Once-injured TB makes comeback at Pa. Nat’l

Following his win in Pennsylvania, Indian Rain Dance was purchased by a new owner.

Following his win in Pennsylvania, Indian Rain Dance was purchased by a new owner. Pictured with trainer Kelsey Parisi

A 5-year-old OTTB who bowed a tendon early in his race career won the Equine Comeback Challenge at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show last month, his winning performance attracting a new owner in one fell swoop.

After just 90 days of training in an array of disciplines, including trail, team penning, jumps, barrel patterns and reining, Indian Rain Dance performed the winning flatwork pattern and Freestyle at the Pennsylvania National Horse Show Oct. 13.

“I knew off-the-bat when I first saw him that he would be a great horse,” says longtime horseman and trainer Kelsey Parisi. “The first time I sent him around the round pen, I knew I wanted to work with him. He wasn’t flighty. He moved forward when I put pressure on him, and he didn’t have his head hanging over the rail looking for his buddies. And, I liked that he seemed to have a calm eye.”

Indian Rain Dance
Sire: Indian Ocean
Dam: Full of Dance, by Dance Brightly
Foal date: May 3, 2010
Parisi adopted Indian from Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue for the explicit purpose of entering him in the 90-day trainer challenge, a relatively new OTTB event sponsored by A Home for Every Racehorse, and patterned after the famous Retired Racehorse Challenge. “I was actually interested in doing the Retired Racehorse Challenge this year, but missed the deadline for applications,” she says. “So when I found out the Equine Challenge this year was going to focus on racehorses, I got really excited about it. I love the Thoroughbred breed, they’re in my wheelhouse.”

The longtime horseman, who worked at Parx Racing and for racehorse trainers, trained Indian at a Norristown, Pa., facility by exposing him to “anything I could think of” to prepare him.

“He developed quickly, and I started him with some reining maneuvers so he developed a slow, correct spin, and he had the beginnings of a nice stop, not a reigning stop—there’s no sliding—but a very soft stop,” she says.

The winners!

The winners!

The big payoff came after the pair performed Freestyle to the John Fogerty song, “Center Field.” The pair maneuvered around a baseball diamond, and Parisi smacked a baseball while sitting on his back. Afterwards, the pair stole second base, and then home. A real home run!

Indian Rain Dance received numerous inquiries from prospective buyers after his eye-catching performance, and was eagerly purchased by photographer Nicole Molinaro, who was on hand at the event to cover his performance.

“After the show, I had a handful of people who were interested. I had them fill out applications, and I checked references. I wanted to make sure he’d be OK. He’s a really nice horse, but at the end of the day, he only had 90 days on him, and he wasn’t finished with training. I wanted him to go to the right home—he wasn’t a kid’s horse yet.”

Molinaro was the perfect candidate to continue his training. With a solid base in hunter/jumpers, she has moved into western pleasure and does a lot of trail riding, Parisi says. And best of all, the Indian Rain Dance will only move a short distance up the road.

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