Auction horse shows at Washington Int’l

Mike Keech and Brightly Shining enjoy a quiet moment.

Mike Keech and Brightly Shining enjoy a quiet moment. Photo by Joanne Beusch

Terrified and desperate, the red mare flailed in the confined auction-house stall like someone being buried alive.

Unable to lay eyes on another horse for reassurance, the 4-year-old OTTB Brightly Shining became so frenzied at the Thurmont Auction in Maryland that she scared off every buyer who could have saved her from the slaughter pipeline. Except for one.

Mike Keech had seen plenty of “crazy horses” in his 75 years, and wasn’t about to be deterred from at least taking a peek at the animal raising such a ruckus.

Brightly Shining
Sire: Posse
Dam: Bright Shining
Foal date: Feb. 14, 2009
“She was tearing her stall down, ” says Keech, a longtime trainer of Thoroughbreds. “Everybody was afraid of her. So I walked up, opened her stall door, and she came right over to me and dropped her head to my chest.”

And in that instant, Keech knew he would save her.

Putting his hand reassuringly on the scared animal, he whispered, “Don’t worry. I’m going to buy you and take you home.”

That was November of 2013.

Fast-forward to last week, and Brightly Shining has now emerged from out of the dusty catchall for unwanted horses and into the show world with a vengeance.

After earning ribbons, trophies and silver plates with competitive rider Alexa Riddle, and most recently, Briana Kenerson, Brightly Shining earned enough points to compete last week at the Washington International Horse Show.

Brightly Shining and Briana Kenerson make a perfect picture together. Photo by Morgan Workman

Brightly Shining and Briana Kenerson make a perfect picture together. Photo by Morgan Workman

“When we first started together we used to be laughed at a little bit,” Kenerson says. “We weren’t thought of as much of a threat before. But now we’re getting there, and she’s not someone to scoff at anymore.”

Indeed, nobody is snickering now.

The once-terrified ex-racehorse has stormed the horseshow world and come out the victor, earning almost too many distinctions to count. Among them, the 2015 MHSA (Maryland Horse Show Association) Adult Medal Finals champion; the 2015 Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series Green Horse Champion; the CPJHSA (Central Pennsylvania Junior Horse Show Association) Adult Amateur Hunter, 3rd place and 5th place in the adult medal finals; and, the TIP (Thoroughbred Incentive Program) OTTB of the Year in 2014.

Lifelong equestrian Kenerson, 23, teamed up with Keech’s auction-house mare last July after learning through a friend that the relatively green mare needed a rider for the Thoroughbred Alliance horse show at Pimlico. And she was game to try her.

Mike Keech couldn't leave the auction without the frantic red Thoroughbred. She turned out to be his best horse.

Mike Keech couldn’t leave the auction without the frantic red Thoroughbred. She turned out to be his best horse.

“After I rode her for the first time, I came back to Mike and he said, ‘Briana, we have a problem. You ride my horses better than all my other people.’ We just clicked right away,” she says.

Taking over the reins from the previous rider, who went off to college, Kenerson says it was Keech’s idea to tackle rated shows after the pair did so nicely at the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series. “The first time we tried 3-foot classes, it was kind of crazy. She’d only jumped 2-foot before and we rode right through them,” she says. “But the second time we tried, she packed me around like a pro.”

Though they did not place at the Washington International Horse Show because the mare swapped her leads in the back, the experience was worth its weight in ribbons and trophies.

“She didn’t place because she got super nervous and kept swapping her leads, but she jumped her heart out and did everything I asked,” Kenerson says. “She went into that arena and went against the best horses in the country, and was probably the only Thoroughbred in her class.”

As Thoroughbreds go, she’s in a class all by herself, Keech says.

“I’ve trained a lot of Thoroughbreds in my life, but this one happened to be the best one,” Keech says. “I don’t know why. I opened that stall door and we just fell in love with each other.”

33 responses to “Auction horse shows at Washington Int’l”

  1. Anne Carpenter

    Hi Mike, I am so happy to see you old friend and so glad that you are still doing what you love. That mare won the lotto. Kind man, kind words.

  2. Robin

    Beautiful. Your awesome for saving this beautiful soul.

    1. Wendy

      I agree. You have saved a beautiful, smart and talented mare. God bless you and her lovely rider.

  3. Diana Cosgrove

    Mr. Keech … a book should be written about you … You are a very, very special person in the world of horses … it’s a story that should be told … Thank you for touching the life of this beautiful animal and giving her a good life with brilliant young talented riders!

  4. peg pfeiffer

    i LOVE THIS STORY, CRYING ALREADY. LOL. I have saved a lot of horses from autctions. In fact if I was bidding the auctioneer would tell the guys to just let me have the horse. I was giving it a great home. I love a good story. Cant wait to see more of her.

  5. Jane Stacey

    what a wonderful story it did bring tears to my eyes, i’ve always said there is something good in every horse, this poor horse was so terrified with his situation, and what a kind and caring man Mr Keech is for rescuing from a terrible fate. Well done Mr Keech i wish there were more people like you around.

  6. Christa

    You are a kind man Mike…and look what she is accomplishing!

    Within 2 months of her last race she was at that Maryland sale barn…

  7. LisaC

    many years ago I picked up a two yr old paint colt at the Thurmont sales. I went on to event him to preliminary level then he went on to a jr. rider and there wasn’t a show she entered she didn’t finish with at least reserve champ in two divisions.

  8. Karla Collins Goodenough

    We did the same thing about 30 years ago. He took my daughter all the way to the Medal, McClay and USET finals!! and, he was all cut up and had scars from barbed wire. What a wonderful horse he was!! We called him Stretch!! show name Barbary Coast! and wonderful kind appendix quarter horse!

  9. Fran

    We, the family at the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series are especially proud of this mare. She started her show career with our series and worked her way up to WIHS. It goes to show with patience, a good trainer and rider these thoroughbreds can beat the warmbloods and thrive at their new careers. Kudos to all ! Thanks Sue for a GREAT story!

  10. Patti Lovelace

    That is one lucky horse!! I am crying right now!

  11. Karly

    Believe it or not there was another thoroughbred at WIHS. Brightly shining’s story is definetly worth the share! Love these ottb’s making a name for themselves.

  12. Kim

    What a beautiful and touching story. We all should be willing to take a closer look at these beauties. You never know what they have dealt with. And apparently this one is a winner!

  13. Gloria Kersey

    Just a beautiful mare! I can’t believe this spectacular horse was at auction! She did a magnificent job as did her rider and she has a gorgeous face! Thank you for saving her!

  14. Terry Daly Warfield

    Congratulations, Mike. It is good to see you doing what you love and doing it so well!

  15. Sharon Trainor

    I have a posse gelding I found in a pasture in Texas last year. He was not a happy camper. Very unfriendly and guards. 1 year later he is happy and wonderful to ride. Getting ready to show him in the coming year.

  16. PonyPal

    A horse as lovely as Brightly Shining should never have ended up destined for slaughter in the state of Maryland, which prides itself on its horse industry. We owe these magnificent animals a long, well-cared-for life, not a horrific end at slaughter. As a resident of Maryland, I am truly ashamed of the state’s horse racing money machine and the way horses are often cast off like rubbish to meet such a cruel ending.

  17. susan sharp

    Mike, so good to see you still doing what you love so much. I, too, pulled a wonderful, scared, neglected mare from the kill pens @ NH. She is now in my pocket and a beauty.

  18. Nola Roden

    What a remarkable ride and rider. Great job. Very impressive. Keep up the great work. You two really fit together.

  19. lexi63

    what could quiet possibly help a nervous filly like this is MIRACLE CLAY ( bentonite clay) – give them about 5 largest syringes ( get the syringes from your vet ) – make the mixture and keep a mixture of it ready at all times , the longer it sits the better ( make it a yogurt consistancy ) , fill syringes full of miracle clay & give them in their mouth about 4-5 before they train , ship & of course & before they perform, most nervous horses have ulcers ( which develop in hours by the way , anything that makes them nervous will open their stomach up into a red ball of flames ), this filly is the perfect candidate for ulcers , just by watching her go i thin she could really be helped with miracle clay . miracle clay is the best stuff in the world for nervous horses , it soothes their stomachs – get it in the 5 lb bucket, you wont be disappointed , it has many other uses as well .

    1. Kathrine Jenkins

      She wasn’t nervous, she was afraid! Please put your spam where it belongs.

      1. lexi63

        hay , look Katherine Jenkins, I am trying to be nice by offering a simple remedy that could help many horses with this simple solution, i am not “spamming” anyone , i am tying to help horses with a really great product ( that someone turned me onto long ago), that can be used instead of very expensive remedies people sometimes feel forced into using to help their horses stomach’s , when a cheap bucket of clay works better then all of those products. ( & if you read the article it SAYS, the filly was nervous in the arena at Washington & i can see from the film that she was nervous from the second she stepped into the arena, new surroundings do that to horses & it opens their stomachs right up which makes them more nervous), Being a trainer of world class show hunters & jumpers I can see this really nice filly is a perfect candidate to try this simple remedy on, I am simply trying to be nice to other people & their horses by offering this advise, instead of being mean like you are. Geeeeesh, So anyone with a nervous type horse get yourself a bucket of Miracle clay, your horses will thank you & it can turn a nice horse into a super nice horse when their stomach isnt bothering them & they can relax.

  20. Kara

    Briana, you rode beautifully! Now that you two have your “green” Washington year out of the way, I expect to see you next year in the ribbon line-up. Great job to everyone involved. Such a classy mare!

  21. Diane Halpin

    A wonderful story and a beautiful mare. Thank you, Mr. Keech. We live in a brutal world when it comes to our horses, once they leave ‘the nest’. I wish that they all could be saved because we horsemen should be conscious of those good horses who “fall through the cracks” every day of our lives.

  22. Marilyn Lee-Hannah

    Love this…its all about that gut reaction and chemistry…they were meant to be…Gorgeous mare, with an exquisite face…and terrific knees too!

  23. Andy J. Tuck

    Love this. In the world of over used terms “rescue” and “501 3 C”. It is so refreshing to learn of someone who followed through with their commitment…….and because it was a “M A R E” double BRAVO.

  24. Jon

    “Wanna come home with me?” is what I asked my latest OTTB that I adopted. 48 hours later once the paperwork was completed at MAHR, he stepped briskly up the ramp into my trailer. I got a wonderful horse and another spot opens up for Bev and company to bring another to safety.

  25. kwgrid

    Her markings lend sort of an Arabian look to her head. Sooo pretty! Congratulations!!!

  26. R.A.C.E. Fund, Inc.

    “Don’t worry. I’m going to buy you and take you home.” The most wonderful words in the world at an auction. The fear and uncertainty that horses experience at auctions is so heartbreaking. Thank goodness for Mr. Keech as Brightly Shining now has a bright future. Bravo.

  27. dlodge

    What a wonderful story! Thank you for saving her!! I wonder which night at WIHS she was there — i was there watching Wed night.

  28. Deb

    What a wonderful story. I watched her video and I am impressed that she did not have a fake tail on. Lovely soft rider and a beautiful TB mare at WIHS. What could be better than that!

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