Bred to the hilt by the ruler of Dubai, the dappled gray grandson of Easy Goer was nothing like what Laurel Perrigo expected.
Unlike his herd mates who grazed indifferently in the fields nearby, paying no heed to the woman who wandered past, this unraced son of Three Chimneys sire, Exchange Rate was perhaps the friendliest animal she’d ever met.
“I walked into his stall and he was so personable,” Perrigo says. “He was like, ‘Who are you? What are you about?’ ”
Sire: Exchange Rate
Dam: Smooth Charmer, by Easy Goer
Foal date: April 22, 2010With his soft muzzle brushing across her palm and his face pushing forward for even greater contact, Perrigo was quickly smitten with the curiously friendly gray, and was soon asking Secretariat Center Director Susanna Thomas to tell her a little more about the eye-catching boy; might he just be the perfect match for her daughter?
She learned that Sheikh Mohammad, the ruler of Dubai, who is famous for his racehorses, had bred and owned him until knee chips forestalled a career in racing, and the friendly animal was donated to the center.
“Susanna also told me that he was the smartest horse there and that he could not be thrown into a pasture and left with nothing to do,” she says.
Still she hesitated. Her daughter Claire was only 11, and she had to wonder if a racehorse was the right way to go. “First I asked someone at the Secretariat Center to ride him, then I asked Claire’s coach, Rob Pierce to come look at him,” she says, noting that while she debated the pros and cons of the horse with her husband Matt, she and her daughter began twice-daily visits to gaze at the fine Thoroughbred.
“Our coach was really protective of Claire. She has a 20-year-old Arabian who takes care of her, and Claire is fearless because she’s never had a bad experience,” Perrigo says.
But daily visits only served to open the youngster’s heart to the lovely steed, and when the patience of an 11-year-old finally buckled, Perrigo permitted her to enter the stall. Easy Exchange stood calmly ready to accept his new pilot, and before anyone had a chance to reverse the decision, little Claire climbed up on the back of the big guy and just “hung all over him.”
Later that day, the decision was made.
Since coming home to live with the Perrigo family, Easy Exchange has remained agreeable to his core. Gamely carrying a western saddle, he has learned the fundamentals of good manners and groundwork training as Perrigo, using video tutorials by famous horseman Clinton Anderson, teaches him to respect her as boss.
In only six weeks, Easy Exchange has learned to keep very still for the farrier, while a set of yielding exercises in the saddle have taught him to respond to her cues.
“He has come so far! I’ve taught him a lot through respect exercises. I don’t lead him anywhere, but instead I back him everywhere, to remind him that I’m the leader,” says Perrigo.
“I expected he would be a lot harder than this. He has never bucked, never reared and never kicked. He’s just been really easy. And I tell everybody this is not what I expected when I got an off-the-track horse.”
When she was least expecting it, the horse she anticipated taking months to find was waiting at the Secretariat Center to be discovered. And ever since, he has surpassed her expectations, every day.