Makeover Master Class: Three Experienced Re-Trainers, Three Off-Track Thoroughbreds

by | 09.20.2019 | 1:48pm
Tom Mansmann ponies his horse at the 2018 Master Class.

Education takes center stage at the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, on Friday, October 4 at the Kentucky Horse Park: the Makeover Master Class, sponsored by Thoroughbred Education & Research Foundation (TERF) will feature three experienced horse trainers demonstrating their methods of restarting prospects off the track. The TERF Makeover Master Class is free to attend and runs from 9 AM until noon in the TCA Covered Arena.

A new wave of equestrian enthusiasts is trying Thoroughbreds for the first time or returning to the breed after decades away — but getting started with a new off-track project can be overwhelming. The Makeover Master Class was conceived to give spectators a comprehensive look at what to consider when evaluating prospects and how to approach those early rides off the track.

The Format

Three horses, representing three respected and reputable aftercare organizations, will be introduced, and three trainers will discuss their conformation and personal preferences, plus analyze their movement at liberty and while free-jumping.

Trainers will then be randomly paired with a horse, and break out to work independently in whatever mode they feel is best for the animal for up to one hour. Trainers may utilize a roundpen, pony horse, ground person or any other method they would typically utilize when getting on a green horse for the first time.

Commentators will rotate between trainers to provide added insight, and each trainer will give a summary presentation about their overall impressions and what they would expect in the restarting process. Ample time will be given for questions and answers from the audience.

Meet the Trainers

Emily Brollier Curtis is a Grand Prix dressage rider who has carefully developed over 10 horses to the FEI levels. Emily is known for her ability to work with both young and difficult horses and especially has a talent for restarting Thoroughbreds off track and placing them into new careers. Emily has completed the Thoroughbred Makeover multiple times with exceptional results, taking third place in the Dressage division in 2016. She also served as a commentator for last year's Master Class.

Douglas Nunn is a third-generation horseman who became a jockey at age 19 and still enjoys riding in amateur races still to this day. He has been a Thoroughbred trainer for nearly 30 years with multiple stake winners. Douglas' passion is the challenge of training difficult and problematic horses on and off the track. He still rides, exercises and does the ground work himself; he also transitions Thoroughbred horses into second careers. He is a resource for New Jersey horsemen who want to restart OTTBs. Douglas also has three retired OTTBs he keeps on a farm, and uses two of them as pony horses at the track. Douglas serves as a board member for New Beginnings Thoroughbreds.

Elisa Wallace is a 5* event rider, YouTuber, and advocate for off-track Thoroughbreds. Elisa was listed as an alternate for the 2016 US Olympic Eventing team on her off-track Thoroughbred Simply Priceless, and is also known for her work with mustangs with success in the Mustang Makeover. Elisa is a veteran of the Thoroughbred Makeover, with many top placings — including winning Thoroughbred Makeover Champion in 2018 with Reloaded.

Meet the Horses

The participating aftercare organizations for the 2019 TERF Makeover Master Class will be Florida Thoroughbred Rehoming and Adoptive Care (FLTRAC), Maker's Mark Secretariat Center (MMSC), and Second Stride.

Porta Ponti (FLTRAC)
Gio Ponti – Sybil's Way, by Will's Way
2015 chestnut gelding
Bred in Florida by Christine M. Hosier

Unraced, last worked 8/5/18

Normandy Crossing (MMSC)
English Channel – Donamour, by Langfuhr
2011 chestnut gelding
Bred in Kentucky by Gwynedd Stable & Woodard Stable

42 career starts with 11 wins
$217,949 in earnings

Far Right (Second Stride)
Notional – Zindi, by Vindication
2012 chestnut gelding
Bred in Kentucky by Nossab LLC & Patrick J Crowley

25 career starts with four wins
$767,623 in earnings
Winner of the 2015 Southwest Stakes (G3)
Second in the 2015 Arkansas Derby (G1)
Third in the 2015 Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3)
Ran in the 2015 Kentucky Derby (G1)

Meet the Commentators

Third generation horseman Marc Ricker grew up on his family's Sunny Oak Farm, a Thoroughbred breeding operation in Paris, Kentucky and today owns Ashwood Training Center in Lexington. Located on iconic Russell Cave Road, Ashwood is a full-service Thoroughbred training center that includes a six-furlong training track with starting gate, indoor and outdoor arenas, rehabilitation and therapy facilities, sales preparation for yearlings and horses of racing age and more. Ricker and his team start 30 or more young Thoroughbreds each year, focusing on building a foundation through groundwork and longlining, followed by under saddle work in an arena, on the farm's training track and hacking out through the farm's wooded areas. In his spare time, Ricker also enjoys playing polo.

Walmac Farm sport horse trainer Laura Hansen oversees the transition of the farm's racing stock to the show ring. Originally from Ontario, Canada, Laura grew up riding and competing on the local and regional hunter/jumper circuits. She began galloping at Woodbine Racetrack at age 17 and has worked for such notable trainers as Bob Baffert, Al Stall, and the late Bobby Frankel, and was an assistant trainer for Steve Asmussen. In 2007 she, along with her husband, Scott Hansen, accepted a position managing owner Gary Broad's Oakmont Ranch, a southern California farm and training center. Within two years she had developed the fam's in-house retraining program for their retired racehorses. The farm currently has 30 horses being retrained and/or competing successfully in show rings throughout the U.S. This year Broad purchased historic Walmac Farm and the Hansens have helped transition his operation to Kentucky.

Hailing from Provence, France, The Frame Sport Horse's Martin Douzant has built his career on developing young horses for life as sport horses. Now based in the heart of Virginia horse country, Martin keeps an active competition and teaching schedule centered around bringing up young prospects in jumpers, dressage and eventing. He often leads free jumping clinics, and can be found handling young horses at some of the biggest breed shows in the country. He is a big advocate for free jumping young horses as he believes it helps young horses hone their natural jumping abilities, instincts, scope, power, adjustability, and reaction, all without the interference of a rider.

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