Mar 19, 2019

OTTB Critique Presented by Athletux: Valhalla

By Mikaela Kantorowski - Athletux Equine
Valhalla (Sun King x Ima Halo), an 8-year-old off-the-track Thoroughbred. Photo courtesy of Ashley DeWitt.

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].

For Ashley DeWitt, Valhalla (Sun King x Ima Halo) aka Oscar holds a very special place in her heart. DeWitt was a student of Philippa Humphreys and she acquired Oscar through Humphreys, who sadly passed away a year later. “Philippa was known for having a very special eye for a horse and snatched him up right away from CANTER Illinois,” Dewitt recalled. “I happened to be at the barn during her first ride on him, fell in love, tried him, and bought him right after that,” she explained.

Photo courtesy of Ashley DeWitt.

Since their partnership began, DeWitt has found a multitude of success with Oscar. DeWitt, who has competed up to the CCI2*-L level, said, “I have really have enjoyed not only bringing him up the levels so far but also building our partnership!” Together, they have two seasons at Training level under their belts and they have their eyes on a Preliminary move up this year. DeWitt added, “Right now we are really working on improving his brain and rideability in preparation for our hopeful move up this year.” It is very clear DeWitt has found a special horse in Oscar, which is made even more special by his connection to her dear friend, coach, and mentor, Philippa.

We are excited to have top CCI5*-L rider Sharon White with us this month to evaluate this talented horse. White has an eye for OTTBs and, having picked out many successful upper-level horses from the track, she knows exactly what to look for.

Photo courtesy of Ashley DeWitt.

At first glance, White immediately commented on how positive his overall expression is. White explained, “Oscar looks to be very eager under saddle and very stoic on the ground as well. He also looks to enjoy all three phases, a positive attribute in event horses!” She noted that the horse’s ears always seem to be up and White stated she can clearly tell horse and rider have a strong relationship.

After sharing her initial thoughts on his overall expression, White moved on to Oscar’s conformation, which is also very positive. She added, “While he looks to be quite tall, his body overall is very proportionate and I really like the angle at which his neck attaches to his body.” White also pointed out that, “He looks to have good angles throughout his hind legs with very solid feet to match. Poor feet are sometimes that downfall of good OTTBs so it is a very positive characteristic to possess.”

Photo courtesy of Ashley DeWitt.

Finally, White commented on Oscar’s under saddle photos, starting with his jump photos. “I really like how he seems to use himself over fences, which can sometimes be hard for the bigger horses. He also shows no signs of lacking in scope and clearly has the capabilities for more.”

While exuberant into the water, White recommended schooling more drops as the pair prepare to move up to hopefully make the drop not quite as big of a deal. She added, “Sometimes such a big jump down will catch up with you later on as the horse moves up the levels.”

Photo courtesy of Ashley DeWitt.

Overall, White is excited by the potential in this young horse. While a photo can only depict a moment in time, White feels Oscar has all the makings to succeed in his new career. She wishes both the horse and the rider all the best of luck!

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