Photo of the Week: Life Behind Barz

Life Behind Barz was adopted in 2009 from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River.

Life Behind Barz was adopted in 2009 from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River. Photo by Emma McKenney

Life Behind Barz used to be a bad boy. He bit; he was difficult to ride; there were days his young rider was certain he was trying to kill her.

“I told my mom he wasn’t a good boy and that we should take him back,” says Kaileigh Keller, 19, of Virginia. “We got him in 2009 from the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River. My mother adopted him because he was pretty.”

Instead of returning him, mother and daughter put their plans for him on the backburner for two years and rode their other horses.

And gradually, over time, Kaileigh started to get back in the saddle on the 17-hand gray beauty. Doing flat work to teach him where his long, long legs were, Kaileigh started to click with her “part-time project horse.”

Life Behind Barz
Show name: Black Ice
Barn name: Icey
Sire: Unbridled Time
Dam: Late Note, by Notebook
Foal date: May 8, 2005
Then by default, the bad boy of her barn started to rise to the top of her string. After selling her big jumper, and sadly losing another horse, who was euthanized, Life Behind Barz stepped up and became her go-to gelding.

Working under the show name Black Ice, he has emerged as the picture-perfect hunter type.

The pair competed in the Central Virginia Show Jumping Association show in Manakin-Sabot, Va. May 24. As hunters in a jumper world, they couldn’t beat the clock, and finished out of the ribbons due to time faults. The elegance of their ride, and the friendship the pair has developed, was captured in this photo by Emma McKenney.

Now the rider who wanted to return the OTTB to James River is singing a different tune: “I wouldn’t trade this boy for the world!”

8 responses to “Photo of the Week: Life Behind Barz”

  1. Karen Martin

    So what turned him around? What happened or what did you do different for you both to have such a change in attitude? Do you feel bad now for giving up on him so quickly and for 2 years?

  2. marsha andrasik

    This is what hard work and talent looks like! Great ride, Kaileigh!

  3. Grammie

    I think you both are beautiful! You are terrific and so is he becoming what you want him to be.

  4. hilary Keller

    so proud of you both! my slate gray has turned a different “shade” of gray! Luv him and you more than words:)

  5. Daryl J Conner

    He is looking great now. Good pic, and happy person.

  6. Linda R. Moss

    Time and patience with these warriors almost always pays off – Beautiful Boy!

  7. Jon

    Sometimes it just takes time and patience to connect with the difficult ones. Good looking mount. Nice jumper!

  8. cheri

    Lovely pair!!

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