A horse who proved to love racing over his five seasons on the track, L. C. Sleepy earned the “warhorse” designation by making 65 starts in his career and winning races for three straight seasons. The gelding won $95,249 in earnings with five wins and 13 other top-three finishes, an extremely respectable career for a racehorse.
But it is in his second career that the veteran has shined.
After L. C. Sleepy retired from racing, he joined Finger Lakes Finest Thoroughbreds. That is when “Simon” caught Shannon Ryan-Dinmore’s attention.
“I was browsing potential Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover prospects as well as resale projects at the time,” she said. “His listing photos and video really stood out to me and I became somewhat obsessed. Sometimes there's just something about them! Simon has further cemented my love of the warhorse Thoroughbred. He's proven that even after 65 starts, he's game and ready to tackle anything I throw at him. He's also proven to me that not all Thoroughbreds are hard keepers.”
She quickly learned why he was named L. C. Sleepy when she caught him napping nearly daily. The gelding also proved to have a sense of humor, often showing what he thought of having his photo taken.
“Simon does enjoy afternoon siestas! I'm guessing that's probably where his name came from. I've realized over the years that he's terrible about holding still for photos but if you take candids out in the pasture, he can't help but yawn or make other goofy faces,” she said.
After she brought him home in the winter of 2015, their big riding focus was just going trail riding where Simon spent most of his time just relaxing on the trails and occasionally jumping logs while also going to a few shows.
It wasn’t until September when Ryan-Dinmore was able to substitute him in as her 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover horse that she started focusing more on his ringwork.
“At the 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover, Simon placed 15th out of 57 in Show Hunters and 26th out of 44 in Competitive Trail,” she said of their biggest accomplishment. “I'm still over the moon about our 15th place Show Hunter finish at the Thoroughbred Makeover. There were some extremely nice horses in the division and I felt like we were super behind on ring work at the time. Simon is typically very game for things, though, and I think he worked through my nerves and rode through two beautiful rounds.”
After the Makeover, they went back to trail riding but in 2018 their competitive goals ramped up when Shannon Ryan-Dinmore found a new trainer for the pair.
“We found an amazing new trainer who has really brought out the best in both of us and I am forever grateful,” she said. “Simon and I attended one combined training event and one hunter pace last year, along with monthly clinics, and hope to get out to more events this year! I also submitted the first 25 hours for The Jockey Club's Thoroughbred Incentive Recreational Riding Program as a fun side award. This year's goals include more clinics, more events, riding a few dressage tests, and hopefully submitting both our 100 and 250 Recreational Riding Program hours.”
As she’s gotten to know her mount better over the last few years, she’s learned to laugh at his quirks, such as showing what he thinks of some of the things she asks him to do under saddle. He’s also cemented her love of warhorses and taught her how important the experiences they have on the track are.
“Warhorses are definitely my jam; I like to say that I like them tall, dark, extensively raced, and handsome! They've seen it all and have great brains because of it, but also they are typically sound as the day is long,” she said. “Horses with 50 or 75-plus starts have held up extremely well to the rigors of the racing world. It is a true testament to not only their impeccable care on the track but also strong genetic lines and a good overall disposition to be able to deal with everything thrown at them. While most OTTBs have seen a lot more than the average horse, warhorses are in their own class of experience after years on the track.”
As for those who are shopping for their first retired racehorse – especially one just retired from racing – she has some advice for you.
“Go to the track and see as many horses as possible. Find a good trainer or fellow Thoroughbred enthusiast to bring with you. Make sure to have a healthy bank account (as with any horse purchase) but also a great group of supportive people to help you through any issues. Don't overlook a Thoroughbred just because he has a high number of starts, you will be missing out!”
Do you know a Thoroughbred warhorse who made 50 or more starts? Send their information to Melissa@PyroisMedia.com and they could be featured in a future aftercare piece!