Renaissance Thoroughbred show this weekend

Maxfadden’s Second Chance, a TB Sporthorse

Sometime after Donald V. Little died in a riding accident in Wellington, Fla., Fiona Farrell got to thinking about what a renaissance man he had been.

Not only was he the successful founder of Centennial Farms racing syndicate, and master of the foxhounds at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Mass., he was also senior vice president of investments at the global financial services company UBS. His zest for life, his continued renewal of spirit that kept him riding over fences well into his late 70s was something to be admired.

And while the meaning of Renaissance man played around in the frontal lobes of her brain, she began to realize how Thoroughbred Sporthorses embodied similar qualities.

“They’re not just jacks of all trades,” Farrell says. “The Thoroughbred can truly do so many things well, and exhibit many facets of personality, on one horse. In each of the Thoroughbred Sporthorses who has been on the track, or a broodmare, or come from a livestock auction, or rescued, each horse also experiences a renaissance of themselves.”

And this is how Farrell thought up the name for an all-Thoroughbred show this Sunday at the Stockade Polo & Saddle Club in Glenville, NY.

Tudor King, a ReRun TB. Bob Fisher Photography

The Thoroughbred Renaissance Charity Horse Show, to benefit the New York chapter of ReRun, a national nonprofit charity for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses, begins with classes at 8 a.m. Schooling starts at 6:30 a.m.

Farrell organized the show with the invaluable help of farm owners Anita Jaffe and Stan Horton, and Stonebridge Farm manager Sue Vitro. An outpouring of support has also come rushing in from throughout the Thoroughbred world.

Anna Ford of New Vocations, donated materials for promotional literature, Ellen O’Brien, executive director of CANTER New England, offered assistance, and the Jockey Club reached out to sponsor a hunter stakes.

“It really has been like ‘a village’ to make this all happen,” Farrell says.

The idea of the show burbled up from Sue Vitro, who offered to host it. And while the first annual event may not bring in the number of participants found at the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico recently, it will help reinforce the “sea change” that is revolutionizing attitudes and acceptance of Thoroughbred Sporthorses throughout the horse world, she says.

A longtime horsewoman herself, Farrell grew up respecting the Thoroughbred. Her grandfather owned Thoroughbreds and played polo in the early 1900s, and her father and brother also owned racehorses. Farrell always remembers their ironclad loyalty to their horses.

This cap, designed by Farrell, will be sold at show

“For every horse they bought, they made sure they had forever homes,” she says. “This is what gave me my ethos for horses.”

This weekend, off-track Thoroughbreds who have successfully transitioned to new lives off the track will be invited to participate in a wide array of classes, which includes in-hand, dressage, combined training to hunters, jumpers and equitation.

Classes will be judged by Mary Beebee and Ann Fowler.

For more information on the Thoroughbred Renaissance Horse Show, please visit the following websites:;;; and


2 responses to “Renaissance Thoroughbred show this weekend”

  1. TBDancer

    Hope it was a SPECTACULAR show and raised a LOT of awareness among spectators who may know little or nothing about OTTBs.

  2. Lisa

    Thanks so much for sharing this – we are very furtunate here in NY to have an advocate like Fiona here in our midst. I am sure the show will be a great success and I look forward to seeing other Thoroughbreds enjoying their renaissance!

Leave a Reply