Turbo Pup, a one-time ugly duckling who never won a race, was named a high-point winner at a dressage show last weekend, a victory that underscores what his owners/breeders have said for years: horses off the track make excellent sport horses.
Holly and John Steinmeyer, who bred and own Turbo Pup, campaigned their regally bred gelding as a 3 year old, but he showed little speed and sustained an injury early on, Holly Steinmeyer says. Although he was brought back to racing after a long rehab, the couple soon realized this racehorse, who was born quite scrawny and unattractive before he filled out, was now better suited for the dressage ring.
“We have a practice of riding our racehorses in the dressage ring when they’re home and not racing so we can get a feel for how they’re doing, and simultaneously train them to be balanced and obedient,” she says.
Sire: Brave ‘n Away
Dam: Peppakakor, by Forli Winds
Foal date: May 13, 2009So when Turbo Pup ended his winless race career last December, all the dressage training he’d received through the years paid off three months later with a win at the Grand Paradise Ranch Sport Horse Show March 19.
The victory was both the start of a new campaign for Turbo Pup as a sport horse, and another positive development in the ongoing work of the Steinmeyers to incentivize people to own and compete Thoroughbred sport horses.
Five years ago, John Steinmeyer founded Thoroughbreds Helping Thoroughbreds in Illinois; a group dedicated to helping Thoroughbreds in their area prepare for second careers. “Our concept,” Holly Steinmeyer says, “was to get owners and trainers of successful horses to contribute a small amount of money toward awards for Thoroughbred classes at open shows.”
Since they founded the group, Steinmeyer has witnessed a steady uptick in the numbers of prospective riders willing to give an OTTB a shot, she says.
“We live near the Fairmount Racetrack. And it used to be that trainers and owners couldn’t give their horses away,” Steinmeyer says. “Now we have people lining up at Fairmount to take them.”
This year, John Moore, chairman emeritus of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF), sponsored awards given by the Thoroughbreds Helping Thoroughbreds group to show support for the effort.
And that effort came full circle when the Steinmeyer’s own horse bested other OTTBs and was presented with $50 in cash, and a hand-painted trophy plate inscribed in appreciation to the TRF.
Nicki Wheeler of the TRF presented the plate and high-point ribbon to Turbo Pup and rider Kim Klocke.
Says Wheeler, “Thoroughbreds Helping Thoroughbreds gives people enthusiasm to take their Thoroughbreds to shows and help demonstrate that they’re really good competing horses. The Steinmeyers put a lot of work into this group, and because of it, I think more and more riders are going to the track to look for horses. There are a couple of good event riders who come out to Fairmount now to look at horses.”
She adds, “And Turbo Pup is a great example of the types of horses you can get off the track. He was a perfect gentleman in the ring, did everything he was asked and was absolutely beautiful.”