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Harlan Abbey and Imperial Bandit

At 79 he quit riding OTTBs, but love endures

He climbed into the saddle with an agility surprising in a man his age. Easing his two bum knees around the sides of his darkly handsome ex-racehorse, Harlan Abbey settled for a moment, and then suddenly, the steed spun on his heels, and bolted. Almost immediately, Abbey lost hold of the runaway horse, and was flung rudely to the earth. But as he caught his breath and regained his bearings, the senior equestrian just had to smile. What a great ride it had been. No, not the one that dumped the 79-year-old father of three—who was mere weeks away from […]

By John Benson Photography

Clubhouse Q&A: Choosing a bit for your OTTB

Deciding what bit to use with an off-track Thoroughbred may seem daunting to some, but longtime horseman Karen Hornyak has it down to a science. In this week’s Clubhouse Q&A, Hornyak describes her go-to bits, and the reasons for each. She enlightens us on how she achieves the perfect not-too-small, not-too-big fit. Q: Karen, with over 20 years experience finding the right bit for each horse, what are some of the guidelines you use? The first thing I consider is the length of the bit.  I find that 5 ¼ inch is a good size to start with for most […]

She's For Real at HITS

She’s For Real storms HITS on the Hudson

She put up a small cross-rail and they plowed right through it. Then, she added a bounce, and the petite mare figured it out. “It was like she self-taught herself,” says Fay Spargo, a Thoroughbred trainer who has only met one other horse in her lifetime with the ability to think on her feet the way  the little ex-racehorse She’s For Real can. “I tried her for 20 minutes, and turned to my clients Mary and Marty Joseph and said, ‘If we don’t take this one, we’re crazy.’ ” So with much anticipation of the good times to come, they […]