All they need is a chance, a renewed spirit for life, a different job and the time to adjust to their new surroundings. And thanks to The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program, off-the-track Thoroughbreds are finding a home outside of the racetrack.
Thoroughbreds have enjoyed a great deal of success in the sport of eventing, and one Aiken-based venue is doing its part to promote the breed, serving as the perfect place to reintroduce off the track Thoroughbreds into the world of competitive sport. Full Gallop Farm takes advantage of The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program by giving out money and prizes to recognize those horses.
This isn’t something new for Full Gallop Farm’s Lara Anderson. The owner/organizer has always had a great belief in the breed, and had recognized Thoroughbreds at her horse trials prior to establishing the program.
“You’d be surprised at what some of these Thoroughbreds can actually give you,” said Anderson. “I’m the only one in this area that does the TIP program. In 2013, in every division, every off-the-track Thoroughbred will win money and prizes at our horse trials. There will be an overall award. People come to our horse shows specifically for that.”
The off-the-track Thoroughbreds have the benefit of having gone to the races, and therefore have been exposed to a number of things, said Sarah Davis, trainer at Full Gallop Farm.
“Most of the Thoroughbred trainers have the horses broken to load on and off the trailers, to stand in cross ties, to get clipped, have them used to hearing all kinds of noises and being in a rushed atmosphere,” said Davis. “And, when we get them, they end up being great, but there is a certain way you have to handle them.”
“This is something that I do because I love it and enjoy it,” said Anderson. “I want to support people like Sarah and the working students at the farm. We can take a chance on a horse because that’s not my main business. So, we can sit out here and play with them, and see what they can do. I’ve done really well with the ones we’ve seen the potential in, that other people would never see.”
Full Gallop’s Ourland, or Hoppy as he’s known around the barn, is one of those success stories.
The horse that had raced at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, was retired sound and brought to Aiken. It was only when he was finally turned out that he was kicked in the shoulder by another horse. Euthanasia was an option, but through the collective efforts of Anderson, Southern Equine Service’s Dr. Caleb Harms and the Full Gallop Farm staff, Hoppy was given enough time to heal and overcame tremendous odds, not only to live, but to return to being a competitive sport horse.
“There’s never been a horse competing who’s had a broken shoulder and we have one,” said Anderson. “We have one with a blown out knee that nobody would look at in a million years. He’s sound, and he’s been going for over a year.”
Once horses come to the farm, they receive a lot of natural horsemanship basics as part of their training, said Anderson.
The response has been positive, and Full Gallop Farm is hoping to host a Thoroughbred-only show later this year.
“The Thoroughbred Incentive Program people at The Jockey Club were pleased with our entries,” said Anderson. “They told us that the information we submitted to them was fantastic. They got a lot of the tattoo research that they needed. We’re really trying to push that. I’d do it anyway even if there wasn’t a Thoroughbred Incentive Program. I’ve been giving out a top Thoroughbred award since the day I first started my shows. I’m hoping more people will do it. The Thoroughbreds are the greatest horses on the planet.”