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.
It was a busy day at Stable View Oktoberfest in Aiken, South Carolina as all FEI divisions and a few national divisions kicked off their competition weekend, including the 2023 USEF/USEA Developing Horse Eventing National Championships. Both the 6-year-olds and 7-year-olds got their chance to shine down the centerline at the start of the day, with the 7-year-olds also giving their best effort across Michael Vallaincourt’s show jumping track later this afternoon.
The USEA Eventing Coaches Program (ECP) has initiated a renewed focus on the diverse challenges coaches in various regions of the country may be facing. To this end, the program is in the process of enlisting representatives in each of the 10 USEA areas to help guide the program as warranted for the unique needs of each specific area.
The United States Eventing Association (USEA) has opened nominations for the annual appreciation awards through Oct. 29. This is an opportunity for the sport to recognize those horses and riders who excelled in eventing throughout the year. It is also an opportunity to recognize and honor the very important people who have served the sport tirelessly both in a non-riding capacity and riding capacity during their golden years.
Anticipation for the 2024 USEA Intercollegiate Eventing Championship and inaugural USEA Interscholastic Eventing League (IEL) Championship is growing, and the host venue, Stable View, is up for the task of making both events an unforgettable experience for all involved. For the first time, the Intercollegiate and IEL program championships will be hosted on the same weekend at the Stable View H.T. in Aiken, South Carolina, on May 4-5, 2024, creating greater unity between the programs and demonstrating a clear pipeline of participation in the sport from grade school through college and beyond.