Name: Amanda Bry (a.k.a. Limerick)
Sire: Hot Oil
Dam: Amelia Bry
Sale History: none
Race Record: 3-0-0-0
Race Earnings: $120
What do you get when you combine a rider who's hearing impaired with a horse who hears too much? For Heidi Carpenter and a horse named Limerick, you end up with a perfect match.
Raced under the name Amanda Bry, Limerick was small in stature and equally short on courage. It was that combination that likely led her to a brief and uneventful career on the Illinois circuit that resulted in three races run and no races won.
After that third race, trainer Eddie Cole found the filly a home as a riding horse with a young girl. After a year, however, her new owner's focus turned from horses to boys, and as a result, Limerick was sold to a hunter/jumper trainer based in Wadsworth, Illinois.
It was there that Heidi first saw the equine love of her life.
“I fell in love with her the first time I sat on her back,” explained Heidi. “She just felt right. She was only 15 hands tall, and being petite myself, it was a good physical match. Plus, it was the heyday of Cigar and in a small way, she reminded me of him with her bay coat, chrome, and one white-rimmed eye. Plus, being a huge fan of horseracing and all, I thought I was so cool having an off-track Thoroughbred.”
Heidi and her mom were horse-shopping together. Heidi's mother, a lifelong horse-lover and recent cancer survivor at the time, had gotten her daughter involved in riding at age six; hoping it would help with her balance after Heidi lost 95 percent of her hearing due to meningitis at age three. Worried her daughter was growing board with riding nothing but lesson horses into her teenage years, and feeling the need for a horse in her life after beating cancer, Heidi's mom thought it was the right time to consider getting Heidi a horse of her own, one they could both enjoy and appreciate.
“When we first got her, we quickly found out she could be quite the mare,” said Heidi. “She didn't like being groomed hard and preferred a light touch. She liked to be treated like a little lady.”
Another thing Heidi soon learned about Limerick was that she was extremely sensitive to sounds and carried a significant amount of fear and anxiety because of it.
“She had a major problem with bolting when I first got her, especially over auditory stimuli,” said Heidi. “That meant I had no idea what she was hearing and would suddenly find myself going for a ride! Eventually, I got her to stop running away, but it took having a lot of patience with her, as well as a good seat.”
As the pair progressed, Heidi taught Limerick to relax – to a point – and found that she was a talented jumper with the flexibility and movement of a top show horse. She just lacked the mentality of a show horse, but Heidi was fine with that, and focused on simply refining Limerick's temperament and training for personal fulfillment rather than for ribbons and awards.
Then in 2002 a freak accident changed Limerick's life, and Heidi's too.
“Lim developed acute laminitis in her left fore after getting her right hind leg stuck in the window bars of her stall,” said Heidi. “Our guess is that she'd kicked out at a fly in the stall. They were quite bad that year and she could go into a frenzy trying to rid herself of them.”
It took a radical hoof wall resectioning and months of special shoeing, but thanks to Heidi's extremely conscientious care, Limerick recovered better than expected and even returned to be sound for riding, though her jumping days are behind her. That's perfectly fine to Heidi, though.
“Before her injury I had seen her as my riding partner and my friend, but during the hours and hours of tending to her, our bond became so much stronger and I truly got to know what a funny, intelligent, quirky, spunky thing she is!”
Today at age 21 Limerick and Heidi are still together, and amazingly, Heidi has managed her hooves to the point that Limerick is barefoot, completely sound, and still ridden on a regular basis. While she still has the same edge to her that she displayed as a recently retired racer, the love and attention Heidi has adorned her with over the years have dulled that blade.
“In the beginning, she reacted to things in an extreme manner – pinning her ears, teeth gnashing, bolting, spooking – but I was willing to ‘listen' to what she was asking for, and I kept a sense of humor about it, and it has paid off. She's evolved into a much more relaxed, mellow version of her younger fiery self. She still has her days, but all women have bad days, right?”
Just a teenager when she first met Limerick, today 32-year-old Heidi is married, works for a technology company, and is still an avid fan of horse racing, and now of pedigrees too. So much of a fan of pedigrees, in fact, that she and her husband, Shannon, now also own one of Limerick's relatives, a mare named Oil Money's Dream, a mare the couple first saw on the racetrack the day she powered to an allowance win. They followed her career and watched her finish worse than fourth in her eighth consecutive race with a claiming tag of $5,000 or less at Mountaineer Race Track, which according to the racetrack's policy, means said horse must depart the grounds within 48 hours. Lucky for Oil Money's Dream, Heidi was there to make sure her fall from grace had a soft landing and today she and Limerick, both descendents of the obscure sire Hot Oil, live together peacefully under Heidi's watchful eye. You can read the entire story of Oil Money's Dream here.
“I've loved horses as long as I could remember and I've loved Thoroughbred racing since I was a little girl,” said Heidi. “There is no horse on earth like an OTTB. Full of personality, intellect, and an eagerness to please, Thoroughbreds love to have a job and love to make their ‘person' happy. So many people form lifelong bonds with Thoroughbreds the way I have with my Limerick.”
Heidi writes a blog about being a deaf equestrian that you can read by going to http://deafequinefanatic.blogspot.com/
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 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.
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