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The fourth of our interviews with riders eventing with ex racehorses is with Laura Jane Meller.
- Tell us a little bit about yourself, how long have you been riding? Have you always been interested in eventing?
I started riding when I was 7, my next birthday is my 26th. I always wanted to grow up being just like Mary King, so most certainly interested in eventing!
- I think Mary has inspired many of us twenty something year olds! Who is your ex racehorse? Tell us a bit about them.
My horse is El Toreros aka Joey. Joey’s last race was 04/09/16 and he was thrown in a field after that. I went to see him on 08/10/16 and brought him home after having a quick walk and trot round.
He’s quirky and has a huge horsinality. He’s not been the easiest of horses but he tries very hard for me every time. He’s really taken to cross country and after only 3 visits to a cross country course (one of which, and his first time at that, I hit the fence!) he was jumping into water, over 95cm hanging logs, trakehners and anything else I point him at. His dressage isn’t great but he tries, and did brilliantly at his first test on 30/04/17 getting 66.95% .
Joey was gifted to me in October from the same trainer who I had got Ross (Divine Folly) from in May last year, but unfortunately lost some time before.
- Did you retrain Joey for eventing yourself?
Yes! I’ve had lessons with my coach but I’m pleased to say I have done all the hard work. He’s not the first ex race horse I’ve retrained for eventing, I had them directly from the track too.
- What level are you two currently competing at?
We have our first unaffiliated ODE 80cm on 21st so in 3 weeks.
- What are your aims for the next couple of seasons?
We intend to do 2 or 3 BE80s this year and try and squeeze in a 90 at the end of the season, with hopes to work up BE90 – BE100
- Are you competing any other horses at the moment? If so, tell us a bit about them and what level you are competing.
Horse 1 – my other horse Budweiser. Bud’s previously evented up to CIC** and gave to me when he needed a quieter life, and I needed to learn to Event. He’s done a brilliant job and we are entering Unaffiliated and BE100s this season.
Horse 2 – my friends ex racehorse, I’ve started introducing him to dressage and hope to get him out on an XC course by the end of summer.
- Is there anything which stands out to you that makes an ex racehorse/thoroughbred special for eventing?
They are bred to be athletes, they are the fittest and fastest of breeds and I think that makes for a very special horse to Event. Events are getting tougher, longer and require more stamina. Even at the top I can honestly say I’ve never seen an ex racehorse look like they were struggling on the XC course! There is a reason we are breeding more and more thoroughbred into the new generation of event horses and this is why.
- I agree, thoroughbred blood is still really desirable in event horses. Is there anything which stands out as being particularly challenging when asking an ex racehorse to event?
Dressage – although a lot of ex racehorses learn their new job well, reasonably quickly and without very little argument… I feel that Thoroughbreds don’t always have that ‘flashy’ / sub 30 / flicky toe trot which warmbloods have, which tends to give a lower score going into the jumping phases.
- Would you consider another ex racehorse for your next event horse?
Absolutely. I’ve had 5 ex racehorses and I’d most certainly have another.
- Do you think more could be done to show how adaptable ex racehorses are?
Yes. I feel that eventers and the occasional dressage rider are the only ones who will accept an ex racehorse. Show jumpers do not appear to have the time of day for a thoroughbred, more specifically an ex racehorse and this needs to change.
They need more publicity in the right way, a good rider needs his or her story following in the public eye, showing exactly what challenges we are faced with but overcome to successfully retrain the ex racehorse for Eventing.
Last Updated on 07/08/2018