This year, America’s Best Racing and the Retired Racehorse Project will be sharing diaries from several trainers preparing for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover competition, scheduled for Oct. 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park. This diary is by equestrienne and horse racing industry professional Hillary Ramspacher, who shares how she came to acquire her filly Tapanista (Thalia) that she is training for the makeover.
“Patience Pays” is the name on a foal tag I have had on my car keys since 2012 from one of my favorite yearlings. It’s a coincidental name, as that filly in particular was a great teacher of patience, sometimes the hard way. To this day, it is a constant reminder that it will all work out in good time: Patience Pays.
The slow lane has been a steady one for Thalia and I so far this year, but with the Thoroughbred Makeover looming up ahead, it was only natural to feel the urge to hop to it. With her rehab successfully in the rear view, (fingers crossed!) this last month has snowballed a bit as we slipped into the deep end of the sport horse world and got back to work. We have steadily built upon the foundation I had been able to put on this filly since December. Her willingness under saddle has proven to be her best attribute. She may be a chestnut mare but no one must beware of this one; she is truly an amateur’s dream.
I decided to move both of my horses back home to my polo farm for the summer. This has allowed for more field trips as they can tag along to polo three days per week and we have hundreds of acres to explore if we do not feel like staying in the arena. We have been able to get to polo, ship out to a local equestrian park a handful of times, and have lessons at home while adjusting to the new routine, all of which keep her on her toes and offer valuable experiences for her to grow from. Shipping has always been a stressful endeavor for her, but each trip away from home has her improving. Trailering with a load of bomb-proof polo ponies has really helped keep her trailering nerves at bay.
With how well she had adjusted to the changes, I opted to test the competition waters by heading out to her first hunter show this month. Despite being uncharacteristically nervous to start, she showed up and did her job the whole time, even coming home with her very first blue ribbons.
With a bit of confidence in the bank from that experience, we entered our first mini trial to attempt our hand at eventing. Although I do have show hunter aspirations for us, I love the idea of cross training and ultimately want to get this filly out to as many different venues as possible this time of year as there’s something to be learned from each field trip. We may have wanted to be a little more prepared, but you don’t know if you don’t try – so with a 4 a.m. wake-up call, we loaded up with a fellow Makeover trainer and her 2019 hopeful to head to Flying Cross Farm for our second real horse show.
Just as expected, Thalia showed up yet again eager to please. She trailered like a champ, hacked across the property cool as a cucumber, put in a lovely dressage test followed by clean and confident rounds in stadium and cross-country. I could feel her confidence growing as she navigated each question asked of her throughout the day and she even came home with a well-deserved ribbon for her effort.
Of course, there are things to improve upon, but I am incredibly proud of the horse she has already become. It certainly has been a longer road than anticipated to get the ball rolling on Thalia’s show career, but my patience has paid off in more ways than I could have ever hoped for.