In late 2010, Skyeler Icke Voss was going about her business at Morningside Training Farm in Plains, Va., when lightning struck in the form of a pale horse with no tail.
News of the racehorse, said to possess movement so free and athleticism so exceptional, traveled rapidly to the top rider at Morningside by way of an urgent phone call.
“I got this call from Stuart Black. He has helped me find all of my horses, and he was literally standing on the backside at Remington Park in Oklahoma,” says Voss, a three-time North American Young Riders Championship who has competed at three-star events. “He said he’d found the most incredible horse and I needed to buy him that day.”
He was insistent. He urged her to allow him to put him on a trailer “right now” and ship the magnificent steed to her.
Although she declined, there was no denying fate.
New name: Accolade
Sire: Mr. Walter T.
Dam: Tawdry Audrey
Foal date: June 1, 2005Voss’ husband Clayton Voss and his friend Jeremy Hager also spoke with Black, and quickly decided to pool their resources and purchase the animal for her, sight-unseen.
“My husband is not a horse person, but he has been super supportive. He and his friend own another of my OTTBs, and Stuart has found me several who have gone on to the upper levels of Eventing,” she explains.
On the day the much-anticipated ex-racehorse arrived Voss was too busy to pick him up so she sent two working students in her stead. They called in with less enthusiastic reports. “They said he had no tail, but that he’s gray.”
So the racehorse named Daddy Waggs didn’t sound great. But, her trust in Black’s ability to judge horseflesh soon proved true when she finally got the chance to visit him. Here was a horse who would have breathed fire if he could. Extremely athletic and hot, he danced and snorted as she gazed upon his incredible conformation.
“I got on him right away. He was very, very friendly and personable, but a little too athletic for his own good, and he had an incredible buck on him,” she says.
Though they struggled their first year with bucking and his issues with inattentiveness, the T-bred she now calls Accolade caught on so quickly to the routine and rhythm of showing that she was able to compete him in his first Beginner/Novice Event within their first six months together.
“He bucks a lot, but his misbehavior comes from pure joy for life. He is never trying to be bad when he does it,” she says. And the good that he has is truly promising.
“In dressage, his movement is very free up front, and he has an incredible suspension for a horse off the tracks,” she says. “He actually does all three phases in a rubber snaffle, he’s very light.”
Describing him as the “most athletic horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of riding,” Voss say her horse can turn on an astounding performances in all three phases. “The dressage work and jumping are easy for him; he’s a very careful jumper, and he is explosive and unbeatable cross country,” she says.
Already a successful one-star Preliminary horse who is expected to move up to Intermediate this year, she hopes to go two-star on him in the near future.
“My first big-time horse was an OTTB mare named Savannah. She took me from Novice to Advanced and I always loved how sensitive she was, and her heart. I still have her today—she’s 30,” she says. “Now I’m most excited about Accolade. He’s got incredible dressage movement… at our last event at Fair Hill in May he was jumping so high in the dressage warm-up ring that I had to leave the ring. I stood by the dressage ring and waited our turn. But in the ring, he focused right in and we got scored a 25!”
As Voss looks forward to competing the beautiful gray, who has, incidentally, regrown a lovely tail, she feels she has a tiger by the tail in the world of Eventing.
Author’s note: Off-TrackThoroughbreds.com launched e-commerce site Off-TrackProducts. We offer two saddle pad styles and a show cooler with a sporty T-BRED logo, which features an oval, symbolic of a Thoroughbred’s race career, and the horse running free. Please check it out if you wish. And thank you for enjoying the blog!