Through seven starts at Suffolk Downs, My Lovely Louise had not earned a penny.
But she proved to be worth her weight in gold once she entered the jumper stadiums at some of the finest New England horse shows.
Most notably, My Lovely Louise bested a field of expensive imports at the 2012 Fidelity Jumper Classic, winning all three of her one-meter classes, and claiming the one-meter Championship!
“When I first started riding her in these shows, most people could tell she was a Thoroughbred, and they’d ask if she was off the track,” Michelle Blunda says, noting that she always enjoyed their shock and awe when she spilled the beans that her mare came from Suffolk Downs.
“But people are used to her now. Yes, she’s a chestnut off-the-track Thoroughbred. She has quite the attitude!”
Her attitude might have been her undoing on the track, theorizes Blunda, who explains: “She really My Lovely Louise
Sire: Screen Trick
Dam: Explosive River
Foal date: May 15, 2001
doesn’t like other horses getting too close to her, and I think that’s why she didn’t run well.”
Because she certainly can run—no other horse can catch her on her frequent beach gallops taken along the Massachusetts North Shore coastline — and in the stadium jumping ring, she powers into competition overdrive.
“Right from the beginning, she had a beautiful form over jumps. Even when I was teaching her cross rails, she learned so quickly to tuck her knees and go over them with an amazing form,” Blunda says. “Now she’s jumping four-foot, and just loves the stadium.”
Blunda snapped up My Lovely Louise in 2004, almost as soon as she was unloaded from the trailer at her trainer’s barn.
Originally purchased by her trainer as a re-sale project, the plan quickly changed when Blunda caught sight of the brightly flashing filly who galloped “like a crazy Thoroughbred” around the paddock of her new Boxford, Mass. barn.
“When I saw her, all I could say was, ‘She’s so beautiful! I want her! And my trainer said, ‘well, that can happen.’ ”
But Blunda was not a girl for whom horses came gift wrapped with a red bow. The Salem State College graduate called on every ounce of her work ethic to pay for her riding privileges, as her mother insisted she do.
“My mother told me when I was a kid that if I wanted to do the horse thing, that it was fine, but that I wasn’t going to be one of those stuck-up kids who goes to the barn, has their horse tacked up for them, and then leaves without doing any of the work,” she says. “So I worked hard for my lessons. I cleaned stalls, and took care of the horses and eventually worked my way up to one lesson per week.”
That ethic, along with her mother’s sage advice, continued to see her through her horse adventures. Blunda solicited her mother’s opinion before she decided to go forward and buy My Lovely Louise, and once she owned the green, slab-sided mare, she worked hard to train her and retool her own skills.
“We started from scratch. She had to learn her sense of gravity and balance, and I had to completely change my riding style. I was used to sitting on chunkier horses, and she was so much slimmer than I was used to, and so spirited and excited,” she says.
But with heart and determination the self-taught duo braved water jumps, drops, and best of all, stadium jumping.
“She’s such a good jumper that she barely looks at anything,” Blunda says. “And I know I can trust her not to kill me. There are so many times when I can’t see the distance, but she does, and she automatically adjusts her stride without me needing to see it or ask for it.
“It’s like she says to me, ‘I’ve got it!’ ”
My Lovely Louise is another unsung racehorse who feels more at home competing against the Warmbloods. And winning more fans for the OTTBs as she goes!