Spotter’s Hill

October 6, 2022

“My story with Spot started last Fall, although I have had OTTBs for several years now. I actually own and manage Francis Creek Fjord Farm in Two Rivers, WI. I have bred, raised, trained, shown, and sold Fjords for around 25 years, and I still sell Fjords on consignment but I ride OTTBs as I love their energy, their athletic ability and their willingness. I love working with horses and since I am getting older, I’m not wanting to climb up on any young horse and start from the beginning anymore. I have trained well over 100 horses, so being green and young is not something new to me, but…hopefully in my older years I’m getting wiser! HA! So…the OTTBs appeal to me because I know they have been “backed”.

In Fall 2021, I wasn’t totally in the market for another OTTB to work with, as I had two. A 3 year old gelding that I picked up off the track late summer and my 8 year old mare that I also picked up off the track at age 3. But, my friend messaged me and told me she was going to the Secretariat Center in Kentucky to look at an OTTB. She raved about the center, how honest and forthright they are about the horses that they have. How good the horses that they get in are too. She just went on and on. It interested me. After she went there and looked at the horses we talked again. She told me all about this horse, Opie, that she was gonna buy. AND, this is where it all started – she told me about a couple horses that I might like. She mostly talked about this mare, because she knows I do like mares. I thought I’m gonna inquire and talk to the Secretariat Center myself, see what I think.

They are wonderful to deal with, honest, quick to respond, super helpful. We talked in length about this mare but also they told me about a 3 year old gelding that was born in Ireland. He was bought as a weanling by the Chinese to race in the United States. He sold at auction for $211K as a yearling, imported to the US, trained and had only 3 races. He bowed his tendon on his 3rd race in May 2021, but…luckily it was a small bow and WinStar Farm, a big Kentucky horse farm that was in co-ownership did the initial rehab, and they decided to donate him to the Secretariat Center in October 2021. The center continued with his rehab, he was now allowed turn out and he was cleared to start back in training. However, the center didn’t do any of his retraining. They did do the last leg of his rehab and he was fully vetted and given a clean bill of health with no limitations.

He came to my farm end of November. I had to do a month of walking under saddle, a month of walk/trot, ultrasound again to make sure it’s still okay and if so then I could start the canter work. I wasn’t allowed to lunge him, circle work is not great for bringing a horse back into work. I wondered everyday how Spot would be with someone climbing back on him, in WINTER in WISCONSIN!!! With no lunging to get the winter sillies out.

Well, I didn’t have anything to worry about. He was cool, calm and super happy to just walk and be chill. Not once did he ever try anything, nor did he when we started at the trot, and the canter has been good just because he thinks he is supposed to go fast at the canter still. He’s been pure joy to work with!

My goal is simple this year: get him soft, supple and exposed to things. I will hopefully be able to take him to several shows this year and end with the TB Makeover in October.

Next year, I would like to start Jumping, as my passion is low level Eventing. I love Dressage for the training aspect but, I need more excitement in my life! Hopefully Spot will enjoy Jumping when the time comes for him to learn that. I am mostly focused on Dressage for the moment, as he is young, I’m still mindful of that old injury. I do not wish to push him too hard too soon, so all in good time I hope he will be an awesome Eventer!”