A dusty Camelot castaway, plucked by chance from an auction that could have catapulted him to the slaughterhouse, is now on the cusp of a first-class hunter/jumper career.
Atom, an un-raced bay Thoroughbred, has emerged from his shell under the training of Mooresville, N.C. trainer Karen Benson to take high ribbons in big classes at the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico, clearing jump after jump with the high-knee tuck of the refined show horse he was born to be.
“He has an amazing natural talent,” says Benson, who helped save him from the Camelot auction in 2012. “He’s so good with his front … that one of his riders took him to train with Liza Boyd, who rides top-dollar hunters and was international hunter rider of the year. And she loves him!”
Sire: Royal Academy
Dam: Araadh, by Blushing Groom
Foal date: April 17, 2007Brilliantly balanced over the jumps, Atom leapt his way into the high ribbons in large classes at the Totally Thoroughbred Show at Pimlico two weeks ago. With very few showing miles under his girth, and ridden by Judith Schaefer, he finished 3rd out of 30 in his first class, and 5th out of over 50 in the Hunter Classic, Benson says. “And he jumped so big the jumps were almost too small for him,” she says, noting that he also took 3rd in the hack class.
Rider Teresa Tolar, who plans to compete him in the A circuit at the Aiken Fall Classic and at the TAKE 2 Thoroughbred hunters, also rides him, Benson adds.
Though hardly recognizable from the timid-looking horse in the crowd at Camelot a few years ago, his remaking into a show horse has not come without its difficulties.
In fact, Atom went through a “very bratty stage” that had Benson second-guessing whether he was just a little too much horse for her. “One day he bucked so hard with my trainer on him that he almost fell to the ground,” she says. “And he continued to be so bratty that last year summer I decided to give him 60 days of really good training.”
Throwing out the usual playbook, Benson took Atom on trail rides to the mountains and through streams. She rode him western, and put many, many miles on him letting him unwind and grow up.In fact, Atom went through a “very bratty stage” that had Benson second-guessing whether he was just a little too much horse for her. “One day he bucked so hard with my trainer on him that he almost fell to the ground,” she says. “And he continued to be so bratty that last year summer I decided to give him 60 days of really good training.”
By the time she started back in with his hunter/jumper training, he was a new horse. And after his success at Pimlico, is well on his way to becoming a top-notch show horse.
“When I think how pathetic he looked in the Camelot kill pen, and look at him now, there’s no comparison,” she says. “And he was the last horse to go because nobody wanted him.” — Originally published on July 29, 2015.