Category Archives: Where Are They Now?

Catching up with the horses we’ve sold or helped through our trainer listings.

Just a Quick One Today

Awww.  What do we have here?

To be fair, I find this picture totally appealing.  But as I’ve mentioned in the past, I am a big fan of sorta derpy looking geldings with big heads.  Not that this guy has a huge head by any means, but it’s not a delicate, typey thing, is it? 

Include The Native was owned by the same folks as a couple other horses I’ve shown here recently, and was part of the same group as Brassy Self (the chestnut I posted a few days ago).  Like Brassy Self, he found his way to Katie at Top Notch Eventing, who said “he looked like a long-backed QH” in that picture!

Katie sent this picture of him before she sold him on, and sure looks like he’s a nice athlete!


Anywho, it turns out I have quite a list to tackle now.  Poking around I found a bunch of horses, and also randomly ran into one on COTH the other day.  I also ran into the girls who own Robb That Glitters, formerly known as Lily, now known as Zoey, who had been in our retraining program.  So many horses to update about, so little time!


OMG The Pressure!

Looks like someone posted a link back to this blog on our facebook page. So I went, rather suddenly, from getting about a dozen hits a day to hundreds and hundreds. I had visitors from Argentina yesterday.  Usually my most International audience is Canada. Not that Canada isn’t AWESOME (it totally is. I LOVE CANADIANS!!!) but getting hits from across the ocean, and from another continent is pretty ego-boosting.  It’s gratifying, but now I feel some pressure. Like, I am DUTY BOUND to find you more pretty thoroughbreds who are awesome even though they might have been overlooked due to the realities of track photography. The problem is, we don’t really get a lot of updates about horses that have sold off our track listings. Finding them is often just sheer dumb luck, being on the right horse forum at the right time when someone asks for a pedigree review, or just happening to be at a local event and recognizing a name.

So while I troll the internetz to find more horses to bring you, I thought I’d go back to one I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before here (pretty sure – but now I can’t find the blog entry, which is alarming given my general competency at finding-things-online). 

Here is the photo we took of a chestnut mare named Isabella G:

Here’s the thing.  It is clear to me, and probably to a lot of people, that the above mare is actually very, very nice.  Strong, smooth back and loin, long pelvis, beautiful build and harmony in her proportions.  But if you only glance at this photo (especially the small thumbnail sized one that you see on our main listings page), the quality might easily escape your notice.  She is standing on the dreaded drainage slope, so she looks downhill.  We’re on the wrong side of the sun, making her backlit and making it hard to see details.  She’s in the process of shifting her weight, and her right front is not fully weighted, making something look just a little funny about her knee and ankle.  Her back legs are a little too beneath her, like she is about to back up.  So it’s easy, when skimming, to miss details like that beautiful shoulder, so well suited for jumping. 

Looking at track pictures is definitely a developed skill 🙂  You have to sort of tilt the earth, look at the parts individually, then put them back together in your head.  But mostly, you just have to give it more than the nanosecond it takes to process whether the thumbnail looks nice or not.

Catherine, Isabella G’s new owner, posted some newer pictures on the bloodline brag since I last looked, and her quality is just a little more apparent here.


She’s definitely more mature, with different muscles than a racehorse, and a more substantial overall look, but the parts are the same 🙂 

And clearly, the girl can perform!


Can’t jump at all, can she?

Just... OMG. *want*

Just… OMG. *want*

Photos by Shawn McMillen Photography 

Keep On Dancing

I find I’m having a lot of fun looking up horses from old listings.  It’s nice to be reminded that even the ones you worry about end up landing in awesome places.  This next horse, Keep On Dancing, was another on my worry list, if only for the urgency with which he was sent to us to be posted.  His price was extremely low ($500), and his picture wasn’t great.  Those two things serve to scare people off (paradoxically, when it comes to buying OTTBs, many of the same people who think that $3000 is just too high a price usually assume that one priced under $1000 has something wrong with it.  It makes pricing these guys hard, especially when trainers need to move the horses quickly).   We took this listing for an assistant trainer who was a little worried about where her charge would end up, and this is the picture our volunteer got:

What a face!

By far, not the worst photo we’ve ever gotten, but he’s standing on a slope, making him look downhill, and well… a lot of people would probably skim past this one pretty fast, especially given his height (around 15.1 at the time) and the low price “suggesting something was wrong.”

Enter fate (if you can call long-standing business relationships fate).

An extremely well known and well regarded Area II event trainer and expert-in-picking Thoroughbreds named Phyllis Dawson (Team Windchase) found this guy on one of her visits to the track (on her site, she explains that she has purchased over 300 horses from his trainer, all told).  When we were told he was sold, the assistant trainer who notified us didn’t know this was where he was going, and was still worried since he just sort of disappeared one afternoon.  But a TB going to Windchase has just got the golden ticket – that horse is going to get the great care, great retraining, and will probably find an amazing new home and new competitive career as an eventer. 

Not long after, I randomly stumbled onto his ad on the Windchase website, where he was looking… well… fabulous:

hubba hubba hubba

Keep On Dancing didn’t just turn out to be pretty, though.  He actually turned out to be pretty good at his new job.  Sold to Penny Lynch, he was soon eventing and they were doing well enough to be USEA’s Area 2 reserve champions in Beginner Novice. 

“He’s got the best brain in the world, and he’s calm and quiet, and very easy to get along with.  He LOVES to jump, and he’s probably the most honest horse I’ve ever had.  He may be green, and he may get distracted at times, but show him a jump, and he’ll get to the other side from whatever distance, whatever angle, whatever!”  (from the USEA Area 2 website)

Because I was curious to see if she had anything more to say, I contacted Penny, who definitely loves gushing about her lovely “Danny”:

“He’s just about as perfect as he can be for me at this time in my life.  I feel extremely lucky to have found him.  He’s got THE best temperament a horse could possibly have, and that never ceases to surprise me since he’s a Thoroughbred.  I describe him as my Quarter Horse in a Thoroughbred body.  He’s as quiet and as bombproof as they come.  Sweet, affectionate — sometimes a bit of a comedian!  He has an excellent work ethic, and absolutely LOVES to jump.  But he’s also the type of horse that you can ride every day, or ride twice a month, and he’s always the same horse….  Very steady, very easy-going, very willing and happy to please.
Anyway, as you can probably tell, I could go on and on and on about my Danny.”

Of course Penny didn’t see the sale photo that had been on CANTER’s page since she bought him from a third party.  But she did say she probably wouldn’t have gone to look based on that photo. Moral of the story?  GO LOOK! 

To complete this entry, I did also want to get the point of view of Phyllis, who is the one who actually picked this fine gentleman up off the track.  I don’t think she saw the photo either, as I mentioned, she has a long standing relationship with his race trainer and frequently gets horses out of that barn to retrain.  But I was curious about why someone with her experience would pick that particular horse to bring home.

Phyllis said a lot of things – looking at basic conformation (good basic proportions and uphill balance), that it’s often like a lottery “because it’s hard to know what you’re really getting,” and pointed out that being a retrainer/seller of horses makes it a bit easier to buy at the track than it would be for an individual looking for a “perfect” horse. If a horse doesn’t turn out to be suitable as, say, a high level prospect, she can work on it and sell him as an amateur or lower level prospect.  People looking for one personal horse may not have this flexibility.  But one thing she said about Keep on Dancing in particular was that he seemed like a “good soul.” 

This is sort of an intangible thing, but one thing I think it’s really important to remember. A lot of people get caught up in looks, details about conformation, etc,  but the thing that MOST of us need before any of that is a good brain. 

To pontificate for a sec – most of us are not Boyd Martin.  We do not need a horse capable of Rolex.  “Fancy” is nice, but tolerant, kind, and willing are going to get us a whole lot farther in the long run.  OK, done with pretending to know what I’m talking about for the time being 🙂

A Golden Ray of Sunshine

 Next up in the parade of misfits to beauties is a lovely chestnut named “Brassy Self”  This horse was listed on our trainer listings a while back along with a bunch of other horses.  We of course had limited time and had to take most of the photos out in the field.  To add insult to injury, our volunteer listed fourteen horses just from that farm that day.  And as sometimes happens on the farms, the person showing her around mis-identified a few of the horses (this doesn’t happen very often at the track, but sometimes does on the farms, where the horses are not in numbered stalls and there are a lot of them!).  So some of the pictures got mislabelled and it took a little bit to get that sorted out.  In any case, here’s the only photo we were able to get of the really nice “Brassy Self”:

Cute, but not a lot to go on in this picture!

Cute, but not a lot to go on in this picture!

For some reason, on the farm, getting horses stood up for us seems to be difficult. Some trainers and owners are happy too, and will even brush them off and give us cookies and milk (true story – my first farm visit ever involved cookies and milk. And I got to play with cute TB foals – win!) but a lot of the time they have to get back to the track or are in the middle of other work, so we have even less time to get photos than we would at the track.  The result? A lot of pictures like this.  We know the horses are lovely, but it’s hard to explain to the rest of the world.

So anyway, what has this handsome guy been up to? Learning to event, of course!  He found his way to Katie Willis at Top Notch Eventing in Virginia, where he’s now on their sale page, showing off a lovely jump and nice forward going attitude.  Here he is schooling in Aiken:

This jumping thing is easy peasy!

There are some other fantastic photos and video on Top Notch’s sale page – go take a look! This guy sure looks great!

Spring is Springing

Finally!  Despite a weird snowstorm on Monday, I think it might be spring.  And with kiddo getting older and more self sufficient, hopefully that means more horse time for me.  Miss Lumpyhead is doing great – I recently took her on a trail ride that went way longer than I anticipated and exposed her to all kinds of things – puddles, car traffic, lawnmowers, big huge loud dogs on ziplines (that scared me more than it scared her), and various other weird little obstacles and things that required her to think.  She was a champ, though I think I overdid it a little and kept her out a little past her tolerance point. On the way back we ended up leaving the group behind because she was getting worried about being held back and was happier at a forward walk.  Lovely mare. I tried to take helmetcam video, but had the camera on the wrong setting so instead just got a load of pictures of the tips of her ears. oops.

In other news, I wanted to get back on track here and showcase some before/afters, and horses whose sale pictures were horrible yet actually are really really nice.  One of the things we run into a lot on our trainer listings are photos that just DO NOT do the horses justice.  This happens for a lot of reasons – the ground at the track is not level ANYWHERE – it is all sloped for drainage. If you are not super attentive, you may not even realize the horse is standing in a hole. 

Fantastically wonderful horse with great conformation, standing on the slant. He’s really NOT downhill! Really!

The horse handlers aren’t great at standing them up, in a lot of cases, even if you explain how you want the horse to look. They will often encourage the horse to hold its head up really high or turn and look at you.

Make sure that head’s up now! No, seriously, this horse has a pretty decent neck, I promise!

Then we have the more nuanced things like proportion, lighting, perspective, which our volunteers rarely have time to think about because we only get a few minutes each time and the horses often think they’re going out to work or do something interesting, and “standing pretty” isn’t on their list of interesting things to do.  So we take what we can get, and do our best, but the result is that a lot of our pictures come out… well, not terribly flattering to the lovely horses we see in front of us.  The sad part is the end result of this is less interest in certain horses.  People often decide whether a horse is even worth a look based on a split-second reaction to a photo – even when a good eye can see the nice conformation and build of a horse in an awkward position, that immediate gut reaction is often what makes or breaks a person’s response to that horse. 

Needless to say, we’re trying to improve. 🙂

But I thought it would be fun to find horses who had horrifically bad track listing pictures and see what they’re up to now, and how they look.

First up is a lovely horse who I admit I was a bit worried about way back when.  I got the photos and description and just thought “oh no.”  He was a bit special looking, and the photos weren’t doing him many favors.  I thought for sure he’d sit on the listings forever.

You totally want this, right?

He’s got a range of things not going for him in that picture. He has a droopy lip.  His neck is skinny.  He’s standing in a very tight, weird, sort of hunched way, and the perspective of the photo isn’t right.  While folks like me (who like big ears and plain heads) find a lot about this horse to be endearing, let’s face it, it’s not the most flattering pic in terms of finding an immediate buyer.

But something crazy happened with this horse. He actually was sold pretty fast.  I’m not sure who he sold to initially, but I found him later while wandering through the bloodline brag on the RRTP website (a way I’ve found a bunch of horses that we posted on our trainer listings now that they’re in new careers).  If you’ve bought a horse off the track, I highly recommend posting it there so we can stumble onto you later (or just email us.  But post it there too). 

After being bought off the track, his buyer, from what I understand, hopped on him once, stuck him in a field, and put him up for sale. And then he was purchased by the lovely Heidi Wardle, who is a great area event rider.  She’s since sold him, but I thought I would link to his old sale page anyway so people can see how nice he cleaned up.  He doesn’t look fundamentally different if you look closely, just much better muscles and presented beautifully.  But I’m thinking a lot more people would be interested in this horse:

(sorry to make you click the link, but I didn’t want to steal pictures. :))

For more on how Heidi found Joey, what he looked like when she got him, etc, check out her blog entry introducing him:

(I also really recommend reading along on her blog anyway. It’s a good ‘un.)