Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Carrying on Family Legacy of Love for Horses

The author with Pied N True, aka ‘Pied.’ (Photo courtesy of Meghan McNamara)

My name is Meghan McNamara. I am an amateur all-arounder from Austin, Texas with a broad focus in the Western disciplines and a side hobby in Hunter-Jumpers. I’m thrilled to be training my mare, Pied N True, aka “Pied,” for the 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover.

I have been lucky enough to know Pied since she was just 2 years old. She happens to be the last racehorse my family owned after a long legacy. Though I can’t introduce her without sharing the story of how she came to be and introducing my entire herd make up of, you guessed it, Thoroughbred mares.

Growing up in Southern California, my grandfather bred, owned, and campaigned Thoroughbreds. My mornings with him were spent on the racetrack apron, eating donuts (ALWAYS donuts) while we watched his horses breeze. We couldn’t leave without having breakfast on the backside. Whether it was under the majestic San Gabriel Mountains at Santa Anita, or smelling the crisp ocean air at Del Mar, my fondest memories were with him at the track, and he had me convinced I would be training racehorses by the time I could drive and that I would certainly have a Triple Crown win by now!

Del Mar winner's circle photo. (Courtesy of Meghan McNamara)

When my grandpa passed away at the young age of 73, we did our best to keep his legacy alive. KK (Golden KK) was the first racehorse my family acquired. We always joked her name stood for Krispy Kreme (my Grandpa and his donuts!). Heartbreakingly, she was claimed from us while I was young, but I remember promising her I would ensure she had a soft landing.

Ten years later, I managed to track her down, but was told she shipped to the auctions in Canada. Her owner had died, and the breeding farm was liquidating all of his mares. I was devastated, but continued the search only to be told she miscarried her foal the day she was meant to travel and was still in California, just hours away from where I lived at the time. I’ll never forget, I drove round trip eight hours to pay $500 for her, and when I got back to my house, my college roommate’s father had randomly dropped off a box of Krispy Kreme donuts. At that moment, I knew my Grandpa was looking down on us. KK is now 21, and in the nine years I have owned her, we have roped, horse camped, trail ridden all over California and Texas and are now happily bopping around hunter courses. The heart of a Thoroughbred mare cannot be beat!

Finding KK is what ignited my passion for rehoming and retraining these remarkable athletes. My sense of obligation to these horses for the long haul motivated me to keep a watchful eye over her progeny. Thank you, Equibase, for making all of my cyberstalking dreams a reality!

Enter Jet (A Golden Jet). I found her at 7 years old, still slugging through the lowest level of racing. I was able to happily retire her. Like so many racehorses, her body tells stories of her struggled past, and riding and heavy work are not in her best interest. She is now 13 and living her fabulous pasture life with her llama, Lorenzo.

Pied's racing days. (Courtesy of Meghan McNamara)

And now I introduce Pied. She is incredibly special as she was the last horse my grandma purchased, named, and raced. When my grandma passed away my mom assumed ownership and ensured her racing career was safe and healthy. And boy, was she a spectacle on the track. Leaving the gate DEAD LAST, she would turn her motor on around the far turn and blow past horses to make it under the wire first. When she was claimed from us after a race, my mom hunted her down and managed to claim her right back. When Pied let us know she was ready for retirement, she listened. I am proud to say my mom is the type of owner that every racehorse deserves.

This is my first year getting accepted to the Makeover and, as I look forward to October, I can’t help but be proud of how far Pied has already come. In the beginning of October 2020, I received the most dreaded phone call any horse owner can receive, “Meghan! Pied is colicking!” We wasted absolutely no time getting her to the emergency clinic and thankfully we did. Her colic happened to be a Necrosplenic and, after some time, it was decided surgery was needed to rotate her colon. Pied was known to be difficult in her stall on the track (red mare, of course!), but she could not have been a better patient in recovery. Even her surgeons told me what a fighter she was. No matter where she goes, she leaves a lasting impression.

Alas, I did not start training racehorses at 16, nor am I training racehorses now. But I do feel completely blessed with the opportunity to bring Pied along to our own version of the Kentucky Derby in October. She is as fiery as her coat, always the smallest horse in her race, and has as many personalities as shoes she’s thrown in the mud, but boy does she have a heart bigger than Texas. We have lofty goals to be the ranchiest cow pony, err Thoroughbred, the Makeover has ever seen and make Texas proud!

Aside from colic surgery, Texas’ recent record-breaking freeze, and my own recent COVID-19 recovery, we hope to have smooth sailing to Kentucky. If Pied has taught me anything, obstacles are nothing that can’t be jumped, and as we officially start our “retraining” next week, I look forward to sharing our ups and downs, laughs and tears (only happy tears, of course). Can’t wait to see you all in Kentucky!

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