A bay Thoroughbred who walked away from a low-slung shanty in January, where too many horses had wasted away without food, stepped onto a crowed stock trailer pulled by rescue workers from the South Florida SPCA, and has blossomed into a beautiful show horse.
Kenny’s Z, a 16.2 hand beauty with the personality of a Teddy bear, ribboned in his first-ever horse show last month for new owner Suzanne Norris, an achievement occurring mere months after he was seized by the SPCA and local police, and ushered into a crowded trailer with five other rescued Thoroughbreds.
Dam: Too Many Choices, by Bright Launch
Foal date: April 23, 2008“He warmed up to me right away, and so I decided to take him to a schooling show at the Rocking Horse Stables in Altoona, Fla., to let him get accustomed,” Norris says. “I took him out on the cross-country course on the lead line, and after 15 minutes I was on his back. He willingly jumped everything. He just did everything in his stride. So on the spot, I signed him up for the Tadpole Division, which is show jumping and cross-country at the 2-foot level.”
Lo and behold, Kenny’s Z came away with a 5th place ribbon overall in a field of 12 horses. And he is being prepped to compete in the October Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover show, which showcases OTTBs as valuable, versatile sport horses.
His ribbon was a considerable feat, considering Kenny hadn’t ever jumped a course before he hit the show, notes Norris, who adopted him from the SPCA to retrain at her facility, Hidden Acres Rescue for Thoroughbreds.
“Our philosophy in training horses is to go slow to get their faster. And a lot of horses need hand-holding during training; they need to think something is their idea,” she says. “But this horse is different. He has such a brain. This is the kind of horse who would lay down and die for you; he’s a real ambassador of the breed.”
An ambassador who has risen from squalid conditions at a cramped one-acre horse boarding facility in Miami Gardens; the scene of other raids by the local police, that have netted ex-racehorses such as Silver and Smoke, who nearly died of starvation and Bring Check Charlie, says Laurie Waggoner, director of the South Florida SPCA. (Please see earlier article).
Kenny’s Z was owned by owners different than those connected with Silver and Smoke and Bring Check Charlie, but was housed at the same shanty style barn. He was rescued as one of six other horses, including She’s a Freshy, a Florida-bred who had to be euthanized.
As someone who has seen the worst of the saddest cases, Kenny’s Z budding success and hopeful future lifts Waggoner’s heart.
“I’m thrilled he’s going to compete,” she says. “I was telling someone this morning that I’m so glad they’re doing Thoroughbred shows now. There was a time when you couldn’t get rid of them when the Warmbloods came on the scene, and now that they have their own shows, it’s just fantastic for the horses.
“Hopefully Z and the Retired Racehorse Project will bolster public awareness of these horses so that people will realize they don’t have to spend $30,000 on a hunter; they can adopt a rescue horse, put some money into training, and have a horse that is just as good, if not better.”