On a flea-bitten gray who once looked old beyond his years rides a fearless young girl who is talented beyond hers.
Facing much younger horses with much older riders, 15-year-old Madeline Parisan and her 18-year-old Thoroughbred Hope to Star clinched a hard-won second place ribbon at Plantation Field International Sept. 20.
The win has set her up to pursue her goal to move up from One Star to Intermediate and eventually Two Star, says the young rider, who adds that on her OTTB she feels safe and confident enough to face the stiffest competition.
“At Plantation Fields, competing against the adults, I just pretended that I was the only one there, and that I was doing it for fun,” Madeline say. And her horse, whom she calls Carson, helped too!
Race name: Hope to Star
Sire: Racing Star
Dam: Hope for my Baby
Foal date: May 14, 1994About him, she adds, “I feel he’s a very safe horse to be on top of. He’s very honest … and I feel confident because he’s such a confident horse. It’s a teamwork thing.”
Madeline and Hope to Star were matched up five years ago when she went horse shopping with her mother Kimberly Parisan. The senior Parisan recalls that after answering an ad to look at a Paint in Maryland, the seller showed them Hope to Star as well.
The 14-year-old ex-racehorse didn’t look like much, back then.
His muscle tone was flaccid and his flea-bitten coloring was made all the worse by a nasty case of rain rot. “He looked old and worn out,” Parisan recalls.
And yet, he got along great with Madeline, who was 10 at the time. He did everything that she asked of him, and carried her around like precious cargo.
After deciding to take him home, mother and daughter faced quite a few raised eyebrows when their farrier, veterinarian and friends got a look at the underweight, unimpressive looking gent.
“He was only 14 at the time, but he looked 25,” Parisan says. “Our trainer at the time thought we were crazy for buying this old horse.”
But time and good care, lots of good food and very large measures of TLC put the shine back in his coat, and the muscle back on his 15.3 hand frame.
Now 19, Hope to Star is still going strong. “He’s never been unsound. He’s never had an injection,” Parisan says noting that for his young rider, he’ll do absolutely anything.
“Dressage is a little harder for them. Learning to keep yourself in a frame and stay in position hasn’t been easy, but he’ll do it. His fortay is jumping! In cross country and stadium, he just picks his knees up and is a natural jumper.”
Hope to Star was one of only four horses at Plantation Field International who had a clear stadium round. The rest knocked down a rail down.
“He didn’t look like much when we got him, but he’s a really great horse,” Parisan says. “We feel blessed that we got him.”