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Track ponies

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  • Track ponies

    I don't know the official term for the job but they are the horses that pony the race horses on the track. A couple of questions.

    Do the ponies and their riders work at the track? Or do they work for the trainer and travel with the race horses?

    Any particular reason for using a western saddle, other than easier to stay in when handling an unruly horse?
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    Depending on the trainer and the size of the operation, they may have their own pony and rider at their home track. Most often a pony rider will have several ponies and be self employed, providing services to a number of trainers typically at a certain fee per horse.

    The Western saddle as a rule would be more comfortable for the horse and rider and also provides some protection to the horse. In addition they often will use flank guards made out of heavy felt to protect the pony from an agressive horse. I hear the saddle horn can prove handy to wrap the reins of the racehorse around when they on rare occasion try to climb on top of the pony....... fun job!!!
    www.vandenbrink.ca

    https://www.facebook.com/VandenbrinkWarmbloods?fref=ts

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    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks for the info. I don't follow racing except for the Derby.

      I sold one of our youngsters to a rider at the harness track. I know she traveled with the race "program?" from track to track. She and her horse didn't have any interaction with the race horses unless there was an accident or a run away so I didn't know if the race horses had their particular buddy pony or what..
      Ride like you mean it.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by ezduzit View Post
        Thanks for the info. I don't follow racing except for the Derby.

        I sold one of our youngsters to a rider at the harness track. I know she traveled with the race "program?" from track to track. She and her horse didn't have any interaction with the race horses unless there was an accident or a run away so I didn't know if the race horses had their particular buddy pony or what..
        Your horse was sold to an "outrider". Huge difference between pony and outrider.

        "Pat the horse; kick yourself" - Carl Hester

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by vandenbrink View Post
          Depending on the trainer and the size of the operation, they may have their own pony and rider at their home track. Most often a pony rider will have several ponies and be self employed, providing services to a number of trainers typically at a certain fee per horse.

          The Western saddle as a rule would be more comfortable for the horse and rider and also provides some protection to the horse. In addition they often will use flank guards made out of heavy felt to protect the pony from an agressive horse. I hear the saddle horn can prove handy to wrap the reins of the racehorse around when they on rare occasion try to climb on top of the pony....... fun job!!!
          Just want to clarify that you would never wrap the reins around the horn! The pony person has a strap in the afternoon that slides through the racehorses bit and can be released quickly if need be. When ponying a horse in the morning they usually use a lead with a snap, this can be wrapped around the horn to help control an unruly one. When a rider is on the horse it is more common to use a leather lead strap.

          Comment


          • #6
            Here's a New York Times blog entry on track ponies at Churchill Downs.
            **********
            Starts with an 'S,' ends with a 'T.' You figure it out.

            **********
            "Houston, Tranquility Base here, picking up where we left off ..."

            Comment


            • #7
              Track ponies are true gems. I was blessed enough to get to ride one when I was working young horses on a ranch. Proficient at their job and used to just about everything. Some trainers have their own "ponies" some are independent contractors. Lovely lady at Sam Houston is/was an independent. She usually uses race track horses for her ponies. She'd pony anything from the claimer to the high dollar roller with equal aplomb. It's decent money if you can get the gig, horses that do it are invaluable as their skill set is not every horse's cup of tea.

              Western saddle has its uses, mostly comfort. Lots of protection and a nice place to tie the lead rope as well.
              Adoring fan of A Fine Romance
              Originally Posted by alicen:
              What serious breeder would think that a horse at that performance level is push button? Even so, that's still a lot of buttons to push.

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Outrider. Thanks, Angelico, I couldn't remember the term. He was 4 when she bought him...never trailered, never on the road...really green. When she came to look at him, I saddled up my tried and true horse and Bugger and we went out on the road. She had me run my horse up along side, nudge him with my boot, all kinds of things. She decided he had the right stuff and bought him then and there.

                Last I heard, they had gone out to California. The racing industry here in Michigan is on it's last legs. He was born in 1984 so retired to happy pastures. I haven't checked the registry to see if he's still alive.
                Ride like you mean it.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Years ago I had a horse win a bottom maiden race at Penn National. I gave the horse away to my pony person in the winner's circle and he was ponying horses to the post in a western saddle the next day!
                  McDowell Racing Stables

                  Home Away From Home

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                    Years ago I had a horse win a bottom maiden race at Penn National. I gave the horse away to my pony person in the winner's circle and he was ponying horses to the post in a western saddle the next day!
                    Wow, he must have had a great brain on him!! I spent 2 years trying to get my OTTB OK with doing the races but he never forgot what he'd originally been trained to do. Some days he was super pony and some days he had "flashbacks" lol. You never knew which side was going to show up. We had quite some adventures

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      He was the laziest horse I ever saw in my life! I put him in the pool and he sunk right to the bottom, didn't even try to swim! We had a rope on him of course but it took two of us to pull him over to the ramp. When he won that race the jockey hit him every step of the race, I knew he would never be able to do that again so I gave him away. He ponied for about a year until he got fed up and kicked a race horse so the pony guy gave him back to me and he went on to be a kid's horse.
                      McDowell Racing Stables

                      Home Away From Home

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        LOL...Laurie, my god did you panic when he sank to the bottom? I've never met a hors with no sense of self-preservation at all!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I couldn't believe my eyes! He was literally standing on the bottom of the pool! I think it was like 15 feet deep and there he was. It was terrifying when it was happening but hilarious in hindsight.
                          McDowell Racing Stables

                          Home Away From Home

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            There used to be a farm near me that had a exercise pool. I went there once and asked if they let the public use it. Yes, for $10, and the only thing they required was that you let them handle the horse the 1st time in. They'd had one drown before

                            Yes, those pony horses are a unique talent. I had 2 different geldings I tried to use to pony babies when I was still breeding. Both good natured horses, but neither of them wanted anything to do with that job!
                            "Everyone will start to cheer, when you put on your sailin shoes"-Lowell George

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              There is a pony at Woodbine, Jebster, who also races, or at least raced last year.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                I used to pony, I loved doing it. Although you get pretty beat up. My best pony was an OTTB stud. And he had been bred. Such an awesome guy. And yes I ponied the girls. He would however make some ugly faces at the occasional aggresive stud.
                                DAILY THOUGHT:

                                SOME PEOPLE ARE LIKE SLINKIES - NOT REALLY GOOD FOR ANYTHING BUT THEY BRING A SMILE TO YOUR FACE WHEN PUSHED DOWN THE STAIRS.

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                                • #17
                                  My two favorite ponies in Maryland are DJ who is a black TB gelding and Baby, who is the nicest paint stallion I have ever seen in my life despite his awful name. He has foals on the ground yet still ponies mares like a pro.
                                  McDowell Racing Stables

                                  Home Away From Home

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Our trainer's main pony is a fancy KY-bred she got at Keeneland as a yearling. I got to groom him when I messed around working for her when he was a 2YO. He did win...going a mile...in (had to go look it up) 1:40 flat Paid $42 to win and you bet I had $$ on him. Neatest horse, loves kids (see :55 mark here http://youtu.be/lpZ2afUF4zY ) Trainer has several of her old ponies retired at her farm, too.
                                    It's a uterus, not a clown car. - Sayyedati

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Laurierace View Post
                                      Years ago I had a horse win a bottom maiden race at Penn National. I gave the horse away to my pony person in the winner's circle and he was ponying horses to the post in a western saddle the next day!
                                      That's what brought me to "buy" my first OTTB a few years ago. He wasn't even 3 yet, and they were using him to pony the "youngsters" around! He supposedly broke from the gate the first time they ever loaded him in one. I've owned him 4 years now, and he rarely bats an eye at anything, completely unflappable! I guess some are just born with those amazing brains...old souls in young bodies. Oh, and mine was free which was just the icing on the cake. He'll never be for sale
                                      Cindy

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Off-Track Thoroughbreds
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                                        Browse: Home / 2013 / May / 13 / A partly blind ex-racehorse is Orb’s go-to pony
                                        A partly blind ex-racehorse is Orb’s go-to pony

                                        By Susan Salk on May 13, 2013



                                        Well Well stands next to his pal, Kentucky Derby winner Orb. Photo by Brittlan Wall

                                        Nearly blind in one eye, and possessing none of the flash and pizzazz of more beautiful racehorses, the plain bay Thoroughbred spent most of his life shirking the limelight.

                                        Well Well was a weird little horse, recalls his longtime rider Priscilla Godsoe.

                                        Though he had a work ethic a mile long, and was one of the most able-bodied and willing mounts on which she’d ever traversed the Pennsylvania foxhunting territory, Well Well was a bit of a loner.

                                        “He didn’t like other horses and really didn’t have any friends out in the field,” Godsoe says. “And the first day I met him, when I was 14 years old, he stood in the back of his stall, pinned his ears, and was tearing at me like I was some kind of monster.”

                                        So naturally, she was stunned last week to see her little project horse of yesteryear in news photos accompanying none other than Kentucky Derby winner Orb!

                                        But there he was. She’d have known the floppy ears, and nonchalant way of standing anywhere.

                                        “The first picture I saw, I could see his ears sticking out, off to the side, and although I could only see half

                                        Well Well

                                        Sire: Opening Verse

                                        Dam: Mari Her

                                        Foal date: April 5, 1996

                                        of his face in the photo, he had this certain way of standing, and I knew it was him,” she says.

                                        A quick text to her friend Jennifer Patterson, Orb’s exercise rider, confirmed it.

                                        “I wrote, ‘Is that who I think it is, standing next to Orb?’ And, after that she started tagging me (with photos) on Facebook, showing me that Well Well has been going everywhere that Orb has been going.”

                                        She adds, “It made me feel so proud. Everyone wants to say that they’re part of it when a horse wins the Derby, but in this case, it hit close to home.”

                                        Long before Well Well wound up with a job ponying Orb for Shug McGaughey, Godsoe had worked with him for Jimmy Paxton of River Hills Fox Hounds when she was just a young teen.

                                        Though he’d been bred and entered in racing by the famous Mrs. Richard C. duPont, Well Well only earned about $18,000 on the track before he wound up with Paxton. And Paxton turned him over to Godsoe.

                                        “This was my first significant horse, and I was so exited when he came into my life,” she says. She rode him often, and tried everything, including 2-foot-6 Hunters, and a ton of foxhunting.

                                        Baying hounds and rocky footing never fazed Well Well. And though he was never an affectionate animal, he was no-nonsense and professional at all times.

                                        “He approached everything like a job. If you put him on the cross ties, he didn’t stand there like it was time to get peppermints. He stood still, like he was saying, ‘I’m here to be brushed and groomed.’ That horse was all business.”



                                        Priscilla and Well Well, back in their foxhunting days

                                        Godsoe rode him for 12 years, until while descending a tricky hill one afternoon, she noticed something odd about the way he was holding his head; it was as if he couldn’t see properly.

                                        “He started to cock his head to the right, so he could see out of his left eye,” she says. “And one day when we were out hunting, we were coming down a horrible, crazy cliff-hill-thing, and I could just tell he couldn’t see completely out of his ride side, and he started getting really nervous.”

                                        About two years later, in 2008, Well Well was turned over to fellow foxhunter Duncan Patterson, the father of Orb’s exercise rider, to go to work as a pony for Shug McGaughey.

                                        “I remember they wanted a horse who was fast, who could keep up,” she says. “And Well Well was really fast.”

                                        From Saratoga to the tracks down south, Well Well traveled with his crew to perform his new job as a pony. Godsoe would get word of him from time to time and always felt a sense of joy, knowing her old quirky loner was taking care of business.

                                        But when she saw her old friend standing so placidly next to Orb, her jaw dropped.

                                        Well Well had gone first class!

                                        “Every single day that Orb goes to the track Well Well goes with him. And when Orb was flown to New York after the Derby, only one other horse flew with him; it was Well Well,” she says, her voice filling with pride.

                                        “Honestly, to know that somebody loves him and appreciates him makes me so happy. I see him in the pictures, and he looks just as well brushed and shiny as Orb— it’s just a cool feeling to see.”

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                                        Posted in Uncategorized | 23 Responses

                                        23 responses to “A partly blind ex-racehorse is Orb’s go-to pony”


                                        Suzanne DeStefano May 13, 2013 at 9:33 am | Permalink | Reply
                                        I got to know Well Well at the Patterson’s. I love getting reports about how well he is doing at his new job-and his air travel!

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