T-bred with blown tendon now Jumper champ

Mr. Kitster (Jockey Club: Money Makes Money) was the 2013 Jumper Champion who now pays taxes on his winnings. Photo by Danielle Ziegfeld

Mr. Kitster (Jockey Club: Money Makes Money) was the 2013 Jumper Champion who now pays taxes on his winnings. Photo by Danielle Ziegfeld

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!

Tendon injury

Tendon injury

“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.

The Extreme Cowboy Challenge State Championships in Gaffney SC, April 5th.  JR Adams Serenity Ranch Photography

The Extreme Cowboy Challenge State Championships in Gaffney SC, April 5th. JR Adams Serenity Ranch Photography

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!”

8 responses to “T-bred with blown tendon now Jumper champ”

  1. Kitster

    Cheri, Please find me at Pimlico and introduce yourself. Kitt loves to meet people. Also Kitt can be followed on his Facebook page Mr Kitster .

  2. cheri vaughan

    I look forward to meeting the pair at Pimlico! How exciting that will be!

  3. jon

    My new OTTB had a minor bow that was treated by using split tendon surgery. He had 6 months of stall rest, followed by slowly increasing amounts of turnout in a small area. Now he is being ridden at the walk for the next 45 days and then slowly increasing amounts of trotting in a straight line. The bow is not visible and the rehab is a conservative program. I have done this before and gotten excellent results. He will go on to be an eventer or whatever makes him happy.

  4. Kristi Johnson

    Hi guys…I have a similar story! Mine isn’t winning the four foot jumpers, but he is a beautiful horse…..he came off a race with two front tears….one 21% tear and the vet said the other front tendon was about 79% torn…he told me it wasn’t one of my “best” decisions taking this horse on as a project, but he had seen horses come back with back tears similar to his….I gave mine 10 months off to do absolutely nothing…and started back SUPER, SUPER slow, so it was more like a year off….I had very good luck with the tendon splitting…we did it within a week of the injury and I swear by it….my guy hasn’t taken an unsound step since and his tendons are hardly noticeable. He has schooled through Novice eventing…..I would definitely not be afraid to take on a bowed tendon situation, if you take the time with them, they heal quite well. If you fall in love with a horse that has a bow, it is well worth it….LOVE THE STORY!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  5. Deidra Darsa


  6. Kitster

    The first week after the injury, I stood him in ice everyday, then wrapped him in poultice. I keep him in poultice for about a month. I did use a laser on him because I had access to one at the track. I kept him in wraps in the stall for 3 months, other then some hand grazing. He is a very good natured horse so he did not require tranquilizer. I do recommend a 30 day Tranq for ones who don’t stay quiet. I then started hand walking him into the 4th month and increased it as time went on. I always kept him wrapped for support. At 6 months, he had a very small turn out and I increased it with time. I did use Ace the first time to be on the safe side, but he really didn’t need it. At 9 months I began riding him. I started really light and increased it with time. He did not start jumping until about 1 1/2 later after the injury. I have seen good results with tendons with Stem Cell and Shock Wave Therapy as well. I have found that they heal just as well with time. I have never had a problem with the tendon again. Give a horse proper rest and care and its amazing what they can recover from!

  7. Magdalena Middleton

    I have seen this injury before where TB’s were left for the van rather than taking a chance on just such an injury. I would like to know more about the recovery process from the breakdown to stall rest to beginning early work for this horse. Is there any way Ms. Benson would be willing to share her story and her process for rehabbing this horse? It would be greatly appreciated and give some of us hope to take on and manage a recovery program with these injuries in the future. Thank you and best of luck to her and her horse.

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