Photo: Heidi E. Carpenter
As a way to thank the off-track Thoroughbreds in my life--past and
present--that have shaped me into the equestrian I am today, I will
periodically run photo blogs spotlighting off-track Thoroughbreds
(a.k.a. OTTBs). Entitled "Life After the Finish", these blogs will feature
horses that have left behind the racing industry to become show horses,
personal riding horses, and/or companion horses.
I considered which horse I should feature first, it wasn't
difficult to choose, for at the barn where I board--across the aisle from
my own horse--is a handsome chestnut gelding named Riley.
Tracker and out of the Tarsal mare Special Sunday, Riley--registered as
Garth Man--was foaled in 2003. Winning once in 10 starts, he earned
nearly $11,000 at Indiana Downs, Hoosier Park, and Charles Town. After retiring in 2009, he passed through two different sets of hands before ending up
in the lesson barn of 19-year-old Carly Kosar.
hunter/jumper rider for 12 years, Carly's parents disallowed her from
having her own horse until she moved out of the house and could pay
for a horse--and the many needs of one--on her own. Life doesn't always go exactly as planned, however. In July 2012, while still living with her parents, she found herself trying Riley out
for a month before purchasing him on her own with plans to train
him as a dressage horse. Since she pays for his board and upkeep herself, she was able to conceal her new horse from her
family--but not for long.
Says Carly, "[My parents] found out about him
from someone at the barn three months after I got him. They were pretty
upset with the situation
for a few weeks but once they had time to process everything, they ended
up being proud of me. It's a big responsibility to take care of a horse
by yourself when you're in college, working, and trying to train the
horse a new discipline." Carly's mother eventually helped her move Riley to his current barn, which is very close to their home.
Of future plans with Riley, Carly says, "He is so willing to work; he loves to please me and always tries
his best. We did training level dressage last summer and our
scores showed how hard we've been working. We plan to do plenty of shows
this summer, first level this time. I'm not sure how far we'll go with
our dressage career but we're very dedicated so we'll see what happens."
Aside from dressage, Carly is also working to find more
information on Riley's life as a racehorse. She has purchased Riley's
win photo from the Indiana Downs track photographer and got in touch
with his breeder. In the meantime, when he's not in training, Riley
enjoys just being a horse and hanging out with the other horses--including fellow OTTBs--during
turnout time at the barn.
Above and below: Riley and Carly enjoy a fall ride.
Riley and Carly at a dressage show in August, where they placed 1st and 2nd. (Photo used with permission)
Riley in turnout with the herd. The horses go out most days, rain shine or snow!
Turnout-time hobbies include chewing on the blankets of herd mates...
...and playing a gelding favorite, "dueling geldings". Here, Riley plays with 27-year-old OTTB Rickey.
7-year-old OTTB Raymond has a turn, too.
Above and below: But Riley knows the mares don't care for games. Here, he hangs out with girlfriend Limerick, a 23-year-old OTTB.
Above and below: Riley and Carly.