Sad and lovely journey made better by an OTTB

Hund and Soxandthecity, nicknamed Truman, won the 3'3" Amateur Owner Hunters at Summer in the Rockies VI. Photo courtesy Mary Adelaide Brakenridge/Phelps

Hund and Soxandthecity, nicknamed Truman, won the 3’3″ Amateur Owner Hunters at Summer in the Rockies VI. Photo courtesy Mary Adelaide Brakenridge/Phelps Media Group

Surrounded by a breathtaking expanse of the Rocky Mountains, and all that beautiful sky, three women, once strangers, now fast friends, drew together one last time to revel in the life of the Thoroughbred they all loved.

As the strapping bay ex-racehorse made them forget for a moment that one of them was very sick, and instead focused them on his joyous romp across the show grounds he dominated, their last moments together let them glimpse, if only briefly, what it felt like to grasp and hold on to childlike hope.

“It was a weekend that was both sad and lovely,” recalls Elizabeth Hund, who at age 55 had purchased her first Thoroughbred, and rode him to win the championship that weekend in the Rockies as her trainer Keiri Kaneps, and new friend Sharon Kvistad, cheered her on.

At a show grounds situated 7,522 feet about sea level, sick though she was, Kaneps applauded for Hund and

It was a beautiful weekend nestled in the majestic mountains, as Kaneps doubtlessly admired her handiwork after a Race name: Soxandthecity
Show name: Timbuktu
Barn name: Truman
Sire: Gold Case
Dam: Honey’s Angle
Foal date: Feb. 19, 2004
lifetime spent coaching and training, that she’d been blessed with one last success: she’d matched up the winning team of Hund, a late-blooming rider, and Soxandthecity, a luckless racehorse who earned a mere $500 before he retired.

Kaneps sat next to Soxandthecity’s first owner that weekend to watch the horse they all loved win ribbons and congratulations for a show well done; the moment in time, brief and poignant, united Kaneps with Soxandthecity’s former and present owner in a job well done, and a moment they would always cherish.

Although Kaneps would not live to see another show—she died shortly after of cancer—the friendship she cemented between Hund, of Colorado, and Sharon Kvistad of Indiana, would stretch beyond state lines, and add a deeper dimension to the lives of the horse lovers.

When Hund thinks back on the success she enjoyed riding her horse that weekend, and on further show ring successes this summer, she cannot mention the joy of owning Soxandthecity without also acknowledging the deep connection she made with two fine horsewomen.

Elizabeth Hund, 55, shows her OTTB Soxandthecity. Photo courtesy Mary Adelaide Brakenridge/Phelps Media Group

Elizabeth Hund, 55, shows her OTTB Soxandthecity. Photo courtesy Mary Adelaide Brakenridge/Phelps Media Group

“Keiri was about 50 when she died, and was a wonderful trainer and friend. We were all middle aged and we never had children, so we really bonded. We got to be good friends,” Hund says. “It was a year ago that we were at the horse show in the mountains, that the three of us came together, because of this horse.

“Keiri saw my last show, and then she died. It was painful because she died too young, but it was also lovely because we all got to reconnect. And it was because of this horse.”

Right from the start Soxandthecity was a beautiful mover, though not a natural jumper. He was originally adopted by Sharon Kvistad in the spring of 2008 from New Vocations.

As she set about training him on the flat, realizing his trot needed work, and his jumping was awkward, she also recognized that with his stellar personality, he more than made up for any technical shortcomings.

She recalls, “One day as I was leading him into the barn an avalanche of snow slid suddenly from the roof in front of us. He just stopped and looked and calmly moved on. I knew then he had a great brain.”

Soxandthecity schools early on with his first post-racing owner Sharon Kvistad

Soxandthecity schools early on with his first post-racing owner Sharon Kvistad

He did not prove her wrong. At his first adult amateur three-foot show a year later, at the Kentucky Fall Horse Show, he certainly brought his A Game.

Though lacking the finesse over jumps that well-seasoned competitors possessed, he brought home a 3rd and a 4th place against stiff competition.

Kvistad had every hope of bringing him along further, but her plans changed in 2011, when a family illness caused her to decide to sell the horse. He was too good to sit in a field with nothing to do, she says, so she contacted her longtime friend Kaneps, who agreed, despite her tiring battle with cancer, to take on the project of getting Soxandthecity a new owner.

It didn’t take Kaneps long to look at her student Elizabeth Hund, who had recently begun to entertain the idea of buying her own horse.

And after an arranged meeting of horse and rider, all was settled, and Hund had the one she was looking for.

Hund recalls knowing he was the right horse for her the moment she sat on him. He was mellow and agreeable, not to mention beautiful, she says, noting, “I fell in love with him.”

All in a day's work!

All in a day’s work!

Hund adds, “He’s that classic off-the-track Thoroughbred. He’s a smart, big-hearted horse, and he has been the vehicle to so much richness in my life. He brought me these wonderful women, and he brought me back to riding.”

Always a standout in the show ring, the lovely mover consistently wins. This month, he won the Summer in the Rockies Reserve Championship and an earlier Championship.

After one class, sitting atop her tall, well-built horse, Hund looked at the other horses they were stacked up against. “Up and down the row of horses, all I saw were big, champion Warmbloods who cost hundreds of thousands of dollars each,” she says. “And my $700 horse won!”

But as exciting as winning ribbons is, forging friendships with remarkable women is life’s greater reward.

“I feel really lucky,” Hund says. “I feel like I’m getting a second chance in life, on a horse who got a second chance after the track. I feel so grateful to this horse, and to my trainer who passed away, and to my new friend in Indiana, who I never would have met if it weren’t for this horse.”

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10 responses to “Sad and lovely journey made better by an OTTB”

  1. elizabeth hund

    Today is the one year anniversary of Keiri Kaneps death. Attached are some pictures of my wonderful friend and trainer.

    I love the way horses become vehicles for so much more than just a blue ribbon.

    1. GASafeHorses

      beautiful tribute to a wonderful friend to OTTBs. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Christine Gamage-Harding

    I too am crying! Keiri was my daughter’s trainer while we lived in Colorado and what an amazing woman she was. She found my daughter’s 2 horses. First, was Frosty for another client of hers which we later purchased and then Toucan. Frosty, raced only twice and Toucan never saw the track, but is a registered TB. We are no longer showing, but have a retired TB living his days out in our pasture. Toucan is still in the show ring in Petosky, MI and Frosty is in Indiana at the Culver Academy. Eventually, Frosty will come home to join his brother, Winchester in the green pastures of Pennfield, MI with MOM!

  3. elizabeth hund

    ok, i’m crying now….

  4. Sarah Pallas

    I saw the headline for this story on facebook and started to read it. I was sad to hear that Keiri has died, but delighted to find that my old friend Sharon Kvistad has gotten attention for her lovely Thoroughbreds. We rode together as teens and she was able to keep horses in her life more than I could until recently. Now we are both retraining some of the wonderful Thoroughbreds that were needing second careers off the racetrack. They are truly amazing creatures, and warmblood owners should be jealous!

  5. Sharon Kvistad

    Thank you Susan for capturing the true value of bonds and friendships. I’m so very fortunate to have owned this horse and even more fortunate to have made life-long connections because of him. Elizabeth will be a friend for life and I know that both Keiri Kaneps and Wendy Newby are nodding their affirmation at Truman’s success.

  6. Marti

    What a beautiful story! Horses can take us to such wonderful friendships, as this great horse did. I’m sure Keiri felt a great amount of joy in seeing the success you and Truman had. Continued success and enjoyment–we all know Truman is in good hands to the end.

  7. Suzie Birks

    Oh how I love these stories of hope and courage. Thanks for taking the time to share. As a huge fan of TB racing, I just fill up inside when I read about their new lives.

    1. Elizabeth Hund

      This remarkable horse has been such a gift to me. I know that my beloved friend and trainer Keiri Kaneps is smiling down on all of us that love Truman. She knew he was a very special horse.

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