
(submitted by Helen Thurtle, Norwich - 2011)
Blaise Wood - RoR Biggest Heart short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
I am entering myself into the biggest heart award because I am simply the most cuddly horse in this world and just love any attention I can get from my mum (Bryony) and other mum (Nadine).
Attached is a photo of me having a midday cuddle with Nadine in my stable - she always falls for it and gives me a long cuddle if I am lying down. I have now been with them for over three years and was a little worried when Mum took me for a lesson recently and a lady asked if I was for sale - fortunately she said "never"! I know they will never consider selling me as I am firmly one of the family with my funny faces, playing with buckets (even taught my best friend, Jade, to play with buckets too), and asking for flank scratches and nearly falling over every time!
I also ask very nicely for treats and cuddles by picking up my front foot which works most times, even if just a nice stroke and hug. They are always laughing when I am with them – we all have such a happy time both in the arena and out on lovely rides around the farm.
I’m also trying very hard to behave well at shows and lessons as this seems to get me lots of attention and hugs as well. I’ve also taught Jade to load and travel nicely in Mum’s new trailer – she was awful before but I’ve assured her that it is no problem and we both travel really happily now. I’ve also attached a photo that mum took this morning where I’m just asking very nicely to go out into the field – could you resist such a lovely face?
(submitted by Bryony Close, Somerset - 2011)
Fundy - RoR Biggest Heart short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
“Loyalty, Affection, great to know and love…” without a doubt are the qualities that make my thoroughbred my horse of a lifetime. Forget the stereotypical adjectives that characterise and define this wonderful breed – elegant, refined head, long neck and fine long legs because they all seem to have by-passed my 15’2” over-grown pony! Sad really, because instead of being the Johnny Depp of the horse world he’s more like Johnny Vegus.
Fortunately he does have a sense of humour! At the age of 14 Fundy was deemed to be on the racing scrap-heap and although adored by his previous owner, realistically what do you do with a old TB that has broken down three times? You tell your friend that he would make a nice little horse for his wife! And that’s how I ended up with him along with strict instructions…“suitable for light hacking only”.
So my expectation level for my new high-mileage friend was zero, which happened to coincide with what everybody else thought too! I can still hear their disparaging remarks resonating in my ears – “Why have you bought a broken horse, there are plenty of good ones out there”, “…permanent vets bill” “….always be lame”, “Once they’ve raced they’re mad” etc……….. I’m delighted to say he’s now 22 years young and I have hunted him every season since he came to me.
He has taken part in Riding Club, Pony Club and Riding for the Disabled activities and is the undisputed favourite horse of all my daughter’s Pony Club friends. He shows his kindness and generosity by letting anyone ride him. He is undemanding, utterly reliable and a great ambassador not only for the under-rated ex-racehorse but for all horses. He is a wonderful friend who I shall look after like a faithful old Labrador for the rest of his life.
(submitted by Julie Barnes, Worcestershire - 2011)
Billingsgate - RoR Biggest Heart short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
Billingsgate or Billy, came to me last June after the death of my previous horse. My last horse was very special to me and his death left me heartbroken, I knew it would take a very special horse to replace him.
Billy is so loving, there really isn’t a bad bone in his body. When Billy came to the yard he settled in from day one. As the new boy on the block everyone wanted to say hello to him and he stood there and lowered his head for the children and adults alike to fuss and stroke him.
Over the months Billy showed his amazing temperament in escorting all the kiddies and their ponies as well as the nervous youngsters on hacks around the fields and lanes never once putting a foot out of line, hanging back to reassure them and leading them when they were nervous.
Billy’s biggest role on our yard is talking to my brother. Dominic is autistic and bottles his emotions up inside him, he won’t tell another person how he is feeling or how his day has been, but he will tell Billy. Billy stands in his stable, and listens to Dominic, he gives him his full attention even when hay is in the stable, or when its busy outside his door, he just gently rests his head in Dominic’s arms, while Dominic tells him anything that’s bothering him and just generally how he feels. Dominic always comes out happier and more content when he’s had a chat with Billy.
Billy has given everyone on our yard a lot of love, not just me and Dominic but anyone who wants a hug or a kiss, he’s there always willing to listen, He truly, truly is an amazing horse with so much love to give and I think he should be honoured for it.
(submitted by Charlotte Fisher, Northamptonshire - 2011)
Charming Fellow - RoR Biggest Heart short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
Charming Fellow - never a more aptly named horse. He arrived with me as no one wanted him post racing, he has bar fired tendons and is big at 17.3 hh, but he literally is the BFG (big friendly giant).
He settled in with great ease. He has manners to die for, he never puts a foot wrong, he lets all the children in the yard handle him. Last summer he had three of them all brushing him at once, one doing his tail, one stood on a step to reach his back, and the other brushing his legs. He wasn’t at all bothered, in fact he fell asleep whilst they were doing it.
He is often found in the early morning sitting down in his field and I go and sit with him. He doesn’t get up he sits there with you and rests his head on your knee, I can also lie down with him and rest my head on him and he is just as content.
Whenever I school him he tries so hard to please. He is so safe that he lets an 11-year-old bring him in and out, he even lowers his head so she can put his head collar on. He never bites, spooks or kicks, and will standstill for hours on the yard.
He has been put in to keep the young hunter company, and he just puts up with all the bites the young one has given him from time to time never falling out with him remaining loyal to him. According to his old race owner he was a stress monster during his career, now he is a happy loving horse who no one ever says a bad word about in our yard. I would like him to win as he deserves these perfect manners to be recognised.
(submitted by Judith Pashley, Leicestershire - 2011)
Bonnie Lad - RoR Heart Throb short listed winner in the 2011 RoR Heart Awards
Bonnie Lad is his racing name and you can see why! If he was a person he would be one of those who don’t need make-up! He is a pretty boy and quite often when called by his stable name “Bonnie” people think he is a mare – until they look closer! He knows he is a pretty boy and boy does he show off, especially in the ménage!
The mares love him and his gelding field mates pick on him for being so pretty and popular! Once he has shed his winter coat he goes a lovely light bay colour – almost dun in some lights and he has an amazing knack of looking extremely well-muscled even when he isn’t worked! I know I’m biased but honestly, he really is bonny!
(submitted by Claire Rigg, Chester - 2011)
Christmas and Ben back together for life
I would like to tell you about my ex-racehorses that I have had for several years. One is called Christmas Truce, he is a 15.2hh bay gelding who is now 11-years-old. He was a successful racehorse right up until the age of nine.
When I first got Christmas he had points at British Dressage and several double clears with BSJA in British novice. I instantly fell in love with him. When I took him home and he got out the trailer, he whinnied so loud to my other horse Ben who came charging to the gate. He was reunited with his best friend, as both of them had been in training together all their lives. After a year apart they still remembered each other and were eating the same blade of grass side by side. They will now be together always.
Christmas is the quietest racehorse I have ever known, nothing seems to faze him. His latest trick is to play with the pigs that come in to field from the forest. He spends most of his day stood in the river and pond in his field eating the nice grass on the banks. Christmas will turn his hoof to anything. We regularly attend the New Forest pony drifts and have been hunting with the New Forest hounds.
We have also won a championship for gymkhana although he did get very excited with all the jumping on and off. We have been doing very well with BSJA, jumping double clears up to discovery. We have had regular jumping lessons with Lionel Dunning where we have been jumping around courses of 1m 30.This year Christmas has been very successful in showing at local and county level. He has won several championships as a riding horse and ridden hunter, and recently we have turned to eventing, jumping clear rounds in open 3ft 6 courses.
I also have another racehorse called Private Benjamin who is a 10-year-old 15.2hh grey gelding. Ben is good to handle and quiet to hack alone and in company. He has done well show jumping although isn’t as brave as Christmas but recently won the 80cms class at a BSJA show out of 64 people, even including Mark Todd. Ben has also been out on the pony round ups and is a regular attendee of the New Forest hounds. Ben is mainly a hacking horse for my dad but will give anything a go and is always so pleased to be doing different things.
(Written by Martine Harding, November 2010)
I purchased Mr Completely (Compo) as a confidence giver and could not have chosen a better horse! Previous to Compo I was exercising another thoroughbred (one who had never raced). She could be very difficult, and sadly our partnership came to an end when she threw me off. My wrist was badly broken and this resulted in surgery several times and spending eight months in a support. By the time I could get back on a horse my confidence was shattered!
I had the opportunity to ride a friend's elderly cob, however, I decided I would buy my own horse- one to get my confidence back and then take me on further, but these horses are hard to come by. Then my riding instructor said he had found a horse suitable. The minute he said 'ex-racehorse', I'd decided no! But he came along with me to look at him, and it didn't take long for me to realise I'd got ex-racehorses all wrong.
Compo was quiet and gentle, but still forward and I knew he'd be great fun. I tried him on many occasions, even hacking through a field not far from a runway (Compo didn't flinch). It didn't take much convincing-I'd found my confidence giver! I've had Compo for five months now and hack him out with no problems around the roads-it no longer makes me feel sick with nerves!
His reschooling has begun, we are taking it slowly together, but he is a quick learner! I can't wait until we are both ready to start competing in some ridden classes, or maybe even some dressage or jumping at local shows. We have however been to many shows during the summer just for me to get used to the atmosphere again. We entered an in-hand class and ended up qualifying for the SWPA finals at the David Broome Event Centre.
As always he was immaculately behaved. He travelled quietly and did not get the slightest bit upset when we turned up minutes before the class, had to unload him at speed and practically sprint to the ring! He is also wonderful with everyone at the yard, and is even teaching one of the mum's to ride and my three-year-old nephew loves to have a sit on him.
I still look back at my attitude towards ex-racehorses and feel embarrassed! Mine is an absolute gentleman who will hopefully take us far and we will have a long and happy future!
(Written by Charlotte Smith, September 2010)
The key thing was to give Lords time to readjust
I’d been riding out for about four years and Lords was always ‘my ride’ from the age of two. He then retired at four due to injury, and as I loved him I couldn’t bear him to go anywhere else so the owners kindly gave him to me.
I hadn’t owned a horse since I was a child (and in spite of riding out certainly wouldn’t class myself as a ‘proper’ rider) so the first year has been rather trial and error. I am also very ‘normal’ financially and have found a way to keep a horse that is very inexpensive (i.e. DIY yard, sharing duties with others etc).
To give Lords time for his leg to recover and to ‘chill out’ from being a racehorse, he was out 24 hours a day from July to March. Then he came in and I got loads of advice on getting his mind and body in the right place, sorting out his immune system, getting his diet good etc. So by the time I started riding him in May he was physically and mentally in a good place.
Three months on, I can’t tell you what an absolute joy he is to own and ride. He’s so relaxed, has an amazing temperament, never puts a foot wrong, and doesn’t even take a hold any more. He is taking to being re-schooled with intelligence and interest. He is also very much the yard’s ‘pet’ and can be turned out with anything.
I have found myself a great instructor and we are learning together, who knows what we’ll both go on to do…
You don’t have to be massively experienced (or rich) to do what I’ve done and not only have I enjoyed the learning process, but I have ended up with a horse who at five is incredibly smart, very exciting and an absolute joy to own. The key thing for me has been to give Lords time to readjust and adapt to being a normal horse, on normal food and not expected to fly up the gallops every day.
(Written by Liz Ampairee, September 2010)
RoR Polocrosse winners in 2010
Ex-racehorses are also excelling at Polocrosse, as you can see from these two RoR winners in 2010.
Winner of the Best Ex-racehorse in Polocrosse was Porlock Lady. She had 5 starts on the flat for trainer RJ Hodges, before being re-schooled by the Howes family for polocrosse.
Sarah Simkin, a prominent member of the UK Open Squad, bought “Luca” three years ago, since when she has played consistently at A grade and in International matches. Now 15, Luca is an integral part of the very successful Ladies team who have had recent successes against international teams from Australia, South Africa and Ireland. When not playing polocrosse, Luca and Sarah also enjoy dressage, jumping and fun rides together.
Winner of the Most Promising Ex-racehorse in Polocrosse was Winning Spirit (aka Spooks). He had notched up a win, a second and two thirds in his 12 starts before being bought by the Smiths from trainer Zoe Davison.
He was re-schooled for polocrosse where his impressive acceleration makes him hard to catch. He is currently being played by 13-year-old Matt Smith, a member of the UK’s U16 team.
Photos are of:
Sarah Simkin and Luca in the Irish International in June
Matt Smith and Spooks in the Irish International in June
(Written by Karen Wilson Smith, August 2010)
Jake is making steady progress
Following on from my last story on ‘Jake’, I would like to do an update to his progress and ‘re-training’ programme. Jake has really come on since our last ‘blog’ (see below) and I have been out competing in show jumping classes, and we have now upgraded to Novice Dressage. Also after some unaffiliated one day events, we are entered into the British Eventing 90 at Moreton Morrell at the end of September 2010, which is a huge step for us.
I have had intermittent lessons with a very highly respected Eventing trainer, who had really helped with Jake’s jumping and I will be registering with the RoR Series in each discipline for next year’s chance at getting placed!
Since June, I have also been working with a local feed adviser and sales representative for TopSpec on the best way to feed Jake cost effectively. Jake was prone to stomach ulcers when racing and the feed supplement that I'd hoped would prevent these ulcers was expensive.
From the pictures you can see that he has now really filled out all over (top photo) and I hope the picture can do him justice in comparison with his first schooling picture (bottom photo). I really believe in time and patience with these ex-racehorses to give them the best possible start in their second careers.
(Written by Sarah Johnstone, August 2010)
Sid is out of this world
I bought Out Of This Way (Sid) from a trainer’s yard in Hereford in November 2009. He is a lovely chap, 16.2hh and seven-years-old. He sustained a racing injury before I bought him which resulted in a nasty looking scar, an abnormal looking hock and half a rib removed. I started retraining him around Christmas time, but it proved difficult as I work full time and didn’t have a ménage to work in, so the dark nights won and we had to take it slowly.
In May 2010 I took him to The David Broome event centre and we qualified for the Championships of Great Britain in two different heights! Fantastic! I then decided to have a go at showing in July.
I was very nervous as we went into the ring for the Racehorse to Riding Horse class, as I had never done this before. Sid must have thought we were in the Grand National, he would not walk tidy, trot was more of a jog, and canter was slightly more to the gallop mark! We all lined up and to my surprise we came 4th, our first rosette in showing fantastic.
The next day we had the Jenny Pitman Challenge Cup. We entered the ring and he felt a lot calmer than the day before. When it was our turn for the individual show I walked him forward and he did a perfect square stance, good start! Then we did a foot perfect show, I was so pleased. The judges finally called us in to take 3rd place which was brilliant. Then the judge came over and told me that I had been placed down for two reasons, my plaits were on the wrong side, and my horse needed a bigger top line but with work he would make it to the top. At this point I was so chuffed I took all his advice and just smiled (yes like a Cheshire cat).
Next was the Racehorse to Competition horse. These fences looked massive, but we ended up with just one fence down. I was thrilled; he was turning into my little superstar. We then did a foot perfect show, and we ended up with a second. I have never been so proud of him or myself, three rosettes in a weekend in a competition that we had never done before.
As long as you can retrain an ex-racehorse they make the best competition horses ever and they never cease to amaze you!
(Written by Adele Phillips, July 2010)
Lady Lion is a pleasure to own
Who would have thought that the ad I put in the local paper asking for a project ex-racehorse would turn up Lady Lion, a two-year-old that had raced and won on the flat once but never again. She was to challenge any expectation I had of what a young thoroughbred racehorse would be like.
I got the call directly from the trainer. Two days later she was at home. Mum and I had done everything we said we wouldn’t do, and brought home the first horse we saw, who was younger than we ideally wanted and the wrong sex.
But she has been brilliant, we have had her a year now and she hacks out alone and in company. I can take her up the local point to point training gallops at walk, trot or canter and stop when I want to. She jumps the odd drainage ditch out hacking and has started with coloured poles. I have had plastic sheeting on her back, she is so good that her nick name is beach donkey. She is competing at the Dorset County show this September in the in-hand ex-racehorse class as she is still only three.
We were expecting a lot of hard work, we had a few rears in hand and a bit of ‘no why should I’, but she picked up the rules quickly and is now brilliant in hand and ridden. She is generally bomb proof with everything, except the horse killing daffodils in the spring, but I can see her point they do look menacing!!!!
Her best friend is my Arab/Welsh x 18 year old, they go everywhere together, they even eat out of the same bucket when she lets him that is, being female she is obviously in charge.
She has been a pleasure to own and I hope we’ll have many years having fun together with the hope she’ll turn her little feet to eventing in the future. She has such a trusting willing nature I’m sure she’ll give it her best.
I’d recommend an ex-racehorse to any experienced confident owner. We know we have been really lucky to have found such a calm one, but they are all willing and really do try their best. We have brought her on really slowly because of her age and it really has been paying off, I hope Lady Lion will be a name that is known in the ex-racehorse circuit in the future.
(Written by Sam Tai, June 2010)
Av's story - from racehorse to riding horse
After reading about my horse's full brother Marshall's Warning in the success stories (showing) I wanted to tell you about my Averlline and how much fun we have been having!
Averlline ran 17 times as a 2 and a 3 year old and managed a few places and even a win! Averlline was her breeders’ first winner and she didn’t improve further so they decided to retire her. She moved from Ben De Haan to a family friend, Janet Vaughan and her husband John. As a result of Averlline’s small size (15.1hh), her sharpness and her inevitable TB habit of picking up field injuries, she didn’t do much in terms of work but she did have time to calm down and relax. She was lightly hacked around and shown hounds.
I started to loan her as a very green six-year-old. She had hardly done anything on her own and so nappiness was a huge hurdle to overcome. We spent the first few months hacking round the Cotswolds together, (and sometimes slightly less together as falling off was a feature of those first few months!). Nappiness is still one of our issues, however lots of independent hacking and work has certainly helped. We started doing some little show jumping, (fillers were the scariest thing that she had ever seen) and some autumn hunting at which she was delightful. Over the next year we had lots of excellent help from a range of instructors and trainers.
I then jumped at the offer to buy her from the Vaughans and during the last year together we have really become a team. She has been placed at nearly all her unaffiliated dressage outings and we were lucky enough to win BD membership through ROR and Horse and Hound. In Averlline’s three affiliated outings to date she has been placed, won two BD points, finished midway through a very competitive class in the BD Combined Training series and had a go at Freestyle. We are now confident competing at BS British Novice and we started doing some Cross Country last autumn.
Av has completed three hunter trials to date and we also started a Novice fun Team Chase team called the Bays and Greys and had a great time at the Heythrop and Old Berks Team Chases.
Av has also managed to fit in Bloodhounding with the Farmers Bloodhounds, gate-shutting with the North Cotswold Hunt, and competing in the ROR Ridden Racehorse and Challenge classes, as well as generally hacking round the countryside. I hope to event Av this year. We will also be continuing to fit in Riding Club competitions, schooling, camps and all the other parties that Averlline has to cram into her very full diary!
Retraining a racehorse continues to be a massive challenge but in no way more than it would be to retrain any horse. I love how talented and athletic Averlline is and how she will have a go at pretty much everything. Averlline is a great example of a true fun all-rounder owned by a true amateur. I think that she really demonstrates how rewarding retraining a racehorse can be!
(Written by Hannah Drury, May 2010)
Since taking on my boys...my life has changed dramatically for the better
It started in 2008 as I had got a pony for my daughter, and I was talking to one of the girls in the stables, Emma, that it would be nice to have another horse then my daughter and I could go riding together.
Emma worked for the NRC (Northern Racing College) and said that sometimes the horses come up for re-homing. I was a little dubious as this was a racehorse, maybe a little advanced for what I was looking for.. but did not think too much about it until one day Emma said that one of the instructor’s horses was in need of re-homing. Well my eyes must have lit up, but she made it clear that I could try him out and there was no pressure to have him.
I was so excited on the day I was going to see him that I felt sick. Emma walked me into this very grand stable block and in front of me was this very handsome beast, Gayles & Showers (Piggy - top picture). WOW! She did not even need to ask I just said I will have him he is so handsome... I tried him and was very nervous, I could feel the power in him but he was a delight to ride and he made me feel so safe... I loved him from that moment.
Preparations were made to get him home and I started to get all the things we needed for him, saddle, bridle, rugs, brushes, boots... the list was endless but I loved every minute and spent a small fortune. On the day we went to get him my heart was pounding at just the thought that he was coming home and he was mine to care for.
We got him home without any fuss, he got in and out of the box no hassle. I whispered in his ear welcome home as we got him off the box, and I felt so proud and happy that I think I would have burst.
I made a big effort to gain his trust and he has had some major things happen to him. He got a nasty injury and had to go to York hospital as he tore a massive chunk out of his rear leg. He spent three weeks there and three months on stable rest. He must have had a lot of pain but he was so calm and gentle and let us do all the necessary things to make him well again.
He gave me all the love and care back as in April 2008 I had a hysterectomy and was feeling very ill. Even though I was not allowed out of bed to make a drink I went to the stables to change his dressings and do the little that I could get away with. We took the next two months recovering together, he knew I was fragile and we would walk gently round the field together, stopping to have a munch of grass or a little breather if I was getting out of puff he knew and stopped.
Towards the end of the summer of 2008 we were both well on the road to recovery that we started just having a little ride round the field... with out too much fizz. We have gone from strength to strength and the bond between us now is inseparable, he knows when I am sad, and when I am happy. He is my best friend.
This is where a success story might end but not in this case. Click here for the full story ...
(Written by Debbie Wood, April 2010)
An everyday story of retraining a racehorse
“You could always ride her; she just stands about doing nothing…” Mmm, it always starts like that, doesn’t it? Just a few simple words, that set off a chain reaction that changes things for a lifetime. And this was no different.
“Band of Hope.” A chestnut TB mare, 16.1hh, then in her early / mid teens and at a friend’s livery yard.
I used to set up visits for a horse dentist round some local yards twice a year and on our first visit to Dalebrook he heard the offer that was made to me. The mare’s reputation had gone before her a little and looking over the door at her rather cross expression and angular frame, I didn’t fancy my chances.
As we drove on to the next yard, the dentist said “I think you should have a go with that Dixieland Band mare, I really like her. She’d make you a crackin’ horse.” Mmm. There it goes again, the simple sentence and you don’t always act on it immediately, but it hangs around in the air, waiting to come back to you like a text message stuck in the ether when your mailbox is full. You might think it would be reasonable to listen to the advice of the horse dentist, a knowledgeable professional. On this occasion, you could go even further than ‘reasonable’ as the dentist concerned was an ex – jockey.
The months rolled on and minus any riding I began to think about the mare and whether we might get on. I had lost my last horse, which I’d owned for 16 years, about 18 months earlier and wasn’t really sure it was yet time to try forging deep bonds with another.
After a particularly appalling week at work, I needed a new focus and thought what harm can it do to go and take a closer look? I can always say no! – Fool. So armed with my hat, gloves, basic lunge kit and a pocket full of bribery I set off on the ten minute drive to Dalebrook. Band of Hope was in her stable. Somewhat cautiously I approached the door. Unimpressed by my arrival, she stood eyeing me up suspiciously, with her rangy, ginger backside wedged in her manger. (An annoyingly persistent habit, I was to find out later) If my presence at her door didn’t provoke much reaction, entering the stable did and the previously wedged bottom moved with alarming alacrity in my direction!
So, our first ‘session’ began with a little discussion about which way it was polite to face when someone enters your room.
Many, many more ‘discussions’ followed. Click here for the full story...
(Written by Angela Palmer Cartwright BHSAI, April 2010)
Ed was a gentleman of a schoolmaster
My lovely gorgeous horse Ed is a 20yr old bay TB, with his official Weatherbys’ name being Bayfan. He's 16.3hh, so not a small chappy by any odds, and I've had him for 17 years now, we've grown up together, through thick and thin!
I found Ed by chance really. When I was 13 years old, I started riding out for a local race horse trainer. He looked so sweet, like a thoroughbred Bambi really........he was just all legs and looked at you with those glossy eyes of his, and I fell in love with him immediately. The trainer finally allowed me to ride him, but only walking and trotting, and against the better wishes of a fretful Mum! Bear in mind, I was only 13 years old, and looked like a small bag of peas when I sat on him, but we clicked......... like two little peas in a pod, and were inseparable ever since.
It took me about six months of persistence to convince my parents to buy him for me! Fortunately the trainer gave in sooner, but I think the thought of getting some cash for one of the slowest race horses going looked like a promising option, and with the exchange of a few hundred pounds, the boy came home!!
Despite my local pony club shunning me in having bought an ex-racehorse (which was un-heard of back then) and our long term vet telling my Mum to sell him, as she'd been stupid enough to over horse me, Ed and I together made them eat their words!
He turned out to be a very successful dressage and affiliated show jumper. He came 6th nationally in junior dressage, and had many winnings and placings at BSJA including British Novice, Fox Hunter and Newcomers. As for XC........well, hold onto your pants, as we were un-stoppable! After a few years, I had people making me offers to buy him, and was a gentleman of a schoolmaster!
Ed is still going strong now. I retired him many years ago and he's just a very spritely hack despite his elderly frame! He's had his fair share of vet visits over the years, so much so, that the vets now text me to see how he is and ask to see him when they're passing! The farrier adores him, and he dribbles away in his comatose state when being shod and is angelic for the apprentices when they come!
I love Ed to bits - I made a solemn vow to my parents that I would keep him till his last days, and after 17 years, I love him more than ever! Despite his cheeky cavalier attitude at times!
(Written by Amie Padfield, January 2010)
Whisper has greatly helped me in my recovery
Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to find that one horse that we are meant to be with. I found that horse in Whisper, a grey 10 year old Thoroughbred. Whisper is an ex-racehorse, and she still has a lot of her racehorse energy and spirit.
I met Whisper when the owner of the barn where I was riding bought her. She was always pacing in her paddock, and looked like a handful. When I groomed her she was well mannered but still worried and tense. Gradually she relaxed.
Riding her was a wonderful experience. She was gentle and patient, and although she clearly wanted to run she stayed at the pace that I asked of her. She was nervous and spooky but never tried to unseat me, and soon we adjusted to each other and got along very well.
Just over a year ago I was in a bad car accident. I suffered a head injury which led to balance problems, migraines, and short-term memory loss. It also resulted in chronic fatigue, and I was very sensitive to light and sound. My right hip was injured, making it painful for me to walk. It was determined that horseback riding would not likely be in the future for me due to my balance problems and the fact that another injury to my head could be “disastrous.” If I was to ride, I would need an older bomb-proof horse.
I knew that Whisper did not fit the description of the ideal horse for me. Yet she was the horse I got along with. I decided I could at least groom her, and five months after the accident I returned to the barn to see her again. She left the other horses and her food in the paddock and walked up to me, something she had never done before. Whisper was gentle and patient while I was grooming her.
After a week, I knew that I needed to ride again. I was suffering from depression and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. I saddled Whisper and led her up to the ring. When I mounted up she stood perfectly still, waiting for me to get adjusted before taking her first steps.
For that ride, and many to come, Whisper was like a different horse. She was quiet, never pulling at the reins, and listening to my leg cues. When I asked her to stop, she would halt immediately. Even though I was off balance at the trot, she balanced for the both of us while I struggled to re-learn what had once come so easily.
Whisper has greatly aided me in my recovery. My memory is still bad and I sometimes walk with a limp, but she has changed much of that. Her comical personality made me laugh when it was difficult to do so. Riding her brings me to a place of peace and satisfaction where it does not matter that I cannot remember what I did yesterday. My balance is no longer an issue, as when I am on her no one can see all of that. She makes me graceful and happy. She makes me free.
(Written by Paige Cerulli, January 2010)
Porcha is now full of live after being rescued
My horse Dolly is an ex-racer and when she retired she was used as a broodmare. However during the birth of her third foal she nearly died and as a result she was given away. I fortunately acquired her and she is just the loveliest mare I know.
In 2009 I was informed that her youngsters and some others had been found neglected, so a friend and I went down to rescue them. Unfortunately a number of these babies were so far past neglect they were either put down or died. It was horrendous, I had never seen such ill horses in my life. Porcha (Dolly’s youngest) was so ill, all her organs had shut down, and she was so thin and fragile looking. I got the vet down to her and she advised that I put her to sleep – but something in Porcha’s eyes told me she had fight in her. I wanted confirmation from the vet that I was not being cruel by keeping her alive and she agreed that I was not being cruel – but expressed it would cost a lot to get her well again.
I took on the responsibility and a year on Porcha is now a cheeky rising two-year-old, full of live and loving each day!
Please see the photo of Porcha in the field from last year – so ill. Then in February this year tied outside her stable, and yes there is a heart on her bum – I was getting her used to the sound of clippers and drew my heart on her…
(Written by Yvonne Chivers, March 2010)
'Trained to Run, Retrained for Fun' is particularly apt for Trig
Dunston Trigger is 15 years old and has been retired from racing since he was 8 years old. He broke down racing due to his tendons; injections and lasering were tried amongst other things but eventually the vets thought it best that he be put to sleep. His owner Tania Harrison couldn’t bear that, so she brought him home and turned him out to give him a fighting chance.
A year later, it was obvious that he would never race again, so it was time for a career change. He was a very nervous horse who took plenty of re-training, but the results have been tremendous.
Trig, or ‘Pig’ as he is affectionately known, has points at BSJA and has successfully competed at both Intro and Pre-Novice eventing, winning at Intro and placed top six at Pre-novice on several occasions. In seven years he has never had a stop at cross country although he has been known to roll a pole show jumping.
After six years at BE with Tania, Trig decided that it was time to take life a little easier and he now has a new jockey and joint owner, Carol-Anne Boulton. Trig has relished in the task of teaching his less experienced rider. Together they are now being placed at BD, riding club level show-jumping, showing and at the new BE training classes, where they came 2nd in their first event together.
The phrase, ‘Trained to run, Retrained for fun’ is particularly apt for Trig; at 15 he is enjoying his retirement, although we sometimes wish he would act his age when he is in the field playing!
(Written by Carol-Anne Boulton, January 2010)
Gorgeous George - a handsome & talented model
Our ex-racehorse arrived with the stable name George, this very quickly changed to "Gorgeous George" as he has become a model along with his owner Pippa, a Law student at Chester.
He has many talents including progressing from intro to pre novice eventing last season. Qualifying for the Pony Club dressage Championships, making excellent use of his free BD membership thanks to RoR (he has not been out of the top 3 at all his BD events). He has also hunted and the name "Georgeous George" really began to stick when he won the first Trailblazer Showing retrained racehorse class he entered.
George came to us via a friend whose neighbour had bought him from a dealer for her 12 year old daughter, he had proved very unsuitable but our friend felt he was a kind soul who deserved another chance. At six-years-old, 15.3hh with a clean vetting and brief racing career (under the name Firmount) which included a win on the flat and a few attempts at hurdling we decided to take a chance on him.
Pippa and George soon formed a great partnership, schooling him and getting help from professionals has proved rewarding. George is also safe enough for Mum to hack out on and Dad to deal with in the stable, although he did come with the odd stable vice these soon eased once he was turned out regularly and was treated kindly but firmly.
As DC of our local Pony Club I have seen many people buy the wrong horse, I would certainly not have recommended an ex-racehorse but I am delighted to say George has given me a fresh insight. I would not like to see one go to inexperienced hands but with correct schooling and empathy these wonderful creatures have so much to offer, and when the price tag on so many horses now is so high it is fantastic to think of the quality and talent you can afford with an ex-racehorse.
(Written by Billie Weld-Blundell - Pippa's mum and George's part time groom and chauffeur, January 2010)
Hometomammy was an absolute gentleman
I thought you might like to take a look at myself and my ex-racehorse, Hometomammy, on Boxing Day. We or rather I, decided to have a go at side saddle, an ambition of mine. So 10 days prior to the Boxing Day hunting meet I purchased a side saddle to fit my 16hh six-year-old TB. Well with the weather being absolutely awful, we ended up with only five days to trial it after work.
As you can see, we managed to make it to the meet and even hunt for a couple of hours. He was an absolute gent and it was an honour to ride him down Broadway High Street (North Cotswold Hunt) with everyone clapping and cheering.
I would just like every one to see that it is possible, to achieve what might seem the impossible at the time. With a little courage and dedication, you can feel like the lady of the hunt.
(Written by Debbie Barritt, December 2009)
I got Jake in October 2008 and really want to try and make an eventer of him. He had previously been pointing and had run in National Hunt races.
This photo is of him over that first winter when I had him – he did look poor and very under condition as he had no muscle. He looks much better now. I am building him up on the flat and hoping to do a bit more jumping over this winter as he is re-learning how to jump and wait for the fence as from his racing days I presume he puts more energy into getting to the fence than jumping over it!
We have been out to do a few dressage classes, only prelims, and I qualified for the Solihull Riding Club Championships. We took part and ended up winning with a score of 70.4% which I was really chuffed with. We received a lovely trophy and rosette with some promising comments.
(Written by Sarah Johnstone, October 2009)
Four very loved ex-racehorses enjoying a second career
My husband and I bought a racehorse in training in February 2007 called Charming Ballet, a short distance sprinter. He won for us and then developed a bleeding condition so we retired him and brought him home. We then purchased three more racehorses, Mr Napoloen who when on to win us a lot of money in racing, Hawa Khana, and Barranco from Gary Moore who had injured his leg and needed a good home.
Unfortunately, my husband had a serious accident at the Nad al Sheba racecourse and fractured his back. He has been unable to work so all of the horses have now stopped racing and live at a livery yard with my showjumper in West Sussex.
All of our ex-racehorses are a pleasure to own. They are all individual and we love them dearly. My eight-year-old daughter and our three foster children ride them and help us to look after them. They are a major part of our family and I would trust them around anyone. Barranco and Charming Ballet do local shows and even our very nervous friends ride them. Hawa Khana is a sweetheart, she is so kind and I am hoping to do dressage with her. Mr Napoleon is a cheeky monkey with attitude, and is being re-trained for showjmping.
I would recommend to anyone who is looking for a horse to look at an ex-racehorse, but you do need to know what you are doing. My horses are so individual and each require different approaches in training. However, I have been told that my bunch are exceptionally good and loving. All they needed was love and care built around trust.
(Written by Sam Gibbons, August 2009)
Donald always took care of me
Donald came to me in October 2003 from the charitable retraining centre, Greatwood. Helen Yeadon and her fantastic team had chosen Donald as a potentially good horse for me after a couple of falls from my previous horse had left me with an injured knee and very little confidence with horses. Donald, aka Southern Dominion in his racing days, had raced a massive 146 times on the flat as a sprinter, gaining 10 wins and 23 places. He was retired in 2002 at the age of 10 and sent to Greatwood for his retirement.
To say that Donald was a quirky horse would be an understatement, he pulled the most evil faces when in his stable or near food, liked to sit on wall mounted objects, and was partial to the odd chunk of my legs and arms. Earning his trust took what seemed like an eternity, but once I had it, we were inseparable. Donald was a horse that would really take care of you no matter what.
Donald was amazingly intelligent, and picked up new things like a old hand. Despite having hardly any experience of jumping, he was soon competing in showjumping and eventing. He had scope to burn, phenomenal style and could tell what I was thinking before I knew it myself. He was sometimes too brave when jumping, but would get me out of any sticky situation.
He was successful in showing classes too, coming 2nd in Best Veteran in the Spring of 2008 and qualifying for 2 major championships. However, my proudest memory of Donald will always be competing for our local riding team, Ladyley's, at the annual club competition in Fife, Scotland in May 2008. Donald behaved beautifully as always, with 2 awe-inspiring rounds over a challenging track of show-jumping fences. Donald had jumped his heart out for me and it was to have a terrible price.
Donald was diagnosed with the dreaded navicular shortly after returning home from the competition, after suffering from lameness in both front feet. Combined with his other wear and tear injuries, it proved too much for him, and he was put to sleep in September following an intense period of failed treatments. He was 16 years old, and taken from me far too soon.
My eternal and heartfelt thanks go to Helen and Michael at Greatwood, for providing me with such a wonderful little horse. I will miss him always.
(Written by Rachael Simpson, April 2009)
Ben goes team chasing just two months after starting his second career
Following on from Senna (story above), my current horse is Benellino (Ben) a six-year-old gelding, jump bred by Robellino. He was placed in a bumper and ran over hurdles but was too slow.
Ben came from Ascot sales in July 2008. I went over to his stable where he was stood quietly munching hay and was able to chat to the girl who looked after him. Although looking a little poor and suffering from rain scald, I immediately liked the look of him and decided to go and bid. Fortunately the person bidding against me pulled out before my limit and with the fall of the hammer Ben was mine.
After a few days to settle in, I rode him and he didn't put a foot wrong. He was hacking out on his own two days later and proved willing and honest. He rapidly put on weight and his rain scald cleared up.
Within a month he had been show jumping and cross country schooling, taking everything in his stride and appearing to have a lovely genuine jump. We put together a team to run at the Atherstone team chase only two months after I bought him, and Ben ended up leading at his first ever event, where we came 8th out of over 30 teams. We went on to complete the Bicester, Grafton and the intermediate at the Cotswold. I also took him hunting and he behaved impeccably and was much admired by several people.
Ben had a well earned break at the end of the year and is now back in work. We are working hard on our dressage and have jumping lessons with Stephen Hadley who was very complementary. We hope to do several team chases this spring with a view to doing some Pre-Novice events later, and the RoR class at the Three Counties Show in June.
I am very lucky to have Ben and fortunately he has not been over-raced when his trainer realised he wasn't quite good enough. He has to fit in around a full time job but hopefully we will have lots of fun and success together.
Written by Donna Mallon (March 2009).
Ridjit proves a priceless all-rounder
Ridjit was bought from Doncaster Sales in May 2007. He was bought by my boss to go pointing but after riding him for the first time I offered to buy a half share.
He came to this country from Ireland with a massive reputation and his first race was the same as Denmans! He ran over hurdles and fences for trainer Nick Gifford but fell a couple of times and was also brought down once. Needless to say his confidence jumping was non existent.
He was turned out for the summer and before we ran him we decided to take him to a couple of local shows where he won his first prelim dressage test with a score of 73% and followed that up with a couple of placings in some showing classes.
His race season started at Cottenham where he was pulled up three from home, which was disappointing as his work at home had been very good and we'd done alot of jumping to get his confidence up. He then went on to finish 5th and 4th but it was decided his heart wasn't in it so was duly retired. I then bought the other half share. He has since won 7 prelim dressage tests, placed in all his novice tests and won 3 ex racehorse classes. This resulted in him finishing 7th in the SEIB performance championships 2008. Not bad for his first season.
I am hoping to continue his success this season and plan to event him. It's taken along time to build his confidence up jumping but now I have a job to hold him coming into fences. To me he's a superstar and is a complete all-rounder, hacking, hunting, dressage and jumping. I like to think he's now worth alot more than the 50p reserve Nick joked about putting on him before he went through the sales - to me he's priceless!!!
Written by Catherine Shirley (February 2009).
Important stunt team member - Yardstick
Yardstick is a chesnut gelding who ran several times on the Flat for racehorse trainer Sylvester Kirk. He is 15.3 tall, bold and adventurous.
He was one of the first to arrive at the Hollesley Bay resting base of “Retraining of Racehorses”. A leg injury forced an early retirement from racing.
Yardstick was the first to be re-housed, moving to a new home on a 115 acre farm in Suffolk. Observation had indicated that he had the potential to work in the field of stunts and tricks. His eager and willing nature, coupled with a blasé approach to new situations, made his new owner optimistic. That optimism was not misplaced.
General schooling confirmed the assessment and new tricks were learned eagerly. His training even included mounted falconry. That is no mean accomplishment for any horse. The most recent accomplishment was to replace a drop out from a jousting season at the last minute. He acquired the rudiments in only a couple of weeks and performed faultlessly during the summer of 2008.
Yardstick is now coming up to seven years of age. He is still on the same Suffolk farm which he shares with his ‘workmates’. Many of them were unwanted and were rescued or re-homed following illness or significant behavioural issues. All now form a cohesive herd who give every indication of enjoying their new lives.
Written by horse master Richard Gibbs of Phoenix Brand Film Horses (January 2009).
Rivertown - the wonderful all rounder
I have been lucky enough to own Rivertown (known as Ben) for three years having seen him advertised in Horse & Hound by Australian eventer Catherine Burrell.
By the Shirley Heights stallion Oak Ridge, who was bred by Prince Khalid Abdullah, Ben started life in New Zealand winning on the flat over a mile. Amanda Perrett brought him to England when he was 5 and he spent two years in training with her when he was 6 and 7. He ran on the flat six times and his last two races were over hurdles but none were remotely successful – Amanda said he was too slow to do himself justice!
Catherine bought him to event and he was placed in the top ten in five of the seven events he did. Sadly for Catherine he injured a tendon and two years later she decided to sell him which was my lucky day as he is an absolute pleasure to own. He is a real gentleman in the stable and the only time he tries to behave badly is when his mane and tail are being pulled and who can blame him for that.
Ben is in all the Kings Leaze Riding Club teams although I have to admit that dressage isn’t really our strong point. His successes this year include winning the individual area Novice Cross-Country at Crown Farm, Oxfordshire, a qualifier for the Riding Club Championships at Aston le Walls in May. Sadly we were unable to take part because of my work commitments. The team also won the Riding Club Area Trials at Broadway to qualify for the 2 Day Event Championships at Offchurch where Ben didn’t put a foot wrong. He is fabulous to ride cross-country especially as he is very careful and loves every minute of it.
Ben’s crowning glory this year was winning the 2008 RoR Challenge Championships at Addington which was incredibly exciting. Again he behaved impeccably to show that ex-racehorses can be ridden by amateurs like me.
We also did the wonderful RoR 3 day clinic at the British Racing School which was taken by Nick Burton. Nick was incredibly helpful and I cannot recommend this course more highly so look out for the next one!
Written by Anna MacDonald (September 2008)
From racehorse to RDA horse - Winky
At the Bannockurn Group of the Riding for the Disabled, we have on loan to us a six-year-old ex-racehorse, Another Misk known in the yard as Winky. He came to us in November 2006 as a thin four-year-old. He had been purchased at the sales by my sister who realised he, despite being so thin and having a bashed eye, had a very good frame and nice temperament.
She gave him a couple of months in the field and feeling that a life in a competition yard was not for him offered him to me. I encouraged a friend, Carol Simpson, to buy him, then as the manager of Bannockburn RDA I agreed we would take him on loan. As well as developing him as a Riding Club horse for my friend we would train him to work in our Riding for Disabled Centre.
What a complete delight he is - a fantastic nature and progressing so well - you can do pony club games on him and take him out in any company. We started at the beginning with him, re-backed him and progressed to the standing still for mounting. We are still developing his ability and confidence to be mounted and then have adjustments done to tack and riders, but this improves every day - though it costs us a fortune in polos!
The photograph shows Winky in the school with Carol’s 11 year-old daughter, Ellie. Ellie also rides him and has done some of the basic schooling work, getting him used to all sorts of different riders. Carol also competed him last year in a prelim dressage competition and he behaved beautifully, although completely refused to be plaited for the occasion!
Winky is getting used to his day job which involves being ridden by a variety of disabled riders in classes. Longer term Carol hopes to do a bit more competing at Riding Club level and hopefully Winky may one day compete with a disabled rider within a RDA championships.
I think he just proves that ex-racehorses really can turn their hooves to any thing with correct schooling, understanding and patience. Not bad going, from racing to RDA yard – Fab!
Written by Sara Smith - Manager Bannockburn Riding for the Disabled, and Carol Simpson (August 2008)
Thirteen-year-old Tessa has fun with Zameel
A few years ago I bought an ex-racehorse after I grew out of my old welsh pony. His name is Zameel, stable name Julian, and he is seven-years-old.
He raced three times when trained by Jedd O'Keffee and then retired, and we have been retraining him since October 2006.
He is now competing at local unaffiliated dressage and riding club shows.
My trainer Mrs Jenni Revilles has played a big part in Julian's retraining, which has really paid off as he never comes home without a ribbon.
We have now started jumping and he's been around a small cross country course with great confidence.
He will be doing the RoR class at the Suffolk Show ridden by Mrs Leila Loveday who has also been a great help with his retraining. As I am only 13 I cannot ride him myself in the class, but will be there to groom.
Tessa Martin (May 2008)