“Is that the Train Robbery?” a young lady asks. “It is! That’s her!”
Brushed to gleaming, the tall bay racehorse stood quietly, sporting a mane braided into tight pompoms running the length of her neck. Her prowess on the racetrack, netting more than $600,000 in earnings a proud history, but settled in the dust of long ago.
Now she was on new proving ground.
On this day at Kentucky Horse Park, horses just like her, top-earning ex-racehorses stood before a crowd of admirers, dolled up and turned out, and ready to make the case that retired racers can move into a successful showing career. So says Jan Roehl, horseman and founder of the Thoroughbred Horse Show Association Horse Show.
“I’ve been working with racehorses for a long time,” Roehl says. “I founded the horse show 18 months ago because I found it sad that people didn’t want to buy a racehorse because they had no show experience.”
So Roehl decided to give them some show mileage.
Far better, she says, to pull a dusty, longhaired retired Thoroughbred out of his retirement field, polish him up like an apple, and display him in such a way that no prospective buyer needs to “use their imagination” when considering the horse before them.
And better yet to place the horse in classes as basic as an in-hand walk, or as advanced as a hunter/jumper with 2’9” jumps, she says.
“I think people expect horses off the track to show up with a lot of problems, and they don’t appreciate all they’ve accomplished,” she says. “At the show, you’ll see horses who have raced all over the world, who’ve attained amazing accomplishments.” And who stand as pretty as a picture, like Train Robbery did that day.
This year’s show, which begins at 8 a.m. on April 14, is the third Thoroughbred Association show. A list of classes and prizes can be seen here.
The Jockey Club is offering financial support via its TIP High Point Awards, and all are welcome, even horses who have not yet been ridden under saddle.
“My ultimate goal is that people will come to the horse show looking for a horse,” she says. “I want to help these horses, and those who would adopt, find an easier road to the show ring.
And there have been many stars in the show ring, already!