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].
In honor of this past weekend’s USEA Young Event Horse (YEH) Championships, we are excited to feature an off-the-track Thoroughbred who has successfully made his way through the YEH Program in this month’s OTTB Critique column. The Young Event Horse Championship is one of the most competitive classes of the year for 4- and 5-year-olds and if you have a horse that not only qualifies but also competes and holds its own, you know you have a horse for the future.
This month’s nominee successfully competed in the USEA Young Event Horse East Coast Championship 4-year-old division in 2017 and placed an impressive seventh in one of the largest championship classes to date. He also earned the title of top placing OTTB, an honor that set him up perfectly for the future. This OTTB is Point Nemo (SongAndAPrayer x Wood Not), a 6-year-old owned by Rumsey Keefe and campaigned currently by her daughter and four-star event rider, Ryan Keefe.
For the Keefes, Thoroughbreds are a way of life. Rumsey’s husband and Ryan’s father, Timothy Keefe, is one of the most well-known Thoroughbred trainers in Maryland and sourced August’s featured OTTB, Brush Dance, as well. Timothy had Point Nemo in his barn ever since he was bought as a yearling. However, after last or nearly last place finishes in all four of his races, Timothy thought he may be better suited to a sport horse life and suggested to Rumsey that she take over the ride. Point Nemo was in the family’s barn within a week with Ryan climbing aboard less than two weeks after his last race.
Rumsey continued to develop the talented youngster and Alyssa Peterson took the reins and competed him at the 2017 YEH Championships. It was evident from the start that he had talent and scope to spare so after Rumsey produced him through the Training level in 2018, Ryan took over the ride at the beginning of this year and he joined her at the University of Kentucky. Point Nemo continued to flourish and after winning the TIP award at this year’s AEC in the Training Horse division, he completed and won his first Preliminary. It has all been quite impressive for a horse was nearly dead last in all of his races.
The Keefe family is very fond of Point Nemo and this month, we are excited to have three guest riders with us to critique him, Caroline Martin, Kelley Hutchinson, and Casey McKissock. While Caroline and Casey joined us for last month’s critique, we are excited to also have Kelley with us this month as she is here stateside to compete in the YEH Championships.
Hutchinson grew up in a horse-based family and has competed top level in both pony and junior eventing for the Irish team, all while growing her business. In addition to being a member of two Irish young rider event teams, she finished college and has won at shows like Royal Dublin Horse Show CSIO5* and Millstreet International Horse Trials, all while focusing on young horse development. Martin, Hutchinson, and McKissock are the perfect trio to help us critique Point Nemo this month.
Right from the start after looking at the photos and the video, all three quickly pointed out, “We just had to double-check this wasn’t an imported Warmblood!” It was clear Point Nemo showed all the characteristics to excel in his new career and all three agree he goes well beyond his years, jumping like a seasoned veteran. “With an athletic build and keen expression, this looks like a horse I wouldn’t mind having in my barn,” added Martin.
For Hutchinson, one of her favorite characteristics of Point Nemo is that “He has a lovely front end, which is powered by a strong hind end, and a beautifully developed top line.” McKissock also detailed, “He looks very willing and eager but with a bit more time working over his back and developing, I feel he could achieve even higher scores than he already is receiving.”
The trio also added that “While they don’t have a conformation shot to look at, judging by the look of his under saddle photos and videos, he had the build and characteristics to handle his new career, which is already evidenced by his quick and successful ascent up to the Preliminary level.”
Overall, Hutchinson added, “I am so impressed with the quality of this horse and the quality of all OTTB in the United States. While riding in the YEH Championships, I have seen some incredible OTTBs that, as Martin said, make you do a double-take because they go like seasoned imported warmbloods.” All three agree that Point Nemo has all the makings to go all the way. “His talent combined with his what looks like amazing temperament and solid build, point to an amazing horse to have for the future,” McKissock said. They wish Ryan the best of luck and all three are excited to follow his progress as he continues to rocket up the levels.
"No matter how old you are, be open to all disciplines, learn how to ride a dressage horse, a gaited horse, a show jumper. Go fox hunting and point-to-pointing and horse showing. You’ll learn from all of them and when you do decide which discipline you want to do, you’ll be better at it anyway.”
The University of Findlay’s Three-Day Eventing Team was established in 2013, the same year USEA voted and approved the USEA intercollegiate program. The UF team has over 30 members encompassing a variety of majors at the university. The team has access to two indoor arenas, a large outdoor arena, and 70 acres of on-site cross-country fences.
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.