A few weeks ago we were approached by Jen Roytz, the marketing and communications director for Three Chimneys Farm in Midway, Ky., about a project that is close to her heart: off-track Thoroughbreds, better known as OTTBs.
The Paulick Report has focused on numerous organizations that serve as the interim stop for Thoroughbreds leaving the racetrack and going on to second careers, but it occurred to us that we've never showcased those horses themselves. Jen had a very powerful suggestion, a weekly OTTB “showcase” that brought us up close and personal with those wonderful animals no longer racing but leading a very happy and fulfilling life in a different discipline.
We are happy, then, to bring you our first installment of the OTTB Showcase. A very heartfelt thanks to Jen Roytz and all the people who recognize the value of the Thoroughbred and a productive life off the racetrack. – Ray Paulick
Name: Bayou Brass (a.k.a. Iggy)
Born: May 8, 1993
Height: 16.2 hands
Sire: Dixieland Brass
Dam: Sadair Royalty, by Sadair
Sale History: $7,000 RNA at Keeneland Sept., 1994
Race Record: 28-9-5-1 from ages 2-9
Race earnings: $96,390
You Will Love Again
By Jen Roytz
“I cannot fathom what my life would be like had I not found him,” said Sarah Coleman, owner of Bayou Brass, a.k.a. Iggy. “After my childhood hunter died, I was so heartbroken that if I hadn't had Iggy, I would have hung up my helmet long ago.”
Sarah first came across Iggy, who raced as Bayou Brass, in 2004, soon after she came to Kentucky. The chestnut gelding had been sent to the lesson stable she was riding at to be boarded.
“No one had even sat on him yet,” said Sarah.
Iggy's breeder, Dr. Trisha Ziefle, keeps track of all horses she breeds after they leave her care. In 2002, Trisha saw that Iggy had pulled up in a race at Retama Park in Texas. The horse had changed hands several times since he'd left Trisha's care, and she feverishly tried to connect with his then-current owner and trainer. Trisha eventually learned that Iggy had bowed a tendon in his last race and had been traded for a load of hay. Trisha contacted the hay man, who said he was planning to take the gelding to the stockyards the following morning, and purchased the horse back, boarding him temporarily at a Texas farm.
Trisha soon learned that one of Iggy's former owners, Mike Harbour, was also trying to track the horse down in order to make sure he ended up in a good home and, when the two connected, Mike offered to pay for the shipping for Iggy to get back to Trisha's small farm in Kentucky.
After being turned out at Trisha's farm for a year to heal his tendon and recover from the rigors of racing, Iggy was sent to a local hunter/jumper stable to be boarded and get going under saddle as a riding horse and that is where Sarah found him.
Iggy retired from racing at age nine, had a bowed tendon and, as was discovered by Trisha, also had a previous knee surgery, and was now 11-years-old with little re-schooling.
“I have never sat on a Thoroughbred who has such a nice mouth, and he's got a great work ethic, but I was surprised to learn that his former owner had had high hopes for him on the track and that he had done well,” said Sarah. “He apparently used up all of his 'go' during his racing days. He's quite lazy, but he hasn't lost any of his heart and he's very intelligent…a very quick learner.”
People often ask how a horse named Bayou Brass got the nickname of 'Iggy.”
“Iggy is short for Ignoramus – he wouldn't follow his dam when he was young. Independent chestnut, right?” said Sarah. “But I don't tell him that. I tell him it stands for Ignatius.”
Together, Sarah and Iggy, have racked up quite the collection of awards, earning year-end honors in the Kentucky Hunter/Jumper Association Hunter Over Fences and Equitation divisions every year but one since they began competing together in 2004. Their one “off year” was the year he was diagnosed with Equine Protozoal Myeloencephalitis (EPM).
“Iggy has made a fabulous hunter. He is beautiful on the flat, slow off the ground, easily clears three feet, and is brave,” said Sarah. “That horse will jump anything for me, as long as I ask politely.”
At 18 going on 19 years, Iggy still floats around a course of jumps. He's never been injected and only wears front shoes.
Someday the time will come for Iggy to retire for the second time in his career, but Sarah has thought about that and has a plan in place.
“Though I hope he keeps going strong for many more years, I am acutely attuned to him every time he comes out under tack,” said Sarah. “As soon as he tells me 'no,' he will retire and be my pasture potato. He has done more during his short time on this earth than multiple horses do in many lifetimes.”
Sarah explained that when her childhood horse died, she received some of the best advice of her life and it came in the form of a slip of paper from her trainer that read simply, “You will love again.”
“A big, redheaded horse taught me that there are many horses to love in this world,” said Sarah. “At 31-years-old, I'm as horse-crazy as I ever was. I truly believe that horses have brought a depth and balance to my life that I would otherwise be lacking. Seeing his head peering over the gate as I get to the barn each day…it's like coming home.”
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 one-and-a-half retired Thoroughbreds: Point of Impact (by Point Given; a.k.a. Boomer), who retired from racing in late 2011 and will soon be embarking on a hunter/jumper career, and Shotgun Shine (by Tale of the Cat, a.k.a. Gage), whom she shares in partnership with a friend. Contact her on Facebook or Twitter.
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