In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to critique your off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) eventing prospects.
Morgan Boyer has a knack for picking out off-the-track Thoroughbreds that excel in their new careers. She has another star in her barn in the form of Tate, better known by his Jockey Club name Bestavailable. Tate is a 9-year-old 15.2 hand gelding and also happens to be a graduate of this year’s RRP Thoroughbred Makeover. Boyer has dubbed Tate her “warhorse” as he retired sound after 68 starts with over $120k in earnings. His last start was September 30, 2018, and now not even a year and a half later, he has taken the eventing world by storm.
Not only was he talented on the track, but he also showed immediate promise in his new career. In his first official USEA start, he finished in the top five of the Junior Open Beginner Novice division with Hallie Bell at the Maryland Horse Trials this summer and he followed it up with a top 10 Novice finish with Boyer in the irons at the Blue Ridge Mountain Horse Trials in September. The event also happened to fall close to the one year anniversary of his last start and what a year it had been.
Boyer described Tate quite eloquently. “This brave and athletic guy is ready to move up the levels in eventing or the jumper ring. He is a forward-thinking horse and so well-mannered too,” she said. “Tate completed the makeover with a junior rider at the Novice level and has shown he will be ready for Training by the spring. This is a special guy,” she added. We are excited to feature Tate in this month’s OTTB Critique column as our December nomination.
This month, Kaylawna Smith is with us to review the talented Tate. Smith has ridden many OTTBs at all levels of the sport and also loves bringing young horses up through the levels as well. Based out of KingsWay Farm in Temecula, California, Smith operates her business, Kaylawna Smith Equestrian, alongside the Next Level Eventing Academy where she teaches riders of all ages and skill levels. Smith prides herself on being able to spot a diamond in the rough and sat down with us to look at Tate.
First, Smith comments on Tate’s positive form and expression. “He is very cute and has extremely nice form over the jumps, which is key,” she said. When looking at his overall body and topline Smith did add, “There are exercises that could help his topline develop further, like the Pessoa system.” Overall, Smith was very excited to see this young horse already quite far along in his development and was also excited to see him partnered with a junior as she feels that OTTBs often make the best horses for juniors and young riders to ride and develop.
In addition to exercises to develop his topline, Smith also added he could improve his hind end engagement further with dressage exercises and transitions to assist in developing an uphill frame. All in all, Smith really enjoyed how thoroughly it looks as though he has been produced and how he looks equally far along in both his cross-country and show jumping technique. Both are essential in OTTBs flourishing in their new careers.
When she moved on to his conformation, Smith liked how proportionate Tate was in his body. She noted, “He has a very nice shoulder and looks to have great angles with his feet. Bad feet can be the downfall of even the most talented of horses so good feet is a must!” She added, “While conformation is not the final determining factor if a horse will be successful in its new career, good conformation can only help a horse as evident by his soundness after so many starts!” She pointed out he looked to be no worse for the wear from his time on the track.
Altogether, Smith is very excited to see such talented horses coming off the track and thinks that Tate has all the makings to have a successful sport horse career in whatever discipline he finds himself in. She is thoroughly impressed with his start so far and she looks forward to following his progress from the West Coast. With a solid jumping technique already established and good conformation with no ill effects from the track, “He has all the goods to shine,” Smith said. She wants to wish Tate and his riders all the best as they continue to produce this exciting prospect.
Bellamy, an Oldenburg/Thoroughbred gelding of unknown breeding, came to Tamra Smith’s farm in Southern California with his mane half-way down his neck and filled with burrs. Bellamy had been sitting in a field for a little over a year after unseating several riders in a row and Smith, known for being good with tricky horses, agreed to take him on.
Pan Am Games team gold medalist Tamra Smith and Mai Baum and five-star pairs Andrea Baxter and Indy 500 and Frankie Thieriot Stutes and Chatwin headline a strong Advanced field when Twin Rivers begins an exciting season of eventing competition this weekend.
The USEA Future Event Horse (FEH) and Young Event Horse (YEH) programs have around 30 qualifying competitions each, and youngsters around the country are about to begin their seasons aimed at Championships.