Saturday was one of the most glorious days for riding in North Georgia. It started out foggy but when the fog burned off there was not a cloud in the sky and the temperatures were just perfect for doing a hunter pace.
Five Thoroughbreds from Bits & Bytes Farm loaded up in the dark to head to Kingston Downs (home of the Atlanta Steeplechase) in Kingston, GA for the In Unison Farm Fall Hunter Pace. We met up with one of our newly placed Prospect Horses sold directly from the track just four weeks ago – Cortableau! We also got a live update on one of our former (2004) Bits & Bytes Farm horses – Baileysontherocks.
For those who have never done a hunter pace, here is a brief description. You ride 10 to 15 miles over fox hunt territory at a “hunter’s pace”. The rider coming closest to the optimum time wins (someone has ridden the course and set the time). There are several different divisions that simulate a typical fox hunting days: Bluebird Division (a slow day with not much scent), Cast & Run Division (a medium good hunting day) and Gone Away Division (a great hunting day where the hounds get on the scent and run). The divisions were further split by over fences or not and junior or senior.
The five Bits & Bytes Farm horses (Aly’s Alpha Boy, Bounced, Classic Casey, Era of Chanago and Political Pull) chose to do Bluebird Over Fences. We like to take our time and jump the fences several times for experience and photos. We are not really trying to compete but rather we use the hunter pace as a schooling opportunity to get the horses away and school new fences and deal with other horses galloping by.
Newly off-the-track Thoroughbred – Cortableau and his mom, Laura Durham-Dixon wanted to go faster but not over fences so they were in the Cast & Run Division – no jumping.
Baileysontherocks has been away from racing since 2004 when he was purchased for resale by Bits & Bytes Farm. He has lots of hunter pace and eventing experience with his mom Nikki Surrusco so they did the Gone Away Division over fences.
We started out together with friend and Bits & Bytes Farm horse buyer, Dr. Susan Llewallyn and former fellow Shamrock Hounds hunt club member Jeff Perkins. They were doing the Gone Away Over Fences and they were soon gone from view but not before getting caught up on what’s new at the farm and checking out our horses. They were in a hurry to get back to Susan’s farm to get the hay baled before the rain.
Dr. Laura Durham-Dixon was riding Cortableau with friend, Mary Catherine Chewning and her beautiful paint horse. They were riding in the Cast & Run Division and we stayed up with them long enough to get a few photos before meeting them back at the trailer for yet another world famous Bits & Bytes Farm picnic. Read Laura’s version of the hunter pace on the OTTB Success Stories Web site.
Our group was made up of Bits & Bytes Farm owner Barry Zuber on Bounced, Friends of Bits & Bytes Farm – Allison Giles on Era of Chanago and Andi Krakovsky riding Aly’s Alpha Boy, frequent buyer Stephanie Bone (Son of Isis aka “Blue, Unanimous aka “Gunner” and Theironman aka “Taggert” ) on Political Pull and myself on Classic Casey. It was Casey’s first hunter pace and he did double duty as the tripod of the day. He made me proud.
Stephanie spent the weekend at Bits & Bytes Farm brought her B&B horse, Theironman aka “Taggert”, to ride him for the first time. He was a Bargain Barn horse in June 2008 with a sesmoid injury which is now healed. She rode him for the first time after the hunter pace. Since “Taggert” was not ready to go to the hunter pace, she borrowed Political Pull and had the best ride of the day. He has a trot to die for (especially if you are a fox hunter) and a cruise control canter. He just rocks over the fences.
Stephanie’s newest horse, Theironman is just three and still a stallion. He is the from the first crop of superstar stallion – Medaglia d’Or0 and he is the half brother to Rachel Alexandra who looks to be the 2009 Horse of the Year. We often have some very well bred horses on our Web site. Theironman’s half brother Al Zir cost $1.6 million as a two year old at the Fasig-Tipton sale. Theironman was a Bargain Barn horse who has really turned out to be a fantastic horse. Don’t be scared off by an injury. We have a good idea from our track vets as to the future potential of any horse we place.
At the end of the day, it did not matter if you were riding a Bits & Bytes Farm horse one month off-the-track (Cortableau) or one that has been off-the-track for seven years (Era of Chanago) they all performed beautifully and were a pleasure to ride and be around. We have been in the business of promoting the Thoroughbred ex-race horse since 2001. We have years of stories like this one on our old news pages, and on ourolder Success Stories pages and the newest OTTB Success Stories now have their own Web site. We are not here today, gone tomorrow horse traders. We follow our horses and make sure they are doing well. We now have our own “track record” which is public record on our Web sites. We will always help find a new home for any horse we place.
The results of the hunter pace? Everyone ended up with ribbons! Baileysontherocks rocked the course to win a red ribbon. Cortableau got a pink and our five Bits & Bytes Farm horses won second through sixth place even though we weren’t really competing. What made the day special was to see everyone enjoying their Thoroughbreds and catching up with other “family” members from the extended Bits & Bytes Farm family. We hope more of you will have the opportunity to gallop cross country on an ex-race horse!