Read the Success Stories for these former Bits & Bytes Farm horses.
Former Prospect Horses bought directly from the track or trainer.

* Prospect Horses are horses that were bought from our Web site photos and a vet check. Read "How to Buy a Prospect Horse" for more information.

All photos on this Web site are copyright protected and may not be used without written permission of the owners.

Phils' Couarge with his new mom Kara Hoefer.

Phil's Courage has a new mom and has been put into Kara Hoefer's "boot camp". Read the detailed training notes of Phil's Courage's Journal on our newest Web site:




Phil's Courage and his first mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.

Phil's Courage and his first mom after racing - Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.

Phil's Courage and his new mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.

Phil's Courage and his new mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.

Phil's Courage at the track. January 2007

Phil's Courage at the track. January 2007

"Phill" has made it home to Charlotte, NC. March 2007

"Phil" has made it home to Charlotte, NC. March 2007


Click here to see "Phil's" Prospect Horse For Sale page.

Bits & Bytes Farm Success Stories

Our horses > success stories > Phil's Courage

Phil's Courage - Don't miss Phil's Journal NOW FOR SALE

Read Phil's Courage's Journal.
Phil's Courage with his second mom since leaving the track. "Phil" made a successful transistion to sport horse with the help of Kara Hoefer. Follow their detailed journey and learn the importance of ground work on our sister site:

August 27, 2008 - Phil's Courage is FOR SALE

Hi Elizabeth,
I have very exciting news. Trafalgar Square Books is interested in publishing Phil's Journal. I just received the format to submit the journal and am busy gathering photos. I have published before (dental research in peer reviewed journals) and know this is a very lengthy process. I receive tons of email from fans of Phil's Journal. Thank you for your help.

Phil is officially for sale now. He is ready for a new home. I have him prospect priced to make him accessible to most budgets....just in time for upcoming cub hunting! I have lots of pictures and videos of my 10 year old daughter riding Phil for prospective homes.

Contact info: Sales: 803-315-9172 Dan (Cell)
Training: 803-315-0506 Kara (Cell)
Farm: 803-874-4025

Thanks again for what you do! I know it is time consuming.
Kara Hoefer

Elizabeth's Note: Phil's Courage's Journal is on our sister Web site: It contains great information on working with any horse not just OTTBs.

May 22, 2008

Hi Elizabeth,
This past weekend Phil participated in his third show. He brought home ribbons in Halter, Showmanship, Hunter Hack, and Equitation classes. He even participated in pole bending and cloverleaf barrels for fun. My daughter and I showed together. Phil and I were no competition to my daughter, Paige, age 10, and her dynamic pony, but we had so much fun showing together. They are on track to take home the Year End Circuit Championship for the second year in a row. Phil was a complete gentleman and was on his best manners. Phil is doing so well I may let my daughter start him over cross rails in her lessons. Paige earns money riding and showing my prospect horses, so she is anxious to ride him.

Kara and her daughter Paige at a horse show.

I have had so much fun learning, teaching, and working with Phil I see another Bits & Bytes Farm prospect horse in my future!

Please, read Phil's Journal to follow his progress. He now has learned how to bow and shake! I have a daily entry up to day 30 and then I started a weekly entry. I really think I have tackled some great issues with Phil that everyone who has ever purchased a horse may have encountered some or all of the issues discussed. I even discussed some taboo issues that the big name traveling clinicians won't talk about such as sensitizing and hobbling.

To give you a chuckle I will tell you that Phil enjoys performing tricks best of all. It isn't due to the treats because he doesn't always receive a food treat.


May 12, 2008

I received a book written about Charasmatic (1999 Kentucky Derby winner), Phil's Courage's sire, for my birthday. It is titled Three Strides Before The Wire and authored by Elizabeth Mitchell. Charasmatic has a really fascinating story behind him. He would have won the Triple Crown in 1999 if he didn't break his leg at the Belmont. He still came in 3rd with a broken leg. Now, that is incredible.

Phil is doing wonderful with his training. I have been continuing my journal entries on a weekly basis. He is even learning how to bow and shake. Phil is entered in his 3rd show next weekend.


Success Stories for Phil's Courage from his new mom Kara Hoefer.

Read Phil's Courage's Training Journal on our new web site!

Elizabeth's Notes:

Phil’s Courage was purchased as a Prospect Horse from the Bits & Bytes Farm Web site in 2007.

His first owner off-the-track was Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC. Unfortunately, Christa had a family health issue and a lack of time to continue “Phil’s” off-the-track training. Christa loved Phil’s Courage very much and she did a good job of letting him down and getting him started as a sport horse. As time went on Christa had less and less time to work with Phil’s Courage and he started taking control.

Phil's Courage is in training with his new mom Kara Hoefer.

He was fortunately purchased by Kara Hoefer who has the experience to unschool some of the bad habits that “Phil” had picked up in his leisure time while Christa was busy caring for her son. I have asked Kara to give us a Journal of Phil’s Courage’s training. She uses common techniques promoted by most “Natural Horseman” trainers. It is our hope that our reader’s will see how these techniques work to make your horse respect you on the ground and when mounted. It is important to have patience and not rush through the process. Kara explains what she is doing and more importantly why. You can follow along and see the results. Enjoy and learn! Start at Ground Training - Day 1 Phil’s Courage under the Page listings. Be sure to read Day 1 and Day 14 if your time is limited.

- Elizabeth

Phil's Courage has been SOLD!
Phil's Courage has been SOLD!

April 8, 2008

If anyone is curious about our breeding operation please, visit our Web site. We breed for the blue roan color with old time, AQHA historical bloodlines. Just like I think Phil looks like a bay giraffe, many people will think our stud looks like a bulldog.

Kara Hoefer

April 6, 2008

Hi Elizabeth,
I didn’t want to take up your time with a phone call, so I thought an email that you could read on your time would be easier. I just wanted to let you know I brought Phil’s Courage home.

Here are my thoughts: Phil has several “holes” in his education that need some work. I can see how someone could feel scared and overwhelmed without someone showing them how to become Phil’s much needed Alpha. I feel Phil doesn’t care to acknowledge a human and seeks eye contact with other horses. He is pushy and rude on the ground. He is heavy on the end of the lead. His trailer manners are awful. He threatens to bite and kick when he feels pressure; I do not tolerate this behavior at all. All in all, I see a good horse trying to figure out how to fit into the human world. I have had horses with me for training in the past that had these same issues. If anything, he is going to get a good education with (I use the term with because we are a team) me because I am a teacher/mentor with high standards and I am always consistent. He will be a good mount in a couple of months (notice I did not prescribe 30 days) for someone if they can continue to be his mentor and coach, not his buddy.

Phil had a rough welcome to my farm with a ½ hour intense ground work session right off the trailer. In order to set us up for success with our next encounter he had to get an idea of “my space and his space.” His answer is to shut down when he doesn’t know what is asked of him. He just plants his feet. He did finally become soft on the end of the lead, stayed out of my space, and briefly acknowledged me. This is a good start. He also was sent to the end of the paddock while I poured feed and brought out hay. This was a new concept for him. My husband always says he is going to video tape me and send it to America’s Funniest Videos because I squeal, snort, and kick my feet out behind me like a mare. This is my signature move and it never fails. Maybe, I do spend too much time watching the broodmares.

The moral of my story is: not all horses are perfect. Most of them have behavior issues. It is ok to ask for help from a trainer. Trainers seek help from other trainers all the time! It takes years of hands-on work with all sorts of horse behaviors and learning styles. You can’t learn from watching RFD TV.

I have all kinds of tips, humorous stories, and a good dose of reality. I don't follow any one particular method because just like my college students, every person/every horse has a different learning style. I mainly use Buck Brannaman, however I add John Lyons, Parelli (a little, not my favorite, but he is a marketing genius), Chris Cox, and Clinton Anderson. I have participated in many of these clinics over the years. Oh, how could I forget riding with Ray Hunt! I only use three teaching tools: the rope halter/14ft lead yacht braid, a sweet iron snaffle (hence the name of my farm), and patience (the most challenging tool).

Kara Hoefer

Elizabeth's Notes: Phil's Courage has a new mom! Congratulations to Kara Hoefer of Sweet Iron Farm of Swansea, SC. Sweet Iron Farm is the home of Blue Steel Quarter Horses. Kara sells foundation Quarter Horses. I have asked her to keep a diary of training Phil's Courage. Her insights should be interesting coming from a Quarter Horse expert. We hope to share these with everyone looking for new training tips to help them with their OTTBs. We are strong believers in good ground manners. A well behaved horse on the ground will respect his rider and do what is asked without question.

June 14, 2007

Phil and I continue to have a good time together. The other day I called him in from the pasture and he came sprinting about as fast as his legs would carry him...he knows I keep carrots in my pockets at all times. He of course came to a screeching halt just in time. I think he thought it was funny... I also lunged him over a few small verticals the other day, just out of curiosity to see what he would do. He took them with ease and without batting an eyelash. As far as brushing goes, dare I say that he actually LIKES it now??? I do think I saw his upper lip quivering the other day!

I do want to tell you that I officially have him for sale now, only because of my son's health issues and my lack of time now that I am dealing with that. I do love Phil, but feel that he needs someone who can spend more time with him. Time I just don't have right now I would part with him for a great price if it was someone connected to the Bits & Bytes Farm "family" because I would really rather see him go to someone who knows the farm and what you are doing to help these TBs. My
main concern is that he goes to a GREAT home. Please let me know if you know of anyone who would be interested and, of course, put the word out if you want to on the website. Until then, Phil will continue on his training, even if it is only once or twice a week at this point. I think I had sent you some pictures last month, but if you need me to resend some, let me know. I am not the best photographer, but I try to get you some halfway decent ones.

Hope all is well at the farm.
Christa Mooney & Phil

June 12, 2007

Hello! I couldn't remember which pictures I had sent you so I attached a few more that I took the other day. I haven't been able to do much riding due to some family medical issues that I mentioned in a previous email, but Phil is always the same whether I ride him every day or once a week. He remains calm and cool and as sweet as can be. However, since I am only able to ride him once or maybe twice a week, his training is slow.

Phil's Courage is sadly offered for sale.

Unfortunately I am coming to terms with the fact that I am going to have to sell him to someone who will be able to devote the time he needs to train him. I just feel so guilty that I cannot be that person right now. My son is requiring much more of my time right now than anticipated and of course I have to be there for him. I'm not sure when and if things here will get back to "normal". Of course until I part with Phil I am spending as much time with him as possible. He is moving so much better now that his back is not as stiff. He actually likes being brushed now (his lip was actually quivering and was that a horsey smile??) when I was using the stiff brush the other day.

Please let me know if you have anyone who would be interested in purchasing this wonderful horse. I love him very much and just want to see him find the right place with the right person.

I hope all is well at the farm.

Phil's Courage is sadly offered for sale.

May 23, 2007

Hi! Here are some pictures of Phil. He is doing great in the BIG field, as you can see. The gradual hills have been good for his balance and I think he really enjoys being away from the ring for a little while. I have been trying to ride him mainly in the field lately since he seems to enjoy it so much. I do need to find a riding buddy to go out with us though. Most of the kids around here like to gallop through the field and I'm not sure I want to be around them when they do that! At least not yet! Hope you are all doing well! I will try to get some action shots next time.

Christa Mooney


Hi! I just wanted to give you another quick update on Phil. He is doing great! After receiving the registration papers from you I researched his breeder and found their website. I then wrote to them, not really expecting much, but to my surprise they responded the next day saying that they did, in fact, remember him and they would like to see him the next time they are in the area! Mainly I had just wanted to know where he got the name "Phil's Courage" since people usually name racehorses unusual names and "Phil" just seemed to have a story behind it. Sure enough, I found out that Phil was born when a friend of the breeder was fighting a battle with cancer. The friend's name was Phil, so the foal was named after him.

Anyway, I have been cantering him and he is just like a rocking horse, but with a huge stride. He always picks up the wrong lead, but yesterday I pushed him along into the turn when he wanted to break to a trot and, surprisingly, he effortlessly gave me a flying change in the front...going to the right! His trot is getting better and he is going over the ground poles nicely. When in the big ring, he works around all of the fancy jumps without even looking at them. I haven't found anything that he is afraid of yet.

I cannot get many pictures of me riding him because I rarely have someone to take pictures. I will try to bring someone with me soon and send you some more. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone said, "He is just soooooo cute!" Everyone thinks he is just adorable...and he is!

I would like to inform you, though, that I am not sure how long I will be able to keep him. It kills me to think of letting him go because I just LOVE him so much, but my son has neurological issues that have gotten much worse in the past couple of weeks and those issues are keeping me from working Phil like I need to be. My son is in need of constant supervision and between running to doctor's appointments and working with him at home I am beginning to feel that Phil is getting less of my time than he needs and deserves.

I am not sure what to do at this point. I am not going to advertise him for sale yet because I am not wanting him to go to just anyone. If you know someone who is looking for a wonderful horse, please put them in contact with me. Otherwise I will keep working him and see what happens with the time I have to offer him. At this point I would love to be selfish and keep him for myself no matter what, but I know that isn't the right thing to do for Phil or for my son. It is a very difficult situation
for me to think about right now (as I am tears about it just about everyday), but I am taking it day by day.

I hope you are all doing well. I will send more pictures as soon as I can get them. I rode Phil in the BIG field today so maybe I can get a snapshot of that!

May 13, 2007

I just wanted to let you know that Phil's registration papers came today. I
didn't realize he was only 5, just turning 6! Thanks for sending them.

The chiropractor came out last week and said that Phil's issues were typical
TB off the track issues. She adjusted him, is having us do ground poles and
only walking and trotting for a while. She will come back in two or three


April 6, 2007

Phil's Courage loves Christa's children. April 6, 2007


Here are a few pictures of the kids with Phil. As I told you before, Phil loves Jake's hair, but he also loves hugs and kisses from both of the kids.

He continues to be very gentle. I rode him outside of the ring a few times and he did great. Our barn is located in a very wide open area and it is an extremely busy place, with lots of kids so I was cautious in doing so, but he did great and I look forward to a few short trail rides soon.

We have been walking over ground poles and really working on turning. Transitions are good, but impulsion continues to be a problem.

Jake hugs OTTB Phil's Courage.

Jake hugs OTTB Phil's Courage.

I cantered him for the first time the other day and he did fantastic. We have absolutely no issues with leg contact. In fact I have to carry a crop at times to get him to move forward because my leg alone doesn't always do the trick. He is trained to my voice fairly well though, so when I say "trot" he will usually trot without much leg contact... until he starts to tire. And forget half-halts...I say "walk" or "whoa" and he does just what I ask. Pretty smart if you ask me.

He had his first day out in the rain last weekend. What a riot. I could just tell that he was thinking "What the heck is this?!?!" He ran a bit, then decided to roll. After that he went right back to grazing forgetting all about the rain coming down.

Phil's Courage loves Jakes hair.
Phil's Courage loves Jakes hair.

All in all, things continue to go well. We have a show at the barn in May so I am eager to just walk him around to see what he'll do with all the action of the day. I'll let you know how it goes.

Take care...

PS. I hope everyone can see from the pictures just how gentle the TBs can be. People often get the wrong impression of them.

Elizabeth's Notes: Off-the-track Thoroughbreds seem to love children. It may be because the horse is very sensitive and can feel the unconditional love that children have for horses. Read through some of the other Success Stories and you will see what I mean.

March 26, 2007


I love the pictures of Nancy riding Dream Pusher...I love to see people having such a great time with their horses. I do hope to visit your farm at some point. Hopefully sooner rather than later. If I had a trailer I would bring Phil along!

Anyway, I have a couple of questions for you. First, do you have any business cards that I can put in my barn to "advertise" your farm?? We have LOTS of people coming in and out everday and we have shows every other month so I thought it might be good to post some on the bulletin board, if you think that would help.

Also, my other question is this...I viewed the video of Fizzi when you first rode him and he was doing the same thing as Phil...head kind of cocked to the side, zig zagging along, etc. Phil is getting better, but do you have any suggestions as to what I can do that might help? He is reaching for the bit and I am trying to push him from behind into the bit, but the impulsion is not there. I think I will have to start carrying a crop just to remind him that he needs to keep moving forward.

Today he planted his feet and, if he could talk, I think he might have said, "No, I really think I've trotted enough today" = ) I kind of laughed to myself because that actually gave me the courage to take him out of the ring for the first time while riding him. The reason I say that is that our farm is WIDE open...very inviting for a horse that might consider taking off!

What kind of bending exercises do you normally do with these guys and what helps to get them moving off your leg? I think things are going well for us, but any suggestions would be appreciated.

Thanks a lot and I'll be in touch with that picture soon!

Elizabeth's Training Note: Most OTTBs have a problem bending to the right. You cannot pull their heads to the right or they will drop their shoulder and curl into a turn. What you need to do is ride with a constant supporting outside rein. Ask for the bend with the inside leg. Push the horse to the outside rein. Make a "wall" of your outside rein and outside leg. Open your inside rein and lift it. I find that carrying a bat length whip is useful to tap on the should to help keep the horse from dropping the shoulder. I also sometimes use spurs (with a flat headed rowel that tickles) to get the horse's attention with the inside leg. Yes, I said use spurs and a whip with your ex-racer! This is the most common problem with any ex-racer. Horse trainer, John Lyon's talks about the "baby give" to get the horse bending his head. Look it up. A brief description of this is to hold pressure on one rein until the horse "gives" or bends to it. IMMEDIATELY release the pressure. Wait a second and apply the pressure again. Hold pressure on one rein until the horse "gives" or bends to it again. IMMEDIATELY release the pressure. Repeat about 100 or more times each side and soon you will have a horse that will give you his head with the lightest of pressure. As you are doing this at a walk, do not worry where the horse is going. Focus on being quick with the release when the horse gives you the bend. What the horse wants more than anything is for you to leave him alone - he gets that when you release the pressure. The horse will give you what you reward (release) for. After a few days the horse will bend properly and then it is on to the next task - making him straight with impulsion!

Click here to read more Training Notes from Elizabeth.

March 25, 2007

Phil's Courage and his new mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.
Phil's Courage and his new mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.

Hi! I just wanted to give you an update on Phil.

So far he has been doing SO well. Some of the issues we had in the beginning were that he was a bit head shy, he HATED to be brushed, and walking through gates totally scared him to death. After just a few short weeks he is no longer head shy at all, he is tolerating being brushed (what a sport!) and the gates are getting easier to navigate. He still hesitates, but with some encouragement he will go through just fine.

Phil's Courage and his new mom Christa Mooney of Charlotte, NC.

He is loving the farm life and, as you can see in the picture, he is turned out in a paddock with electric tape and he does fine with it. I was concerned that he would try to run through the tape, but he doesn't even bother with it. Whenever I go to get him, he always comes right to me eager to be loved on. He has had several baths in the wash stalls and he cross ties for that just great. He now has shoes on the front, but is barefoot in the rear for now.

Longeing is going very well. He totally listens to voice commands now and has no problem going both ways. He also has very nice lead changes! My boy is sooo smart!

Everyone is curious where I got him from and of course, I am happy to tell them! Since he is only 1.5 miles from my house I get to see him every day. If I don't ride, I always brush him and spend time with him. He loves when I bring my son with me because, for some reason, he loves my son's hair! Phil just rubs his muzzle through my son's hair and he'd do it for as long as we'd let him. It seems to relax him, like a baby would rub a blanket against their face. It is hilarious!

Getting ready to ride Phil's Courage for the first time.
Getting ready to ride Phil's Courage for the first time.

We have only been walking and trotting in the ring so far. I have been taking the riding slowly with him...I have no reason to rush and I don't want to overwhelm him. I try to make a goal for each week. We have mainly spent the past week or two just working on extending the trot and turning. Phil really likes going straight! The trainer at the barn (seen in the picture helping me ride Phil for the first time) has been very helpful and with his guidance I am sure Phil will continue to do great! He is a very sweet and loving horse!

I will write again in a month or so with another update!

Christa Mooney

Phil's Courage at home in Charlotte, NC.
Phil's Courage at home in Charlotte, NC.

March 5, 2007

Phil's Courage has made it to his new moPhil's Courage has made it to Charlotte, NC and his new mom - Chrisa Mooney. March 4, 2007
Phil's Courage has made it to Charlotte, NC and his new mom - Chris Mooney. March 4, 2007

It was amazing how much calmer Phil was today after having a day to be outside in the pasture. Not that he was wild before, but he just seemed happier. Now, I was wondering how to approach the retraining. Is there a good book, website or anything to read about it? Should I begin him on the lunge (without saddle and then with one, maybe?) When do you introduce side reins (I noticed you had them on a horse in one of the pictures). Any thoughts would be appreciated. Hope to hear from you soon.


Elizabeth's Notes: There is lots of information on retraining off-the-track Thoroughbreds on our Web site. Start with my handouts from the Maryland HorseWorld Expo and then read the past Training Notes from Elizabeth. Many of the Success Stories on this site tell of buyers training experiences and I have added notes to many of them.

All buyers of our horses are welcome to call to discuss training approaches. We are sorry that we cannot offer this service to non buyers of our horses. Every horse is unique and you need to let the horse guide the speed of the training lessons.

We like to teach a horse to lunge first with a bridle and saddle. Side reins are not always necessary but they can be a good tool if used properly to help the horse learn to give to pressure on the reins. They work well with a horse that wants to go with his nose in the air. Never set them too short. They should only have an effect if the horse raises his head beyond a normal head carriage. The give positive feedback by going soft when the head is returned to a normal position.

The Internet is also a great source of free information. Be careful with forums where you get a lot of advice from people who are not that knowledgeable.

March 4, 2007

Dear Elizabeth,
Well, Phil finally arrived at 2:00 am Saturday morning! I couldn't believe how BIG and beautiful he is. My most recent horse was a 14.3 hand Arabian so Phil seemed especially huge.

Phil's Courage is a tall horse.

We took Phil to his stall and he immediately took a long drink of water and went straight to his hay without missing a beat. I felt confident he would be fine that night. It was funny because we went back to the trailer for about 5 minutes to pay Suzanne for bringing him and when we went back to tuck him in for the night he was completely covered in sawdust!

The next morning I went to see him at about 7:30. He was very happy and relaxed and I finally had time to give him some hugs and kisses on that fuzzy nose. I decided to turn him out in the round pen for the weekend until he got used to the sights, sounds and action at the farm. He danced all the way to the pen so on the way back in I did use the chain over his nose...not because he was out of control, but he is sooo strong! I actually decided to attach two leads. One with a chain and a one with a regular clip. It worked better because if he got quick I could just give a short tug on the chain and then use the other lead the rest of the time.

"Phil's" favorite thing to do is roll!
"Phil's" favorite thing to do is roll!

By Sunday evening I was barely using the chain anymore at all and his ground manners improved tremendously. Of course, as you can see from the picture, I quickly found out that his favorite thing to do is roll!!! It's always the very first thing he does when he goes out. Monica did say that he loves to do it and she was right!

Sunday evening we decided to turn him out with his pasture mate-to-be for a trial run. They did great and to be honest I wonder if I actually have a dressage horse on my hands. What a mover! He strutted his stuff for a while, but settled down and enjoyed being outside for about an hour before it got dark. Today he will have his shoes removed (he lost one in transit).

My 2 year old daughter and 5 year old son came into the stall with me and he just nuzzled them softly.
"My 2 year old daughter and 5 year old son came into the stall with me and he just nuzzled them softly." says "Phil's" new mom Christa Mooney.

So far so good and I just love him. He is soooo gentle and loving. My 2 year old daughter and 5 year old son came into the stall with me and he just nuzzled them softly. I will give you another update in a few weeks. I will be contacting you about how to approach this retraining since it's been a while since I had my last off the track horse. For now we are just letting him relax and be a horse for a week.

Thanks for everything! Oh, and Monica (Phil's former owner/trainer)was great...she called twice to check on him and she is sending me some other information about him. It's nice to know that she loved him so much and is so concerned for his well-being. Suzanne (hauler)was also wonderful and she took great care of Phil on his journey to NC!

Christa Mooney

Phil's Courage was a former Prospect Horse For Sale in January 2007. Click here to see his Prospect Horse For Sale photos.
"Phil" is a six year old bay Thoroughbred gelding for sale. He is 16.1 hands high.


Would you like a Web site for your business? That's how we make our living!
Click here for more information.

© 2007 Copyright Bits & Bytes Farm /Egeland Wood & Zuber, Inc.