It was a happy accident that brought together Warmblood rider Karen Obarowski and a green ex-racehorse who couldn’t trot a straight line.
All the fancier prospects she’d considered before she met Agave Ride had failed their veterinary exam, and in deep disappointment, she gave up on the search until her friend and trainer Suzanne Markham suggested that she take on a project horse while she searched for her dream horse.
“I didn’t have anything else going on at the time, and was missing horses, so I said OK, fine,” Obarowski says. “We went to the farm where he was to make sure he wasn’t crazy or lame and I agreed to take him for three months.”
Famous last words.
From the first moment she and her trainer clipped the lunge line onto Agave’s halter and asked him to trot a circle, their eyes grew round as saucers as they watched the fluid and stylish movement. They knew they had a pretty special horse in their hands. “We looked at each other and said, ‘Well, he has gaits! He can really move!”
Sire: Cactus Ridge
Dam: Bonnieview Miss
Foal date: March 11, 2005
Earnings: $63,877, in 39 starts“I didn’t have a lot of experience with Thoroughbreds, but he had the biggest heart of any horse I’d ever ridden,” she says. “He tries so desperately to what I’m asking, and if he does something wrong, he gets so anxious, but if I tell him he’s a good boy, his whole body relaxes.”
Since taking their first ride on July 3, 2013, not only as Agave thoroughly ingratiated himself as her dream horse but he’s also picked up dressage moves like a pro.
“He’s already schooling at second level. He’ll say, ‘Oh, you want half pass?’ And the second time out, he’ll do a half pass all the way across the ring!”
And when he’s not in work, and letting his hair down, Agave has shown that beneath a previously aloof exterior lays the heart of a goofball.
“He’s completely in-your-pocket. When I try to put his bridle on, I sometimes have to struggle because he’s licking my arm” making it difficult to get the gear on his head. “I don’t have to put a lead rope on him or cross ties because he just follows me around.”
Other riders chuckle when the see Obarowski walk down the barn aisle carrying her tack, with Agave walking right behind. “He goes right into his grooming stall, turns around, and waits for me,” she adds.
Looking toward the future, Obarowski has set her sights on one day competing at FEI Dressage levels on Agave. Once a goal she wanted only for herself, she now dreams of the high-level competition as an appropriate challenge for her off-track Thoroughbred. And she imagines what she’d say about the horse she now owns, should they get to that level:
“Here’s my off-track Thoroughbred who raced for seven years, and now he’s going to beat your fancy Warmbloods!”
—This story was originally published on Jan. 28, 2014.