Retrained and Remarkable Success Story: Time and Patience Key to Transitioning Stakes Winner
Giving the overlooked a chance to succeed
Bought through Fasig Tipton as a 2-year-old for $450,000, there were high hopes for Mountain Music Man, a striking bay by Bluegrass Cat born on Cinco de Mayo, 2013. However, after just seven starts, Mountain Music Man made it clear that he had had enough of racing; he earned just over $111,000 and was a stakes winner when his trainer, Todd Pletcher, decided it was time to stop racing the sweet gelding.
Upon his retirement, Mountain Music Man shipped to the New Vocations Lexington facility in May of 2017 and spent 201 days in the program before finding his person: Erin Butler of Indianapolis, IN. A significantly longer period of time than the average 60-day stay at New Vocations, Mountain Music Man had a harder time transitioning from racehorse to riding horse, noted Facility Director Melissa King.
But Erin didn’t let his longer training time deter her at all! She adopted Mountain Music Man with her sights set on competing him in the 2018 New Vocations Pony Club Challenge in Tryon, N.C. and the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover in Lexington, KY.
No Stranger to New Vocations
Erin is no stranger to the New Vocations program or the horses; multiple boarders at Stride by Stride Riding Center, where she keeps her horses, have New Vocations graduates—and they all have X-men theme names! Fittingly, Mountain Music Man’s barn name was changed to Genesis when he arrived at his new home.
Since his December adoption, Erin and Genesis have been working on building up his hind end and on suppling. “He’s such a smart boy and he catches on to all of my new exercises so quickly! We’re also working on learning how to ride in a group,” Erin explains. “I think he remembers the racetrack quite well and he thinks having other horses run around him is very exciting!”
Erin has been taking things slowly with Genesis, ensuring he is physically comfortable before beginning over-fences work; her goal is to compete the gelding in both the hunters and the jumpers at the Makeover in October.
The Adoption Option
Erin freely admits that she was a bit anxious about adopting Mountain Music Man, which she did sight unseen. “That was a little strange for me, as I have always seen my horses in person before making a commitment,” she explains. However, her trainer, Amanda McRae, owner of Stride by Stride, knew he was the horse for Erin the moment she saw him in the stall.
On a return trip, Amanda videoed the horse working, and Erin was hooked–she signed the papers to take him home. “I chose not to do a pre-purchase exam [PPE],” said Erin. She went on to explain that “I have great trust in New Vocations. The trainers and staff seemed to know him very well, and if there was a problem, I could trust them to be completely clear about it.”
“When working with an adoption organization, you can ask any questions that come through your head–even if your questions seem ridiculous and show your inner ‘crazy horse mom,’” she says. “The trainers and staff want the best lives for these horses, and they want to help you and see you succeed as a team!”
Erin truly believes strongly in the adoption option. “It’s almost like adopted horses know that you adopted them and chose to give them a new life. Every time Genesis looks at me with his happy ears and puppy dog eyes, I swear he’s saying ‘thanks, mom!”’”
Can you give a Retrained and Remarkable horse a home? Visit www.newvocations.org to view all available horses.