Thoroughbreds Rocked it Out at KY Horse Park Show

You all know I have a heart for retired Thoroughbred racehorses that are able to find fulfilling, second careers. I want to commend the organization New Vocations for its dedication to this cause, and the fact it is actually proving its mission.   

The organization, which claims on its website to “stand in the gap for retired racehorses by providing a safety net through rehabilitation, education, and placement in qualified, caring homes,” made a recent goal to draw these horses back into the show ring. The plan got off to a great start following the Kentucky Horse Park’s Country Heir Horse Show June 17-18.

“It was definitely a success and we were very impressed with the turnout,” said New Vocations program director Anna Ford, who also authored the book Beyond the Track on retraining retired racehorses. “Many of the trainers and exhibitors openly shared their appreciation of having a division for Thoroughbreds.”

Thoroughbreds from several different states traveled to compete in the New Vocations Thoroughbred hunter division consisting of four fence classes and one flat class.

Exhibitors competed for $2,500 in prize money, which was sponsored by Ron and Ricki Rashinski’s Homewrecker Racing. Scores from all five classes were tallied, and Kim Carey with her retired racehorse Jules Mom (show name Field Day) were the division champions. “I’ve always loved Thoroughbreds and was thrilled to learn about the new division,” said Carey in a release.

“The owners of Jules Mom called me when they decided to retire him from the track,” she added. “I took him sight unseen and have never regretted my decision. He has turned out to be such a great hunter.”

Field Day 

Reserve champion honors went to Stephanie Collier and Pine’s Angel. The Pine Bluff gelding was runner up twice as a 3-year-old on the racetrack, but never broke his maiden. He ran his last race with jockey Jerry Bailey and trainer Bill Mott.

While he may have not been cut out to be a racehorse, Pine’s Angel has become a top hunter, competing at many of the “A” rated shows.

Additional Thoroughbred classes will be held July 11 at the Kentucky Horse Park’s Robert Murphy Horse Show. There will be a $2,500 Thoroughbred Mini Prix sponsored by Castleton Lyons and a $2,500 Thoroughbred Hunter Classic sponsored by the NTRA and National HBPA friends of New Vocations. The event is open to the public and all interested are encouraged to come and watch.

For more information, visit


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Blue Blue Sea

Yes! I love stories like these.

01 Jul 2010 12:35 PM

Beautiful picture !

01 Jul 2010 2:09 PM
Larry Ensor

Up until I believe the late 70's maybe late 60's Thoroughbreds ruled the show world.  In fact and my number maybe a bit off, in one of the spring issues of The Chronicle of the Horse, the Bloodhorse of the show world, 15 of the top 20 horses reviewed are Thoroughbreds.  So it should not be surprising that Thoroughbreds do well in the ring.  Granted they are more spirited then dumb bloods and take a more competent rider most would agree they should be the preferred breed not the exception. Last weekend we took 2 former racers to a local show. One that had never been to a show before and was third in his class.  We took him off the track in December turned him out and did not start working with him until April.  Our other TB won his jumper class at 3-9 and was second in two others.  And both competed against all breeds.  We have 6 former racers on our farm at the moment. We retrain for the ring, steeplechase and fox hunting.  Contrary to popular believe ex-racers are not difficult retrain and you don't have to have a manual, be a horse whisper or need a special trainer.  What the industry needs to do is advertise the facts and not in the racing trades.  A fund should be set up with money collected from the producers, breeders and mount a well thought out campaign.  And I am not talking about a lot of money in the grand scheme of things.  The industry as a whole could should set up a fund to sponsor some of the top riders if they only ride Thoroughbreds.  Young and up coming riders will always emulate their pears and hero's.  This is tried and true no matter what the widget is.

01 Jul 2010 3:36 PM
Larry Ensor

While we are on the topic another thought. Why doesn't the industry set up a fund and offer prize money in the name of the industry to various shows especially the small regional ones.  The money can only be used for classes that are restricted to Thoroughbreds.  Or like state bred programs offer bonus money to the best placed Thoroughbreds in open divisions.  Offer a huge bonus to the owner and rider of the first Thoroughbred to win the gold at the Olympics or WEG.  There are a number of ways to get the attention of the pleasure/sport rider/trainers of the equestrian  world. Again I am not talking a lot of money.  If the industry can come up with $20,000,000 in purse money for a 2 day event it surely can come up with $2,000,000 a year for many events that will promote and encourage people to seek out retired race horses. People that get on our horses almost always amazed that they are Thoroughbreds. I get tired of saying these are the norm not the exception.

01 Jul 2010 4:01 PM
Esther Marr

Thank you for that, Larry. I had no idea Thoroughbreds had been so successful in the show ring in the past. I would love to talk with you some more in the future about your thoughts on ex-racers...what an interesting concept! I commend you for what you do on your farm.

01 Jul 2010 4:31 PM
Grand Prix Show Jumper

My husband and I have retrained and competed several thoroughbreds up to the grand prix show jumping level.  While I salute the efforts being made, I would like to offer some suggestions from a different perspective.  Our perspective is that people need to see thoroughbreds performing at the highest levels in shows again to re-ingite interest in the breed among both higher-end retail customers and professionals.  As someone partial to thoroughbreds, I cannot take on many to retrain since almost nobody at the best shows will even consider a thoroughbred for themselves (retail) or a customer (professional).  The prices people will pay at the smaller shows will not even let you break even on these horses expenses, even if the horse itself is 'free'.

The class for jumpers at the "B/C" show coming up at the horse park has good prize money but is offered at three different heights, apparently judged as though they are equal.  So, a grand prix prospect doing it 'right' and having a good 'double clear' round at the highest height (still small by 'real' standards) will lose to a horse that will never be competitive in any rated division tearing around at the lowest height.  At $160/stall for a three day show, this B/C show is technically as expensive or more as the 5 day AA shows with stalls at $225.

The cost of the shows is prohibitive in that it costs over $600/week to show a horse in the schooling jumpers at a AA show, the only type of show where you horse generally will get the experience to move up the levels.  Once you move into the 'real' divisions, with nominating fees it is over $1,000/week to the show office.  If you want to make up a horse to the higher levels, you need to do at least 16 AA shows a year in my experience.  It is very difficult to win any significant prize money now that the horse shows have eliminated the 'preliminary' divisions and now have only height levels.  This results in the mid-level divisions being full of grand prix capable horses just getting in the ring, very experienced amateur horses being 'set up' by professionals, etc. all of which run to win in the 1.3 meter class on Wednesday.

Since these days horses can't make back any expenses on the way up, and horse show expenses have increased exponentially as prize money, when you can get it, has stagnated, there's really no way for a professional to take on a thoroughbred and not have high likelihood of throwing away a ton of money unless the horse has some kind of sponsorship.  Either the shows give discounted stalls to horses that have raced (would never happen on their dime - would have to be paid for by someone else) or people/institutions would have to step up from the thoroughbred industry to sponsor individual horses to the tune of about $15k-25k/year (which would only cover showing, not vet, farrier, etc.)

combining this with Larry's ideas above would be ideal...

01 Jul 2010 5:55 PM

Thanks for sharing this story.  If more show horse people could get over the concept that Thoroughbreds are too hot or too wild, it would do a world of good and stories like this advance that idea quite well.

Thank you!

01 Jul 2010 5:57 PM
morris dale stiles

might be interested in taking a ex race horse for retraining as barrel racing & pole bending, but have never found where to sign up. i have had lots of luck with exrace horses in the past. can someone hook me up with the people ,(get things done.)rather than those who talk about ,how nice it is. I could probally help out . i remain morris stiles.

01 Jul 2010 5:58 PM

Touch Of Class was a Thoroughbred mare that won two Gold Medals in individual and team show jumping with her partner/rider Joe Fargis in the 1984 Olympics.  She was small for a show jumper but her heart and courage were huge. If I am not mistaken, she was originally trained as a race horse.

01 Jul 2010 6:05 PM

Larry is so right...when I was younger Thoroughbreds ruled the 3 day eventing...

In fact, one of the top horses EVER, (won the "American Grand Prix Association Horse of the Year" title three times) was the thoroughbred "Gem Twist" (registered name Icey Iwist)...

Recent top Olympic level horses are OTT horses...Courageous Comet, age 14, Poggio, at age 18, and up and coming Leyland...

TB's need to be promoted more...they're awesome.

01 Jul 2010 6:30 PM

PS the "recent" was 2008...

I added their ages, 'cause only in TB racing is a horse "old" at 5.

01 Jul 2010 6:32 PM
Fuzzy Corgi

I actually prefer horses who have been at the track. They are usually pretty well mannered and very tolerant to work around because they have only been handled by professionals and most people at the track are just that... professionals who really care for and about their horses. A lot of horses are retired perfectly sound, partly because they didn't want to be a racehorse. To be sucessful they just needed a new career. I can easily name 20 horses that came off the track that excelled as a hunter, jumper, eventer or dressage horse.

Some of the best racehorses we have ever seen have had second careers in the show ring. Kelso was Horse of the Year from 1960-1964. After his racing career Kelso became owner Allaire du Pont's hunter in the field and ring. Recently deceased champion sprinter Chinook Pass did dressage and hunters.

My TB won a few modest races at Finger Lakes then was retired for unsoundness. He ended up in So. Cal where he became a successful hunter in the very competitive junior division. He was so easy to train; lead changes, collection, extension, jumping, etc. it was all easy for him to pick up in a lesson or two. Then after the arena work or show he was a pet that could go on a trail ride, in a parade, get decorated with elaborate costumes for Halloween, and even get lights strung all over him for Christmas caroling. Over fences we put a Tom Thumb pelham on him because he could get a little strong but he hacked in a smooth snaffle, even with a kid on him.

Well said Larry, off the track thoroughbreds are the norm not the exception.

01 Jul 2010 6:50 PM


01 Jul 2010 8:49 PM

Love the updates on post-track life!  

What a shame Wake at Noon couldn't have wound up back in the news for a second career like this, instead of what happened this week at Woodbine.

01 Jul 2010 8:52 PM
Ida Lee

How great!! and what a beautiful picture. Keep up the good work.

01 Jul 2010 10:53 PM

Here's a question for you Larry - can some of the Thoroughbreds make safe trail horses?  Also, what is your farm name and where are you located, if you don't mind my asking?

02 Jul 2010 1:21 AM
Dawn in MN

Thanks Esther.  This is is a great story.  Love the photo.  The story supports one of my fondest dreams.  I have promised myself that someday I will own a Thoroughbred.  My crazy plan is to contact one of the two bloodstock agents in my state, and ask that they check around at the local track.  I dream that I'll ask the bloodstock agent to find a relatively sound claimer that has a reputation for having a sweet temperment.  I would love to retire a thoroughbred to a life of trail rides, and love.  This is the only dream so far on my bucket list.  If anyone has any suggestions about how to find a deserving retiree, please pass them along, I can use all the guidance I can get.  I don't know of any local New Vocations-type places here in Minnesota so I'll just have to wing it.

02 Jul 2010 6:19 AM
Tricia Zimmerman

Don't know when the shift to warmbloods occured but I do know that thoroughbreds were in the majority of horses people showed in the hunter/jumper ring when I was a kid showing in the 70's.  Can't imagine why there is astonishment that they should excel in this endeavor as they are, after all, the ultimate athlete.  For me, they are still my preference.

02 Jul 2010 6:26 AM

Watch out for RED WILL....5 yr old tbred previously raced and now in a jumping home.  ROLEX HERE WE COME!

02 Jul 2010 9:20 AM
Adele Maxon

As I've said so many times, years ago TBs were all we had to ride and show (also QHs) and we were proud to do so! If you were riding a TB you were envied and there's nothing more beautiful than a TB conformation hunter.  It's only been since the influx of warmbloods in the last 15 yrs. or so that some people had been making the switch.  Yes, some of these warmbloods are more tractible and "easier" to train (since they were not former racehorses). Some of them are more of a natural fit for dressage than TBs because of the way they're built and their movement, but at the lower levels TBs can be wonderful.  They've always been my favorite to ride and I ride dressage.  I've loved racing all my life and am a student of pedigrees.  At least it seems there is more of an anwareness of the versitility of the Thoroughbred.  However, having a warmblood nowadays is like it was having a TB years ago...

02 Jul 2010 9:38 AM

I love that Thoroughbreds are being recognized once again in the hunter/jumper ring. Now let's get some recognition for them in the dressage ring - it's not just for Warmbloods - as my 9 year old OTT mare Velvet can attest to.

02 Jul 2010 9:44 AM

You might want to confirm the name of Jules Mom with the owner - there is no horse by this name registered with the Jockey Club.

02 Jul 2010 11:29 AM

Thoroughbreds were the original sport horses!

Though European Warmbloods often dominate international horse sports there have been plenty of top winning Thoroughbreds over the years and competing today. BTW Most Warmbloods  are part to half Thoroughbred.

At lower or local levels of competition in all English disciplines Thoroughbreds still reign. Many of them are off the track. There are active Thoroughbred Exhibitors Associations all over in the US.

Show jumping legends Gem Twist, Touch of Class, For The Moment, Idle Dice and Snowbound were Thoroughbreds.

Famous Eventers Bally Cor, Tigger Too, Good Mixture and Custom Made were Thoroughbreds and most Three Day Event horses today are part or half TB if not fully TB.

The US Combined Training Associations "Horse of the Century" Biko is a Thoroughbred cross.

Gold medal winning in two Olympics New Zealand's Charisma was at least 3/4 TB and is often considered one of the all time best Three Day Eventers.

Famous ponies Stroller (Show Jumping) and Theodore O'Conner (Eventing) were half TB.

French TBs My Babu and Furioso were very influential sires of international sport horses.

02 Jul 2010 1:49 PM

I bought a retired TB mare last year and she is totally awesome!  Excellent mind, graceful way of moving, incredibly athletic.  Far superior in every way (including the mind) to a Quarter Horse I used to have.

02 Jul 2010 3:01 PM


03 Jul 2010 4:49 AM
Anita Adamski

Larry, there alrady is some momentum going forward from 2009. This is interesting if you haven't already seen it

I have the skills available, would love to develop a sponsorship package to make it easy for the businesses who make up the industry, just need more collaboration with solid ideas. Feel free to contact me at anita(at symbol)

03 Jul 2010 7:25 AM

Esther, I commend you for publishing these stories. Have worked with exracers my whole life and still say there is nothing as beautiful as a thoroughbred.

03 Jul 2010 7:35 AM

With the beautiful infields of most tracks, why not have horse shows going on during race days. The classes could go on between races. The grandstand is already there for the asking and it would bring more families to the track.

In that way they could develope new fans that already love horses.

They could also develope younger new fans that come to the track and spend money on food and parking not just on betting. They could set aside two barns for show horses since some people live with their horses when traveling in shows. These barns could charge for the stalls on a day rate and this would also make the track money.

04 Jul 2010 9:04 AM
Larry Ensor

Thanks Esther. TBs were not only successful in the past but the present also.  They just don't get the PR that warm bloods do.  If you flip through the various farm and trainer adds in The Chronicle they all pretty much focus on warm bloods.  My sister and brother in-law are pretty much at the top of their game as trainers of Jumpers. And though they prefer TBs with today's mind set towards warm bloods TBs are just hard to sell for proper money.  Let me put it this way.  We took another one of our TBs to an event yesterday at Fair Hill MD, his second but a much more competitive course and better horses.  He jumped beautifully and clean in the stadium and cross country.  He was good but moderate in the dressage but has the talent to pull that together with more schooling. We have not checked the results yet but he should be in the top 5 or there abouts.  If he was  a warm blood he would be sold very quickly for great money. We will get $15,000 for him but that hardly covers our time and expense.  Which is all right because as breeders of TBs we feel it is our responsibility to re-school and place TBs.  We would love to work with more but considering we look after and foal a lot of mares, I break and train around ten 2 year olds each year along with training steeplechase horses and at present have over 50 horses on the farm the days are not long enough.  We do all of this with 1 full time employee, my wife and myself and one part time rider.

I feel strongly that the TB industry needs to get behind a PR campaign as outlined in my previous posts. Hopefully I will find the time and inclination to try and put this in motion.  I have the contracts in the TB industry and the the show world.  Unfortunately working with the TB industry is a bit like herding  cats. Though with eight barn cats I have found that food works pretty good getting them to the gate.  Feel free to get on to me any time you have my email address take out my name for our web site, happy to forward my numbers.  If you are ever in the area please drop by the the farm.

04 Jul 2010 9:14 AM

I have followed Anna Ford's adoption for several years when I was looking for a TB broodmare for sporthorse. I am very impressed with her and her commitment to rehoming OTTB. I have been involved with TBs for a while. My stallion is a TB and he is the highest scoring TB ever in Dressage Sporthorse Breedng. Thanks to the North American TB Society for sponsoring classes and offering awards at year end Tonka has been recognized all over the SE. He scored an 80.9 at Conyers in 07 and Qualified for the Breeders Chanmpionships twice, beating some of the top WB stallions. He was also Reserve National Champion Silver Stirrup for Mature DSHB. He is race bred In Reality top side, even though he has not raced both of his parents did. If he can accomplish this , and I was a beginner in showing in this area, there are many more TB's with that ability and more. I have also sponsored classes to help promote the TB in Dressage, they are every bit as good as the WB, just not as popular. There are Individual Breed Classes at Sporthorse shows, but little incentive to go. I agree with Larry about a fund needing to be set up. The North American TB Society has pushed for TB to be recognized in a number of areas. is the website. People are out there trying, they just need to be recognized. TBs are a wonderful breed and I have bought many off the track and sold them for many different uses for pleasure to foxhunting to eventing and showing, and I did little more than just ride them while they were at my barn. I have been breeding sporthorses, and just love the TB.

TISPORTHORSE was started with Tonka being the center. He currently has 3 foals in Germany. If there is anything I can do to help please let me know.

04 Jul 2010 7:52 PM

My now deceased show horse was off the track. His race record was decent, 11 starts and 9 checks, breaking his maiden at Aqueduct, MSW, by a nose. He went on to show with me after a year's layup for a bowed tendon. We were very sucessful showing around the east coast with major wins at prestigious shows. Great horse; wonderful experience too in re-training him and enjoying all that he learned. I miss him!

05 Jul 2010 6:55 AM
Joan in MN

Dawn in MN,

There are several rescues in Minnesota, most of them private.  There is the Hooved Animal Rescue in Zimmerman.  I don't know if they have any thoroughbreds at this time.  You also might try calling the racing office at Canterbury Park.  They might know of some private rescues you might call.  If you are ready to get one now, the racing office might also be able to get you in touch with trainers who are ready to retire horses, especially when the meet closes.

05 Jul 2010 2:14 PM
Dawn in MN

Thank you Esther for the opportunity to get the idea that Joan in MN offerred.

I appreciate reading all the testimonials and encouraging endorsements of the off-track Thoroughbred.

Thanks Joan, I like the idea of contacting the racing office at Canterbury Park. I bet you're right, they would be happy to refer a trainer who might be willing help a horse retire.

The Hooved Animal Rescue in Zimmerman has received my quarterly donations since at least January 2009, without ever so much as a thank you or an open house.  

I continue to contribute, I'm sure they're very busy, and probably cash-strapped.  When I called to volunteer I was told that they didn't need any more volunteers.  Maybe I should volunteer to help them with donor solicitation and recognition.  

05 Jul 2010 8:46 PM
Fran Loszynski

I'm glad to see that these beautiful thoroughbreds have a safe haven to go to after retirement and many continue productive lives. After all animals of this magnitude can only depend on us. They need spacious areas, large amounts of food and care-when people take it into their hearts to help these gigantic creatures; it makes the world a little bit better of a place to live. I applaud everyone that cares so much for these horses. I'm sure in their hearts they know they have more in them than their racing days.

06 Jul 2010 8:08 AM

For those of you that don't remember Touch of Class here is the skinny on that little (15.3) bay mare that was as graceful as a deer over fences.. She was amazing, beautiful and could jump the moon against the big warmbloods...she looked like a pony standing next to them. She was my hero.

06 Jul 2010 1:50 PM

I have read through a number of these comments and while I do agree that the views on TB needs to be changed at the top level, what I find most amazing is that the New Vocations horses for the most part are getting into the hands of everyday people like my daughter and her friends. These horses are amazing and beautiful and people notice them in the show ring. I can't say we've had the success that some of the others have had (we show locally in QH country) but Mazel (my daughters horse) has done his best and we look forward to more exposure in the future. We have adopted all 3 of our horses from NV, Hay Mazel our THB and 2 STB, Antique Collector and Silver Match. All are wonderful horses. I am so grateful to NV for giving us the chance of a life time to own such quality horses. I can't say enough good about them!

06 Jul 2010 2:27 PM
Diana is a great place to find a new partner. I have two from there, one from Ohio, one from Illinois.

07 Jul 2010 10:09 AM

Thank you for this short article on "recycled" TBs.   I have two - one is doing a fine job as our babysitter; the second one we've just had for a few months - she came in starving, all bones, poor hooves, ratty fungus coat, no vaccinations, no energy.  But she's looking better now - don't know what we'll do with her in the long-run, but she's safe now.  So, two of our six horses are rescues..and it feels really good to be able to help in our small way; you might try it!

08 Jul 2010 9:40 AM

New Vocations is a great organization. They have 2 locations in Ohio and one in Michigan, Kentucky, & Tennessee.

I have followed them for 3 years and they have extrordinary horses for just $300-$500 most of the time and sometimes free. Some of these horses sold for over $200,000 as yearlings and have pedigrees that make your mouth drool. You can trust them to be honest about their medical problems and limitations, if there are any! Some horses are already broke to ride. They take the horse back if for any reason you can't care for it. Where can you find a better deal than that? They have Standardbreds too. What great PR for the industry.

08 Jul 2010 2:14 PM
Larry Ensor

Well, I am glad this blog picked up some interest.  When I last was able to check back, Sunday there was not much going on.  I guess everyone was at the beach or a Horse show.  A lot or great responses.  Grand Prix explained the economics well.  Our TB ended up being 4th in his second event and this was not some 4-H pony show. If he was a warmblood he would have been sold by the end of the day for considerably more then what we are asking.

Here is a link to photos of what a nice TB looks like on course, no good ones of him jumping unfortunately ,

Kay, I bought my wife's now fox hunter from a friend who used him only for trail riding.  I also used to ride him in the Lexington KY 4th of July parade.  Never really jumped before we took him.  My wife has been hunting (fox and no we don't kill it) since childhood.  She has had a number of fox hunters of different breeds over the years and this guy is the best she has ever had.  He has won numerous blue's in the off season and been champion and reserve champion a number of times in jumper classes.  And he only visits our ring from time to time.  I paid $1,000 for him and we turned down an offer of $50,000.  I know crazy.  But good ones like him are far and few between.  No matter what the breed.  

I know this will be controversial but using ACE is one of the best training "aids" that one can use.  I am not talking about making the horse legless just enough to take the edge off at the start of the day. There is a believe out there that the horse will not remember its lessons and get nothing out of the schooling.  But there have been lots of studies on the proper use of ACE and all that I have read debunked this myth.  Its good for the horse and good for the rider.  Some may always need a bit and most will not.  If I am allowed our farm is called Gum Tree Stables and we are located in southeastern Pennsylvania.  Google will do the rest.

Its nice to see Rood & Riddle make the gesture/effort but some money would have been even better.  After all they are one of the largest in Lexington if not the country and having sent a lot of checks to them over the years they surely must have a few dollars to to write off for a good cause.

I like Cris's idea of having jumper events at the race track.  Dawn in MN it should not be as difficult as it is to locate and check out TBs retiring from the track.  I have a hard time trying to locate suitable candidates and this is my business.  When I do the trainer/owners want silly money for them some times. They are so afraid we might make money with them. Ya right hopefully, that is what we do for a living but hardly what they think.  They all say; I'm sure he can jump and they are right and I say all horses can jump but most don't jump very good. They have no idea how much time and money it takes to find out.   What I want to see is the race tracks have a dedicated person and web site that trainers/owners can go to to list their retired/retiring horses. The vast majority these days should be free other then a reasonable fee for the service.  The race tracks need to see this as the cost of doing business and in the best interest of the horse and industry.  I believe some are doing this.  But I hope to get all.

Thanks to all that have gotten on to me. I do plan to get together with a couple and put a plan together that I can take to the powers that be.

Any body that has questions and or tips on working with ex-racers feel free to get in touch.

08 Jul 2010 6:09 PM

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