Rags to Riches
Not totally a
rag-to-riches tale, this is nonetheless a pretty good story about a little
brown OTTB who made a name for himself on Long Island.
Literally, backtrack to Monmouth Park, June 2002:
Faith Rewarded, a small son of Honour and Glory, stood quietly on crossties for
his groom while his race trainer supervised preparations. His hind legs were
wrapped in her green and white colors and the red saddle blanket had the number
one for the inside post position.
broke well in a field of eight fellow maiden claimers, three-years-olds and up,
in the six furlong sprint on the dirt running for a purse of $9,000. No one was
really interested in claiming the little brown horse, since he had a few
previous unsuccess- ful starts and his odds were not so good. The plain little
colt barely stayed in front of the field and won the race with winning
time so slow it became a track record.
In spite of the win, the trainer said he was not
cut out for racing and needed to go, so Glory moved on to his OTTB adopter,
readily rescued with a prescription for rest from a tough life at the track.
After several months of long lazy days wandering in
grass pasture, the little horse began to show some expression in his weary
eyes. The owner of the rehab and sales barn in New Jersey began to hack him in
the fields, put on some steering and brakes, slowly getting the OTTB ready to
find a career, and hopefully a permanent home.
His race trainer had mentioned she thought he would
make a good hunter, so as advertised, along came Sheri, who was looking for a
sound field hunter prospect. Sheri fell in love with Glorys big brown
eyes and, although he was still very off-the-track green, she was
quite an accomplished horsewoman and felt up to the task. However, after weeks
of patient retraining, trail rides with friends, trailer rides to Old Westbury
and a couple of nail-biting adventures in the hunt field, Sheri realized that
the sweet little horse would not be happy as her field hunter. Sometimes a
horse offers an opinion about his career, a choice made by his human, and Sheri
was smart enough to listen, honor his wishes and find him a more suitable home.
My horse search had included a library of videos
from as far away as California and it was becoming a chore. As an OTTB advocate
and volunteer at a local rescue, I try to look at the track first. Glory
was priced to sell and was local, so I thought I would go just to see him at
the barn in Brookville.
From the moment I saw him
standing so quietly on crossties, I was cast in a spell of far away fantasy,
swept away with a sense that I had been chosen.
cannot explain it fully, except that before I even mounted, I knew this
was my horse of a lifetime. But I was looking for an adult show hunter,
something big and flashy, safe and sensible; he was small, plain brown
with no markings whatsoever and had never been to a show. It was a gamble
we had no idea how the little OTTB would do in yet another career.
Selling Glory was heartbreaking for Sheri and I
promised to give him the best home possible and to stay in touch.
The day he arrived at my barn, Sheri also hauled
her new field hunter, so she wouldnt have an empty trailer going home. We
had agreed to take a trail test-ride together, me on Glory, and Sheri on her
new Bentley. I remember thinking it could be a disaster new
horses, new owners, trail-blazing a new farm, but then it would certainly be a
We had a blast cantering through
the surrounding woods, ducking branches, crunching leaves and spooking deer. I
decided to rename Glory Brookville, after the town where Sheri had
It was the summer of 2005. After two
weeks of owning my new boy and introducing him to his first gymnastics, I
begged my hunter trainer (who used to train racehorses) to take us to the
North Fork 1 for a show to get some schooling over real jumps and
just to see what we got. Much to our surprise, Brookville got
off the trailer, looked around as if to size up the competition, walked in and
won every class in Infant Hunters.
decided to bring him back the next week for North Fork 2 and he won every
class again, handling the crowds like a pro. At the North Fork Classic, he
jumped up to Baby Green and was reserve champion. The little brown
horse loved the show ring and wanted to win. He seems to know when it counts
and always tries his best in front of the judge.
That season we finished fourth on Long Island in
the Baby Green pro division with only six shows . . . we knew
Brookville was something special.
the 2006 season we began dressage training to strengthen and confirm
our lead changes and in order to move up to the three-foot division.
Our showing was limited during the summer to just five shows. Brookville
was champion or reserve champion in four of them.
Flash forward to 2007. Brookville completed his
first full season of showing at the three-foot division with numerous
championships with my trainer, as well as in a few 2' 6'' classes with me
aboard, which included two wins on the Horse Shows in the Sun (HITS)
circuit. The little brown OTTB was awarded reserve grand champion for the
Winners Circle series and was LIHSAA (Long Island High Score Awards
Association) horse of the year in the special hunter division, with well over
1,000 points a record in itself.
is an incredible example of the Thoroughbred mind, heart and soul, a success
story that should inspire anyone involved with the lives of racehorses and
especially with OTTBs, who are particularly grateful and resilient. Not every
OTTB will be an automatic champion, but faith and patience are often rewarded.
Brookville still stands quietly on the crossties
with his groom (me), as my current trainer supervises show preparations. He is
clearly still number one, the horse of my lifetime.
Sandy Jessup, volunteer at NY Horse Rescue,
Faith Rewarded (KY), 1999, g., Honour and
GloryLucky Terms, by Private Terms.
Raced two years, 12-1-0-0,
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