Nicole McKinley of Howell, New Jersey and Michelle Horgan of Princeton were selected to participate in the 2015 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge. This is the final story in a series that marks the milestones of Nicole, Michelle and their mounts on their journey toward the Kentucky Horse Park and the $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge.
The two central Jersey equestrians, along with their mounts Cattail Creek and Bos’N Alwyne, joined 200 other equestrians in the Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky from Friday, October 23 through Sunday, October 25. The two contestants and their off-the-track-Thoroughbreds successfully completed their divisions but fell a bit short of capturing a piece of the $100,000 in prize money that was distributed to the top Thoroughbred trainers.
When Marcya Roberts touched base for a final report, the competitors had returned to New Jersey in good form and exuberant about their experience in the Thoroughbred Charities of America Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge 2015.
Marcya Roberts: Did the horses travel well?
Michelle Horgan: We were really happy with the way the horses traveled. They seemed comfortable and happy the entire trip which was great!
MR: Did you get to ride the horses at the Horse Park prior to the competition?
MH: Yes. We arrived at the Kentucky Horse Park on the Tuesday before the show on October 20 and got the horses settled into their stalls. Wednesday and Thursday allowed for schooling rides throughout the Horse Park and in the competition rings. Cattail Creek was calm and level-headed as he has been throughout training. Nothing phases him and he handled the change of scenery and activity with ease. Bos’N Alwyne was incredible, particularly considering he had only two weeks of under saddle retraining prior to arriving in Kentucky. On Wednesday, the first day of riding, “Boss” checked all of the sights and sounds carefully as we explored the Horse Park. He was completely settled in by the second day of riding on Thursday.
MR: How did it go on the first day of the competition?
MH: Competition began Friday morning with Cattail Creek in his jumping round for the Show Hunter division. As did several other horses, Cattail Creek had a few stops at the beginning of the course, and finished out the course like a champ.
MR: I know Boss had limited experience. How did he do?
MH: Saturday morning was Boss’s trip in the jumper ring. Boss schooled like an old hand at showing and he confirmed that he has a natural talent for jumping. The competition ring was a bit overwhelming for such a green horse, but we found that Boss has incredible potential and there is no doubt that he will make a solid and successful show horse in any discipline.
MR: Were you entered in any other divisions?
MH: The Freestyle division was held later in the day on Saturday where we performed our Pas de Deux, an equestrian performance using two horses that mirror each other doing dressage movements.
MR: Were you happy with the outcome?
MH: While we did not make it to the top three in our disciplines and therefore the finale on Sunday, we were pleased with how the horses performed given the training they had going into the competition. In fact, Boss was evaluated by three judges (Bernie Traurig, Tiffany Teeter, David Hopper and Denny Emerson) who noted his nice conformation, athleticism and balance.
MR: What’s next for Cattail Creek and Bos’N Alwyne?
MH: After Cattail Creek proved how truly amazing and level headed he is during the Makeover, Nicole has decided to adopt Cattail Creek to keep at Serenity at Last Farm for herself and for her lesson program. Bos’N Alwyne is available for adoption through New Beginnings Thoroughbreds.
MR: Courage-to-Be was your original mount for the competition. I know he was hurt. How is he doing?
MH: Courage to Be is recovering well from his minor injury (a popped splint). I could start riding now, but I plan to give him one or two more weeks off before starting back under saddle. I am excited to see where next year takes us, and I am thinking about focusing on dressage and jumpers with him in 2016.
List of Thoroughbred Makeover Winners of the Show Hunter, Show Jumper and Freestyle Divisions
Top Show Hunter Prize List:
Show Hunter 1st Place: #151 Kasey Evans on Slambo owned by Lani Parker
Show Hunter 2nd Place: #26 Abby Converse on Caught Me Looking owned by Bridget & John Cummins
Show Hunter 3rd Place: #46 Isabela de Sousa on Dewey Square owned by Sergio de Sousa
Show Hunter 4th Place: #156 Kasey Evans on Star Factor owned by Kasey Evans
Show Hunter 5th Place: #162 Tamara Todorovic on Suance’s Cowgirl owned by Sherry Mersky
Show Hunter Top Amateur: Anne Barry Webber
Show Hunter Top Junior: Isabela de Sousa
Top Show Jumper Prize list
Show Jumper 1st Place: #46 Isabela de Sousa on Dewey Square owned by Sergio de Sousa
Show Jumper 2nd Place: #60 Rebecca Walters on Feet Included owned by Rebecca Walters
Show Jumper 3rd Place: #26 Abby Converse on Caught Me Looking owned by Bridget & John Cummins
Show Jumper 4th Place: #160 Anne Barry Weber on Street Art owned by Anne Barry Weber
Show Jumper 5th Place: #45 Skye Anna Nye-Smith on Desert TNT owned by Neil and Heather Stevenson
Show Jumper 5th Place Tie: #188 Stacey Fitzgerald on Seeking the Breeze owned by John White
Show Jumper Top Amateur: Rebecca Walters
Show Jumper Top Junior: Isabela de Sousa
Top Freestyle Finishers
Freestyle 1st Place: #114 Tik Maynard on Mr. Pleasantree owned by Tik Maynard
Freestyle 2nd Place: #57 Amy Lent on Face of Glory owned by Amy Lent
Freestyle 3rd Place: #154 Lindsey Partridge on Soar owned by Lindsey Partridge
Freestyle 4th Place: #47 Nicole Cammuso on Diabolic owned by Nicole Cammuso
Freestyle 5th Place: #121 Sarah Bowman on Old Brownsboro owned by Sarah Bowman
Freestyle Top Amateur: Amy Lent
Freestyle Top Junior: Sarah Bowman
For a complete list of Thoroughbred Makeover Results and Scores visit the Retired Racehorse Project score page.