|What do you do with a four-year-old barely broke to ride Thoroughbred that spooks and cribs? That horse was Mystical Harbor, or “Fellow” as we call him. For various reasons, his owner could not start him under saddle until he was four and then decided to send him to TPR. By that time, bred to be a racehorse, Fellow was big, strong, and highly reactive. He also was handsome and friendly, but he was not going to be easy to rehome. At TPR, we evaluate each horse as an individual when they first arrive. Executive Director Kimberly Clark says, “I always see the positive in a horse. I think that’s why I got along with almost every horse I rode as an exercise rider. In Fellow’s case, I saw amazing lofty gaits and a serious love for humans.|
“The road to success for a Thoroughbred that has raced is the careful training with the understanding how a rider can strengthen the horse and his balance. Since I started working with Kim and Fellow, Fellow’s character and movement have really improved.“
~Linda Zang, member of the 1980 Olympic Team, a U.S. Equestrian Federation “S” rated judge, the first U.S.-based judge to reach FEI 5* status, and one of only 25 FEI “O” level dressage judges in the world.
He just couldn’t get enough of us!” Now, four years later, that green baby is a rising dressage star and an ambassador for Thoroughbreds everywhere. He is proof of our belief that Thoroughbred Aftercare does not have to mean rescue.
TPR’s primary goal is to increase demand, particularly among top level riders, for retired racehorses by demonstrating the athleticism and versatility of the Thoroughbred. Clark’s philosophy is that “these horses are bred to perform; there is a retired racer for most any purpose, from trail riding to elite competition.” However, to reach their potential, retired racehorses need time to develop with correct training. Many top riders and professional trainers do not have the time or financial resources to invest in starting from scratch with a retired racehorse when they are regularly offered talented horses with more training. In many cases, Thoroughbreds are resold without receiving the years of training necessary to produce a top athlete.
At one time, Thoroughbreds such as Bally Cor, Jet Run, and Touch of Class enjoyed great success in the Olympic equestrian disciplines, but today many riders favor other breeds. With proper training, Thoroughbreds can be competitive at the top of the show world once again. This success will have a trickle-down effect that will not only increase their value but cause lower level owners to seek trainers with experience with Thoroughbreds. This in turn will make for more success stories and fewer failures. Linda Zang states, “There have been many success stories with Thoroughbreds in the three Olympic Equestrian disciplines, including winning medals. Professionals look for Thoroughbreds to work with – some even come from Europe to try to find the special horse. “
Mystical Harbor is the embodiment of our efforts to develop Thoroughbreds into elite-level competition athletes through correct training and patient handling. In just four years, he has reached the Third Level of dressage and is competing successfully. At his first Third Level competition, he earned the scores necessary for Clark to receive her Bronze Medal. There are eleven levels of competition in dressage; Third Level is where many horses reach their limit, but Mystical Harbor is just starting to realize his potential. In a sport where Thoroughbreds are a rarity at the higher levels, he is an ambassador for his breed.
Our goal is to take Mystical Harbor all the way to Grand Prix, the highest level of dressage. All Thoroughbred Aftercare organizations will benefit when he shows that Thoroughbreds are capable of greatness in endeavors other than racing. We are seeking sponsors for our journey to Grand Prix. He can do it, but not without your help. Please contact us if you are interested in becoming a part of this incredible team.