Royally bred TB hits jackpot as family horse

Easy Exchange, an Easy Goer grandson, went from Sheikh Mohammad's stable to home on the range

Easy Exchange, an Easy Goer grandson, went from Sheikh Mohammad’s stable to home on the range

Bred to the hilt by the ruler of Dubai, the dappled gray grandson of Easy Goer was nothing like what Laurel Perrigo expected.

Unlike his herd mates who grazed indifferently in the fields nearby, paying no heed to the woman who wandered past, this unraced son of Three Chimneys sire, Exchange Rate was perhaps the friendliest animal she’d ever met.

“I walked into his stall and he was so personable,” Perrigo says. “He was like, ‘Who are you? What are you about?’ ”

Easy Exchange
Sire: Exchange Rate
Dam: Smooth Charmer, by Easy Goer
Foal date: April 22, 2010
With his soft muzzle brushing across her palm and his face pushing forward for even greater contact, Perrigo was quickly smitten with the curiously friendly gray, and was soon asking Secretariat Center Director Susanna Thomas to tell her a little more about the eye-catching boy; might he just be the perfect match for her daughter?

She learned that Sheikh Mohammad, the ruler of Dubai, who is famous for his racehorses, had bred and owned him until knee chips forestalled a career in racing, and the friendly animal was donated to the center.

“Susanna also told me that he was the smartest horse there and that he could not be thrown into a pasture and left with nothing to do,” she says.

Still she hesitated. Her daughter Claire was only 11, and she had to wonder if a racehorse was the right way to go. “First I asked someone at the Secretariat Center to ride him, then I asked Claire’s coach, Rob Pierce to come look at him,” she says, noting that while she debated the pros and cons of the horse with her husband Matt, she and her daughter began twice-daily visits to gaze at the fine Thoroughbred.

“Our coach was really protective of Claire. She has a 20-year-old Arabian who takes care of her, and Claire is fearless because she’s never had a bad experience,” Perrigo says.

Easy Exchange, a grandson of Easy Goer, works on bending exercises in his new job

Easy Exchange, a grandson of Easy Goer, works on bending exercises in his new job

But daily visits only served to open the youngster’s heart to the lovely steed, and when the patience of an 11-year-old finally buckled, Perrigo permitted her to enter the stall. Easy Exchange stood calmly ready to accept his new pilot, and before anyone had a chance to reverse the decision, little Claire climbed up on the back of the big guy and just “hung all over him.”

Later that day, the decision was made.

Since coming home to live with the Perrigo family, Easy Exchange has remained agreeable to his core. Gamely carrying a western saddle, he has learned the fundamentals of good manners and groundwork training as Perrigo, using video tutorials by famous horseman Clinton Anderson, teaches him to respect her as boss.

In only six weeks, Easy Exchange has learned to keep very still for the farrier, while a set of yielding exercises in the saddle have taught him to respond to her cues.

Easy Exchange, left, takes in a trail ride accompanied by his new friends

Easy Exchange, left, takes in a trail ride accompanied by his new friends

“He has come so far! I’ve taught him a lot through respect exercises. I don’t lead him anywhere, but instead I back him everywhere, to remind him that I’m the leader,” says Perrigo.

“I expected he would be a lot harder than this. He has never bucked, never reared and never kicked. He’s just been really easy. And I tell everybody this is not what I expected when I got an off-the-track horse.”

When she was least expecting it, the horse she anticipated taking months to find was waiting at the Secretariat Center to be discovered. And ever since, he has surpassed her expectations, every day.

13 responses to “Royally bred TB hits jackpot as family horse”

  1. Jen Roytz

    I just love this story and family. They are so good about keeping both Darley (breeder) and Three Chimneys (who stands the sire) updated with fun photos and tidbits about how he’s doing.

  2. Claire

    It does take longer. But it shows the horse that I am the boss and not to be pushy on me.

  3. Brittany

    The backing comment is a bit extreme! Backing has it’s benefits for brief moments to teach a lesson but doing it all the time doesn’t really accomplish anything except take longer to get where you are going!

  4. Claire Perrigo

    I am very blessed to have him with me now, since Junie is getting tired of all this show stuff!! Thank you so much for having this program to represent x-racehorses who are now living happy lives!!

  5. Anna

    Aww, I worked with his half sister, Sea Chanter when she was 2..She was the sweetest thing ever!!

  6. Susan Crane-Sundell

    Well another happy match! It’s nice to know that the Sheikh looked out for him. He has an interesting method of keeping a number of his horses unraced;Easy Exchange with good reason He looked out for the welfare of Easy Exchange and the kindness has continue along a bright path for both the OTTB and his new partner. A great story with another happy ending. I’m always a sucker for a gray….always glad to hear about others who suffer from the same complex!

  7. PK Training

    “…she and her daughter began twice-daily visits to gaze at the fine Thoroughbred.” I had to laugh because they were visiting twice a day yet thought they hadn’t made a decision yet. It could have read, “You had me at ‘Hello’.”

  8. Diana

    Backing a horse part of the time is a good changeup and has benefits–but not all the time. Over do it and you will sour the horse and create resentment.

  9. mary butler

    I also was blessed to adopt an OTTB, You Lucky Devil, from MMSC!
    He is a family horse extraordinaire! We cannot imagine our lives without that sweet, cuddly guy :).

  10. Susan

    “He has never bucked, never reared and never kicked…really easy.” All signs that he was always handled properly. Easy Exchange begins as a kind, gentle horse who already knows about leadership and respect displayed by his willingness. Sadly, I think training practices like backing this horse everywhere instead of leading him will result in a not so happy ending. I strongly advocate novices taking on OTTBs work with trainers familiar with TBs.

    1. PK Training

      I doubt they literally back him everywhere (at least I hope not). The article says 11 year-old Claire is working with a coach/trainer. The Secretariat Center must have an application and screen process to adopt a horse. The new owners aren’t horse newbies and seem to consult professionals when needed.

      I think it is great when youth get involved with thoroughbred transitioning since it disproves the age-old stereotype that every OTTB is wild and dangerous. Some of the best work I’ve seen with horses has been done by young trainers and kids working with the extreme mustang makeover. Every horse owner and trainer had to start somewhere. As long as there are professionals to consult and provide guidance this is going to be a valuable learning experience for both of them.

  11. sharon

    I love the way the ‘secretariat center’ let the potential adopters easy into the decision. Meeting and visiting the horse several times. Many of our rescues are not taking the time to let a bond form. I feel this extra time and effort on the part of the rescue will ensure a better match and lasting home for the horse.
    Great story. thank you ~

  12. TBDancer

    That’s one thing I’ve found to be very consistent with TBs–especially OTTBs–they are eager to learn, hungry for groceries (of course ;o) and a job to do. And they are smart, as well. Looks like Easy Exchange has fallen into yet another tub of butter. Good story!

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