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HRN Original Blog:
Portrait of a Thoroughbred

Life After the Finish: Riley (a.k.a. Garth Man)

Riley
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. 


When 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.

 

Riley

 

By 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.


A 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.
 
 

 

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Older Comments about Life After the Finish: Riley (a.k.a. Garth Man)...

A great story and beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing, Heidi! - Mary Cage
I don't think I could have kept owning a horse a secret for 3 months! GREAT story & lovely photos!

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 Meet Heidi Carpenter

 

An equestrian since 1986, Heidi has loved horses for as long as she can remember. She fell in love with the sport and history of Thoroughbred racing as a young girl after reading about the great champions of yesteryear, including Man o' War, Lexington, Equipoise, and Citation.

Always very visual and imaginative--as well as a romantic at heart--Heidi has a great interest in the stories, connections and images abound in Thoroughbred racing. She also enjoys studying pedigrees and racing history.

The first Kentucky Derby Heidi watched was in 1991, and the first racehorse she fell in love with was Cigar. Her all-time favorites include Ruffian, Man o' War, Dr. Fager, John Henry and Winter Memories.

Heidi lives in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband (who is also a racing fan) and four cats, and has her beloved horse, Limerick, boarded nearby. Registered as Amanda Bry, Limerick is a 1991-model OTTB mare that Heidi has had since 1996. Heidi has a B.A. in creative writing from Columbia College Chicago and is a writer for a local laboratory. Heidi also has a blog at: http://deafequinefanatic.blogspot.com/