Dundee performs at Thoroughbreds For All on April 24. (Photos by Melissa Bauer-Herzog)
The fourth year of the Thoroughbreds For All event proved to be another success for New Vocations and Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), who teamed up to host the event on April 24.
Thoroughbreds For All is traditionally an educational and fun night for those who attend and April 24 was no exception. After providing dinner to those who attended, the evening’s presentation began with a conformation critique of a few New Vocations horses.
BROWN, SANTOS AND PITTMAN AT THE EVENT
Hagyard Equine Medical Institute’s Dr. Stuart Brown, RRP’s Steuart Pittman, and Santos Sport Horses’s Nuno Santos started by evaluating six Thoroughbreds who entered the arena in-hand. The three men told the crowd what they liked and looked for in the breed, pointing it out in each of the horses. The conformation critique part of the Thoroughbreds For All event is always an educational section, and this year was no different with those in attendance taking home a new set of things to look for when evaluating horses in the future.
CONFORMATION IS DISCUSSED
Next up was a demonstration that was of great interest to those looking to perform in dressage with their off-the-track Thoroughbreds. Dressage star and clinician Reese Koffler-Stanfield had two of her clients bring their off-the-track Thoroughbreds for her demonstration.
Dundee, who has been off the track for a few years, was the more advanced of the pair and Koffler-Stanfield explained how his rider Dr. Jill Stowe had gotten him to that point in his training. The pair showed off some of their moves while Koffler-Stanfield had Dr. Stowe run through a few exercises. During their part of her presentation, Koffler-Stanfield explained some of the challenges they had gone through as he changed from a racehorse to a dressage horse and what their goals were for him.
Koffler-Stanfield also had Julie Hall bring her horse Monopolize to the event. Monopolize last raced in March of 2014 and hadn’t been in dressage training for long. Koffler-Stanfield explained how they were getting the gelding to make the transition from racehorse to his new job and some things they’d had to work through with him. Monopolize was a good example of a horse actively making the early transition as he showed some of the quirks that Koffler-Stanfield talked about off-the-track Thoroughbreds having early on in retraining.
MONOPOLIZE AND HALL
Next up was Rolex competitor Laine Ashker and her mom Valerie Ashker. Presented with Gin Joint, ridden by Emily Daignault-Salvaggio, and Fullback, ridden by Pruiksma, the pair first watched both young horses work under saddle and told the audience what they liked and disliked about each of them.
An interesting tidbit the Ashkers shared is that when they evaluate a horse they are thinking about buying, they pay closer attention to the trot than the canter. Their belief is that they can change the canter a little bit if they don’t like it while it is hard to change the trot.
GIN JOINT AND FULLBACK
After watching the geldings work on the flat, a few jumps were set up to see what the young horses did when asked to go over various heights. This section of the presentation turned into a mini clinic as Laine and Valerie Ashker gave advice to the riders as they took their horses over each of the jumps. There was obvious improvement to both horses from the beginning to the end of the ride, giving the audience a real life view of how quickly these horses can improve from the beginning to the end of a ride.
The night concluded with Dan James, first giving a liberty demonstration with his two palomino horses. After finishing that part of his section, New Vocations horse One Brave Warrior was brought out for James to work with. The name was a fitting one as James’ assistant desensitized the gelding with a snapping whip and crowd noise.
JAMES'S LIBERTY DEMONSTRATION
James explained each step that was being done as it happened and had the crowd participate in making noise to help with the demonstration. He also recognized that not many people have the benefit of actually desensitizing their horses to a crowd without being at a show or another big event and gave the advice to tape crowd noises and play them to the horse at home while desensitizing.
When One Brave Warrior finally stood fairly calmly for both the whip snapping and the crowd noise, the horse returned to the barn. After a few final words from emcee Steuart Pittman, the curtain closed on another successful Thoroughbreds For All event.