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Success stories The tale of Oborne Lady and Vicky Jones - you could say it was meant to be!

18th July 2023

Written by Vicky Jones

After growing up riding a variety of showjumpers and dressage horses, I fell in love with National Hunt racing during my first year studying Veterinary Medicine at the Royal Veterinary College. I spent 2 weeks at Paul Nicholls yard in Ditcheat during the era of Kauto Star, Denman and Big Bucks and I was hooked. It was during my first year working as an equine vet that I started riding out for Seamus Mullins in my spare time. I then met my husband-to-be (Kevin Jones, ex National Hunt jockey) and a year later sat on Oborne Lady for the first time when she was a 4-year-old and fell in love with her too.

Kevin rode Oborne Lady in her first ever bumper, first time over hurdles and first chase. Over her 5 years in training, she only ever won on one occasion at Salisbury Racecourse (our local track), but she was (and still is) such an enthusiastic girl with her work that she had a go at everything and was much loved by everyone at the racing stables.

Kevin and her previous owner Simon Prout knew how much I adored her and had been planning (in secret) that we could have her when she retired from racing. I think it was an hour after she pulled up in her last race on 15th November that Simon said we could pick her up whenever we were ready, 3 days later we had moved her to my friend’s yard in the New Forest.

She never really had a permanent stable name in racing, so we had to come up with one. Her racing name was Oborne Lady after the place where Simon's mother is buried, and her name was Ellen, so hence we named her Ellie.

So as of 18th November 2022, I finally owned my own horse! Ellie is the epitome of the thoroughbred. Being super adaptable, she settled in brilliantly and has taken on every challenge I've presented her with. Her progress within the last 7 months has been incredible but she has always been brave, willing to learn and honest. As she has grown stronger with her flatwork schooling, she has really started to enjoy that part and loves lateral work and starting to learn medium trot. However, jumping will always be both of our first loves. She absolutely adores it and will gravitate towards any jump that is near her in the school or cross-country field! We recently completed our first one day event at Moreton in Dorset, with a score of 33.5 in dressage and double clear jumping. My ultimate goal is to qualify for the Badminton Grassroots eventing championships but even if that never happens, I'm just going to enjoy every part of our journey together.

Ellie's retraining hasn't all been plain sailing. Our first few outings were very interesting getting tacked up and getting on as she thought she was going racing! So, I kept everything very low key (lessons, hacking with friends etc) and spent plenty of time learning to know what works for her. I only get on her from a mounting block now as she associates being legged up onto away from home with going racing. Standing still to be mounted and out hacking as well as on the yard were all new things she had to learn. I think having an understanding of how racehorses are trained, and their routine is crucial to help retrain them.

Thoroughbred's really are the ultimate athletes, but are also incredibly adaptable, it's just a question of finding out what their strengths are to then match them to their next career. If our eventing dreams become too far-fetched, I think Ellie would also make a good Liberty horse, I've taught her to bow already!

I hope you enjoyed our story and it has inspired you to consider retraining an ex-racehorse, but from my veterinary surgeon perspective I would always encourage you to consult your vet to assess whether your dream horse is suitable for the job you want it to do.

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