Four-star Eventer Stephanie Rhodes-Bosch isn’t a breed snob. Not at all.
In her earlier years she rode all sorts of breeds competitively, including Warmbloods.
But in recent years, the 26-year-old top rider from Virginia has been competing almost exclusively on Thoroughbred ex-racehorses.
“I don’t think it’s necessarily about the breed of horse. It’s about the horse as an individual. But, at the four-star level I think you need to be on a horse who is at least 60 percent Thoroughbred to have the stamina to make it through the cross-country course,” she says. “I’ve met people who think they don’t want a Thoroughbred, and I tell them that what they want is an uphill Thoroughbred who’s built to do the job, and has the brains for it.”
Sire: Bellamy Road
Foal date: Feb. 28, 2008After three years competing her first in a string of ex-racehorses from the farm of Calgary, Alberta horsemen Susan and Jim Hill, Rhodes-Bosch knows of what she speaks.
Since a series of lucky breaks put True Bellamy, the son of multiple graded stakes winner Bellamy Road, in her hands in 2011, the eventer has gone on to add other T-breds, including Mike and Rob and Broken Diplomacy, and has also trained and sold Harbor the Truth to a competitive Eventing home.
Though her other two horses are in earlier stages of development, they are each demonstrating the kind of early talent she felt the first time she sat on Bellamy, a horse she expects to move up to Intermediate in the spring 2015.
The big-shouldered, uphill gelding came to her by something of a fluke. Her mother Trish Bosch happened to see a magazine article about racehorse owners Susan and Jim Hill, noted for their commitment for retiring their horses to competitive homes before they drop in class on the racetrack.
“My mother read the article, emailed them at their barn, and told them about me,” Rhodes-Bosch. “When we first spoke to the Hills they didn’t understand the sport of Eventing that well. But through a series of conversations, I told him about our sport, and what we need in a horse: I told them the horse needs to have endurance, intelligence, and be light on his feet.”
After which, Bellamy was purchased from the Hills so Rhodes-Bosch could compete the 16-hand gelding.
Now the cornerstone of her string, Bellamy has made great strides in the Eventing world after a bit of a setback last spring.
Rhodes-Bosch explains, “Everything was going really well until Bellamy hit a growth spurt in the spring, which (temporarily) changed his balance” as his hind end grew bigger. “He began to struggle with his confidence at the bigger fences, and was awkward because he was a little ‘bum high,’ and it was not a good situation.”
Rather than asking too much too soon, she stopped competing at Preliminary, and spent the summer schooling him with talented instructor Lauren Kieffer.
By the finish of the 2014 Preliminary season, the now full grown and well-built animal rewarded her with good runs at two Preliminary Level events.
“We didn’t win any of the events, we still had some time penalties because I didn’t put the pedal to the metal. But he put in an excellent, clean jumping and dressage tests, and by the time we got to the Maryland Horse Trials, I felt I had a horse who was drawn like a magnet to the fences,” she says. “This is exactly what I wanted!”
The four-star rider says she is grateful to have the support of the Hills and the Akre family, her parents, and friends, who have supported her horse career, and who have shown the good sense to choose well-built Thoroughbreds with great minds.
“Eventing as a sport has changed, and it has shifted toward dressage and show jumping,” she says. “But I think Thoroughbreds can be just as great a choice” as any other breed “if they’ve got the right conformation, and they’re brought along carefully.”
Bellamy is owned by Chuck Akre of Virginia. And Rhodes-Bosch competes with the support of Karyn and Paul Wilson, Mike and Emma Gaskins on Mike and Rob.♥