Fiona Farrell’s initial disappointment at the sight of lighter-than-hoped-for turnout at Sunday’s Thoroughbred Renaissance Horse Show, quickly turned to joy as she watched 29 riders work with 25 remarkable off-track Thoroughbreds.
“It was so great to hang out and see only Thoroughbreds competing, and to be among like-minded people” who regard ex-racehorse Sporthorses so highly.
“Three entrants in one Pleasure Class struck the judge so well, that she pinned all three with blue ribbons,” Farrell adds. “She said she was in love with each of them!”
The successes went far beyond blue ribbons, however.
One rider, who was recovering from serious injuries sustained in a bad accident, gathered her nerves and cantered her first fences since her mishap, without fear, Farrell says.
And a last minute 12-year-old competitor managed to memorize her dressage test and guide her OTTB through it perfectly. She also completed her course over fences and won her Eventing Combined test against adults and other juniors—all of whom had prepared much longer than she had, Farrell adds.
Attended mostly by local riders, the Renaissance Thoroughbred Show took place at the Stockade Polo & Saddle Club in Glenville, NY, with proceeds going to the New York chapter of Thoroughbred charity ReRun, Inc.
Farrell, who organized the show, credits Anita Jaffe and Stan Horton of the polo club with working tirelessly to help bring the event to fruition.
Planning is already underway for a second show, next year!
“It was such a joyous occasion to witness,” Farrell says. “Although I was initially disappointed with the light turnout, there were so many other competing events taking place the same weekend— we had the Jockey Club roundtable the New York Yearling Sale — but overall, it was a success!”
The intimate setting provided competitors and their horses with a relaxed, cordial atmosphere, and Farrell intends to build on that for a show, next year.
Farrell chose to place the word renaissance in the show’s name to honor the multifaceted talent of ex-racehorses, and some of their great riders.
“After the great equestrian Donald V. Little died in a riding accident, I got to thinking about what a renaissance man he had been in life,” she says, of the former master of foxhounds at Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Mass.
“And, as I thought about Mr. Little, it also occurred to me that the Thoroughbred is also a renaissance horse,” she adds. “They’re not just Jacks of all trades. They can do so many things well.”
She should know. Farrell grew up in a household of Thoroughbred people who valued their horses like family. Her grandfather played polo and fox hunted in the early 1900s, and he, and her uncle, also owned racehorses.
“For every horse they bought, they made sure they had forever homes,” Farrell says.
It was their ethos of good horsemanship that inspired Farrell to organize the show, which, she hopes, will add to the “sea change” that is revolutionizing the attitudes and acceptance of Thoroughbred Sporthorses.