From the Racetrack to the Sandbox

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Arabians are our YourDressage Breed of the Month for July!  One of the oldest horse breeds on earth, and the influence for many other breeds, these elegant horses are easily recognizable with their delicate faces and high tail carriage.  They excel in many sports, particularly endurance riding.

Dressage enthusiasts who ride Arabians have the opportunity to earn special awards through the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards as Arabian Horse Association, North American Shagya-Arabian Society, and Performance Shagya-Arabian Registry are all Participating Organizations.

We recently asked our social media followers to share stories about what makes these horses so special.  Here, a Region 1 rider shares how both she and her Arabian came from racing backgrounds and together learned to play in the sandbox.

By Macie Hager

My love of horses started at a very young age and I was always instantly drawn to Thoroughbred racehorses. I remember vividly going to Kentucky at twelve years old and touring Three Chimneys Farm. That was the moment I decided I wanted to pursue a career in the horse industry.

In college, I chose to major in Thoroughbred racing management at SUNY Morrisville and got my Associates degree. I became very homesick and decided to take a break from Thoroughbreds and started working at Painted Dreams Horse Farm in Newtown, PA.

It was at Painted Dreams that I fell in love with dressage. As I was working as the assistant barn manager, I watched the clients ride dressage and I became fascinated by the discipline. I decided that I wanted to change career paths and focus on learning dressage.

Calin originally came to Painted Dreams as a boarder and was eventually offered for sale.My trainer convinced me that I had to try him because he was such an incredible horse and I would be silly to pass him up. I rode him a total of three times before I fell in love and had to purchase him. Calin is a purebred Arabian gelding, registered with the Arabian Jockey Club. He was very eye-catching because of his rabicano pattern, which gave him a black and white tail like a skunk.  His registered name is A One and he raced at Delaware Park from 2014-2015. He raced a total of eleven times, but only won once. From the moment he came to the farm, I was fascinated by his past. I had never met an Arabian racehorse before. Calin has all the qualities that made me fall in love with Thoroughbreds, athleticism and an innate eagerness to learn and work. But he also has the refined elegance and hardiness of an Arabian.

When I purchased Calin, he had a fairly solid foundation but was still quite green. We have been working with USDF Bronze Medalist Maria Mendonca Collito and her daughter, USDF Silver Medalist Morgan Collito, to bring both Calin and I up through the levels. Prior to purchasing Calin, I had only a handful of lessons focusing on dressage work. We have been consistently going to schooling shows at Introductory and Training Level.

Calin and I both come from a racing background and, in the beginning, it felt very foreign learning dressage. Many times, when Calin did not understand my cues, he would attempt to bolt because that’s all he knew how to do. Within the first four months of owning him, he took off on me and I lost control. I ended up falling and having one of the more serious riding-related injuries of my career. I came back to riding him later that spring with a different perspective and more determination.

Currently Calin and I are showing Training Level, and I hope to be ready to show First Level by next summer, and maybe even make our debut at a rated show. I would love to earn my USDF Bronze Medal with Calin, but am in no rush to get him into the rated ring. If it takes two years or ten, I am just happy to have such an incredible horse. Calin is incredibly intelligent and so willing to try, even if he doesn’t understand what I am asking. He is also the goofiest horse. I always have someone coming up to me telling him about a silly face he was making or that he was dancing along to their music. Calin just has the biggest personality and is incredibly expressive.

I never thought in a million years I would ever end up owning an Arabian, but Calin is definitely the horse of a lifetime. Because of him I have really embraced the breed and have gotten to combine my love of racehorses and my love of dressage.

Related Links:

Information about the Adequan®/USDF All-Breeds Awards
New Horse – A Whole New Ballgame
Bob, the Accidental Dressage Horse
Breed of the Month – Arabians! Part 1
A Love Story

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