An auction horse who could have wound up at a slaughterhouse before she was rescued in 2013, has received top awards from the Jockey Club and United States Equestrian Federation for brilliance in the 2015 showing season.
Brightly Shining, a chestnut mare purchased from the Thurmont Auction in Maryland three years ago by respected trainer Mike Keech was honored last week with major hunter/jumper awards, according to Keech and Joanne Beusch, author of new children’s book, Brightly Shining: The Horse Nobody Wanted.
Dam: Bright Shining
Foal date: Feb. 14, 2009In an announcement shared on Facebook, Beusch listed the awards earned by Brightly Shining and rider Brianna Kenerson, who skillfully navigated the mare around A-rated hunter/jumper courses in Maryland and Pennsylvania. The pair also took a momentous ride at the fabled Washington International.
The awards are:
- Jockey Club/Thoroughbred Incentive Program: Hunter Champion for 2015 in the USA and Canada
- Jockey Club/Thoroughbred Incentive Program: Overall Champion for High East Coast Division, which includes the US and Canada
- Jockey Club: Green OTTB 2015 Award
- USEF Zone 3 Horse of the Year Campion in both the Adult Amateur Younger and the Thoroughbred Hunter Divisions for 2015
- USHJA Zone 3 Stirrup Cup Award Champion in both the Adult Amateur Younger and Thoroughbred Divisions for 2015
- News of the awards was released to Brightly Shining’s owner last week, and came as another reminder of how far the auction horse has come since he bought her, spur of the moment, when nobody else would.
Keech, 75, of Oak Tree Farm in Westminster, Md., discovered the mare at the Thurgood Auction after following the noise of the commotion she was making in her stall. “She was tearing down her stall,” Keech told Off Track Thoroughbreds.com in an earlier interview. “So I walked up, opened her stall door, and she came right over to me and dropped her head to my chest.”
Recognizing instantly what a good horse she was and fearing that her antics would scare off potential buyers , Keech whispered to the mare, ““Don’t worry. I’m going to buy you and take you home.” That was in November 2013.
Ever since, the auction horse has become a tour de force in the show ring under riders Alexa Riddle, and most recently, Briana Kenerson.
Kenerson, who has stopped riding Brightly Shining in order to pursue a master’s degree in forensics and who trains her own OTTB Mr. Good Guy, says she was thrilled to hear the news. Kenerson adds that she was particularly happy to learn that the pair were reserve champions for the Jockey Club’s equitation award— a personal accomplishment she was gratified to achieve while riding the beautiful chestnut.
The story of the auction house horse, who went from the slaughter pipeline to horse-show heights—she competed at the famous Washington International with Kenerson—, was so meaningful that it inspired a children’s book.
Joanne Beusch, a friend of Keech, wrote Brightly Shining: The Horse Nobody Wanted, to encourage children to see the value in horses who had been thrown away. “The book starts off with her birth and not being able to run and after Mike finds her, she’s no longer the horse nobody wanted,” she says.
Meantime, Keech is actively seeking a rider for Brightly Shining, someone to work with her on the farm and get her back to the shows, Beusch says. Anyone interested should contact Mike Keech through Facebook page Oak Tree Farm, she says, adding, “Mike’s chomping at the bit to start working with her again!”