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Feb 20, 2012 - NTRA
Dark Bay or Brown Gelding by Malabar Gold – Northern Syl by Our Native
Born: February 21, 2005
Race Record: 17 Starts, 4 wins, 4 thirds, $41,910
In summer of 2010, Jan Weaver was looking for a project horse with potential as a jumper. Playing around with the idea of an off-the-track Thoroughbred, Jan first saw Unbridled Gold on a rescue website and thought he looked cute. Several months later Jan settled on an OTTB going by the name of Mufasa. When she saw his registered name on the sale papers, she realized Mufasa was actually Unbridled Gold.
As a racehorse, Unbridled Gold was entirely sound, but also entirely slow. Upon retirement, he was turned out in a pasture on his own for nine months while his owners tried to find a buyer for him. He was most likely headed for auction when a young woman saw something in him and offered him a foster home.
When Jan first saw him, “Unbridled Gold didn't look like much... he was skinny, his bay coat was faded and dull, and he was altogether a very awkward looking individual. When I tried him out, he had been ridden 6 times off the track and only walk/trot, with a few crossrails. However, as soon as I rode him, I knew he was the one.”
“When I purchased him, he was not very trusting and was scared to have anyone near his backend. He didn't like to be caught, in the field or in a stall, and generally tried to avoid people. Fly spray and grooming scared him (which was kinda funny, because nothing else did... ambulances, dogs, car horns, firecrackers, nothing!), and he wouldn't let anyone near his right side. I gave him a little down time, about a week, and during that time we worked on ground manners, lunged a little, and just started getting him to trust again. In that short amount of time he went from a scaredy cat to a total lovebug!”
As to how Unbridled Gold (affectionately known around the barn as “Moose”) has turned out as a jumper prospect, Jan reports, “Under saddle he was extraordinarily willing right off the bat, which was one of the main reasons I purchased him. He was very good about picking up the correct lead on the flat and over fences. He's a careful, but brave and scopey jumper and almost always finds his own distances and adjusts himself. We did (and still do) have to work on his speed, since he will occasionally get a little quick, but he doesn't try to bolt off or race other horses if we're in a group. Although Moose is a very talented jumper (and he loves it!) I decided that he had more potential as an event horse because of his extreme boldness and nice movement, and we began working towards a local HT in August 2010. “
“It was at that point that I stumbled upon the entry forms and info for the USEA's New Event Horse program (NEH, for short). The New Event Horse program is a program aimed at judging a horse of any age over four in order to see which mount would have the most potential as a capable, fun, and willing junior/amateur horse at the Preliminary and below levels of eventing. It is approximately Beginner Novice level, and has three phases: The Conformation and Movement phase, where the horse is presented in-hand for an inspection of their conformation and then jogged out; The Flat phase, which is a dressage test, but scored on overall impression rather than by each movement; and finally, the Jumping/Gallop phase, which is held in the open. The course has a few stadium jumps at the beginning, then moves on into a cross country course, after which the horse is immediately galloped along the appropriate gallop strip.”
“I knew the facility hosting the event well, and it looked like fun, so I figured, why not? It'd be a great experience for Moose to get out and show at a nice, low-key event, and we'd get some great feedback on what we had to work on. So on the 14th of August; there we were in all our glory at the USEA's first ever recognized NEH testing, with a new name, Veyron, and a new career in front of him.”
“While it wasn't exactly a shining moment in our life together (what can I say, he's still rather green!) he tried his hardest and did very well considering he had not even had 3 months of retraining at that point. We finished with a final score of 75.26%, receiving average scores of 8 on movement on the flat, and even receiving an 8.5 on his jump, and came home with a big blue ribbon. The judge remarked that he was not a good candidate for the NEH program, because the program is to find a horse for an Amateur to ride at Prelim and below, but that she believed Moose was an upper level prospect. “
As for Moose’s attitude, Jan says, “I've seen a huge development on his part. He's grown up a lot mentally and is really showing his true personality now, and I love it. He's kind, willing, easy to handle and will try anything for me. He's friendly to everyone around him, but he's definitely a one-person sort of horse, and I'm very lucky to be that person.
As for advice to those considering an off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB), Jan says a careful self-examination is important. “Are you ready to put in the time to get this horse's mentality from racetrack to its new career? Are you patient enough to deal with the ups and downs that inevitably come with retraining a horse? Can you financially handle the extra nutritional and veterinary needs your OTTB might have that another horse might not? Are you experienced enough to handle a lot of horse? Are you OK on hotter, sensitive horses? If the answer to all of those is "yes," then an OTTB might be a good fit for you.”
“It’s also a good idea to decide what you're looking for as far as an OTTB goes. Are you looking for something that's already been through some type of retraining program, or are you looking for something right off the track? Whichever route you go, it's always a great idea to do a thorough pre-purchase examination (it's a good idea to do with ANY horse, not just OTTBs). In Moose's PPE, we did flexions on all the joints, X-rays on his front feet, ankles, and fetlocks, as well as his hocks.”
In conclusion, Jan offers, “The most important thing is that you love the horse and that you enjoy being in it for the long haul, for the journey. You're taking a racetrack reject and giving it a new career and a second chance; that's not something that happens overnight. There are going to be days that aren't much fun, and you're going to get frustrated at some point, but that's all a part of the journey you're on together. In my mind, no matter how good the destination may look--whether it's a weekend trail buddy or an upper level event horse--the journey is the part you're going to remember, and the partnership you will have with your horse is what will make the destination that much better.”
“Before I purchased Moose, I was a skeptic about Thoroughbreds, and more-so about my ability to handle one. I'd heard countless horror stories about the breed, and being 15, I'd been written off by several people as "crazy" and "rushing into it," when I said what I was getting into. I can say now, though, that the great George Morris was certainly right when he said, "The best of any breed is the Thoroughbred horse, and the best of that breed is better than any other breed."
“The immense heart and willingness Moose possesses is astounding, and the bond I have with him is like nothing else. He possesses more love and try than any other horse I've ever ridden, and I count myself lucky--blessed, really--to have him. When I purchased him, I thought the name Unbridled Gold was kind of silly--I mean, he's bay, not anything close to gold!--but, from where I stand now looking back, I think it was almost a foretelling of what he is now. He truly is gold, and I absolutely love every minute with him.”
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