The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.) today announced the recipients of its two non-competition awards, the T.I.P. Thoroughbred of the Year Award and the T.I.P. Young Rider of the Year Award, for 2019.
The Thoroughbred of the Year Award recognizes a Thoroughbred that has excelled in a non-competitive career, such as equine-assisted therapy or police work, and includes a $5,000 grant to the non-profit organization associated with the horse or, if no organization is associated with the horse, to a horse-related charity chosen by The Jockey Club.
This year's winner is Bruce, registered with The Jockey Club as Disruption, a 9-year-old gelding that assists with programs at Second Chance Ranch in Spokane, Wash. Bruce placed in multiple stakes races and earned more than $100,000 on the track. He was retired in 2016 following the death of his trainer, Monique Snowden, who took her own life after one of her trainees, The Chilli Man, suffered a catastrophic injury that necessitated euthanasia.
Bruce's owner then called upon Second Chance Ranch to take him in, not realizing that Second Chance Ranch offered an equine-assisted mental health therapy program focused on suicide prevention and anti-bullying. Bruce has helped with this program as well as the equine art program, which encourages children to express themselves creatively.
Bruce also spent three semesters as part of the Washington State University Equestrian Team, where he taught beginners how to ride.
“Wherever this multi-tasking equine is, he knows exactly what to do,” said Katie Merwick, executive director of Second Chance Ranch. “A common skill among Thoroughbreds is that they read people well. It is no coincidence that this magnificent equine became an ambassador for Thoroughbreds, demonstrating the exceptional healing abilities that horses have on humans.”
“Bruce is a product of Monique Snowden's superb equestrian skill,” continued Merwick. “She adored this horse. All of the horses she trained and whose lives she touched were shown respect and fair leadership. They, in turn, gave their best for her. Bruce learned empathy, compassion, and a desire to connect with people because of Monique. She was deeply emotional, and horses relate to that – it's why they are so successful as 'therapists.' The greatest way to honor Monique is to have her beloved horse help others coping with depression and mental health struggles. Her voice is being heard through the actions of this horse.”
The young rider award, which recognizes riders 18 or younger who own or lease a Thoroughbred for use in 4-H, Pony Club, or other activities, has been awarded to Megan Grace Farnsworth, Alexa McVoy, and Claudia Rudder.
Megan Grace Farnsworth, 14, shows Washington-bred Kactus Relevation, also known as Kactus, and recently became the owner of Rocco, a 6-year-old Thoroughbred bred in California. Before Kactus, she leased a Thoroughbred named Ogopogo Potion. Farnworth and Kactus have competed in dressage, trail, showmanship, bareback, and hunt seat equitation. She began showing Rocco earlier this year.
Farnsworth would like to use her award funds to continue training Kactus and Rocco to eventually have the opportunity to travel to Kentucky for the T.I.P. Championships. She would also like to bring awareness to T.I.P. in Washington.
“All three of the geldings I have worked with are smart, willing, athletic, showmen who love their person and have a passion and drive to compete no matter what the discipline,” said Farnsworth.”
Alexa McVoy, 18, rides a 10-year-old Thoroughbred whose registered name is Stable Currency and is now known as Johnny. The pair competes in jumpers. McVoy leases Johnny from Out Side In, an organization accredited by the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance that provides equine-assisted psychotherapy to those who have been victims of trauma or suffered from other emotional and mental health issues.
McVoy plans to use her award funds for her college education. She would like to obtain a master's degree in social work to become a psychotherapist who uses Thoroughbreds to counsel at-risk youth and veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.
“Since I started riding [Johnny], he has given me confidence and taught me so much about myself,” said McVoy. “In truth, Johnny was the best thing that ever happened to me. He is always trying to please, a trait I find common in the [Thoroughbred] breed.”
Claudia Rudder, age 18, is an eventer and owns Captain Crane, now known as Captain, a 14-year-old gelding. Besides working with Captain, Rudder volunteers at camps for children who have experienced abuse, poverty, or mental illness.
Rudder would like to use her award funds for her education. Like McVoy she would like to become involved with equine-assisted therapy.
“I am forever thankful for all the crazy stories I have to tell about these past three and a half years of owning Captain,” said Rudder. “All of the good times and the bad times, the triumphs and the hardships, everything that comes with owning a horse has shaped me into the strong, dedicated, crazy horse girl that I am today.”
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