In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to critique your off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) eventing prospects. Would you like to have your off-the-track Thoroughbred featured in the next edition of OTTB Critique presented by Athletux? We are looking for our next horse! Email your tips to [email protected].
When Lisa Chan started looking for another horse after she tragically lost her beloved off-the-track Thoroughbred, she immediately knew she wanted to look for another OTTB as her next horse. Her journey began at the track where she set a few guidelines for herself when it came to picking something out. “I wanted something smaller because I’m petite, and my barn owner said no mares,” Chan recalled.
Chan also vividly remembers the first time she saw her future partner’s ad. “I ran across her ad - I didn’t know what gender, size, or the price - I just knew I had to have this horse. The trainer got me all the information: 5 years old, 16 hands, great breeding, great jog and walk [on video], mare,” she said. Of course, all Chan had to do was convince the barn owner to let her bring home a mare. “I begged the barn owner to let me bring her," Chan explained. "She’s from Canada and was in West Virginia at Mountaineer. She raced 12 times and was more of a sprinter, and she burned out at the end.”
After some convincing, Chan brought Fleek home. Yes, Fleek is her registered Jockey Club name. According to Chan, “She’s been sweet as a button since day one, I was planning on giving her lots of downtime but she really wants to have a job. She’s super intelligent, brave, a little cocky, and wants to please, so she’s progressed fast and been agreeable for me because I understand her.”
It was love at first sight and four weeks into her restart, Fleek was flexing her muscles at the Green as Grass level. Now, seven months later, she has done three Beginner Novice events and is showing amazing scope and potential in her next career. Chan just beams when she talks about how much she means to her. “She’s absolutely amazing and the best to ride - so game. I could go on forever, she’s the best!” Certain horses come into your lives at a certain time for a reason and Chan feels so lucky Fleek came into hers when she did.
As Fleek progresses through the levels, we brought in Shannon Lilley to critique this talented youngster, who is already showing immense potential. Lilley is partial to OTTBs and was more than happy to sit down and help evaluate this OTTB’s further potential for even more success.
Lilley began by evaluating Fleek’s conformation photos. Lilley starts with the feet and explains, “Fleek has two different front feet - the right front is clubbed or more upright and the left front is a flatter shaped foot. It is rare for horses to have symmetrical front feet but the degree of difference varies.” Lilley added, “this horse has a fairly significant degree of difference, which only means that it is important to have a farrier to understand how to shoe accordingly.”
Moving on the rest of her body, “The horse also a bit of a straight shoulder with a neck that is on the shorter side and set low on the shoulder. Sometimes this type of conformation can make it harder to ride the horse into a frame and get on the bit,” Lilley said. She also pointed out, “Horses with a straighter shoulder angle can make the horse have a limited movement in front causing the horse not to be a very free mover, especially at the trot.”
However, that being said, “This horse has good jumping form in front and clearly gets its knees up for the height it is jumping. The range of motion in the shoulder is fairly good as well,” Lilley detailed.
As she evaluated other parts of Fleek’s body Lilley said, “She looks short coupled in the photo with a slightly shorter back and a strong looking hind end with a good hip angle, which is positive. This will allow the horse to bring the hind leg underneath and push off the ground over fences. The only limiting factor I see is that she is fairly straight through her hind leg.”
While Lilley noticed the overall balance of the horse is slightly downhill, meaning her hind end is higher than her front end, she noted, “For event horses, especially upper-level ones, balance is key to create a rhythmic, active canter out of which to jump. The better quality of the canter, the better the quality of the jump.”
Finally, Lilley noted, “This horse does have a wonderful eye that looks very settled yet confident. From what I see in the pictures, the OTTB could make a great lower level event horse as long as it is brave enough. Its jumping technique is quality enough up to Training and Modified levels, potentially Preliminary depending on scope.”
Fleek got a glowing review and Lilley wishes Chan and Fleek nothing but the best!
Tamie Smith’s year has been nothing short of action-packed as she packed up all 25 of her competition horses and made her way to the East Coast for the first part of the year before hopping on a jet to Tokyo where she served as the U.S. team reserve for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. She then stayed overseas and competed abroad for a little while before returning home to the West Coast. While this year has been full of opportunities to show, her aspirations are bigger than just competition. The 2021 Bates USEA Lady Rider of the Year has been full steam ahead chasing goals in both her riding career as well as in her impact on the sport’s future.
Get to know each United States Eventing Association (USEA) Areas a little better in this new series, Meet the Areas! This month’s feature is USEA Area I which is comprised of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont. Founded in the 1960s, Area I was the birthplace of the United States Combined Training Association (USCTA) which was founded in 1959 and would later evolve into the USEA in 2001. In 2021 just under 800 members made up the membership count in Area I.
Trainers, riders, parents, and more are in for a real treat when the all-new USEA Eventing Handbook by the Levels is officially released. Those participating in the 2022 USEA Instructors’ Certification Program (ICP) Symposium at Barnstaple South Farm in Ocala, Florida on February 8-9 will be the first to set eyes on this all-encompassing guide that has been two years in the making.
The USEA established the Young Event Horse (YEH) program in 2004 to identify young horses that possess the talent and disposition to, with proper training, excel at the uppermost levels of the sport. While the goal of the YEH program is to identify horses that will be successful at the four- and five-star levels, horses with the potential for lower-level success are also showcased by the program.