It’s been eight years since Money Makes Money was vanned off Gulfstream Park after blowing a tendon in a claiming race.
And it’s been about seven since the balloon-shaped injury, which kept him stall-bound for nine months of healing, repaired itself to the point that it’s unnoticeable at the horse shows where he can’t stop winning.
The animal who once seemed star crossed, now commands a Jumper show like he was born to a life of triumph and execution.
His owner/rider Karen Benson never imagined the gelding nicknamed Mr. Kitster would be anything other than a re-sale project for her. She only took him in out of pity after his breakdown.
But for kicks she started training him. And over the years the pair tackled everything from Cowboy challenges to 4-foot Jumper shows with such aplomb that he was named the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series (TASS) Jumper Champion last year, and he earned so much in prize money that Mr. Kitster had to start paying taxes!
“We had an incredible year last year,” says Benson with pride. “We didn’t even go to all the shows in the Series, we only went to four of the eight or nine shows.”
But they earned enough points, with their fast, confident approach that the pair racked up the ribbons. “Last year he was Champion of every show he went to,” she says. “Technically, it was our third year showing in Jumpers, and we just really got it together.”
Never one to rest on her laurels, Benson will aim higher this year. She and Mr. Kitster will target the A Circuit Adult Jumpers, and go for the high purses, she says, noting they will also continue with the TASS series and the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico.
In addition, her story, which encompasses Mr. Kitster’s struggle back from the breakdown, and all of the years of training—Natural Horsemanship classes, Cowboy Challenges— has won her a chance at taking a clinic with Olympian Anne Kursinski.
Mr. Kitt and Benson are finalists in a contest sponsored by Practical Horsemen Magazine to win a free clinic with the great rider. Of 400 entries, her story made the top 10, she says.
For a horse she took out of pity, Mr. Kitster is nobody’s charity case. “This horse can do anything!”