Their coats glistening, their tack polished, nine off-track Thoroughbreds took center stage this past weekend beneath the lights of the Equine Affaire Coliseum.
During a brief appearance they demonstrated their prowess at a variety of disciplines showing no signs of, in some cases, very troubled pasts.
As they trotted around the large indoor arena, moving in rhythm with their riders, a broodmare and racemare who each escaped the slaughter pipeline moved out with the grace of any other show horse attending the three-day equestrian event.
“I think it was great,” says Christina Sawelsky of Sharon, Mass. She was one of four organizers of the OTTB portion of the event. “I just want the Thoroughbred to make a comeback in the show world.”
With that simple goal, Sawelsky partnered with the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF, Inc.) earlier this year to produce an appearance by nine OTTBs at the massive equine gathering, giving the occasionally overlooked breed a place in the Breed Pavilion and in the Coliseum demonstration.
Wearing matching black and white saddle pads donated by OTTB Designs, the inspiring demonstration began with a roping and reining show by OTTB Still Guilty, ridden by Jamilee Bravard, followed by eight horse/rider teams who walked, trotted and cantered.
Participants were: Cody Monster and Micki Quinn; Winning One and Alexandra Bowden; Valid Mission and Cassie Holm; Three Angels and Laurie Tuozzoulo; Rubicon and 13-year-old rider Emma Myruski; Regal Staff Two ridden by Heather Perry; and Charlie Business and Quantity, ridden by Christina and Elisabeth Sawelsky.
Crediting the TRF for supporting the effort to showcase OTTBs throughout the three-day event, Sawelsky says it seems more and more people are jumping onto the OTTB bandwagon. “We had a lot of people stop by our booth to tell us how much they love the breed,” she says. “There are a lot of Thoroughbred people out there. We had a catalogue of adoptable horses at the TRF, and there was a lot of interest in the horses. We talked to a lot of people and we’re exhausted, but it was a great weekend!”
And the rags-to-riches stories of two horses, Rubicon and Three Angels was read by an emcee while the horses moved through the gaits as if they’d been born to be show horses. Rhode Island equestrian Laurie Tuozzolo rescued Three Angels from the slaughter pipeline after working as her groom at Suffolk Downs some years ago(please be on the lookout for a story soon by Off-Track Thoroughbreds.com), and Emma Myruski rescued Rubicon from an auction house after the meat buyer had already purchased her. (Please see their story here: Girl gets broodmare out of kill pen; ‘I promised’).
Their stories, as well as her own experiences with five OTTBs she has personally adopted from the TRF, were what compelled Sawelsky to help make a big splash on their behalf at Equine Affaire.
“This event has been a year in the making, and it was a real success,” Sawelsky says, noting she was one of four organizers. Others were her daughter Elisabeth, as well as Monica Southwick and Cathy Holmes. “We already have ideas for next year!”
6 responses to “Limelight shines on OTTBs at Equine Affaire”
My heart is light after reading this article . Great job ladies and horses! Bravo and keep up the excellence. .. the excellence of your souls and athleticism.
I stopped by to say how much I love my boy, Jaxon. (JC name Godsey). He is my first OTTB, but not likely to be my last!
What a terrific job these riders did in showing off their beautiful Thoroughbreds! It was easy to see that every one of them cared deeply for their horses and they deserve to be very proud of their performance! Great job!
There are thousands of very successful racehorses who transition into second careers, and this is a great way to showcase their talents! There are also a lot that don’t make it at the track, and they, too, can have success in other disciplines.
So very proud of all the horses and riders, especially Heather and her OTTB, Regal Staff Two, whom she adopted from The Exceller Fund, Inc. last year! Thanks to all the OTTBS and their riders for showcasing this beautiful and talented breed at Equine Affaire.
Wow ???? Wishing I could have been there and seen such a wonderful event ????????????????????
Though I disagree with how the racing industry treats and trains their racing stock of horse ????; and I would be forced to write an entire essay to back up this statement; I am entirely indebted to them for my lifetime love ❤️ of the quirkiness of the OTTB ???? ; though, each horse, of course has their own endearing personality, they all bring something familiar with them, everyone I’ve worked with so far always brought the track back with them… ????