Time Point is on her side, elder champions

Time Point, 21 and Marilyn Vail, 70, are still going strong as a dressage team in California.

Time Point, 21 and Marilyn Vail, 70, are still going strong as a dressage team in California.

What’s a 70 year old lady doing riding around on a 21 year old Thoroughbred?

Winning championships on the California dressage circuit, for starters.

In 2013, Marilyn Vail and her lightly raced T-bred Time Point were named:
North American Thoroughbred Society’s National Dressage Champion, the DASC Year End High Point Thoroughbred Champion and the California Dressage Society’s High Point (against all breeds) Third Level Regional Adult Amateur Championship.

The pair has been so good they were even featured in a December 2013 Chronicle of the Horse issue about inspiring amateurs, and last weekend learned they won a 7th Place Championship from the DASC Year End Third Level!

The credit, Vail says, goes entirely to Time Point, her 16.1 hand dark bay who is so good at his job that even in a new “spooky” show ring, he can put in winning moves while scoping his unfamiliar environment for horse-eating monsters!

“Timey, when he’s spooky, can be looking all around, and doing two tempe changes at the same time!” says Vail. “The other day he was really distracted by a big show going on in our barn. He could still do all his fancy work, but he was looking around the entire time … he’s a horse who never says “no.” That’s a Thoroughbred for you.”

Time Point
Sire: Private Thoughts
Dam: Victoria Cane
Foal date: April 1,1993
Vail bought Time Point in 2010 from Victoria Duffy Hopper, a talented Eventer. After three starts and a single victory in which his race report notes he “dueled gamely to the wire,” he went on to train for eight years with Grand Prix rider and dressage trainer Charles Pinneo.

Just at the point where she swore off horses, the two met.

“Before I met Timey I lost a horse who was very ill for eight months, and nobody could figure it out. He was a lovely Trakehner, and after he died, I was sort of done. I had years of bad luck with horses.”

Her moratorium lasted only until a friend called and suggested she check out Time Point, and soon after “I was back in the saddle again!” she quips.

They compete and win against the fanciest Warmbloods.

They compete and win against the fanciest Warmbloods.

Though she has put in hours taking lessons with Time Point, she credits their success in the dressage ring to the horse, whose competitive spirit and desire nails every move. “He loves to show. Oh my God, he’s a real perfectionist. I’ve had Warmbloods, but there’s nothing like a Thoroughbred … I just get along with them. They’re so intelligent and the way they work for you” surpasses the ethic of other breeds she has ridden. “He’s so willing.”

The oldest pair in the dressage classes, they often find themselves up against powerfully built Warmbloods with amazing gaits, Vail and Timey have helped to prove that the Thoroughbred is just as capable.

“Thoroughbreds can win regionally against imported Warmbloods with Olympic sire pedigrees,” she says.

Though Vail was forced to take a year off after sustaining a broken shoulder in a fall, not from a horse, but from tripping over her dog, she and Timey have been schooling, and are looking forward to more successes in the future.

“I wanted to ride horses my whole life, and I always wanted a horse. But my father said I needed to concentrate on my education first. So I got three degrees and work in the law field.”

She eventually became a horse owner, and four years ago found Timey, the horse of her dreams.

14 responses to “Time Point is on her side, elder champions”

  1. Kathy A

    What a great article. Keep it up, Marilyn — you and your boy are only a few years away from qualifying for the Century Club!

  2. Jan/ Springtime Farm

    What a beautiful credit to not only the thoroughbred world, but to the show world as well.
    You are an inspiration to us all. Continue riding for as long as you can…. Not only does it keep you looking great, but makes one feel so vibrant as well. Good luck to both of you!!!

  3. Morgan

    I’m 48, recently back into riding after a very long hiatus. I have to have a hip replaced and for a moment thought “Well, at my age I guess I’ll just hack around.” Oh hell no. I’m getting my jump seat back, which will be vastly improved with a new hip and me and my 4 year old NOTTB are going to start training next spring in earnest for competition. Look for me on the jumpers circuit! Weeee!

    You are NEVER too old to give it a try.

  4. Jon

    I have a 26 YO OTTB that still makes the WB people drool when he trots and canters. So many times I have heard, “There is no way he is a TB, no way!” I smile and tell them , he is, he has the tattoo and he raced. Look him up on Equibase.

  5. Debbie

    Bravo!!! Go girl go

    This came at a time when I have been having discussions with people on age and the desire to keep going and others get old in their heads long before the body quits! This is exactly what I was talking about! I too had parents say no to horses as “we are not those type of people”‘, followed by go get your education. I think that does something to one who had to wait.


  6. Elizabeth Gooch

    What an inspiring story.
    My own thoroughbred is a naughty 12 year old, I’m in my early 50s, it’s good to know we both have plenty of time to grow together.

  7. Danielle Montgomery

    Love this!!! Thanks for sharing your love of OTTBs with the world!



  9. Nancy Freeman

    We are so proud of you both!! Here’s to your wins and more to come!

  10. Sandy Carr

    Thank you, thank you! Although I ride a “hmm, maybe a TB?” horse, I have been out of the saddle for a good 25 years. A rollover accident in my police car has forced me out of my western saddle….as I just don’t want to heft 43 pounds onto my horse’s back any longer.

    Next saddle? A lovely Stubben dressage saddle, all 15 pounds of it. Now for the two of us, me at 62, him (uh, 13?) we are off to take dressage lessons. It’s all about doing something together, whether it be “just” trail riding or winning ribbons.

  11. Vicky Lee

    You’re right! There is Nothing, absolutely nothing, like a thoroughbred!

  12. edna

    Thanks for this inspiring story. For those of us that want to ride and compete as long as we’re able and find that one horse, this gives us all inspiration and hope that our dreams can really come true. Congrats, Marilyn and Vail!

  13. Marilyn Vail

    Thank you for honoring my wonderful Thoroughbred, Time Point! I’d also like to credit my trainers, Jodie Cressman and assistant trainer Teresa Chang, for all their excellent care, training and patience.

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