Onetime jockey Kaymarie Kreidel and her ex-racehorse Trey Bear stormed onto the Thoroughbred show circuit after first practicing makeshift jumps—hay bales, obstacles made of PVC pipes—at the Maryland Race Track.
Before the track outrider and exercise rider, and her petite 15-hand gelding started cleaning up at various Thoroughbred shows, the pair practiced their newfound skill during down time, when they weren’t ponying racehorses to the track.
“It all started last year, when (Maryland Jockey Club racing secretary) Georganne Hale decided to do the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico, and I’m saying to myself, ‘I can do that!’ ” Kreidel says. “So I brought some PVC pipe, for rails, and some standards to the track and set them up on the horse path so I could teach Bear to jump.”
As the buzz about the Totally Thoroughbred Show grew louder, and Kreidel grew more excited to show off her OTTB, she soon enlisted two other track friends to join her. Fellow riders Jodi Murphy and Valerie Kounelis, riding their OTTBs, soon fell in with the after-hours jumping adventures led by Kreidel and Bear.
“We started gong to various farms to practice jumping,” she says. “And then I found these hunter paces and I said to them, ‘Lets do this girls!’
Race name: Trey Bear
Barn name: Bear
Sire: Stormin Fever
Dam: Serena’s Crown
Foal date: Feb. 20, 2004“The first time out, we did two 2-foot-6 jumps, jumping anywhere from 36 to 50 jumps. Each time we’d go, the ponies loved it. But I thought the jumps were too small.”
So she registered the girls for the high fences, solid obstacles ranging in height from 3-foot to 4-foot-6. Laughing as she recalls the fun and the complaining that went on, Kreidel says, “They were saying things to me like, ‘I can’t believe you’re making us jump these high fences!’ And I said, ‘Just get over it and come on!’ ”
And this is how Bear started turning heads and winning blue ribbons.
By day, he worked at the racetrack, accompanying jangling, jumping athletes onto the track. By night, he galloped like a horse possessed over every jump and obstacle he was pointed at, then hung out, on-the-buckle and relaxed as admirers fawned over him.
“People see him work, and then they come up to me and ask them to keep an ear open for a horse for them. These are people who never knew Thoroughbreds had such versatility until they saw it for themselves,” she says. “Bear will literally fly around the course and then come back and stand around like an old mule. It opens eyes. I have so many people, after they see him, say, ‘Here’s my phone number. If you find anything for me, give me a call.’ ”
And with all the ribbons Bear has been winning, it’s easy to see why people are impressed.
He was recently the High Point winner at the Pleasant Prospect Farm hunter/jumper show, which was a seven-show series.
On the eve of an Aug. 28th competition, Kreidel notes that as much as she loves the ribbons and winning, she loves more that she and Bear, as ambassadors from the racetrack, are helping to show that OTTBs are viable sport horses.
“My ponies do everything. They’re at the track for the racing season, and then they get two-and-a-half months off in the summer, where they’re on a farm, eating grass, taking trail rides and giving lessons to children. “I want people to realize that I can throw two kids on my ponies and take them riding bareback through the woods, and they’re great.”
She is so dedicated to her new following of prospective OTTB buyers that she has offered to help start the horses for free for any new owner.
“I explain that they don’t know anything when they come off the track, that they’re very green,” she says. “But the Thoroughbreds learn so quick, and they seem happier when they’re working than other horses do. If you throw them out in a field too long they lose weight. They prefer to work; they like making people happy.”