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Jillian and Junior

I have always loved tbs since I was a little and our family would go to Churchill Downs for the Thanksgiving Day races every year. I started riding dressage, and hunters in College and competed on our Equestrian team and the first horse I ever learned to jump on was an old thoroughbred off the track named George. We would all go and watch the Rolex three day event every year and I remember the first TB I watched at the water hazards I was astonished by it's beauty and speed! I exercise rode babies and two year olds for a branch of a Lexington, Kentucky Derby winning thoroughbred farm here in Ohio towards the end of graduation from college and learned a ton about the breed. I also got my fill of riding babies and injuries and found another job exercising racing thoroughbreds in New Zealand. So, my new husband and I moved overseas and I worked on a farm over there. What a difference in racing! It was amazing to ride the older race horses who were still racing in another country! I got injured and finally swore off thoroughbreds altogether and my husband and I moved back to the U.S. But, I still loved horses and groomed for awhile at an Estate that had one thoroughbred that was super nice, but I was still wary of the breed and vowed I'd never own one. Then last year I kind of fell into my first horse. A friend had taken me to her stable to see her new horses and the owner of the farm had a horse turned out in the pasture that was a dark bay, 16h, thoroughbred gelding. She wanted me to ride him and said that he was about ten years old. He was born on the farm and his old owners had taken him to race until he was three. He only made a few starts and was dead last on his last start. His old owner was going to sell him to the killer's but the lady that owned our farm bought him and just kept him as a pet. She didn't have time to train or ride him, but thought he'd be better off in a pasture then not allowed to live. I remember the first time I ever rode him, I was really nervous because of his track experience, and my own. He was awesome. His trot just floated and was super springy. His movement was all up and down, not a race horse. I got hooked. I started coming out and riding him and playing with him. I found myself buying a bridle and bit for him and I debated about leasing him, but after a discussion with my husband, I decided I had to have him. I didn't have the money to buy him outright but I made payments on him and cleaned his stall and finally paid him off in June. He was raced under the name Smoggy In LA, but we all call him Junior. It has been a long road retraining his race habits and teaching him other ways to canter and not to gallop but we are beginning to show at small hunter and open shows and he will always have a home. I have never "clicked" with a horse like him and we have both regained our confidence with each other. We were both off the track and now have new and exciting lives together. He made me able to appreciate thoroughbreds and remember the love I have for the breed.

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