Morgan Stumpf’s other horse was supposed to be the barrel racer.
Bred “to the hilt” and sporting the “pretty-pretty” Quarter Horse look so favored in the sport, on paper at least, he seemed destined for greatness.
So day after day, Stumpf trained him hard and did her best to coax the flashy Quarter Horse to bend and curl around those barrels. Month after month she urged him to tuck his feet up underneath, and move with precision, always optimistic that this guy would find his stride and fulfill the promise of his pedigree.
But in the end, she had to admit the truth of it; he looked great on paper, but not in the competition ring. With great reluctance, she sold her beautiful gelding and went back to the drawing board.
Hearing about an un-raced gray who’d become available at Emerald Downs, she took a gamble. A special horse to his owners/breeders Lana and Marshal Allen, they asked groom Valerie Gibson, who happened to be Stumpf’s friend, to find him a home.
Blitzemupthemiddle, whom she calls Blitz, came into her life in November 2011 and by February 2012 he was tucking around the barrels like a contortionist.
Race name: Blitzemupthemiddle
Barn name: Blitz
Sire: Defensive Play
Dam: Can Roy
Foal date: March 5, 2005“The first time I started kicking him around the barrels, he just picked it up naturally,” says Stumpf, a Washington-based civil engineer who has barrel raced on weekends since childhood.
“That horse can turn! He’s a big boy, at 16.1 hands, and most people mistake him for a Quarter Horse. But, he is pure Thoroughbred, and although he never raced, he came off the track with such a great work ethic that it gave him a competitive edge.”
The dappled gray, who struts with an attitude of confidence, was able to tuck his inside hind leg up under his body and swoop around the barrels, easily bringing home wins in his just first year at his new job.
“Blitz just has a knack for it and you can tell it’s easy for him,” she says. “Physically, you wouldn’t think a Thoroughbred has the natural ability to get down and turn like he does, but he’s really flexible.”
Although he was momentarily sidelined in 2013 after developing a slab fracture in his knee, he recuperated completely following surgery and time off.
“One of his knees was always slightly larger, and his original race owners decided not to race him because they were afraid he’d get injured,” she says, explaining why he was sold to her, unraced. “It turns out they were right about the knee.”
A piece of bone, similar to a large bone chip, was surgically removed, and veterinarians said he’d be fine. However, they predicted he would be a good “backup” horse for competition, but suggested he might not be her main competition horse again.
Blitz proved them wrong.
After six months of rest and recovery, he slowly started back into competition, and this past winter, was back at 100 percent, full throttle.
“I don’t haul him as hard, and I give him more time off, and he’s been great,” Stumpf says, noting that she has won three or four saddles and victory buckles on him.
She adds, “My husband Jason jokes that ‘Blitz can do no wrong,’ and he’s really right about that. The first time I took him around a barrel, he was really easy to ride, and he collects so well that he looks great competing against the horses who were bred and designed for the sport.”
Blitzemupthemiddle: Just another Off-Track Thoroughbred doing it all.