OTTB Showcase: HALF A BISCUIT (a.k.a. Biscuit)
Name: HALF A BISCUIT (a.k.a. Biscuit)
Born: February 21, 2001
Sire: Favorite Trick
Dam: Summer Matinee
Sale History: Sold as a weanling at KEENOV in 2001 for $24,000; sold at OBSAUG as a yearling for $33,000
Race Record: 1-0-0-0
Race Earnings: $200
Vanessa Vogeli was on the search for a fish, but ended up with a horse. Literally.
“I was planning to get a few fish and was researching aquarium supplies and upkeep, and you know how internet searches go,” explained Vanessa. “My search for fish led to seals, which led to seal slaughter, which led to horse slaughter, which I had no idea even existed in North America. I eventually came across the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and just started reading about their program, all the while telling myself, ‘you can’t afford a horse, you can’t afford a horse.’”
Vanessa was well aware of what a horse can cost. Growing up with a very international upbringing, Vanessa lived not only in the U. S., but in Afghanistan, Kenya, Southern Africa, Malaysia, and elsewhere due to her father’s career in academics and curriculum planning. Horses were always a constant. Once adulthood hit though, horses got put on the back burner, until that fateful internet search.
After many hours of researching, thinking and planning, Vanessa decided to make the trip to her local Thoroughbred Retirement Facility (TRF) to look at a gelding by Mecke.
“I’d searched the horses on their website and found Meckalodon, a son of Mecke, and I thought that was going to be ‘the one,’” said Vanessa. “By the time I got there, he’d already been adopted out, but there was a horse named Half A Biscuit that had also caught my eye online. When I met him in person, that was it.”
Biscuit had raced only once for trainer Amy Tarrant and ruptured a tendon in that race, which prompted his immediate retirement. Amy donated him to the Marion County TRF facility at the Lowell Correctional Institution, along with a donation to cover his expenses during his rehabilitation.
“The interaction between the inmates and the horses was so touching, so impressive,” said Vanessa.
When Biscuit arrived, he needed significant rehabilitation for his tendon and was on stall rest for months.
“The prisoners take part in the program because they truly want to be there and work with the horses, and the care they gave Biscuit was tremendous,” said Vanessa. “The day I took Biscuit home, the inmate who cared for him had a hard time saying goodbye…he was in tears.”
Today, Biscuit and Vanessa enjoy life at their own pace, and that’s just fine with both of them.
“After being away from horses for more than 30 years, I find the things I want to do now with horses totally different from when I was younger,” explained Vanessa. “So much anymore I enjoy just being in the company of horses rather than always riding.”
Vanessa and Biscuit have learned new things together at Camille and John Sappricone’s Splendid Bay Farm in Manatee County. Vanessa wanted to learn equine massage, and Biscuit learned to be the perfect guinea pig, which was probably not the hardest thing he’d ever done. They’ve also attempted the training methods of Pat Parelli, Clinton Anderson, and others.
“I don’t know if it’s a maturity thing, the fact that you no longer bounce when you hit the ground, that you have a greater appreciation for the financial cost of things, or possibly you just have a bigger fear of death, but I’m just happy doing the simple things with my horse these days instead of showing, jumping, and the death-defying acts I used to engage in growing up,” said Vanessa.
Throughout her life and her many equestrian endeavors around the world, Vanessa has found a constant: Thoroughbreds.
“I have always loved and ridden Thoroughbreds,” said Vanessa. “Living in Kenya, Thoroughbreds were all they had, all retired from the track and on to careers as hunters, jumpers and dressage horses. I’ve never given a second thought to the stereotypes given to them. To me, they’ve been the most intelligent, intuitive, adaptable and curious of all the breeds, not to mention their physical attributes, which can’t be over-stated. I just love them!”
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 (Jenlroytz@gmail.com) 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 two retired Thoroughbreds: Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and is just starting back under saddle to find his forte as a riding horse, and Shotgun Shine (by Tale of the Cat, a.k.a. Gage), who is in training as a hunter/jumper. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.