In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to critique your off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) eventing prospects. Professional riders and trainers will share their insights into each OTTB's pedigree, racing history, and conformation. 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].
As the summer season ramps up and as the fall season seems to be right around the corner, there is one breed you will continue to see out on course or in the dressage arena. OTTBs are sometimes considered to be the hallmark breed of eventing and with their incredible work ethic and strong physical characteristics, it is easy to see why. Whether these horses are just starting out in their careers or jumping around a FEI event, chances are your division is probably loaded with these racehorses turned eventing superstars.
For this month’s OTTB critique we will look at one such OTTB who luckily for his owner, Lisa Chan, was retired and found his way to Southern Pines, North Carolina. Little Lies or Shimba as he was known on the track, is a 7-year-old striking grey gelding who is currently blossoming in his next career. To help further analyze his pedigree and evaluate his confirmation, we have brought in Asia Vedder.
Little Lies in his first career as a racehorse. Photo courtesy of Lisa Chan.
Vedder has years of experience working with both OTTBs and racehorses. She galloped for the late steeplechase trainer Paul Rowland and also worked with Bruce and Amy Jackson at Fair Hill Therapy Center. (FHTC). While at FHTC Vedder had horses in from multiple top trainers on the east coast including Mott, McLaughlin, Pletcher, Terranova, Tagg, Motion, and Shepherd, just to name a few. With her extensive background working with Thoroughbreds both on the track and in their new careers, Vedder was the ideal choice to evaluate Little Lies, his pedigree, and his potential for success in his new career.
For Vedder, Whenever she is evaluating a horse, she always takes her initial impression into consideration, and she feels Little Lies gives a positive one. She explained, “He is a nice type, with a great expression on his face. In his jumping photos he is alert and relaxed, and both he and his rider look to be enjoying themselves.”
Photo courtesy of Lisa Chan.
When moving on and looking at his confirmation further, Vedder added that, “He is well proportioned, with his body matching the amount of bone he has, and he is split into relatively equal thirds, with his neck, body, and hind end all being about equal lengths.” This is a big plus for Vedder and after seeing how level he is between his withers and hindquarters, she feels he will be able to achieve an uphill balance easier due to these promising characteristics.
Moving on to his hind end, Vedder feels he is blessed with a quite good one as it “has a nice slope to his hip, good angles, and a relatively low-set hock, which will allow him to come under himself well.” While Vedder is a huge fan of his hind end, she does feel he puts a bit of weight over the shoulder and, while it isn’t the end of the world, it just means that he will have to really learn to sit down and use his powerful hind end to support himself, something Chan has already begun to develop. Vedder feels, “he still does give an uphill impression,” and overall she is pleased with the horse.
Photo courtesy of Lisa Chan.
When she turned to his jumping photos, Vedder loved that Little Lies seems to exhibit a great attitude in addition to showing great form. He has nice even knees and while “he doesn’t tuck his feet up tight against his chest, he also does not jump over his shoulder, and there have been many successful jumpers with the same style,” Vedder explained.
Finally, Vedder looked at his pedigree as she feels it is the last thing to look at when evaluating an OTTB. There are a few names she has a tendency to steer away from, after her personal experiences galloping race horses for several years, however Little Lies has none of those lines. He does have a nice one with some familiar names: Danzig, Northern Dancer, Mr. Prospector, and Spectacular Bid on top, and Nijinsky and Bold Ruler on the bottom, all very strong lines.
Overall, Vedder feels this a very nice type of horse, and while she may be unable to tell if he will go all the way to the top of the sport, he has all the right components to be successful and make someone a great partner. She wishes all the best to both Little Lies and Chan the best of luck this season and beyond!
All the major contenders passed the eventing final horse inspection at the Tokyo Olympics and will carry on to contest the show jumping phase in a few hours’ time.
The ground jury (Nick Burton, GBR, Christina Klingspor, SWE, and the U.S.A.’s Jane Hamlin) and vets only failed to accept one horse - Fantastic Frieda, ridden by Poland’s Joanna Pawlak, who had completed the cross-country in 41st place with a refusal and 25.2 time-faults.
The FEI has announced that the Swiss horse Jet Set, ridden by Robin Godel has had to be euthanized after pulling up extremely lame on the Sea Forest Cross Country Course during Equestrian Eventing at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on August 1, 2021.
In 2002, at the age of 15, I was at my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Maine while Tremaine Cooper was there building some cross-country jumps. I helped him build a trakehner, not realizing that this day would set the course for my future. A few weeks later he called asking if I could help him at Millbrook Horse Trials. From there I helped Tremaine during most of my school vacations and throughout the summers. After graduating high school I kept at it never looking back. I lived the gypsy lifestyle for about six years going from coast to coast and event to event. In 2013 my wife Kathryn and I settled down in Lexington, Kentucky. These days I spend roughly 60-75 percent of my time on the road preparing events or building private schooling areas. I’ve had the privilege of being involved with some really great events around the states and have cultivated many friendships all over the country. In 2019 I was asked to be a part of Team Evans Olympic cross-country building crew. As I write this I am on my third trip to Tokyo. Here’s a day in Tokyo . . .
The British team cemented their gold medal position at the Tokyo Olympics with three magnificent cross-country performances, all clear inside the time. Added to that, their first rider, Oliver Townend, holds pole position individually after the dressage leader, Germany’s Michael Jung, picked up 11 penalties for triggering a frangible device.