Category Archives: Stereotypes

Champions of any breed

At this blog, we talk a lot about Thoroughbreds.

There’s a simple reason for this: I’m obsessed with Thoroughbreds, and it’s my blog. Retired Racehorse Blog was originally conceived to be a training diary about one retired racehorse, Final Call, and if you go back far enough in the archives, you’ll see all those old posts, from the day I went to try him out at a training center in Ocala, to the day of his first hunter pace.

(We won that hunter pace, by the way.)

Of course, a retired racehorse doesn’t have to be a Thoroughbred. It could be a Quarter Horse, or an Arabian, or a Paint, or an Appaloosa, or, I guess, a pony if you consider those pony races like the Shetland Pony Grand National. All of those breeds have regulated racing associations. Maybe not ponies. But the others do. (Fun Natalie fact: I was once a groom at a prominent Arabian racehorse farm which had won several breeders’ awards and served owners with familiar names like Darley and Godolphin.)

pony racing, New Zealand

Ponies race in New Zealand. All blogs should be required to post a picture of ponies racing. Flickr: Mollivan Jon

And then, if you really want to broaden the job description of a rah-rah-retired-racehorse spokesperson such as myself, you could argue that we aren’t just touting the Thoroughbred racehorse as a supreme equine being (although we are) but that we’re also suggesting that the diamonds in the rough often shine brightest of all, whether they are Thoroughbred or Quarter Horse or Shetland Pony or Grade-Without-A-Clue.

I do suggest that. I insist it, as a matter of fact. The found horse, the unwanted horse who is suddenly very much wanted, the nag that turned into a best friend, the plug that turned into a champion, that’s at the very heart of all pony dreams, isn’t it?

And in that spirit, I present to you Elizabeth Letts’ new blog, Do You Have The Next Eighty Dollar Champion?

Eighty Dollar Champion bumper sticker

Do you have one of these on your trailer?

You remember Elizabeth Letts. She wrote the lovely biography The Eighty Dollar Champion, which happens to be about a plow horse auction-find who goes out and beats Thoroughbreds. I wasn’t sure at first how I felt about that, obviously, but what can you do? This horse had the heart of a champion, and all he needed was the right person to bring it out and show the world. Not to mention, he was one truck-ride away from slaughter when Harry De Leyer noticed him and insisted on buying him. This is a story that transcends breed snobbery (and I fully admit to being a card-carrying breed snob).

The review of The Eighty Dollar Champion I posted here at Retired Racehorse continues to be not just the most popular book review on the site, but one of the most popular blog posts I’ve ever put up, which just goes to show you that the story of a nag from nowhere beating the big boys continues to be a universally popular subject. And, recognizing that, Letts’ new blog lets readers send in the stories of their own unlikely champions, from a cribbing Thoroughbred nobody wanted who is now rocking the eventing divisions, to a severely neglected Clydesdale  now making a stir at the local dressage shows.

Do you have an eighty dollar champion? I know I’ve had a few. Some cost more than eighty dollars, sure, and some cost nothing at all. The word “champion” would probably have to be used loosely in a competitive sense, but not in an emotional sense. If you’ve ever had a horse touch your heart, or change your life, you know that’s worth more than any dollar amount you could name.

So here’s my challenge to you, readers. Visit Do You Have an Eighty Dollar Champion? and read the stories. Read them with tissues handy. Then, send Letts your story. Because you know you have one. You don’t have to be a great writer, or even a terrible writer… you just need a photo and a paragraph about that one special horse who defied the odds dealt him and the value society assigned him.

And here’s one more thing. Leave a comment, either here, or at the Retired Racehorse Blog Facebook page (the link to this blog post would be great), with the one quality that makes your horse a true champion. It could be “courage.” It could be “forgiving.” It could be “gentle with my child.” It could be anything. There are no limits to what makes a horse great.

Two random commenters will receive a great bumper sticker, courtesy of The Eighty Dollar Champion, that reads “80 $ CHAMP ON BOARD.” It’s going to look great on your trailer!

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Filed under Book Reviews, Stereotypes, Success Stories

You can’t hug a racehorse?

by Laurie Berglie

Laurie Berglie is a frequent contributor to Retired Racehorse and also writes at her blog, The Sassy Grey.

After reading Natalie Keller Reinert’s article, “You Can’t Hug a Thoroughbred,” I had to laugh!  Of course I completely agreed with her that you could hug a racehorse, that you could, in fact, hug any horse.  But after reading this, I was reminded of my own OTTB mare, Misty, and how, at first, I couldn’t hug her.

Unlike Natalie, I didn’t grow up around Thoroughbreds.  My mom is a Western rider partial to Paints and Quarter Horses, so I spent most of my life riding those “safe” breeds.  She, for quite simply a lack of knowledge/first hand experience, always told me that Thoroughbreds were “crazy” and “on drugs.”

So I’m not sure if it was my mother’s disapproval or just the sheer, raw beauty of the Thoroughbred, but I wanted one.  (Also, it may have been Joanna Campbell’s Thoroughbred book series too – I was severely addicted to them as a child).

Interestingly, however, until Misty I had never ridden a Thoroughbred.  But then on a hot day in July of 2008, there was Misty, standing in a small paddock on my farm, having just been dropped off by her current trainer.  I stared at her; she stared at me.  What was I going to do with this horse?

Oh well, I thought – let’s just get started.  I began treating her like any other horse.  I gave her some time to adjust to her new surroundings before I rode her, but I was there every day, grooming her, getting to know her.

grey thoroughbred hug

Hugging the sassy grey!

But I’ll never forget that first night.  I was getting ready to leave and went into Misty’s stall one final time to say goodnight.  I went to her side and hugged her, threw my right arm over her withers, my left arm around her chest, and laid my head on her shoulder – and she…turned around and tried to bite me!  It wasn’t a serious effort – more of a “hands off lady!” nip at the air.

I was shocked!  So I leaned in to hug her again – same reaction!  By this time, my mom was laughing as both mine and Misty’s expressions must have been priceless.

“You know,” my mom suggested, “Maybe she’s never been hugged before.  She probably doesn’t know what you’re doing.”

Oh!  All of a sudden, I felt bad for my new horse.  Had she never been shown any real affection?  Was my hug the first she’d ever received?  (Or maybe she was just a touch-me-not kind of girl!)

I believe my response was something like, “Well I’m just going to force myself on her until she loves me.”

Very mature, I know.

But that’s what I did!  Every night before I’d leave, I’d hug my Thoroughbred.  She went from fake-biting at me to just tossing her head a little to full acceptance (or tolerance) of my affection.  She has even hugged me back a few times.

So can you hug a Thoroughbred?  Absolutely.  Can you hug a mare?  Sometimes.   

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Filed under OTTB Stories, Stereotypes, Success Stories

Ignoring the good: A horsewoman’s take on the NY Times expose

The March 25, 2012 edition of the New York Times carried a multi-page story detailing horrendous lack of oversight at America’s racetracks, and indicted the horse racing industry for allowing greed to overtake common sense and common humanity, placing the lives of horses and riders at risk every day. 

Although it is impossible to disagree that there are problems in America’s racing industry, reaction to this article is divided, in part, as horsewoman Melinda Rice Moss writes below, because there is simply no mention of the men and women doing the right thing with their horses; according to the New York Times, it’s all bad news. And that, she maintains, is an annual rite of spring.

Thoroughbred mare and foal

Melinda Rice Moss with her OTTB broodmare/eventer and foal by Hook and Ladder

I am a ninth generation Saddle Fitter, but more importantly, my family owned racehorses and I grew up on the Maryland tracks.  I worked as an exercise rider, groom, you name it. I even had an exercise rider’s license at Bowie before I had a driver’s license.  Throughout my adult life I have stayed in the Thoroughbred racing business in one form or another.  In 2009 I moved to NY to be with my fiance, Dr. Bernardo Mongil, DVM, a 4th generation horseman; at Monhill Farm we stand stallions; breed, raise, race and train Thoroughbreds.  One look at our website and you will understand that we are the die-hards who always try to do right by all our horses, even retiring them sound and placing them in homes for little or no money after their race careers.

In a nutshell, here is my opinion on the NY Times Article:

Does there need to be better regulations and stiffer penalties in horse racing in the U.S.? Absolutely. Even the racetrack vets should be held more accountable, as they often see and treat many of the horses not just on race day,  but also for pre-race checks. I agree, with the influx of slots and casinos there has been an increase of a lesser class of horse running for higher purse money, whereas before the slots were introduced those same horses may have been retired.

Thoroughbred stallion

Griffinite, a young sire at Monhill Farm, was a rescue from the infamous Paragallo abuse case.

The money from the casinos that goes back to funding the racetracks needs to be better distributed with some sort of financial program(s) set aside for retirement of ex-racehorses (a legit, regulated one—which by the way is in the works, or so I hear), better drug testing and research, etc. If you keep up with the racing industry publications, these are the same topics that have been discussed for many years.

Thoroughbred racing used to be “Old” Money, a “Sport of Kings” where the elite participated and only the best of the best competed. Unfortunately, in the last fifty years racing has fallen behind the rest of the major American sports (NASCAR, football, baseball, etc). For many, many years Thoroughbred racing refused to accept sponsorships (a big mistake compared to what all other major sports have done), and so since the late 1980’s, the sport has gone through a major downturn, and had all but died out, until the installation of slots came along; hence the many new problems with illegal medications, trying to “pump” up the horses to make them more competitive, creating an even bigger problem as the article speaks of.

However, as in every sport there are the good, the bad, and the downright lowlifes. It seems that every year about this time—Spring, when all the big money races and the Triple Crown Trail come up—there is someone (often times PETA and some so-called “rescue” organizations, as well as the journalists trying to make waves) that come out with new “news & stats” trying to knock down the sport. It seems to me that in that five-page article there was more negativity about the sport than an attempt to create awareness of the big picture of racing.

As my mom used to say: “Bad news travels ten times faster than good news!” The media always latches on to the tragedies, and not just in horse racing. What about all the great every-day feel-good stories on the race track (or in the world in general)? We don’t often hear about those types of stories. Rarely does the media recognize the Breeders/Owners/Trainers and all the staff behind the scenes that care for the not-so-sound horses, or those that just need extra TLC; people (even grooms and riders) who spend their hard-earned money, even taking food off their own table, to care for a horse that needs extra care, in order to be rehabilitate it for a second career after the races or just for retirement. Not every race horse breaks down, gets destroyed by uncaring trainers or owners, and/or gets “dumped next to an old toilet in a junkyard” as the article so pointedly stated.

Thoroughbred filly by Griffinite

A Griffinite filly stretches out her legs at Monhill Farm.

Bernardo (who is also an equine vet) is a good example of an Owner/Breeder that truly tries to retire his horses sound for second careers, refuses to race a horse that is unsound, and always tries to do right by the horse. My friend Robin, whom you met via the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, does the same. She also follows her horses (as Bernardo does) after their careers. There are just as many GOOD Breeders/Owners/Trainers for every bad one the media talks about. I honestly can name more “Good” people in the industry than “Bad”. It is we “die-hards” who truly love our horses and do right by them, which is why I am such an advocate for the racehorse. Most racehorses are treated better than the average backyard or lesson horse.

These types of articles and the people that try to knock racing down really aggravate me. What Thoroughbred racing needs now is a new generation of Owners/Breeders/Trainers that understand and support racing, and the horses, for what it is, and a commitment to help better regulate it.

What some readers may not know is that the exact same situations (horses that break down, are mistreated, dumped at slaughter houses, or unsound, or horses with severe training issues are passed on to uneducated or unsuspecting “new” owners) are very common among all the other equestrian sports—the Western Show/Reining Quarter Horses, the jumpers, the Eventers, the Dressage horses, it happens everywhere! Show horses snap a leg while cantering in a show ring, or step in a groundhog hole with or without a rider.   The reality of dealing with horses, is that accidents happen all the time.  The difference is that other equestrian sports don’t have anywhere near the same regulations or penalties, nor do they get the same media attention, as horse racing.

How does the old saying go? Believe half of what you read and all of what you see?

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Filed under Media Coverage, Outside Sites, racetrack life, Racing, Stereotypes

Previously titled, My review of “Luck”

This morning, I was going to write a review of Luck, the horse-racing drama on HBO. I had finally seen the first two episodes, and I was very excited about it. Here, at last, was an amazing racing show. This was no Family Channel hash-up of The Black Stallion; this was really racing.

I was going to tell you that yes, the break-down scene in the first episode is brutal, nauseating even, but that the scene allows us to see the two sides of racing: the inhumanity as the bettors, who had been rooting for that horse to win so that they could collect a massive Pick Six pay-out, simply shift their alliance to the next longest-shot in the race and root him home, and the humanity, as the stricken bug boy leaves the track and asks veteran Gary Stevens if it ever gets any easier.

image from Luck

A trainer and horse in "Luck". Notice how the trainer is PETTING HIS HORSE AND SMILING, not BEATING IT WITH A TWO BY FOUR. Yes, this actually happens.

No, Stevens tells him. That’s what Jim Beam is for.

I was going to tell you that there are, indeed, both types at the racetrack, as there are anywhere: the callous who are looking for a quick buck, a sure thing, a hefty pay-out, and the compassionate, who understand that horses are living, feeling creatures.

I was just going to tell you it was a damn fine show.

Look it up on the Internet if you want, but don’t get too addicted. It’s been cancelled, apparently because three horses have died since the filming started.

I find this to be a nonsensical unlikely reason to cancel a show. Are HBO producers providing their own racehorses and training them for the production? Um, I sincerely doubt it. So tell me, how is a television show being filmed at a working racetrack liable for the deaths of horses in training? I suppose it’s possible that the horses tripped over camera wires or hit their heads on mike booms. But I feel like that would have been reported, probably on TMZ. If the horse died, they may want to talk to the horse’s trainer, not the people behind the cameras. Who is ultimately responsible?

I don’t know what happened to the first two horses, although I have read comments that suggest the deaths were in no way associated with the filming of the show. The third horse reared, flipped, and hit its head. As is accurately stated below…

“We see several of those injuries in the stable area every year,” Dr. Rick Arthur, equine medical director at the racing board, said in a statement supplied by HBO. “They are more common than people realize.”

…this sort of thing isn’t exactly a lone incident. And again, unless the horse spooked at an HBO camera being waved about at the end of the shedrow, I fail to see what this has to do with a television show.

PETA, of course, are making all sorts of statements about how dangerous the show’s production has been, and are filing complaints with the District Attorney’s office in L.A. While it’s quite likely that awful ratings played a bigger-than-announced part in the cancellation of Luck, it is annoying that PETA will probably take some of the credit for ending the show.

And it’s more than a little annoying that the show had to end for any reason, PETA or ratings. It should have been given a shot to win people over.

Could Luck have been good for racing, despite showing the good, the bad, and the monstrous? I think so, yes, and here is why: people only see the front-side right now. The front-side of racing happens in public. The front-side of racing isn’t the prettiest part, despite the suits and the braided manes. The front-side is where the gamblers are chomping on cigars and throwing down betting slips, shouting obscenities at jockeys and being generally horrible. The front-side is where all the money is. And money is just so unattractive.

Someone needs to show the back-side, where yes, bad things happen, but so do good things, just like in any other barn in any other horse sport. Someone needs to show a trainer leaning into his horse, rubbing her neck, whispering “You’re a good girl, you’re a good girl,” to her while she eats her hay. Someone needs to show a rider patting a horse and offering him a candy after a work-out. Someone needs to show the good parts as well as the bad parts. That’s the documentation racing needs, and does not have.

As for racehorses who die in training? Horses die in training every day, in every sport. Racehorses die on television. Show horses die on private farms, or at horse shows the average Joe will never know existed. Racehorses die and make the news. Show horses die and make horse blogs, or not at all.

And backyard horses, trail horses, pleasure horses, horses of every color and stripe and whinny and creed? They die, too.

But in racing, all the constant dangers of working with horses, their frequent injuries and ailments and bad behavior, are put on stage, televised, and recorded for posterity, every day of the week. And so for the average American, it looks like horses are injured or die in racing constantly, but never at all in the idyllic, green-pastures-world of show or pleasure life.

Google “horse deaths in racing” and you don’t even have to type in the letters “in racing”; Google already figured that’s what you were looking for. Look at the big news agencies and dedicated sites like racehorsedeathwatch.com.

Now Google “horse deaths in eventing.” Not so many sites pop up, eh? Dedicated horse sites and that New York Times story from 2008 on rotational falls. (And that was about rider deaths.) But these horses die, too. They break legs, they break necks, they  fall over fences or land badly… it happens! There was at least one horse death recently; a horse was put down after fracturing a leg cross-country. But I read that at Eventing Nation, not in the Times or USA Today. (And I can’t find it now… I think it was an aside, not a full entry.)

Horses are injured and die in the general day-to-day activities of just being a horse. There is a reason why veterinarians have 24-hour emergency numbers and big clinics have vets on the road 24/7. It’s a dangerous thing to be a horse. There are so many interesting ways to get hurt.

The point is, the poor public perception of racing is not extended to other horse sports because racing is done in full view of the public. The injuries are reported and, in the afternoons, televised. The deaths are public. The money changing hands is (usually) a matter of public record. The same cannot be said for any other horse sport. But let’s not kid ourselves, and pretend that racing is the only sport in which people make a lot of money off the backs of horses. Let’s be honest, and admit that there are show horse trainers making big bucks at the cost of their horses’ health and safety. Let’s stop blaming purses and betting for just a few moments, and acknowledge that even when the prize is a scrap of cheap fabric, people will spend fortunes to acquire it.

Racing is regulated, and watched, and there are constant efforts being made to make it safer and to protect the horses. Their footing is scrutinized, their handlers are licensed, their blood is tested. There are real efforts being made every day to protect racehorses from not just financial exploitation, but from themselves, from the naturally inherent dangers of being a horse.

I would worry more about the horse in this video, being mis-handled by rank amateurs and a kid in show clothes who lets her lead-rope dangle on the ground while she leads him from the wrong side, than I would about the average racehorse.

Regulation, and observation. If only every horse sport could boast the same attention and documentation as horse racing.

But then again, perhaps not. Perhaps if there were cameras trained, every day, on the training and showing of horses in all their myriad disciplines, all horse sports would find themselves blushing in the same negative light that horse racing has found itself.

Maybe racing didn’t need “Luck.” Maybe we already have too many cameras for the public to ever accept us. But there is good there, as well. I’m sorry more people don’t get the chance to see it.

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Filed under Media Coverage, Racing, Stereotypes

OTTBs: Forward, athletic, ready to learn

There is a wonderful new video from Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, featuring an interview of trainer Kerry Blackmer (who of course is riding our darling Four X The Trouble, or Tempyst as we should be calling him) by Steuart Pittman, president of the Retired Racehorse Project. In their conversation, they focus on three things that I think are very important to public perception of OTTBs.

1) The Retired Racehorse Challenge horses are going far too well, and as an amateur rider, I’m either messing up badly or missing something:

Steuart Pittman suggests some riders might be asking “Why are they riding them so round, why are they riding them in a frame already?” and I’ve also seen a few self-deprecating remarks in the comments, as people say they clearly have been messing up on their OTTBs.

hotwalking and the living's easy

City living: OTTBs have been there, done that.

Well, come on, folks, you’re not being fair to yourselves at all.

There are two important questions to ask yourself here:

1) Do you go through multiple, possibly dozens of OTTBs per year, retraining them and selling them on as amateur horses?

Probably not. So stop beating yourself up, keep studying, and have fun with your horse.

2) Do you treat your OTTB like he’s a bronc fresh off the range, or do you remember that he already has a very specific skill set, and your job is to hone certain skills and re-direct others?

Never forget that they have a rich history! One of the reasons why Kerry Blackmer says that OTTBs only need a day or two in a new place to calm down is that they are already more well-traveled than most Americans, they already know what is expected of them in the barn (settle down, shut up, walk nicely, do your job), and they are already professional workers who are begging to be allowed to get back to work.

2) Every horse is different, and there is no one formula for training.

The trainers might be showing tremendous progress, or maybe even things that you think are over the top. But they’re doing what feels right to the horse. Kerry says  (paraphrasing)”He’s more comfortable at the canter; I’m going to let him canter to the jumps.” Even though you might normally start a horse over jumps at a trot, Tempyst feels really good at the canter, so it’s easier for him.

Some horses will have a really balanced canter. OTTBs have spent a lot of time cantering. When they trot, they’re usually goofing off, looking around, watching what’s going on around the racetrack, putting their head wherever they want it. Trotting is busy-work at the racetrack. It’s not thinking time.

So it’s possible that you have a prodigy at the canter. It’s going to depend on their build, it’s going to depend on what kind of exercise rider they had, it’s going to depend on how they were trained and what kind of muscle they’ve built, but once again, remember: if the horse is coming right off the track, or even a few months off the track, you’re not dealing with a horse off the range, and you’re not (in most cases) dealing with a rodeo reject. You’re dealing with a horse that’s had quite a lot of training… how are you going to mold that training and complement that training to make your OTTB a sporthorse? That’s the question.

3) An OTTB’s prior training makes him the ideal sporthorse candidate.

Race training and the racetrack life do not automatically equal a schizophrenic sociopath that is afraid of birds, and it’s time to put that rumor to rest… permanently. What’s one of the most compelling reasons to select an OTTB, with an athletic background and history, over a young green-broke horse who has only lived on the farm? Kerry says it best: “They know how to go forward!” Anyone who’s started a youngster can attest to this: young horses have no idea how to go forward. It’s hysterical how much you can boot a baby in the ribs and they will turn and look at you with big, innocent eyes. “Um, you are kicking me? So maybe we are playing a new game? Maybe I should try to bite your foot? This will be great. Good idea, mom.” And you are sitting there thinking, “My baby has no go-button.”

When, in fact, it turns out you have to install the go-button.

OTTBs: go-button pre-installed. Part of the standard package.

“You can jump right in there and get down to the details,” Kerry says, and Steuart brings up the fact that it takes twice as long to get a young home-bred to the one-star level as it does an OTTB.

I think that about sums it up.

Video:

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Filed under Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, Stereotypes

Afternoon smiles

Here is a picture to brighten up your Monday (even if it is after five on the east coast)! Sent to me from Bernadette at Thoroughbred Placement and Rescue, here is OTTB Maggie’s Charm with one of her best friends:

Thoroughbred, OTTB, with child

Innocence

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Filed under Stereotypes, Success Stories

Show Jumping’s wake-up call

Back in November, the United States Equestrian Federation put on a forum on show jumping, to try and determine why American show jumping is such a broken, sad mess of a fashion show, instead of a serious arena for internationally-minded competitors to  prepare for important things, like Olympic medals and World Equestrian Games championships.

The Chronicle of the Horse ran a series of three articles on fixing show jumping, based upon these forums, and the third one, finally, screams out what I’ve been screaming for years, that is:

Our horses are the ones the Europeans don’t want!

It’s a funny thing, that Americans are so happy and eager to ride the rejects of the Old Country. Not very ‘Mercan (she says in a redneck accent) of them!

But you know it, I know it, we’ve all talked to the giggling Dutch dressage rider who says, “Of course the best horses never leave the country,” or the German trainer who shakes her head solemnly and says “The Germans do not let their good horses go.” A very prominent and well-renowned hunter trainer (you would just die if you knew who) told me with a chuckle that the hunter/jumper ring was full of German milk drays. Unapologetic, though, she sells them herself, and you can buy your own carthorse/showhorse from her, for something in the neighborhood of six figures.

So, this quote is a little sad, because I’m afraid the show jumping community just realized this:

Murray Kessler of the North American Riders Group echoed Morris’ words in the Nov. 7 open forum. “We are at a significant disadvantage in the area of breeding. Almost all of our horses come from European descent. These large and well established breeding programs are tightly controlled by governing bodies. Simply said, we get second choice for the best horses in the world.”

I could have told you that fifteen years ago. After all, I was seventeen and I knew everything. That being said, I was competing prelim and winning show jumping classes I entered just for giggles on a Thoroughbred. 

But I’ll cut you all some slack, slavish European equiphiles, if you’ll just put aside your FEI passports and pick up a few Jockey Club certificates. And look, your leaders think that you should!

Says our Chronicle of the Horse correspondent:

In the heyday of U.S. show jumping, the vast majority of top horses had North American origins. The legendary Touch Of Class, For The Moment, Idle Dice and Jet Run all were American-bred Thoroughbreds who started out on racetracks. Gem Twist never set foot on a track, having been bred out of classic jumper lines by Frank Chapot, but he was an American Thoroughbred. Abdullah, a Trakhener, was bred in Canada.

We all know Trakheners are practically Thoroughbreds, so I’m leaving old Abdullah in there. I always liked him.

But besides that, can we all just observe that the greatest show jumpers in American history were Thoroughbreds? Even Gem Twist. Gem Twist! I have a plastic Breyer model of Gem Twist on top of my kitchen cabinets at this very moment. I am thirty years old and I never got over Gem Twist, that’s how awesome he was!

Gem Twist, in the picture that never gets old.

Says George Morris, whose picky Jumping Clinic in the back of Practical Horseman created a stylized Fashion Week disaster out of Hunt Seat Equitation (I say that with love), completely redeems himself of any sins he may ever have committed with this one statement:

“Somehow, we have to get back to the horses we have in this country. There are tens of thousands of horses out there. There are Gem Twists out there. The American Thoroughbred is the best sport horse in the world. I had two very early European mentors, Otto Heuckeroth at Ox Ridge, who was a great horseman, and Bertalan de Némethy. Both of those Europeans told me repeatedly, ‘George, the best horses in the world are these American Thoroughbred horses.’ I would like somehow in the next 25 years to see some people with deep pockets get back in that direction and utilize this internal resource.”

I like this. I like this. And then he says this:

“Somehow, we need to tap into the thousands of Thoroughbred breeders in the United States and show them that there is big money to be made beyond racing.”

Yes! So I ask you: What are we going to do?

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Filed under Outside Sites, Sport Horses, Stereotypes