Thursday, February 14, 2013

Thoroughbred Hunters are Back!

There is a resurgence of sorts in the horse show world; the mighty thoroughbred is getting a second look. For those of you who thought that the TB was dead on arrival in hunterland, well think again.  Some of the greatest show hunters of all time came off the track (OTTB) and that movement is again taking hold.

Maybe it's the economy, maybe it's just the love of the animal or something else.  But I am loving it, and I am a warmblood person!  Let's look at a few famous ones.  This is Fritz & Bill, Miranda Scott's junior hunter.  I used to show against this one in the Adults.  Miranda is now a successful professional in the Virginia area.   

According to Miranda, Fritz and Bill was by Bumpy Landing out of Debbie's Friend, bred by Debbie Sells in Great Falls, VA. Fritz went on to win the VHSA & MHSA adult, children's and junior equitation finals with numerous riders, plus the Ariat equitation finals & the Gittings finals with different riders. One mother nicknamed Fritz "the Qualifier" because of how many medal classes he won throughout the years.

This is Betty Oare and Navy Commander.  Betty was a top professional and is now an amateur who still shows. She also lives in Virginia.

This is Jack Trainor's Bittersweet with Rachel Kennedy aboard. Rachel was my neighbor when I lived in Maryland.  Bittersweet was Horse of the Year in 1989 in the First Year Green division, won the title in 1990 as a Second Year horse and in 1991 as a Regular Working hunter. Talk about consistency.  And she was a chestnut mare no less!

And the very top professionals are also getting in on the act.  Trainer Susie Schoellkopt and rider Jennifer Alfano (of Jersey Boy fame) have purchased this lovely TB and are putting him in the hunter ring. It helps that Rodney Jenkins handpicked the horse, but still.....  His name is R.J. (after Rodney Jenkins). 

Here's a link to the article:

And the TB's are so affordable.  You can buy this cute little mare, only 15'2 but I just love this one!  New Vocations is one of my favorite charities and I have blogged about them before.  They find the horses, get them off the track and ready to sell and screen every buyer.  Northern Attitude could be yours for less than $1000. 

It's great to see the pendulum swing back to the TB world again.  I am hoping to see many more of these wonderful animals in the show ring in the coming years!


  1. New Vocations is fantastic, I love that they not only get these horses off the track, but also then put some work into them and seem to know how to market them well.. and affordably. Honestly I have no idea how they do all that, but I am glad they do.
    My own horse is an OTTB I had no business buying when he was 6, 22 years ago, when he was about 6 months off the track. Talk about the stereotypical red headed TB! OY! Good thing I love him.

    I've also read, I think it was Denny Emerson who said it 'if they are not off [unsound] after life on a track there's not much you can do to them that will change that' and it proved right with mine until DSLD came along.

    I love the WBs too, worked at Iron Spring Farm for a couple years so I have a real appreciation... but for me the heart of the TB just can not be beat.

  2. Love this post! I'm hoping my OTTB wants to be a hunter, but no matter where he finds his niche he's just the best most pleasant horse to ride and enjoy.

  3. When I was growing up, Thoroughbred hunters were THE thing to aspire to. They were so beautiful, and we girls would salivate over the photos of the exquisite strip horses in the Chronicle; but they were far, far too expensive to even dream about. Now TBs are cheap, and I've loved the fact that I could buy a magnificently beautiful, athletic, durable, kind, brave athlete for such low prices. Looks like the trend is reversing and once again I'll be unable to afford one of the elite Thoroughbreds. But this is a good thing for the breed and for all the unfortunate horses now being sent to slaughter. We owe great thanks to people like Steuart Pittman, Allie Conrad, Jessica Morthole, and others who are putting the OTTB forward as a valuable horse.

    (If you used to be Rachel Kennedy's neighbor in Maryland, you must have lived quite near where I do.)

    1. We lived on the same road and I rode with Rolling Acres just over the hill for many years!


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