Tattoo: 8338457 Tattoo: 8745603
Racing name: Gitche Lantern Racing name: Cool Caveat
New name: Prudential New name: Dreyfus
Sire: Gitche Gumee Sire: Caveat
Dam: Lantern Dam: Tres Elegante
Height: 15.3 Height: 16.3
A small mare with a temperament that made her no good for reselling was agile as a deer over jumps, always landing on her feet to save her owner from ‘human error.’ The 15.3-hand Thoroughbred performed this way at Kentucky’s Rolex and major East Coast shows before retiring.
Another off-track Thoroughbred in Stephanie Baer’s barn is a gelding sired by Belmont Stakes winner Caveat. On him, the upper-level event rider was shortlisted for the 1998 European World Championships, and competed in England against some of the best.
Both horses, the mare Prudential and gelding Dreyfus, possessed the bravery, smarts and stamina to compete in a league where Thoroughbreds once dominated. They are among a long list of high-octane competitors Baer has taken from racetrack to upper-level events by doing the training herself.
“At one time, the Thoroughbred was really the breed of choice of horses for eventing,” says Baer, owner of Chase Farm in Orange, Mass. (http://www.stephiebaer.com). “They were known to have the speed, bravery, and competitiveness to win.”
Despite trends that find more equestrians buying “made” Warmbloods and other sport horses, Baer remains a true believer in both the Thoroughbred, and in her own training methods.
“The mentality among competitive riders has really changed. I don’t think as many people want to buy a horse and train it themselves, and I wonder” what effect that has on a competitor’s abilities in the high-speed sport.
“It’s a hard sport. Riders shouldn’t expect to have something that behaves like a machine,” she says, noting that she feels much better equipped to handle the unexpected on an eventing field because of her years of hands-on training. Had she never worked with green horses, she would feel less prepared to make split-second decisions on the field.
The combination of her own training and the aptitude of her favorite breed has proved successful; three out of her five top level horses have been Thoroughbreds.
“I definitely prefer Thoroughbreds above and beyond other breeds,” Baer says. “I think they’re smart, sensitive in good ways, and I find them easier to train.”
The daughter of “non-horsey parents,” Baer started her eventing career in the 1970s.
To this day, Dreyfus remains her favorite. “I don’t know if he was the most athletic horse in the world, but from day one he did everything I asked of him,” she says. “I went to Europe with him in 1998, and he was great. I was a little overwhelmed.”
The mare she couldn’t resell not only took her to Rolex, but also taught two young riders to go preliminary, and had three foals, before retiring on Baer’s farm.
Looking ahead, Baer is working with an off-track Thoroughbred named Bergie, who was sired by Gulch. She bought the horse through CANTER New England (http://www.canterne.org) and is already mapping the course ahead, for her and the seven-year-old gelding.
4 responses to “Flying over fences”
Great blog 🙂 Will be adding you to our blogroll at http://calabriarose.wordpress.com 🙂
Love some success stories!
Thank you very much! That’s high praise to be added to a blogroll, and I’ll be adding you, too.
Everything I know about working with young horses I learned growing up a student of Stephie. Now as a CANTER volunteer I get to use that knowledge to help people find new horses at the race track, including Stephie herself and her students.
It was growing up watching Stephie take former race horses and turn them into top class event horses that drew me to volunteer for CANTER. The fact that there are horses with great potential available at the track. They just need some help finding the right person and new career that suits them.
Jeff, thank you for your comment. It’s heartwarming when top riders take the time to re-train a racehorse, especially when that horse returns the favor in spades. Stephie was very enthusiastic about the CANTER program, and you specifically—as both a rider and marketing agent for CANTER.