After years spent trying to fill the void left by the death of her dream horse, Jaguar Hope, Kentucky photojournalist and equestrian Wendy Wooley floated on air as she watched her newest Thoroughbred rise to the top of the Thoroughbred Makeover Show.
Four-year-old chestnut gelding Dancing Commander gave Wooley a thrill of a lifetime this past weekend as she watched him glide across the dressage ring at the Retired Racehorse Project’s massive show at the Kentucky Horse Park. A witness to the naturally stretchy trots and canter sets the young animal performed with skilled equestrian Emily Brollier-Curtis, Wooley’s face broke into a proud smile.
Barn name: Winston
Sire: Mr. Trieste
Dam: Dancing Darling, by Mutakddim
Foal date: April 4, 2012Dancing Commander earned a 3rd place ribbon against stiff competition and roughly 60 retrained OTTBs. But even more significantly, he proved to be the dream horse she’s been searching for since her flashy dark gelding Jaguar Hope died in 2009. (Please see earlier story).
“This guy kind of reminds me of Jag in that he loves to work. He can have chaos all around him, and he’ll just put his nose down and go to work,” says Wooley, of EquiSport Photos. “He’s a fancy mover who naturally carries himself like a dressage horse. We’re not forcing him to do anything. He just walks into the ring, puffs himself up and says, ‘Watch me everyone!’ He has the high knee-action at the trot and the movements like he was born to do dressage.”
Wooley purchased Dancing Commander earlier this year from her coach Brollier-Curtis after bonding with the animal. The petite ex-racehorse was placed with Brollier-Curtis for retraining in January, and soon after, Wooley befriended the animal. “He was just so sweet and followed us around like a puppy,” she says. “He’s honest as the day is long, and he hasn’t put a foot wrong since Emily started training him.”
Wooley and her husband Matt Wooley decided to purchase the horse after Wooley discovered in the young horse an animal who could build up her confidence as a rider. Though she has two other OTTBs that she loves and rides, both require a more defensive style in the saddle. But Dancing Commander, so much like Jaguar Hope years ago, is an easy and fun ride.
Thrilled with his performance in Training Level dressage, Wooley’s plan now is to have a riding partner for life, a horse “to grow old with” while learning the beautiful dance of Dressage.