Ditto’s progress –on the road to the RRP Makeover 2016

Update on our RRP entry We Found Love (Ditto)-

We brought Ditto home to our house in late July so I could focus on bringing him along. He is not the best eater, and still has cow pie manure. His feet have been iffy but we have gotten along well with glue on shoes and night turnout. When we first started regular flat work, he couldn’t carry himself at all- he would either charge around at the trot or stop. We did a good bit of flat work to improve his strength and balance, and he proved that he has a ton of “try.” We did some more jumping, progressing to  little 2 ft straight rails at the trot. We entered the TASS show at MD State Fair on 8/31 to see where we were– and it wasn’t far.  He behaved well with all of the commotion but the 2 ft division had straw bales with rails on top and he just wasn’t ready to tackle this. He tried one fence and had it down, and wasn’t willing or able to tackle any more. Rather than chase him around, I just opted to quit on that and go home and do some more homework. It was obvious we needed to work on our jumping. Straight rails at home were fine but straw bales, walls, etc worried him.

We had 10 days to get ready for the next TASS show at Breezy Run- so I pulled out straw bales at home and added our MAHR panel and a little brush box with yellow flowers to my riding field (also his turnout field.) The sight of these new things in HIS field rattled him so I just went out with him with a halter and shank and let him investigate and then led him over everything. Next day we lunged over them, and on the third day we jogged them under tack. He jumped very greenly but jumped. I quickly learned he wanted me to lose the martingale and float the reins at him. He is super sensitive about his head and nose.

When we got to the Breezy Run TASS show on 9/10, he was tense but settled. His ground rail class caught him off guard and he stopped at the first rail, put his nose down, and then went over. He proceeded to do the x’s ok- wiggly but went- and then in the 2 ft pleasure with two straight rails he did the same. He picked up some ribbons and tried so hard. By then it was really getting hot so we opted to skip the jump start hunter division, which would have tested his confidence over gates and walls…..

We had to make a decision about which RRP division to enter by the following Thursday 9/15. Although dressage has always been my strong suit, he was saying show hunter. I kind of liked the challenge of show hunter, but was thinking maybe it would be better for him to do the dressage. My friends were all probably tired of my texts and calls, picking their brains. He does not have the best trot but his canter is awesome- steady, rhythmic, and balanced. Would RRP have a 2 ft division? (Probably yes). Would he have the confidence to jump a built up course in that big venue? Yikes.

In order to make a final decision, we loaded him up and went to a local farm and pulled out a little wall, gate, and panel. I let him investigate everything and then led him over them. After that I got on and jogged everything – he was great! We ended up cantering a few fences and he was soft, quiet, and adjustable. On the basis of that, we decided to enter the show hunter division….

A few days later (9/17) we had the Fair Hill TB show- he was entered in the 2 ft baby green and the Furlongs to Fences division (for horses right off the track.) We went over Friday night to school and he was super nervous. I was hoping to jump but we were not allowed to school over fences until the morning of the show. Because these morning schoolings can be totally crazy with traffic, and he had been so nervous, I wasn’t thinking we would be able to school at all- but he totally surprised me. He came off the trailer early Saturday much more relaxed. He hacked around the ring with all of the activity like it was nothing. I let him give a fence a good sniff and then he proceeded to jog over everything beautifully- gates, walls, flowers, you name it. I could have cried, I was so proud of him!


He didn’t pin in the first flat classes- I know we were too forward, in too much of a frame. His first jump class was the 2 ft course of eight fences. He was very very green over the first four fences but then we both got it together and he cantered the second half beautifully and we ended up 8th! In the F2F division he placed 4th in the model with Jacqui’s super handling, and then got a third in the WTC. I realized the judge was pinning the slower poke-your-nose-out horses, so I worked to get him to go more like that. In his last class he had to WTC and then jump two fences in a line. We picked up the wrong lead right in front of the judge at the first canter, but then he was spot on, and jumped beautifully- and we ended up 2nd!


I feel like he has really turned the corner and we will be ready for KY. I am so proud of this horse….it will be extremely hard to not adopt him myself, but I know he will make someone very very happy.

Ditto’s Journey Begins

We Found Love (Ditto) is our only Makeover horse at this point- we will choose one more but who that is remains to be seen. When Ditto came in, he quickly revealed a sweet steady temperament- he is the good son whereas his brother, my guy Drifter (Not Up For Love), alternates between brilliant and challenging. Nothing bothered Ditto from the day he came in. His feet were not the best. He had recently been shod at the track and had no foot– and he promptly lost his race plates out in the field. Because there was nothing to nail to, we just let him go barefoot and watched him struggle through that. We rode him gently a few times- he proved to be very willing but also very tight and short. As his feet grew out, we were able to get shoes on him and start some easy flat work.


Because our show on June 4th had some great classes for first timers, we decided we would enter him. I knew I would be too busy that day to worry about competing, so Patty, our VP and volunteer extraordinaire, and Jacqui, our tireless farm manager, agreed to get him cleaned up and to the show. The Wednesday before, Patty rode him for the first (and only) time, and we introduced ground rails and x’s. He proved to be a quick study and willingly got to the other side of the x’s–we were set!

Our dear friend Lynne and her RRP/MAHR horse Chicanery came the night before and Lynne shipped both horses to Monkton bright and early. Working in the secretary stand, I didn’t know they had arrived, which is a good thing- no whinnying,  excitement, or drama. Both horses took things in stride and were stars, getting decent ribbons in the big baby classes. The crossrail hunters had flower boxes and lots of turns, but Ditto happily trotted around like it was nothing. We were all thrilled at such a good first outing! Our super photographer, Val of Rough Coat Photo, captured the day….

Until next time……………………..

Catching Up, Once Again…..

Where does the time go? There are just not enough hours in the day to keep  up with the horses, rescue, family, and so on. I did try a few times to add a new blog entry but my computer wasn’t behaving and I didn’t have time to school it, so I just went on to other things…..

Here we are now, however-the third week of June and summer is in full swing. Things at the farm have been busy between horses in- from the auction, kill pens, and track- and horses out- to great new homes as eventers, all arounders, and even therapeutic riding buddies! In the midst of all of this, we have been planning for the 2016 RRP Makeover in KY in October. In 2015, we started in April, and Lynne took D’Sauvage to the Makeover at Pimlico in the fall. She did a great job, finishing 4th behind two team riders and one professional. Last year we entered three horses, but all three got adopted before October, so we pulled three more out of the field at the end of the summer and took them. Talk about throwing them in the deep end- but they managed, we survived, and all three got super homes in the end.

This year we planned to choose two Makeover horses and keep them aside until after October.  The first, Close to Sonny, was purchased at New Holland in January. IMG_0625

He is a lovely big gelding, one of the best movers we have seen in awhile. He has been coming along very well, but does get very stressed in the barn. We thought long and hard- not sure a trip to KY would be in his best interest. At the same time, a talented young event rider met him and fell for him. We decided there was no harm in seeing if the two would be a good match. Hana rode him on Sunday and loved him– he was vetted yesterday and went home with Hana today. So much for our plans, but we are THRILLED for this great new team.

Our second horse came to us straight from Charles Town. He appeared on my FB news feed one morning- because he looked so much like my own guy, Not Up for Love (Drifter).


I clicked on his picture, only to find he was Drifter’s  younger full brother, We Found Love! Because Drifter can be challenging at times, especially on the ground, I called the trainer, not wanting this guy to end up in a bad place. She told me that We Found Love was not bad at all, but she had him and one other older gelding that desperately needed homes- so we arranged to pick them both up a few days later. Both were very nice horses- we found the second horse a fabulous home, and decided to use We Found Love as our second 2016 RRP Makeover horse. Now known as Ditto, this guy is as sweet as can be, and loves his new life here.

We will work on finding a replacement for Sonny, and keep you informed with Ditto’s progress- and we promise to be better at blogging from now on-October will be here before we know it!


This blog has been neglected- I am sorry! I had bilateral knee replacements in early April, trying to keep up with everything at MAHR- horses placed, horses saved, horses schooled- thanks to our great team- Patty, Jacqui, Sally Shirley, Tom, Owen and Yvonne, we are humming along. We just had our big fall benefit auction, which was a smashing success- and are now getting ready for the Retired Racehorse Makeover in KY, with stops beforehand at Fair Hill International and the MD Million…..

We have started blogging about our RRP entrants, links here—

RRP Blog Makeover Updates

RRP Makeover Blog Catching UP

We hope to see you all in KY at the end of October!

Planning for 2015…..

Hard to believe we are already into February! The last couple of months have been spent keeping waterers unfrozen, riding when we can, staying as warm as we can, and planning for 2015. We have lots of exciting stuff on the calendar- we already attended the MD Horse World Expo, and will be at the PA Horse World Expo and the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover in October in KY. In the meantime, we will have a couple of open houses and name your own price tack sales, plus are planning a big benefit auction this fall. One of the things we are most excited about is the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series (TASS), now coming into our third year.

In 2012 we held an all TB show at Heavenly Waters Park in Bel Air, MD- it was a lot of fun, well attended by TB folks everywhere, and raised a good amount for the rescue. Pimlico had an amazing day in July with their Totally TB Show- never have I seen so such an event- it was simply awesome, and we were also honored to be selected as one of the rescue beneficiaries.

After that, a group of us got together and decided to put together a series of all TB shows in the region. We wanted to give TBs a venue and a chance to shine as well as raise money for qualified aftercare programs. Georganne Hale, Fran Burns, Sue Smith, and I had our first meeting at the Dark Horse Saloon in Bel Air. We decided to try something fresh and new- instead of having the standardized prize lists and year end awards, we wanted each show to put out their own prize list, with horses and riders accumulating points throughout the season not by what division they showed in, but rather by things like state bred, money won, last race date, etc. We called the series the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series, because that is what we wanted to be- an alliance of thoroughbred lovers and aftercare organizations.  The Equiery quickly came on board as a series sponsor, and we were thrilled to add the Equiery’s Jennifer Webster to our board. That first year, 2013, was awesome- but we were a bit naive as far how hard it would be to track points. Sue gallantly offered to set up an Excel spreadsheet and she got it done, but it wasn’t easy! We raised about $30K that first year for various rescues, so that was awesome in itself. Our year end banquet at Laurel was a lot of fun and we got busy with 2014.

The biggest move we made in 2014 was getting show secretary and organizer extraordinaire Bev Abbott to track points for us using her horse show savvy and software. We tweaked a few divisions, added new shows, brought in new competitors, and had an even better year, this time raising over $19K for aftercare programs. After another kick a$$ Laurel banquet, we got ready for 2015.

Fast forward to today- we have two super new board members, Carrie Everly and Karin deFrancis, who are bringing great energy and insight to the group. We are excited about new shows and venues and aftercare beneficiaries. We are excited to see old friends and new as the season kicks off in March. To be honest, I have always been an event / fox hunt type of person, but these shows are so much fun that I am going to try to get Drifter as white as possible, put away my eventing tack here and there, and give the series a try. I am not saying we are going to win any ribbons, but one thing is for sure, we will have fun.

Check out our website: www.thoroughbredalliance.org, grab your favorite thoroughbred, and come join us–you won’t be sorry! And if you see someone riding around on a big grey TB with a red ribbon in his tail who might not be the best behaved, wave and say hi!

Homes for the Holidays!!

It has been a busy few weeks here at the rescue. One of the things that makes us happiest are when our horses get great homes! These guys seem to know it too- they know when that right person comes along, you can see it in their eyes. Call me crazy, but it is true.

When horses come in, we try to give them the time they need to recalibrate- for some horses it can be weeks, for some a year. Not that they are unsound- but some are worn out, tired, and unsociable. As they rehab, they change- their coats get shiny, they get nice and round and filled out on less grain, they start to come to the fence when we go out to the fields. They tell us when they are ready, and they also tell us when they like a certain person. I know, I am sounding a bit daft, but if you listen to them, they will tell you.

My big grey horse Not Up for Love (Drifter) went through New Holland two years ago. We didn’t have room at the rescue so I bought him personally, figuring I would give him some reschooling and resell him to a great home. He had other plans- he was tough on the ground, tough to load, tough to lead, tough in his stall. He had the biggest chip on his shoulder (figuratively speaking.) In a funny twist of events, he was one of the last horses bred and raised at Woodstock, where we were then based, and Richard, the farm manager, said he had always been that way. Physiologically he was out of whack- he never put weight on, he walked stiffly, he would strain to urinate, and his manure was small and frequent and inconsistent. He was aggressive about his feed and his space in his stall. Drifter was a bit nappy and sour under saddle- not hard to ride but just not happy.

Fast forward to now- I can finally see he is happy and he LIKES me (I think!)-Two Years Later!! He is a good weight on just 6 qts of sweet feed a day. His stall manners are decent. He can still be a challenge leading and on certain days I get Tom to bring him in and out rather than lose him LOL. He loads and ships well. He does like to work and is a fabulous ride and a good jumper. Since my old stake horse Wish is happy being somewhat retired from competing, I am concentrating on Drifter, rather than reselling him. We may event- but only if I can get him a bit more reliable about going cross country. He still has strong opinions about certain things, and I never know what those “things” may be. The Thoroughbred Alliance Shows are a lot of fun, so we may go that way.

To get back on track, we look at each rescue horse as an individual and give them the time and attention they need. We could have placed Coach ten times over when he first came in this summer- but he was unsettled, dropped weight, and lost his hair. Now he is happy and looks fabulous, and has a pending adoption. Cat on the other hand just ran, but seems totally at home here. He needs weight but is happy and ready to go, so we put him up and he has a pending adoption. Irish has been here a year- he is sound and happy now, but the mounting block and the {fast} canter still need work. His trot has gotten so much better though and he is very personable now. Almost, almost. Goldie was cranky, thin, and had ulcers. After treatment and a bit of time, he is now a decent weight and has become Mr Personality. He photo bombs every shot when you go to the field to take pics of his pasture mates. He hopefully will find his forever home soon.

At any rate, these horses will talk to you if you are willing to listen. We want to set them up for success in their new homes. We don’t give them the bum’s rush and send them on to the first person with a check in hand, but really try to make the best match possible, even if it means time and money. There is always pressure to take more  horses- every week we hear of thoroughbreds in need- but if we don’t do the right thing by the horses currently here at the farm, we are ultimately failing our horses and our adopters.

We would like to invite everyone to our Open House here at the farm on Sunday, December 14th from 11-3. Come meet the horses, see what we do, enjoy some holiday refreshments with friends! We are also hosting the last TERF TB clinic of the season, dressage with Liane Hoffmeyer that day. Take a day off from the holiday rush, and join us as we count our blessings…..

We have so much to be thankful for!

This past year has been a whirlwind. In looking back, we have so much to be thankful for.

We moved to an overused, rundown farm and it is now beautiful and alive. We have a great team here at MAHR- everyone has worked so hard to get the farm back to its former glory, and to make sure the horses are properly cared for. The horses are all well- the skinnies have put on weight, the war horses are learning a new way of thinking, all are relishing their new lives. Horses that came in worn out are now engaged and happy. Our racing industry is now behind aftercare. We are fully accredited by Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance and the Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries. We have a great support crew- raising funds, putting on events, attending functions, posting on social media. The Thoroughbred Education and Research Foundation (TERF) clinics have been wildly successful, as has the Thoroughbred Alliance Show Series. The Retired Racehorse Project continues to champion the thoroughbred and bridge the gap between the race and the sport horse industry. The ASPCA, Thoroughbred Charities of America, Blue Horse Charities, and the Maryland Jockey Club are wonderful supporters, along with countless individuals and groups who want to make a difference. We have so many great friends in the rescue world, and there seems to be more of a sense of collaboration versus competition. The rigorous accreditation process for rescues will take care of less than legit groups while mentoring new ones.

We still have a lot to do. Horses at the lesser tracks are still leaving for dark places, but it is getting better. Trainers are realizing that these horses have futures beyond racing, and the sport horse world is getting back to the thoroughbred, in all disciplines. We need to keep working on this, so that one day, all thoroughbreds are safe.

We are thankful for YOU, our friends and supporters, family and fans, and for the horses that have brought us all together……they deserve nothing less than our best.

We are hosting a Holiday Open House at the farm on Sunday December 14th. We invite you to come and share in our blessings….