At the heart of passion for horses can often be found a Thoroughbred Racehorse. Vivid recollection of horse races viewed myopically on a television screen weave their way through equine pursuits as we claim equine partners and pursue dreams of athletic achievement. The majesty, beauty and determination of every single horse straining his entire being to claim the finish line is a blueprint for the dream of a rider. Ask any horse lover if they have a favourite race horse and immediately a name will spring from their lips…Northern Dancer, Majestic Prince, Barbaro, Secretariat, Zenyatta.
The Thoroughbred racehorse is so compelling, he provides the impetus to seek association with his type. Underlying every rider’s dream of accomplishment is that long held memory of the first horse they saw streak past the finish line as the winner of the Kentucky Derby, the Queens Plate or the Breeders Cup. Regardless of the choice of discipline, underlying is the championship vision of raw power and courage, so well represented by the Thoroughbred and generating dreams of possibility for greatness and success.
Within every Thoroughbred beats the heart of a champion. “Pur Sange” as poetically defined by the French, describes a lineage directly traceable to only three horses and meticulously recorded. Every sporting horse breed or type carries thoroughbred blood for valid reasons of athleticism, durability, trainability and beauty. No other breed of horse can conjure all of these attributes. They are the domain of the Thoroughbred. It is those very characteristics which have inspired Canadian riders and elite athletes to channel Thoroughbred excellence into International sporting success. Individual medals and International competitive achievements in Eventing, Dressage, Jumping and even the relatively unknown FEI sanctioned cavalry sport of Tent Pegging, have been gained by Thoroughbreds.
Prestigous awards and inspiring performances for many riders can be attributed to the feats of the Thoroughbred and most were bred as racehorses. Canada has its heroes in Canadian Club (Dunwurkin), Big Dee, Bonheur (Colonel W), Kahlua, Branch County (Traffic Sub), Rath Patrick. This doesn’t nearly document the long list of incredibly talented Thoroughbreds who have claimed victory for Canadian riders. Hopes for future glory lie in the equine partners of staunch Thoroughbred enthusiasts like Selena O’Hanlon and Jessica Phoenix (with her latest potential star, Down by the Docks, LongRun adoptee from the farm of John and Maggie LeBlanc).
The uncanny desire to achieve is bred into the Thoroughbred. Regardless of the discipline, skill or aspiration of the rider, the thoroughbred has demonstrated his ability to perform. From trail horse to western dressage; eventing to tent pegging; companion to rehabilitation; the motivation of a Thoroughbred is to succeed. Cloaked in unsurpassed physical beauty beats a noble heart, great trainable intelligence and an unresentful willingness to try. Characteristics which form the foundation of the great racehorse are easily translated into the next great riding experience. The greatest untapped resource for equestrian achievement lies in our own North American Thoroughbred and to support the claim, the words of George Morris, Legendary Hunter/Jumper stylist: “Somehow, we have to get back to the horses we have in this country. There are tens of thousands of horses out there. There are Gem Twists out there. The American Thoroughbred is the best sport horse in the world. I had two very early European mentors, Otto Heuckeroth at Ox Ridge, who was a great horseman, and Bertalan de Némethy. Both of those Europeans told me repeatedly, ‘George, the best horses in the world are these American Thoroughbred horses.’ ” The gilded ancestry of the esteemed racehorse coupled with the athletic abilities coveted in all equine sport can be had in a Thoroughbred….along with the stamp of approval from World Class Equestrians and Trainers. The next Keen, Touch of Class, Neville Bardos or Idle Dice are already here, sporting that memorable pedigree and waiting to join the ranks of Thoroughbreds in Sporting Halls of Fame.
Republished with permission of the author, Lois Keays.