Jaws dropped when he entered the track.
It wasn’t his size, although he measures 17 hands. Or his beauty, undeniably radiating from his well-muscled body and expressive, delicate face.
What caused a stir as Circuitous entered the Aiken, S.C. training track was the perfect balance and poise exhibited by the working racehorse, who, on the side, was being taught by a three day eventer to carry himself correctly.
As he powered by in a perfect three-beat rhythm, a dressage instructor, who happened to be there that day, exclaimed, “There goes an amazing canter!”
His composure reflects a big idea coming from the small stable, the Mosaic Racing Stable of New York. Here, there are two goals: to train a horse to run a race, and simultaneously prepare them for other disciplines.
The point, says managing partner Monica Driver, is to create happy, well-rounded horses who enjoy their work on the track, but are also prepared to appeal to the kind of rider who may want to buy him after his racing career ends.
“Everybody in our racing stable is in agreement: They don’t want to be a part of racing if there aren’t plans in place” to ensure the health and wellbeing after the horse’s track career ends, Driver says. “We literally opened up a certificate of deposit at the bank for our first horse, Vicarious, so we could put money aside in the event of untoward veterinarian expenses, or when she retired.
Race name: Circuitous
Dam: Watt Ever
Foal date: April 4, 2009“We continue to put money aside from the track, and we charge each partner a little bit more every month so that each horse has its own bank account.”
The idea has proved to be a win-win, for the horses, and their connections at Mosaic Stables.
During exercises with eventer Heidi White, Circuitous has been going on trail rides, and learning to step over ground poles while working on a polo field.
Taught to reposition himself off his front end, he is able to canter beautifully on the field, and breeze brilliantly on the track.
“The first thing we did with Circuitous, was to take him out on a sandy road,” Driver says. “When he’s in training, he hacks to the track, where he has a small paddock for daily turnout.”
But lest anyone wonder if all the feel-good work makes a racehorse soft, the answer is quite the opposite. Circuitous did very well in 90 days of training on the poly track last spring before he was “turned out over the summer to grow into himself,” Driver says. As his overall balance and muscle conditioning knitted together, he worked his way up to a 3/8ths breeze about five weeks ago, and now easily goes a half mile, she adds.
“He had about six months of assorted training before he started to breeze,” Driver says.
The plan is to send him soon to work at Belmont in the next few weeks to work with well-known racehorse trainer James Jerkins.
And win, lose or draw, his fate is secure.
If Circuitous can’t make it as a racehorse, he now has the training to move into a second career!
And if he proves to be anything like the first horse who Mosaic Stables cross-trained, a gray filly named Vicarious, he will be doing well.
Although the filly’s life was sadly cut short, when she died on the operating table of colic in the early winter of 2011, she had a good life, and a decent track showing before she entered retirement.
She was trained to jump by DiAnn Langer, of Red Top Farm at Aiken. And, when Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens, a strong advocate of cross-training for racehorses, saw the results, he was “very impressed.”
“When the steeple chase barn was open at Belmont, Allen sent his horses to use the jumping chute because it was good for their minds,” she says.
Similarily, jumping work enhanced Vicarious’ balance, and, Driver says, improved her start out of the gate.
Vicarious won $114,000 while racing at Saratoga and Belmont before she was retired.
“She was no shining star, but she did very well,” Driver says. “When we did retire her, she retired sound. If she hadn’t died of colic, there were some who felt she’d have a career as a show horse.”
After grieving the regrettable loss of their beautiful gray, the membership of Mosaic Stable has turned its focus to Circuitous and a third horse, Analysis, sired by Freud, out of Watt Ever.
Both horses will train to race, but will also learn to enjoy just being a horse. They will take vacations in the winter, and will have ample turnout for rolling around after workouts, and the all experiences to make them well-rounded, happy creatures.
Without their happiness, Driver could not enjoy the work.
“I’m such an animal person that when I first thought of making money from an animal, I wasn’t sure about it,” she says. “I’ve seen horses that have been messed up by bad decisions and trainers.
“With this, I’m quite comfortable. I can look at Circuitous and see how happy he is. Every morning he shows us that he can’t wait to get out there and do what he loves. He loves to run.”
And Driver and her team love being along for the ride, and there at the end, when retirement comes.
“The agreement among all the people involved with our small partnership is that the horse will always come first, and we will make sure we take care of our horses,” Driver says. “We’re just thinking ahead with their training, so that we can help them retire successfully.”
17 responses to “Mosaic Racing Stable preps horses for next careers— while they race train!”
Bravo Mosaic! I am speechless about this.. Keep up the good work! Someday I hope to own an OTTB.
This is great. If more stables took up this way, not only would we have much better race horses but more happy horses. many would probably not be euthinized or discarded. they could easily find a new home. not to mention that the racing industry could be turned around and we could have some amazing races if all horses learned like these. What a great way to start a new revolution for the raceing industry. I hope mores stables follow this great example!
This is great !Hooray to all involved the future is here! Thanks for sharing this story
Congratulations to Monica, Mosaic Stables and Circuitous! This is such a wonderful way of training! I believe cross training is fabulous for the horse and I am sure the horse is much happier! Keep up the good work!!!
Wonderful story, Sue!! Hope many more trainers read this heartwarming story!! 🙂
Great blending of two ideas for a comprehensive program! Everyone wins, including, most importantly, the horse.
Let’s hope the rest of the industry follows suit!
Great story and example of ‘BeforeCare’. Quality ‘BeforeCare’ (as we see from Mosaic Stables) decreases the ‘After Care’ needs of our horses. Kudos for doing things the right way at the start. As one of the senior backside horsemen from Southern California tracks likes to say: “It Starts Here.” Now we need more venues like this that open up the doors to our next generation of horsemen that can learn what was routinely done decades ago.
I have also been trying to spread the word for owners, breeders, and trainers to start a bank account for the horses headed for the track and this account will follow him/her until ready for retirement. The question asked to me by many was when the horse retires and is placed in a rehab and being retrained how can we guarantee that the money will be spent honestly and entirely for that horses well being. Will the money also be available if the horse has an injury and has vet bills needing to be taken care of prior to being rehabed and rehomed? Will each farm follow the horse until placed in it’s forever home??? For years I’ve been asked these questions over and over while trying to get this idea out there. To put it bluntly…who will govern what truely happens to the horse and the money!!!!!
This is an absolutely brilliant concept and so healthy for the horse’s mind and body! I wish every race track trainer would adopt this cross training policy! Kudos to Mosaic and the Jerkens Training Stable. By the way, I got my first OTTB from Allen Jerkens in the 70’s, and he was one of my favorite riding/show horses of all times. After not succeeding on the track, he failed @ his second career attempt as a polo pony, and then became my forever horse, until the ripe old age of 32! His racing name was F.B.I. (First By Intent), and his barn name was The Fuzz! I’m so glad he never lived up to his namesake! Lucky me!
Really neat article, and Bravo to Mosaic for a positive example in the industry. Would love to see this become the ‘norm’ in horseracing!
What a refreshing idea! Having owned and loved an OTTB myself, I am glad that others are preparing these wonderful horses for life beyond the track. My mare loved to run right up to the end of her 33 years, but she also loved to jump, go out on the trail, and participate in the 4H fair games such as barrel racing, pole bending, and especially the keyhole! She was so much more than just a racehorse.
Hip hip hooray for Monica Driver and her Mosaic Stable partners!Great photos Barry. Circuitous is looking even more gorgeous than when I saw him doing some race training last fall. In addition to all the chat and images of his canter and gallop, I’m here to add what a balanced and symmetrical trot he has. Hell, I even saw several strides of flat footed ball bearing smooth walk as Circuitous headed for the training track. He’s not just a pretty mover and bod’– he’s got a nice mind too. May he be a smashing success in every equine venture he graces — and for many many years!
When we were developing the recommendations for the NYS Task Force on Retired Racehorses, I championed Monica’s responsible approach to ownership as a model to follow. She has been doing this, consistently and very low key, since well-before “aftercare” became the cause celebre.
Although I love the article and live what Mosaic is doing, I sure hope that dressage trainer said, “There goes a FOURTH LEVEL canter!” not a “level four canter.” It may sound silly to people who know nothing about horses or their training, but the mistake takes some credibility away from the reporting or from the trainer who said it.
That said, WAY TO GO MOSAIC!!! I have two OTTBs myself and volunteer for an organization that retrains OTTBs for future careers. The race industry sure needs more people like you guys. Heck, if even $500 came with the horse we’d be ecstatic.
Because it is obvious that not every TB bred to run is going to “pay its own way,” this idea of cross-training while race training is only going to pay off in the long run (pun intended). Horses that come from the track need time to “unwind” and a place where they can “change the subject.” With a bit of cross training on their resume, I bet that downtime is going to be no time at all, and these lucky horses will benefit.
Good job, Susan!!
I too always thought that they needed time to let down from the track but the Retired Racehorse Challenge that concluded last weekend showed that they can go straight from the track into their second career.
Ideally, they get a chance to relax and just be a horse but apparently, it isn’t the necessity I always thought it was.
So happy with Mosaic Stables program and how they are doing so right by their horses.
This is a must-read for everyone in the racing industry. It CAN be done, and be done properly!
Susan, this is such an important story, and an example for ALL to follow. Thank you for revealing yet another misconception many have — “first they race, then they retrain.” This clearly shows it can be done a different, and better, way. And the bank account for the horse — every owner needs that. I have one for mine, he has more in his savings than I do!