She put up a small cross-rail and they plowed right through it.
Then, she added a bounce, and the petite mare figured it out.
“It was like she self-taught herself,” says Fay Spargo, a Thoroughbred trainer who has only met one other horse in her lifetime with the ability to think on her feet the way the little ex-racehorse She’s For Real can.
“I tried her for 20 minutes, and turned to my clients Mary and Marty Joseph and said, ‘If we don’t take this one, we’re crazy.’ ”
So with much anticipation of the good times to come, they purchased her in March 2012, and set about to school her with Spago. After only a couple months of flat work and conditioning exercises, the Troy, N.Y. instructor decided to enter She’s For Real in the famous HITS on the Hudson show in Saugerties this month, just to get her feet wet.
This was the first time the untried mare been off the farm, much less in a hunter stadium at a busy horse show. Both Spargo and her clients expected some spooky behavior; perhaps some hesitation, at the very least.
But the smart little mare knocked their socks off!
“It didn’t cross her mind to stop at the jumps. She marched right in there and jumped everything put in front of her,” Spago says. And Race name: She’s for Real
Barn name: Ava
Sire: Gone for Real
Dam: Miss a Buck
Foal date: April 7, 2006matched against 44 other horses, she won a 6th and 7th place in the Baby Green Division!
“We entered her in HITS to let her hang out and play around in the big show atmosphere,” she says. “We couldn’t believe how she did! When you get a horse like this one, well, they don’t come along everyday.”
Spargo was 13-years-old the last time she encountered a horse like She’s For Real.
This was when her brother purchased a four-year-old ex-racehorse by the name of Count Excite for her.
“He brought him home and I got on him and immediately fell off,” she recalls. “I didn’t dare tell anybody I’d fallen because I wanted to keep him. So, there I was laying in a field, and hardly breathing, but everything was great!”
That Thoroughbred, whom she nicknamed Harry, would jump anything and everything put in front of him. Together, they qualified for equitation classes at the big shows in Washington, and in her junior year of high school, she scored low ribbons in classes where she competed against Olympic level riders. “I was thrilled!,” she recalls.
Throughout her long career training ex-racehorses, at her former farm, On Again Off Again Stables, and at other farms where she freelances instruction, Harry was the best Sporthorse she’d ever had the pleasure of sitting on.
Until she started training She’s For Real in March.
“I told the owner that I haven’t had a horse this brave since my old equitation horse,” she says. “This mare is unflappable about the jumps.”
Off the track for about a year before Spago and her clients snapped her up, She’s For Real is one more example of how good a so-called “crazy ex-racehorse” can be.
“In one week at HITS, she turned into a professional-looking jumper, with her knees tucked,” Spargo says. “This horse actually got better in the air!”