The racing and riding worlds converged with good cheer and optimism April 25 at a powerful Thoroughbreds for All event celebrating the Thoroughbred sport horse.
Six hundred people crowded into West Wind Farm to watch as a failed racehorse with impressive bloodlines did his lineage proud with a startlingly expressive dressage trot. They also listened as Olympic dressage superstar Linda Zang shared tips on how to spot a potential Dressage star among ex-racehorses. And in the end, they energized the partnership between racing and riding communities to support the Thoroughbred in post-racing careers.
“To me, one of the best part was the way both the racing and riding communities came together in an amazing show of support,” says Steuart Pittman, founder of Retired Racehorse Project, and co-host of the third-annual Thoroughbreds for All event. “There was passion from both directions flowing towards the horse. It was amazing.”
Ken’s Kitten, a failed racehorse, strutted onto the scene all flash and fire beneath the expert hand of his new owner and trainer, Nuno Santos. (Please see an earlier interview with Santos here). As the expertly bred gelding moved through his demonstration, his former race owner and breeder Kenneth Ramsey watched with pride.
“Seeing the face of Ken Ramsey, and his reaction to this horse, was fantastic. Here you have a guy who is arguably the most successful breeder in the country, who had a horse he expected to be a star, but who was a complete failure on the track,” Pittman says. “And as that horse went dancing around the arena, (Mr. Ramsey) was just bubbling over with excitement.”
And the support of the race community continued when jockey Rosie Napravnik, admittedly nervous as she rode her T-bred Sugar, jumped the pretty gray as her every move was scrutinized by top riders Boyd Martin and Linda Zang. (Please see an earlier story about Sugar here).
“It was great to hear her say how nervous she was about riding in front of all these eventers, and she was telling everyone how she wanted to ride her horse in some events someday,” he adds.
International riding champion and Olympian Boyd Martin was another exciting presence at the event. Injured in a fall earlier this spring, after his wife Silva also suffered a serious concussion in an accident, Martin picked up the phone. He called Pittman to offer his assistance.
“I couldn’t believe it when he called me! If I were he … the last thing I’d be thinking about would be how to help other people, but he did. And the people loved him! He has had 11 four-star horses off-the track” and was a great ambassador.
Linda Zang offered scientific observations about muscle tightness in the topline, shoulders, and behind the elbows of Thoroughbreds, and explained how through proper exercises the movement can go from pokey to stretching fluidity.
The event, co-hosted by New Vocations Thoroughbred Adoption, was the most successful yet. With more attendees and greater participation by the race community, Thoroughbreds for All demonstrated that there are great things in store for ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds.