Behind The Stall Door With: Extraordinaire

Jan 2, 2018 - 9:01 AM

Even Tommi Clark has to admit that Extraordinaire didn’t strike her fancy at first glance. Though the striking liver chestnut has an intelligent eye, he’s not going to be your hack winner. But after seeing him clear one fence she was reaching for her phone to give current owner Stephen Borders a call.

“I was like, ‘Oh my God! I have to sit on him!’ ” she said. “I called Steve and said, ‘You either buy it or you get beat by it. This is the horse.’ ”

Borders had always picked out his own horses, and Clark was in Europe in search of a jumper, not a hunter, so he was a bit hesitant.

“I was so excited when I found him; I probably got a video of about two jumps, so he had to go off exactly what I said,” Clark said. “I was like, ‘You don’t understand. I have to have him. We’re vetting him.’ He’s like, ‘Oh we are?’ It was the first one that he didn’t get that was a mover. Now all of the horses have followed suit to him and are derby horses. That’s all he does is derbies.”

Extraordinaire. All photos by Kimberly Loushin

The 10-year-old Hanoverian (Stolzenberg—Cleopatra, Calypso II) bred by Fritz Brettmeier started his U.S. show career in 2015 and contested his first international hunter derby at Devon (Pennsylvania) that year. He’s attended the USHJA International Hunter Derby Championship (Kentucky.) three times and was fourth in the Derby Challenge in 2016.

These days he focuses primarily on the derby classes, beginning his season out in California before taking a tour of the derbies across the United States. Most recently, in October and November, Extraordinaire was in the top three at derbies at Jump For The Children Benefit (North Carolina), World Equestrian Center Invitational (Ohio) and Tryon Fall 5 (North Carolina).

Get to know Extraordinaire:

•  His European name was Santos, which Borders and Clark kept as his barn name. Clark knew another Santos that she wasn’t fond of so they decided to change his registered name. Since they’d already partnered together on Exupery and Exemplar, they decided to continue with the EX tradition. Veterinarian Neil Gray came up with the name Extraordinaire.

“We were going back and forth with names, and he was like, ‘What about Extraordinaire?’ and it kind of stuck,” said Clark. “At first Steve was like, ‘What if he doesn’t live up to the name?’ ”

•  Personal space is a foreign concept to Santos.

“He’s definitely a character that is for sure,” said Clark. “He’s probably one of the fanciest horses I’ve ever ridden, but on the ground he’s like a bull in a china shop. He has no concept of personal space in a good way, but he’ll kind of walk right into you and you’re like, ‘Oh hi, Santos.’ ”

•  Clark grooms and braids him herself, and she always puts a charm in his 12th braid for good luck.

•  He may have been a stallion until May 2015, but you’d never guess it by his personality. They actually had to encourage him to be more studish when they took him in for collection. In fact, Clark didn’t even realize that he was a stallion when she first tried him.

“I said, ‘OK I’m going to vet the last horse I sat on,’ and they’re like ‘The stallion,” Clark recalled. “I’m like ‘No, no, you got it wrong; the last horse I sat on.’ They’re like, ‘No, that’s the stallion.’ I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t know if we want to buy a stallion.’ But they put him in the crossties next to a mare and he doesn’t do anything. My grand prix horse, [Raska], was a mare. He shipped around all year with her; he does not care.”

•  While Santos doesn’t have any foals currently, Borders did collect and freeze some semen before gelding him. Borders promised Clark she’d get the first dose of semen, so now she just has to find the right mare.

•  Santos likes to keep his affections under wraps.

“He really likes Steve a lot,” said Clark. “Steve always thinks that he doesn’t like him very much, but you can totally tell. He drags me over to him. He secretly likes him. He doesn’t want Steve to know he likes him that much.”

•  He’s a snack food junkie.

“His favorite treats are Pringles and Doritos and any soda pop that you’ll let him have,” said Clark. “He’ll literally eat anything. He’s like a garbage disposal. He’s a bull in a china shop, so if you’re eating something, he’s in your space. One day I was putting a chip up to my mouth, and he grabbed it out of my hand.

“His favorite are sour cream and onion, I’m assuming because those are my favorite,” she continued. “He doesn’t really get to go to the store and select them, so his favorites are my favorites apparently. But Mountain Dew is definitely his favorite soda. I’m not sure why that is. He’ll drag you around to get a soda. He drinks out of bottle.

•  Santos knows he’s a star, regardless of what color ribbon he receives.

“He’s funny though because when he has a bad round or a good round, he’s not one of those horses that knows the difference,” said Clark. “He comes out and was like ‘I was a superstar!’

“We had a horse psychic talk to him, and she said that he thinks I’m bossy. He really likes me, and I’m his favorite human, but I’m very bossy. She said that he said I should just be grateful how amazing he is not necessarily the ribbon he gets.”

•  He might find Clark bossy, but Santos is very protective of her. Once when he and barnmate Black Jack leaving the veterinary office after being collected, Black Jack got excited by a mare walking by and when he knocked Clark over, Santos came to her rescue.

“Santos proceeded to pin his ears at him and make him move over,” said Clark. “My mom said that if she hadn’t seen it in real life she would never have believed it. He pulled me over to his side to protect me and pinned his ears at him. Before that I didn’t know he liked me so much. It was like King Kong and his blond girl, so apparently he’s protective of me. You’d never guess as he runs into you.”

Extraordinaire and Tommi Clark.

•  Santos and Black Jack used to hate one another when they were stallions, but now that they’ve both been gelding, they’re best buds.

•  You know the pictures of small children with spaghetti all over their face and high chair? If Santos was a person, that’d be him.

“He loves his food,” said Clark. “He gets his food all over his face—his entire face. He gets beet pulp with water completely full, and he submerges his whole head, so we’ve got to get it on our eyes and our ears. He knows that it gets him dirty, and I have to work harder. I think he does this for sport.”

•  Santos isn’t a fan of arena traffic, so at shows like Devon or Pin Oak (Texas), Clark tends to skip early morning rides and keeps her pre-class warm up as brief as possible.

•  “He loves to go out for graze with Steve,” said Clark. “He never gets his nose off the grass. He gets grazed every day. He loves his turnout, so we will select certain horse shows just for him, so he can get turned out. He doesn’t run; he just loves to go hang out in the sun. He’s a total sunbather.”

•  Santos takes his naps very seriously.

“He lays out completely flat at night,” said Clark. “We have cameras so we watch them at night, but he’ll lay completely flat out to the point where you have to watch the camera to make sure he’s breathing. He gets his snooze on for sure.”


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