$750 T-bred qualifies for Rolex, let’s rumble

What a test! AP Prime and Leah Lang-Gluscic finish the  cross-country course at Fair Hill last weekend after being halted twice for fallen riders.

What a test! AP Prime and Leah Lang-Gluscic finish the cross-country course at Fair Hill last weekend after being halted twice for fallen riders.

A $750 T-bred, off the track for just four years, qualified last weekend to compete at the preeminent Rolex Kentucky Three Day.

AP Prime, grandson of the great A.P. Indy, and his owner/rider Leah Lang-Gluscic rode their hearts out at Fair Hill last weekend, despite being halted twice on course while injured riders were tended to.

It was amazing to Lang-Gluscic that he was able to pull himself up from a hell bent dash over the challenging course, that twice had fallen riders ahead of them and caused the event to be momentarily halted.

“AP was so professional! This was our first hold on course ever. It happened right after Fence 8, but I wasn’t worried, because the next fence was a big and inviting, and easy to re-start the course with,” she says.

AP Prime
Sire: Aptitude, by A.P. Indy
Dam: Czarina Kate
Foal date: March 14, 2005
It got worse. “Then, after we got through with Jumps 9 and 10, we came flying up a huge hill and saw the huge blue tarps ahead, surrounding Fence 11.

“When you see the blue tarps, that means something horrible has happened,” she says of the time-honored way of shielding the public’s view.

Her heart hammering as she fought to rein in her ex-racehorse, and Lang-Gluscic was “very upset” until she was reassured that the fallen horse/rider team were not badly injured. And she kept AP walking and calm until she was given her third “Go!” signal of the day.

“When we got the signal to again, I was a little nervous. Jump 11 is a huge Trakehner, and it goes right up the hill to a Coffin, which is notorious at Fair Hill for being difficult,” she says. “But AP was amazing! We went right over it and finished the ride!”

The Fair Hill course wound up testing everything they had.

The Fair Hill course wound up testing everything they had.

Although they ended with a time penalty, Lang-Gluscic says AP did an extraordinary job stopping and restarting the course twice, and jumping clean and willingly. “This is a difficult course designed by the same course designers at Rolex. A lot of people had time penalties and refusals. But AP went clean and very bold.”

In the show jumping round the next day, though they had three rails, two were her fault—she rushed him past the distance and he caught them with his hind feet—and a third was a fluke. “When I got him into a good quality canter, he jumped his heart out and went perfectly. I need to get my eye a little more patient by Kentucky, and I think we can be competitive there.”

With the tests of Fair Hill behind them, AP Prime will relax on a six-week vacation before heading to Ocala, Fla. for the winter. “He’ll get fuzzy, he’ll get fat, and he’ll be happy,” she says. “Then we’ll do two advanced level horse trials, shorter ones, and we’ll be on target for Rolex!” ♥

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5 years at Blackburn taught service, trust

Randall Sorrell learned service to others, partnership and trust while incarcerated at Blackburn.  He and Deacon, a Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation horse, participated in the Second Chances Program there, which celebrates is 15th anniversary today.

Randall Sorrell learned service to others, partnership and trust while incarcerated at Blackburn. He and Deacon, a Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation horse, participated in the Second Chances Program there, which celebrates is 15th anniversary today.

Randall Sorrell was locked up at the Blackburn Correctional Complex in Lexington, Ky., for nearly five years. It was his lucky break!

While serving time for “making a bad choice while in Kentucky on vacation,” he started to make good choices as a participant in the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation’s (TRF) Second Chances Program, which celebrates its 15th anniversary today.

While working with retired racehorse Thoroughbreds, Sorrell says he learned many things, including building trust between man and horse, giving and receiving. “I also learned about the effectiveness of partnership. If you look at the relationship between a human and a horse, it’s built on trust and mutual respect,” he says during a telephone interview with Off Track Thoroughbreds. “Those are life skills, some call it horse sense, and they’re easily transferable from the horse barn to interactions with people outside.”

That work, as well as a deep connection with the prison’s chapel and volunteers from the Lexington Catholic Charities prison ministry taught him to “live in service to others” every chance he gets.

Inmates bathe Ask the Lord at Blackburn's Second Chances Program.

Inmates bathe Ask the Lord at Blackburn’s Second Chances Program.

“I was blessed before I went to prison. I had a moderate level of success, and a good education,” he says. “But I made a bad choice on vacation in Kentucky, and I paid the consequences. I deserved to.”

Sorrell returns to the complex today a new man. A commodities marketing consultant who works with farmers to mitigate their risk for downward price movement, he is a successful businessman with his feet on the ground, and his heart with the Kentucky program that gave him his second chance.

An invited guest and speaker at the anniversary celebration, Sorrell will talk about how the relationships he developed working with ex-racehorses as well as his involvement with the prison chapel gave him opportunities to start anew.

Inmates and horses learn mutual trust and respect.

Inmates and horses learn mutual trust and respect. EquiSportPhotos image courtesy of the TRF.

“I’ve always kept the TRF in the back of my mind. I’ve gone to fundraisers and I’ve talked often … with my clients about opportunities there, and options for their horses,” he says.

The Open House runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. today, and will feature talks by other special guests, including Bryan Beccia, a graduate who is an exercise rider who worked Preakness runner-up Ride On Curlin.

Guests will also be given a tour of the facility, which opened its TRF Second Chances Program in April 1999 after the Commonwealth of Kentucky donated 100 acres to the program. Blackburn is currently home to 58 former racehorses, including Ask the Lord, who earned more than $700,000 in 83 races, and Argentina-bred Sovereign Kit, who raced 85 times and earned more than $440,000. ♥

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After big life loss, she gives all to save her t’bred

Alyssa Hammond spent hours on end in a Texas equine hospital with her stricken Thoroughbred Tough West.

Alyssa Hammond spent hours on end in a Texas equine hospital with her stricken Thoroughbred Tough West.

Wisp thin but strong, 19-year-old Alyssa Hammond toughened up early in life.

Just 11-years-old when she lost her father Scott to brain cancer, the young Texas girl turned to horses to shore up her defenses. As she pressed on with her education, and other obligations, grief that could rush at her with dizzying force, could also be out run with the help of a red dun Quarter Horse named Will; the first of three she would treasure and love.

On him she flew over fields and ditches as she embraced the Eventing discipline. And at school where she excelled in math, she eventually entered college to study accounting. Her goal an MBA, and ultimately, a solid job in the oil and gas industry.

Throughout her young life, she maintained her levelheaded academic pursuits, and in no small part, because a horse was there when she needed him most.

Eight years after enduring the battle her 48-year-old father lost to cancer, the young woman of nearly 20 has had another health crisis emerge.

Only this time, it involved a young Thoroughbred who needed her as desperately as she once needed that Quarter Horse.

Tough West
Sire: Tough Game
Dam: Ladyinabrownsuit
Foal date: May 3, 2011
So many people told Hammond to euthanize her 3-year-old Thoroughbred Tough West when he developed Pleuropneumonia just a week after arriving at her Texas farm from California. He was a gift from a Golden Gate trainer; and seemed to be the perfect horse to train for Eventing as she eased her other two horses into retirement.

But soon after stepping off the shipping van Sept. 7, Tough West went off his feed, and a week later was rushed to Bravos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas. “The vets said he had one of the worst cases of pleuropneumonia they’d seen,” she says. “Both lungs were filled with fluid and he had a 103.8 temperature.”

He was admitted to the hospital on Sept. 13, and what followed was a costly, confusing, exhausting battle to combat a Penicillin-resistant bacterial infection.

Tough West battled pleuropneumonia for one month at the Bravos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas.

Tough West battled pleuropneumonia for one month at the Bravos Valley Equine Hospital in Navasota, Texas.

Chest drains were placed into Tough West’s beautiful hide to clear the fluid, and new antibiotics were tried when Penicillin failed. As each procedure was tried, a new complication would arise.

“His lungs were so weak they were leaking, so he had air in his body where there shouldn’t be any,” she says, noting that even the IV needles triggered an alarming blood clotting reaction that made the veins in his face swell like balloons.

“There were times I stood in his stall with him, hugged his head, and my tears would just roll down his face,” she says. “People told me I should put him down. I’m a part-time riding instructor and full-time student, and his bills doubled from the original number I expected. But the vet said he acts like a fighter, and I just couldn’t give up on him after coming all this way.”

Though her veterinary bills began to exceed $10,000, a big burden on the young student, Hammond could not in good conscience let a fighter go to his grave when he seemed so determined to hang on.

He arrived home Oct. 14, but is not out of the woods. So sick Hammond can smell the illness on him, Tough West continues on heavy antibiotics, while he girds against the threat of Laminitis.

He arrived home Oct. 14, but is not out of the woods. So sick Hammond can smell the illness on him, Tough West continues on heavy antibiotics, while he girds against the threat of Laminitis.

“He’s just such a sweet horse. He’s only 3, but he was always so calm. He would let me wrap my arms around his head and hug him. And when I walked away, he’d watch me like he was waiting for me to come back,” she says. “When I started off with all this, I thought his medical bills would be around $5,000, and I thought I could handle that. But, they’ve nearly doubled.”

Even after he was released back into her care last week, he has required constant attention and care. He is on a regimen of Chloramphenicol, an antibiotic that is working against his infection and which she administers four times a day. And his front feet, which have begun to grow warm, now require additional measures to stave off the dreaded Laminitis.

It’s all become something of a battle for both horse and human, but they each refuse to give in to illness, and fight like hell so that Tough West can live another day.

“I could not tell a horse who was a fighter, who is expected to make a full recovery, that this is the end,” Hammond says.

As she hopes against hope that his infection will clear and his feet will resist developing Laminitis, she is filling out a payment plan application with the veterinary hospital, and has also created a Go Fund Me account to raise money to offset his care. Recognizing that the horse’s care is ultimately her responsibility, she has been cheered by recent donations.

To date, Spring Creek Feed in Magnolia, Texas donated 12 bags of Equine Senior Feed and Charlottes Saddlery in Tomball, Texas donated a lightweight turnout blanket. In addition, some $600 has been donated toward a fundraiser. To donate to Tough West’s care, please visit www.gofundme.com/ToughWest. ♥

T Bred icon Off-Track Products.com is the blog’s store. It was created to sustain the blog going forward. Proceeds from sales of sporty saddle pads will also go to charity.