A 25-year-old OTTB who made a successful run at the Hampton Classic in his heyday, before downshifting to a lesson horse career at a Connecticut show barn, made an appearance at HITS Saugerties this week to carry his favorite advanced students over the jumps he loves to conquer.
Showing no signs of stopping, and looking far younger than his age, Yudash traveled from Daffodil Hill farm in Woodbury, Conn., to HITS Saugerties, N.Y. to compete for the blue ribbons with all the verve he once displayed while taking home top honors in Long Island.
“This is a very special horse,” says Jessica Thomas. “He’s been my lesson horse for several years now, and he’s wonderful in his own special way.”
Show name: Montgomery
Barn name: Monty
Sire: Noble Nashua
Dam: Native Anna, by Native Charger
Foal date: April 7, 1991He doesn’t “do” beginners, and needs to be ridden correctly. And he rewards good riders by giving his all to win a blue ribbon. And woe betide to anyone who has to deal with him if he should actually lose a class. “If he doesn’t win, he gets very upset, even angry,” Thomas says, adding that hard as it might be to believe, this horse knows when he hasn’t won. And he’s a bad loser!
Fortunately for the handsome OTTB, the wins have come in more than the losses.
After a short race career, which ended at Finger Lakes in 1995, Yudash showed under the name Montgomery (Barn name: Monty) for longtime owner Renya Stein, marketing manager for the Hampton Classic.
Just before her 13th birthday the admittedly “very nervous rider” purchased the OTTB she nicknamed Monty after falling off during their very first ride, Stein says.
“He wasn’t completely trained when I rode him for the first time. I actually fell off. But, I wasn’t scared, so that’s how I knew he was perfect for me,” she says. “My trainer found him for me. I only tried one other horse but chose him because he was just a straightforward horse. He was dead quiet. We didn’t even lunge him at horse shows!”
Over the course of 10 years, the pair advanced from children’s hunters to adult amateurs, and won many ribbons and accolades to boot.
Among the highlights, Stein and Monty qualified for the Zone 2 Hunter Finals, regional championship, for two consecutive years in 1999 and 2000. In 1999, he was reserve champion in the Long Island children’s hunter and grand champion at three show circuits in the Long Island area, she says.
The pair competed at the Hampton Classic from 1997 to 2005, proving to be a talented package. The 15.2-hand Thoroughbred was a bit of a ham during his off hours, but easily found his “competition” gear when he entered the ring. “I loved his personality,” Stein says. “He was very playful … and had a great temperament. And in the ring, I could point him at a jump and know he’d take me to the other side. I was a very nervous rider, but I never had to worry about him spooking at fences.”
Never was his bombproof attitude more evident than it was during practice sessions with their trainer. One day, in frustration at Stein’s tendency to override her horse, the trainer took her reins away and started yelling at Monty. He didn’t spook; and kept right on working.
Though she no longer owns Monty, she follows his progress with pride. “He went to a horse show a month ago and won ribbons,” she says.
Now, the older OTTB his days giving lessons and fulfilling childhood dreams of a next generation of equestrians.
“He’s a great horse,” Thomas says. “He is the best horse who could have every come my way.”