By Ariel Christy
A enter working trot, X halt salute. It’s the start of nearly all dressage tests for competitive dressage riders. However, for more than 100 horses and riders competing in dressage at the Retired Racehorse Project’s 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park, it was much more than just another start to a test. Each of these riders started and retrained a Thoroughbred off the track to this very moment in the Rolex Arena in less than 10 months.
For professional rider and USDF Bronze and Silver medalist Kasey Mix of Fort Worth, Texas, she trained Edger Jones in less time than that, in fact she did it in about four and a half months. Kasey acquired Edger Jones, or Eddie as he is affectionately called, in December 2018 through Kelly Lupton and Turning for Home Inc. Turning for Home Inc. is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was created by the Pennsylvania Thoroughbred Horseman’s Association and became the first retirement program of it’s kind by offering a retirement program on the track at a year round racetrack. Eddie’s very successful career on the racetrack spanned four years and consisted of 44 starts with over $120,000 in earnings. After some well-deserved time off upon his arrival to Texas, it was time for Eddie to start the next chapter.
Eddie began his training with Kasey in May of 2019 and was originally slated as a sales horse. However, the few people that tried him thought the seven-year-old chestnut gelding was just a bit plain and not nearly flashy enough. It was a good thing they passed on him because Mix continued to fall in love with him. “He has been a pleasure to train, he tries so hard and wants to please,” she said.
Once June came, she decided he was her horse for the makeover, which caused a bit of a stir as he didn’t exactly look the part. Mix described some of the challenges for Eddie being that he “is a little croup high and conformationally not an ideal dressage horse.”
She described her training leading up to the makeover, “I knew going in that he would not be the fanciest horse there, so I wanted to make sure his training was very correct. I worked a lot on getting him to come up through the back and supple. We did a lot of trot poles and lateral work to get him stronger over the back. Eddie was great throughout the entire process. Even when it was hard, he always gave me 100%, every ride.”
Mix’s proudest moment with Eddie has been completing her test in the Rolex Arena. “He really stepped up to the plate and gave me everything. He was with me every step of both his tests, it was really an amazing feeling.” Together they scored a 71.034% in Training Level Test 2 and a 46.90 in their demonstration ride. They finished in the top 10 out of the 118 combinations over two days of competition.
Mix attributes Eddie’s success to his temperament. “I have never ridden a horse that just wants to please his rider as much as Eddie does,” she said. She describes Eddie as simply unflappable, which is a trait she especially sees and appreciates in many Thoroughbreds. “They have seen so much on the track that very little bothers them. I wish some of the warmbloods I ride were more like that!” described Mix.
When it comes to competing a Thoroughbred in the upper levels of dressage, Mix is optimistic and hopeful for taking one off the track to the FEI levels. “I know most Thoroughbreds don’t have the movement that you find in the warmbloods, but I think if a Thoroughbred is correctly trained and well ridden, they can do very well in the dressage ring.”
For more information about the Retired Racehorse Project visit www.retiredracehorseproject.org
For more information about Kasey Mix visit Kasey Mix Dressage on Facebook.
For more information on Turning for Home Inc. visit https://patha.org/turning-for-home/about/