Son of Silver Charm Enjoying Life After the Track

It’s definitely time for another retired Thoroughbred feel-good story, don’t you think?

Charming Jim is special in the fact that he has managed to be successful both on and off the track. After being retired from racing and acquired by Christy Weese last July, the 9-year-old gelding has wasted no time dedicating himself to a new career as a trail horse.

I’d like to add that Charming Jim is a beautiful gray son of Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Silver Charm, who will be returning to Robert Clay’s Three Chimneys near Midway, Ky. for retirement when he finishes stud duty in Japan, according to farm officials. Bob and Beverly Lewis, who owned Silver Charm, bred Charming Jim in Kentucky.

First successful in the sale ring, Charming Jim fetched $75,000 as a yearling at Keeneland and was a $360,000 purchase at the 2003 Ocala Breeders’ Sale Co.’s select sale of 2-year-olds. During his career, which spanned from 2003-2008, ‘Jim’ was stakes-placed three times, including a third in the Sapling Stakes (gr. III) at Monmouth Park. He retired with an overall record of 10-13-8 from 62 starts and earnings of $270,647.

Jim was given to Weese after he had experienced some knee issues that were preventing him from racing. After some time off and special care, Jim's condition became comfortable enough for a moderate amount of exercise, and he now enjoys trail riding and long canters in the field with Weese.

Christy Weese with Charming Jim

I had the pleasure of conducting an interview with Weese, who gave me some details behind her decision to acquire Jim, and what his life has been like after the racetrack.

EM: Why did you decide to adopt a retired Thoroughbred?

CW: Elmer and Janice Seesequasis, the people who run the barn (where I ride) are trainers at the racetrack in Saskatoon (in Canada--Marquis Downs). Janice has also been a jockey for many years, so there are a number of racehorses coming in and out of the barn and every year, and some of them that are retired from the track come up for sale or adoption.

I have to say Jim was just special--when I first saw him (at the barn), he was in full racing form and an incredibly good looking horse. You couldn't take your eyes off of him. I kept track of his progress for the year that he was there and after his surgery (for bone chips in his knees), when he'd sat around for almost a year and it was clear that he wasn't going to be racing sound, I offered to take him over and they gave him to me.

EM: What is your background in the horse industry?

CW: I got my first horse when I was 12, and was in 4-H until I left for college. I have always ridden English, however, and one of our favorite past-times was to find a summerfallow field and just let the horses run. We used to do that nearly every day. I currently work as a graphic designer. I show a bit in local hunter and dressage shows, but also just enjoy hanging out with my horses. I freelance from home and have a lot of horsey clients, mostly small breeding farms, who are great to work with. I also design and am managing editor for the Canadian Arabian News, a quarterly publication put out by the Canadian Arabian Horse Registry. And I do a bit of writing and photography on the side - a little bit of everything!

EM: What would you recommend to people that are thinking about adopting a retired racehorse? Any words of advice?

CW: I've worked at the track as a groom/stall mucker (too tall to be an exercise rider, although I'm not sure I'd want to be one!), and also worked for a few weeks at a Thoroughbred breeding farm, which gave me a lot of valuable insight into what the horses have to get used to when they come back to 'civilian life' – especially for a horse like Jim who knew nothing but racing life until he was 8.

I find the ones that come off the track at 2 or 3 are less set in their ways. Once they've had a few months off, they can more or less be re-started like any other horse. It really helps to handle them every day so their expectations gradually change. I don't know that Jim really knew how to eat grass when I got him; he would power-walk and stop and sniff, but not really eat. Now he's a champion grazer and I let him graze in the back area of the barn with a halter on. It also took him a while to get used to other horses being ridden around him in the arena. Hacking out in the field was a novelty--we spent a lot of time prancing along until he figured out he could relax and enjoy the ride.

The other area I took special care with was his feet. He had very weak digital heel cushions. I know this is a bit of a controversial subject, but I found a really good barefoot farrier in the area and we weaned him off of his shoes using Easy Boot hoof boots. Now I ride him in hoof boots all the time (front feet only) and although he needs them for riding, he is happy barefoot when he's in his paddock and is developing a nice heel-first impact. I really recommend them for anyone trying to take their OTTB back to barefoot.

I started him back under saddle very slowly due to his knee injury--lots of walking at first. I also used Devil's Claw for the first three months to take care of any pain or inflammation in his knees and feet--it's an herb that has a bute-like effect but can be safely given over the long term. These days, he has the occasional bit of stiffness in his knees but he generally lets me know he's pretty happy.

If you want to adopt a racehorse and you don't have any contacts at the track, I'd recommend going through an adoption agency as they would be able to give you an honest evaluation of the horse's personality and prospects for a riding horse. Most trainers want to find good homes for their retired horses, but I've seen OTTB's where the trainers were surprised to see that they turned out to be quiet enough for riding horses.

I've also looked at OTTB's whose trainers said they would be good riding horses but whose exercise riders warned me that they were actually quite hot. Horses can be under a lot of stress at the track and their personalities can change a lot when they're 'let down,'  But you have to be able to tell if a horse is hot due to track life, or if they're always going to be hot. If they are hot by nature, you have to know if you can or want to handle it. If you can't go through an adoption agency, try to talk to the exercise riders as they can usually give you some good tips on quiet horses, and often a good idea of their soundness as well.

I highly recommend a routine teeth float and a fresh start on vaccinations/worming. If a horse has been claimed or been through several owners, you have no way of knowing if their regular vet work has been kept up or not. A check-up by an equine chiropractor never hurts either.

Jim wasn't exactly 'quiet' when I started riding him, but he never threw anything at me that was truly dangerous, and for me that was what was important. And after a year, I'm amazed at how mellow he can be--he just gets more so every day.

EM: Where do you live and where do you keep Charming Jim?

CW: I live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, and I keep Jim at a boarding barn a few miles out of town.

EM: What do you like about Charming Jim physically and personality-wise? What makes him a good riding horse?

CW: Physically - he's one of the most athletic horses I've ever ridden! He's very naturally balanced, although like all track horses he needed help to learn to bend and respond to lateral cues. Also, I really appreciate that he has a very soft mouth, which is not something that OTTB's are known for. 

I've never ridden him at racing speed (and don't intend to, ha!), but I've seen his pick-up when he's turned out in the arena, and it's truly impressive. I have a Porsche for a recreation horse.

Personality-wise, he's just a ham. I think that's why we get along so well; he just entertains me. When I first got the chiropractor out for him, I think he thought she was a vet. He absolutely did not want to be touched, he was all wound up, and was threatening to bite and kick, even when she was trying to massage him... it was awful!! The next time she came out, I'd handled him enough that I could discipline him and when I did, he stuck his head up, put his lip out, gave a big sigh (and rolled his eyes, I swear), put his head down and went to sleep. The third time she came out, he was totally into the whole thing; by the time she finished with the massage, he had his neck stretched out and his lips wagging; he was right into it. Luckily I have a very patient chiropractor!

What makes him a good horse, at this point, is what makes any horse a good horse - we have fun together and are learning a lot from each other.

EM: What are your favorite things to do with Jim and what are your goals for the future with him?

CW: My favorite thing to do with Jim is to take him out in the hay field and go for a nice long canter. I think it's his favorite thing to do too. We take the occasional dressage lesson. I will probably take him on his first post-track trip to another facility this summer, just to see how he does. If he's not too stressed out we might look at doing some flat classes at local shows in the future. He's such a beautiful horse, he'd be wonderful to take out. But if he doesn't enjoy it, that's OK, I really don't have any goals for him at all. We'll just keep taking things one step at a time.


Photo by Tex Cam

57 Comments

Leave a Comment:

Tiznowbaby

Lovely story, lovely pair. Charming Jim is lucky.

18 Aug 2010 6:41 PM
Race On

a wonderful story, like to read more of them.  I know they're out there.  Charming Jim is fortunate to have a wonderful owner that enjoys her horse.

18 Aug 2010 7:32 PM
sherpa

Esther - I.LOVE.This.Story!!! Lucky Jim and Lucky Christy! They seem to be a match made in heaven. :-)

18 Aug 2010 8:05 PM
Ida Lee

Both Christy and Charming Jim are very lucky to have found each other. What a beautiful horse and what a beautiful story. Thank you for telling it. Now, if only all retired TB ended up like Charming Jim...

18 Aug 2010 8:30 PM
MRO

Beautiful, lucky, and talented boy!

18 Aug 2010 8:46 PM
tbpartnerperson43

You don't know how excited I was to find this article.  I was at Three Chimneys the last day of Silver Charm's residence there. My last view of him was his tail as he was led to his paddock.  I started following Charming Jim as a two year old.    I've wondered what happened to him.  This is really heartening. The picture is breathtaking.   I recently bought my ex-partnership race horse who now lives happily in Maryland with my two appaloosas.  He too will become a trail horse and nothing more if it suits him.  

18 Aug 2010 9:16 PM
michelle

awww!  neat story.

18 Aug 2010 10:30 PM
goodwin

OTTBs are great on trails, great at shows, and great companions. All you need is love, a little horse sense, and a little patience. It has paid off for me three times, now. Good on you, and anyone else who gives these deserving animals a home!

18 Aug 2010 11:53 PM
wee-o

He is so good looking.  Great article and love to read the stories about race horses and life after the track.  Good luck.

19 Aug 2010 7:29 AM
Judi Z.

Great interview.  I like the questions, and Christy's insight into helping Jim settle into a new lifestyle is interesting and informative.  Love this column.

19 Aug 2010 8:05 AM
Rachel

Wonderful! ♥

19 Aug 2010 8:24 AM
ZJ

In that last picture, there is no mistake who's son Charming Jim is... he looks just like Silver Charm... gorgeous horse (I wish he'd return to the US before he retires as a stallion.... I miss him).... awesome story!

19 Aug 2010 9:01 AM
Jacquie

Very happy for you and Jim,the horse industry needs more people like you.

19 Aug 2010 9:13 AM
LouAnn Cingel of Union, Missouri

An absolutely wonderful and heartwarming story.  It's such a shame that not all x racehorses are as fortunate to end up with a life like Charming Jim.  Hopefully, more and more people will adopt and make more and more Happy Horses!

Love & Blessings To All The Horses!!

19 Aug 2010 10:10 AM
Nicci

I have been thrilled to be reading about Charming Jim.  I am an avid fan of his sire Silver Charm (anxiously waiting for his return to TC).  I followed Charming Jim's career from the sales ring through most of his racing.  Lost track of him so I have been happy to see that he has been retired and is starting a new life.  He reminds me so much of Charm and it's been great to see pictures of Jim.  Sounds like he has a very caring owner who loves him very much.  Glad to hear that.  

19 Aug 2010 10:15 AM
Linda in Texas

What a nice article about the son of one of my favorite of all time gray's Silver Charm.

Charming Jim is but one of so many successful outcomes of people adopting Thoroughbreds and retraining them for pleasure.

He indeed is a lucky fellow to have been found and loved by Christy Weese. How very nice for both of them.

And thank you for the article and photos.

19 Aug 2010 10:16 AM
Big Lou

Wish you all the best.I also have used these horses for farm work and they work great.No hassle whatsoever.

19 Aug 2010 10:23 AM
Anne in SC

"If he doesn't enjoy it - that's OK"  Jim - you are one lucky horse!! And Christy - I hope your ride with Jim goes on forever!  Great Story - Thanks!

19 Aug 2010 10:41 AM
lobieb

A feel-good story, would love to see this happen to all our retired racing horses but at least some are saved.  Can't wait for Silver Charm to come back to the states, hopefully this will be his last year of stud in Japan.

19 Aug 2010 10:49 AM
Daina Ryan

What a great story.  Thank the good Lord for people like Christy.

Hope these stories continue to grow.   Charming Jim is a lucky boy and he sure deserves to be.

Thanks for sharing.  

19 Aug 2010 11:03 AM
Zookeeper

Great story Esther! Charming Jim is gorgeous and a very lucky horse to have ended up with such a kind owner. Wishing them both many, many wonderful years together. They certainly are a handsome couple!

19 Aug 2010 11:22 AM
anna

well he certainly looks like his father in looks and in color

19 Aug 2010 11:35 AM
Carolyn

I wish they all had happy lives post racing, as Jim has found.

19 Aug 2010 11:35 AM
Linda M.

Wonderful story. I also have an OTTB and he is so smart....what a teacher he has been for all of us who come in contact with him.

My best to you.

p.s. I ADORE Silver Charm.

19 Aug 2010 12:49 PM
Linda Parker-Fedak

What a wonderful story! And what a beautiful horse!!! I wish ALL thoroughbreds who have finished racing had such a great life afterwards. Keep up the great work with this handsome boy! Wishing you both a long and happy life together! And I think he would be a wonderful dressage horse if his temperment allows...

19 Aug 2010 1:42 PM
Sandi

There are alot of people out there who take OTTB'S.  That is all I have ever had.  I have tried other breeds, (2 times) without any success.

More storys should be done on the bread & butter horses,or/and the ones who never make it on the track.

Teh stakes horses always find some one to take them.  People want to be able to say my horese won x# of dollars & ran in such an such stakes.

The horse Jeanne Edwards is on is a stakes horse!  I remember him running!

Sandi Becker

19 Aug 2010 3:30 PM
deb

What a great couple!

Have fun.

19 Aug 2010 4:36 PM
Robin from Maryland

Jim is one "Lucky son-ofa-gun".  Nice story, would like to continue to hear updates about Jim.  May you both continue to find comfort in each other.

19 Aug 2010 8:58 PM
Jean

Jim is beautiful.  Glad that he has a loving, caring forever home with you.

20 Aug 2010 7:00 AM
OldDog

Great story, very entertaining and informative.  And VERY heartwarming.  Christy and Charming Jim are both fortunate that they found one another.

20 Aug 2010 9:11 AM
Tales Untold

My gosh, this story has brought tears to my eyes due to the beauty of him and his owner.  A fabulous story.

Will Silver Charm ever return to the USA?

20 Aug 2010 1:15 PM
tbpartnerperson43

Tales Untold,

Silver Charm will return to Three Chimneys when his stud career is over.  I was so upset when he left that I wrote Robert Clay.  He wrote me back to assure me that Charm would come back to the farm.  If you go to their website, and go to the Silver Charm page, there are some wonderful pictures of him in Japan.  The horse looks wonderful, but I can't wait for him to come home safely.

20 Aug 2010 4:39 PM
Wildhorse

Wow, what a handsome guy!  Great story!  I wish that they were all that lucky.  I'd take them all home if I could.  Best wishes!

20 Aug 2010 5:36 PM
darlene

what a great story I wish all throughbreds were so lucky to have a great life after the track. I hope Silver Charm comes back home soon I am so happy three chimmeys is keeping a eye on him to make sure that he is ok But out champions belong here in the U.S.

20 Aug 2010 7:53 PM
ExTBTrainer

Heart warming to say the least!Only true horse lovers can appreciate a talent like Christy has for "reading" a horse!A horse-whisperer for sure!

20 Aug 2010 9:12 PM
Sandy

A beautiful story and a beautiful picture!  I'm so happy for both of you, and hope you have many wonderful years together.

21 Aug 2010 4:05 PM
Harlan, Buffalo, NY

great story and good questions. I had to retire Imperial Bandit by Imperial Falcon, 11-million $ yearling by NOrthern Dancer out of Ballade (half bro to Glorious Song, etc), this year at age 20. That's OK< I'm 80. Got him after 7 years racing (2 off to recover from a bow) and 14 wins, stakes placed and ran in the Queen's Plate. won a hack ch. on him when I was 74.

21 Aug 2010 11:37 PM
Bellwether4u.com

TREET N THE ANIMALS FAIR...BOUT TIME...

22 Aug 2010 3:48 AM
smarie

All horses, regardless of breed, should have a home like Charming Jim now has. Christy is the kind of owner that lets her horse tell her what he likes and what he doesn't, and she responds accordingly. This is the kind of treatment all horses deserve. When you read horror stories of the fates of some OTTB's and wonder if anybody cares, and then read this heartwarming story, it restores your faith in human beings. God bless Christy and Jim. May they ride many happy trails together. And may Christy's actions with Jim inspire others to do the same with other horses. Thank you for this story.

22 Aug 2010 11:14 AM
Freetex

I think they are both lucky!

22 Aug 2010 6:43 PM
Larry Ensor

The following is an email we received from a person we sold a bread and butter OTTB. We ended up with Joe by default from a trainer when the owners stopped paying their bills on him.  He was very "sour" when he came to us but by in large nice enough to ride. It took over a year for him to stop pinning his ears every time you walked in his stall. Not a good thing for a horse that one is trying to find a new home. Kind of turns people off, though he was never mean.  He would never have been much in the show ring but he took to Fox Hunting, (no we do not kill the fox, though on the rare occasion the hounds will get a sick one).  For those who do not know fox hunting terms; cubbing; is when the young hounds are introduced to their future trade and given lessons in the art of pursuit. First Flight; The hunt field, riders and horses, is generally divided into 3 divisions.  First Flight is usually for the best and bravest horse and rider. It generally sorts itself out into the other divisions the last being none jumpers.

Before Joe came along the owner had hunted a TB mare until late in her 20's and was retire and died at age 32.  She had the mare for something like 25 years!  She told us not other horse would have her stall.  Guess where Joe is....

Oh, and for those that think fox hunting is only for the rich, Jane is a public school teacher.

Hello Larry and Laura,

JoJo and I have been roading hounds this summer.  Opening Day for cubbing started a few weeks ago and we have successfully shifted into that gear.

Jo and I are well suited, and are developing quite a bond.  He is keen in the field, yet mannerly and quiet when we are not in chase.

We ride in first flight during the quiet, early mornings of the cubbing season.  He jumps everything with enthusiasm, even if I question the size of some of the jumps.  I just grab mane & let him figure it out.

JoJo has also been super at home, riding in the farmer s fields & logging roads with my dogs.  He actually stops & waits for the dogs to catch up!

There has been a siting of a mountain lion nearby.  But I usually ride early morning when wildlife settles down.  We only have encountered coyote pups.

Thank You Both for such a great horse !

Jane

22 Aug 2010 8:05 PM
Trebloc

Now that was a good read.

22 Aug 2010 9:45 PM
GAIL SMITH

Christy,  You are one amazing human being and how I wish there were more like you who treat and love horses with the kindess and dignity they so richly deserves.

I've never owned a horse, but I rode a few when I was a teenager and loved it.  I am a born animal lover and believe horses as well as dogs, cats, birds, lambs, etc. are angels on earth..   Thank you for acquiring Charming Jim and thank you for being the sweet loving person you are.  God bless you and take good care....

23 Aug 2010 12:49 PM
Sally Thomas

Great story to find today. I followed Jim's race career after purchasing his dam. It's so wonderful to hear he has a new career and lots of love. My best to you Christy and thanks BH for this article.

23 Aug 2010 1:56 PM
sherpa

I've come back to read the Charming Jim & Christy story/interview at least a dozen times and enjoy reading each day's additional comments.

I think what makes this story so "special" is that almost anyone with a will could do what Christy's doing.  You don't HAVE to retrain your OTTB for another discipline, you can just enjoy spaces of time to spend together; you don't HAVE to have 10 acres and a barn in the backyard, he/she can be perfectly happy boarded so long as you make that time; and you don't HAVE to make a ton of money to do it.  

I also love all the practical advice Christy shared - the hoof boots, Devil's Claw, talking to exercise riders before adopting, etc.  

Jim would indeed be a gorgeous show-horse and I'll bet he'd be happy doing it - for Christy.  She seems to be perfectly in tune with him.

Larry Ensor - great story about Joe/JoJo, too!  Thanks for the quick lesson on Foxhunt terminology as well. :-)

Linda M - please feel free to write more about your OTTB.  You can see how welcome and heart-warming these stories are for all of us.

Esther, thanks again for this great interview.  Hope to read a lot more of the same in your column!

23 Aug 2010 7:58 PM
catsvx

Thank you Thank you! He looks just like his gorgeous Daddy, Charm! I hope he comes home soon! Thank you for taking such good care of his beautiful son. Long and happy life Jim!

23 Aug 2010 9:49 PM
moodygirl

This is a great story and there are lots of others out there. If you would like to hear more of them or find out about off the track TB adoption, the New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program is excellent. http://www.horseadoption.com/

We need more like them, financial support from the industry and individuals, and for everyone to spread the word that these are great horses for many uses. If you know anyone thinking of buying a horse, suggest an off the track TB and an adoption agency like New Vocations. The answers for what to do with off the track TBs is already here. We just need to act on it and support it.

24 Aug 2010 2:12 AM
Fran Loszynski

Great pictures and a super story. A racehorse only runs for two minutes at a time in a race but they run through our hearts forever.

24 Aug 2010 7:47 AM
Jessie

I used to follow this guy in my Virtual Stable!  So glad to hear he is enjoying his retirement and in the hands of a very loving owner!

24 Aug 2010 11:08 AM
Cris

There are more of these retired horses out there doing good things with their new owners than many think. My broodmare is one. This should be a regular feature. Jim's a beautiful horse and they are both lucky to have each other.  Best to you both.

25 Aug 2010 12:43 PM
Lexington

Racetracks might want to include stories like this in their programs, along with contact information for some of the rescue organizations.  More people might opt to give Thoroughbreds a new home upon retirement.  This is good for all of us!

25 Aug 2010 2:16 PM
moodygirl

Lexington, what a great idea: racetracks featuring stories like these & contact information. Any examples of successful adoption would be uplifting & educational but think how great it would be to read about horses you saw at that track.

25 Aug 2010 4:54 PM
Bellwether

LOOK N @ LUCKY...X TWO!!!...ty...

26 Aug 2010 1:00 AM
Beverly K.

I just adopted an 11 year old Thoroughbred just off the track and I was happy to see that your horse had the same thing.  He did not know how to graze.  He would just walk around the paddock and look at the grass.  I took him several weeks.  He too is just a wonderful horse.  So sweet.  Loves his retirement.  I wish more people would or could take an  interest in the retirees.

26 Aug 2010 10:50 AM
Lauren

Great story!  Charming Jim is every bit as handsome as his daddy.  When I looked at Silver Charm's progeny report on pedigreequery, I was shocked to see so many names. I often wonder where they all are.

28 Aug 2010 9:26 PM
Erin

What a fantastic story! I love the retired tb stories!! Great job Esther!

29 Aug 2010 8:28 PM
Margaret

Gorgeous picture.  I wish track management would pick up on stories like yours. I think people want to connect with the horses and they don't get it.

30 Aug 2010 11:21 PM

Recent Posts

More Blogs

Archives