The day that Money Makes Money broke down at Gulfstream Park and was taken away by ambulance turns out to be the very last time he would set a wrong foot on career path taking him from racing to Hunter/Jumper and Cowboy Challenge circuits.
Kit, as he is now called, emerged from a nine-month layup from a severely bowed tendon as one of the most sure-footed creatures to navigate teeter-bridges and other cowboy-challenge obstacles, and as a careful and beautiful jumper in the show ring.
“When Kit broke down the last day of the meet, I figured I’d take him. He was so good looking, and I knew I could take care of a bowed tendon because I’d done it before,” says owner and exercise rider Karen Benson. “I figured I’d rehabilitate him and find him a new home.
Race name: Money Makes Money
New name: Kit
Sire: Talk is Money
Foal date: March 12, 2003“I found him a home alright. Mine.”
The Wellington, Fla. resident spent most of her professional life exercising racehorses at tracks around the country, and from her perch atop some of the finest horses around, she developed a knack for spotting the keepers.
While working at Palm Meadows five years ago, she caught sight of Kit.
“This was the horse everybody wanted. He was built so beautifully,” she says. “But he wasn’t for sale.”
But weeks later, when the stallion sustained a serious bowed tendon in a race, his trainer contacted Benson to help. Well-known for her talent rehabilitating racehorses, Benson was asked if she wanted Kit.
“I have pictures of his bow and it was horrendous. I guess I just felt sorry for him because he was such a beautiful horse.”
So, in April 2006, Kit was transported to the Palm Beach Training Center to undergo nine months of recovery.
For the first month, Kit recovered in his stall, and was only allowed to venture out to stand on the cross ties while his injury was iced, treated and wrapped. He was also administered painkillers and other medication to help keep him calm during recovery.
Slowly, he started moving easier, but six months into it, as Kit was showing marked improvement, he suddenly and inexplicably colicked.
On Oct. 29th Benson found Kit lying down in his stall, moaning in pain.
“When I entered his stall and sat down next to him, he put his head in my lap,” she says. “He was never all that affectionate before he got sick, but after, he became a real love bug.”
By the time he turned 5, the stallion who was so mellow he still didn’t require gelding, was proving he possessed talents beyond Benson’s wildest expectations.
She entered Kit in an Extreme Cowboy Challenge event to prove to other riders that a Thoroughbred could handle spooky obstacles as well as any breed.
He did not let her down that first day, or in the many events and hunter/jumper shows he has competed in since.
He has carried Benson across teetering bridges, past balloons, over tarps, ditches and water obstacles. And he has done all this in open fields that might tempt another horse to gallop away.
“With one challenge, I had to lean way down from the saddle to his knee, and pick up a golf ball. He stood perfectly still for me.”
He has adapted so well to Cowboy Challenges that she has gone a step further and begun teaching him Natural Horsemanship techniques, which allow his head to be free of a bridle. In this way, she has ridden and exercised him at home.
“He’ll run alongside me and go over jumps, and I also lunge him without a bridle. I direct him by simply pointing,” she says.
And in the world of hunter/jumper horseshows, Kit is equally versatile. Schooling over 4 feet, he won a show at the Harmon Classics in Huntersville, N.C. during an Aug. 12-14 event.
Winning ribbons and challenges is great. But even better is the delight Benson takes in answering the inevitable questions from show-goers about Kit’s breeding.
“He’s so mellow and chunky that people assume he’s a Warmblood,” she says. “When I tell them he’s a Thoroughbred, they’re shocked.
“This is why I do this. I want to let people know that a Thoroughbred can do anything!”
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