Most moms love to gush about their daughters, and most equestrians love to gush about their horses. Michelle Yanstick is a proud mom who can't say enough about her daughter's OTTB, a horse who completely changed the Yanstick family's views on off-track Thoroughbreds in the hunter ring.
Carlye Yanstick was four-years-old when she started riding horses, and by age six she had her first pony. Riding was her passion and as she grew, she progressed from her pony to a small horse and eventually to a big, beautiful Warmblood that she showed in the hunter divisions.
“She'd been competing since she was five and was ready to show in the three-foot hunter division, but unfortunately her horse was unpredictable and landed both my daughter and her trainer in the hospital on separate occasions,” explained Michelle. “We made the decision to sell him and find something new, and as a mom my first priority was safety.”
The Yansticks looked at a number of horses, mostly Warmbloods, who were capable of doing the three-foot division, but were just not finding the right match for her 16-year-old daughter, Carlye.
“We were in Pennsylvania looking at yet another such horse and saw an ad for a just-turned-four-year-old OTTB,” said Michelle. “Why we even went to look at him remains a mystery to both of us. The horse was only walking, trotting, cantering and trail riding and had no show experience whatsoever…certainly not what we were looking for.”
Or, so they thought.
They contacted the owner, who was using the horse as a trail horse since a back injury was preventing her from doing more than light flatwork with him, and made an appointment to go out and see him.
“He was adorable and seemed so quiet, especially for a four-year-old,” said Michelle. “Carlye got on him and tried him at the walk, trot and canter, since that's basically all he knew how to do.”
Michelle took a video of the pair and showed it to Carlye's trainer to get her input.
“[Carlye's trainer] thought he was cute, but couldn't understand why a teenage girl would want to take on the project of training a baby Thoroughbred who clearly would be a long way away from jumping three-foot fences in the show ring,” said Michelle.
Her trainer, however, respected Carlye's tenacity, and told her that if she was willing to put in the time and understood the challenges she was going to face training a young ex-racer, she'd help her through the process.
“Carlye said there was just something about Bling that made her want to own him, and I am a firm believer that our animals find us,” said Michelle. “We drove back to that farm in Pennsylvania the next day and brought Bling home.”
Bling had a long road ahead of him. He'd never even trotted over a ground pole, but he had a good attitude, and Carlye had faith in his abilities and potential.
Just a few months after she began working with him, Carlye decided to take him to his first show.
“I tried to discourage her – I felt it was still too soon in his training,” said Michelle. “She had faith in Bling and, as fate would have it, in his lesson the night before his first show he decided to understand what a lead change was!”
The next day, Michelle's hope was that Bling would simply behave and keep her daughter safe as they navigated their courses. He did that and so much more, as in their first show together Carlye and Bling earned Grand Champion in the Baby Green division.
“Competitions are one thing, but the greatest joy we have in owning Bling is his fabulous personality and great mind,” said Michelle. “He is the youngest horse in the show barn where he is boarded and time and time again he proves he is more reliable than horses two and three times his age.”
Carlye and Bling have a blast together, riding around the farm bareback (sometimes double with her friends), trail riding, and even swimming in the lake.
“The bond Carlye shares with Bling is unlike any she's had with any other horse,” said Michelle. “My daughter's dedication to him, our trainer's knowledge, and Bling's attitude all contributed to their success. As a mom, Bling is worth a million bucks because he takes such great care of my daughter.
“My impression of Thoroughbreds before we owned Bling, I'm ashamed to admit, was that they were all high-strung and unpredictable. Being in the hunter world, we were all far more impressed with Warmbloods. Bling has changed my mind for good. He is the friendliest, most trustworthy, calm-natured horse we have owned. I could not ask for a better partner for my daughter.”
Name: Witt's Bling Bling (a.k.a. “Bling”)
Born: March 11, 2009
Sire: Too Much Bling
Dam: Expect Michelle
Sale History: none
Race Record: 5-0-0-0
Race Earnings: $1,460
If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.
Jen Roytz is the marketing and communications director at Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Kentucky. She also handles the farm's Thoroughbred aftercare efforts. She currently owns Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.
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