Eight ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds trained and re-homed by CANTER Mid Atlantic competed, en masse, at the Cabin Branch Schooling horse trials—the largest group to represent the Thoroughbred charity in this particular event.
“This is the largest group we’ve ever had!” exclaimed Allie Conrad, executive director of CANTER Mid Atlantic, a Thoroughbred charity. “Have eight horses at once really validates our program. It shows that our horses get sold to the right home. We’re not selling a horse that doesn’t want to be an eventer to an eventer, or a horse that doesn’t want to go around in a hunting frame to a hunter. We’re making sure they find the perfect home.”
Posso Volare, who is sired by Rachel Alexandra’s sire Medagilia d’Oro, was a total washout at the track, Conrad says. Longtime volunteer Suzanne Konefal, who says this was the one horse she could not pass up, adopted the incredibly well bred bay.
“I’ve been retraining horses for Allie Conrad for several years now, and there have been about four or five horses I would have kept. I would sob when they left,” Konefal says. “When Allie told me she was getting Posso Volare, I was already interested in him before I met him, because I’m a big fan of his father.”
After the pair met, she was a goner practically from the first ride.
“He has incredible balance … and he’s perfectly quiet. He’s just a classy animal,” she adds.
Rocky Harbor was another love bug, right from the start.
His owners Lindsay O’Reilly Sharpe and her mother Denise O’Reilly met the 15.2 hand bay a year-and-a-half ago, when they purchased Tanglewood Farm in Southern Pines where another owner was boarding him. “It was actually my mother who fell in love with him,” Lindsay Sharpe says. “She watched him walk by her kitchen window every morning, and he would follow everybody around.” The pretty horse is showing now with Southern Pines eventer and trainer Andrew McConnon, and is the farm mascot.
Seeing Rocky Harbor and Posso Volare go from CANTER Mid Atlantic “projects” to happy, shiny sport horses is what makes the hard work worth it, Conrad says.
“You take them in, you put weight on them, and heal their wounds,” she says. “But the hardest part, the part that makes you feel most vulnerable, is sending them back into the world. You just hope that they do well.”