On a flea-bitten gray, a young girl beats adults

Young Madeline and Hope to Star have a blast Eventing with adult riders

Young Madeline and Hope to Star have a blast Eventing with adult riders

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, 1994
About 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.

Sharing a moment after their second-place finish

Sharing a moment after their second-place finish

“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.”

8 responses to “On a flea-bitten gray, a young girl beats adults”

  1. Madeline Parisan

    Thank you everyone!(:

  2. Josh parisan

    Awesome job Madeline and Carson for getting
    2nd place.

  3. Jon

    This is the outcome of looking beyond the first impression. Well done! I did get to see the pair pass by on XC. Madeline and Hope Star looked very confident as they conquered the Plantation course. Bravo!

  4. Trisha Dingle

    My very first event horse, when I was a young rider, was a 15.3 hand fleabitten grey OTTB! “Carson” reminds me of Fen so much – he safely carried me around my first one star and numerous prelim horse trials, and only retired due to a breathing problem from a melanoma near his trachea. He was my best friend and lived to the ripe old age of 27. This story brought tears to my eyes – I wish them the very best as they continue to work together!

  5. Nina Eckhoff

    I love my OTTB. They work so hard, and most folks have no clue how racing can totally beat up a horse. Congratulations and many more years of fun, health and teamwork.

  6. Susan Crane-Sundell

    On I’m a sucker for a gray too. To think that this beautiful horse with his magnificent markings was once flea-bitten and had rain rot is hard to believe.
    Oh the power of love and bonding and the rehabilitation it can bring. Hope To Star doesn’t need to hope to star…he already has! A beautiful partnership.

  7. Judith Ochs

    Another great story. I was there at the competition and had I known their story, I would have been really happy to really cheer them on. What an incredibly lucky girl and horse. And what a smart mom to see what was possible and realize that there was a great heart and soul beneath what appeared to be the horse no one would want. No one should ever think horses are not smart and do not realize who is good and true – and will try to reward their person with all that is good and true in them. Thanks for this story many, many years in the making.

  8. Christina Wilsdon

    What a lovely story! And I have a terrible soft spot for gray horses 🙂 What a beauty he is, going over that fence! Hooray for this rider/horse team!

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