Linda Novak Scruton is not exactly an equestrian daredevil.
Whether it’s her personality that makes her naturally leery of spooky horses or family considerations that come from being a wife and mother, Scruton reflexively tempers her all-out love of horses with a desire to be safe at all times.
Admitting she can be a little nervous in the saddle, Scruton did not do what so many equally cautious riders have done—seek out high-priced Warmblood dealers for the ideal “cool, calm, and collected,” equine.
Instead, she found her bombproof babies off racetracks.
“This week I rode in a windstorm that knocked a tree branch on the ground behind my horse Nate,” she says. “Not only didn’t he spook, but he didn’t even surge forward.
“Both of my horses amaze me. They both showed me this week I had nothing to be afraid of. They’re all business.”
New name: Casual Friday
Barn name: Nate
Dam: If Ever
Foal date: April 20, 1998The former veterinarian technician turned equine massage therapist currently has two off-track Thoroughbreds, Nate and Mumbles. Nate, or Casual Friday in the show ring, came to her three years ago after a chance meeting in a backyard barn. The ex-racehorse trained in dressage before he found his way into the low-key facility and wormed his way into Scruton’s heart.
“He’d put his head under your arm just to get your attention,” she says. “Just working with him everyday in his stall, he was such a big sweetheart that against everybody’s better judgment, I bought him.”
He spent his first winter recuperating from a hoof injury sustained in the barn, and by spring, he emerged the “perfect gentleman” of a riding horse, Scruton says.
“I found a trainer, she got on and rode him at the walk, trot and canter in both directions. Now he jumps whatever you put in front of him, and he proves himself to be a horse who takes care of me.”
Mumbles, who last raced at Suffolk Downs in Boston, came to Scruton via CANTER New England (http://www.canterne.org). Although he came off the track sound, he eventually developed a septic joint, and required rest and rehabilitation.
He was started under saddle last September and is now such a “sweet ride” that Scruton is happy to let her young daughter Taylor ride him.
When Scruton was a little girl growing up in a small city with “lots of siblings,” she dreamed of having a horse. She pictured a big, dark Thoroughbred.
In her early 20s, shortly after getting married and starting work as a vet tech, she decided to take a riding lesson, and soon, she was on a “slippery slope” gliding her way to making her early dream a reality.
Her first horse was Russian Sable, and against him, she measures all others. “When I first started riding, I rode one lesson a week, then it quickly turned to two. Pretty soon I was working at the barn to pay for more lessons, and then I started leasing Russian Sable.”
Before she was ready, Russian Sable (named Prince Scott on the racetrack) was carrying her around horseshows, earning blue ribbons nearly from the start.
“Right from the start, he had my back,” she recalls. Ever since her first off-track Thoroughbred experience, ex-racehorses have been carrying Scruton safe and sound on her equestrian journey.