Musk Creek Farm is proud to celebrate the success of their former part-owned Off The Track (OTT) thoroughbred ‘Noneofus (NZ)’ as the overall winner of the Racing Victoria OTT Award at the Serata Equine 2019 Victorian Dressage Festival.
The five-year-old steel grey gelding, now campaigned as Reynvan Colnago, was proudly ridden by his owner Deb Van Iersel.
Bec Williamson from Musk Creek Farm actively sought a home for Noneofus (Reliable Man) when he was to be retired, and being a rider of OTT thoroughbreds herself, she wanted to ensure that ‘Col’, (his stable name), would find a knowledgeable and educated owner to have the best chance to succeed as an equestrian horse.
“People need to be made aware that breeders do the right thing by these horses. We have foaled them and raised them and still take responsibility for their welfare after racing. Deb Van Iersel purchased him from us straight off the track back in October 2017, and we are thrilled that Deb and Col are enjoying their equestrian journey. Musk Creek Farm will be cheering them on every step of the way,” Williamson said.
Originally trained by Freedman Racing, after his first three starts it was clear he was too slow to continue, so an equestrian home was sought.
“The owners were happy to retire him, and I was so fortunate that he came to me. He is a credit to his handlers, as he is ultra-calm, with very good ground manners, showing that he has been cared for and broken-in correctly. We love him, and he is now in his forever home. He has become part of the family.”
Having recently competed at the Tooradin Horse Trials in the Grassroots EV65 class, Deb was thrilled with how well he behaved in a high-pressure atmosphere at Boneo.
“The Dressage Festival really helped him mentally grow, and he took it all in his stride. He was able to competently and calmly score over 60% in both preliminary tests. He held his breath in his first test, but once he relaxed, he gave the next test a red-hot go.”
Deb was well aware that the novice tests were a huge ask, even at participation level, but his ‘can do’ attitude shone through.
“He was willing and attempted all the movements asked, even the leg yields. The comments were positive from the judges; that he was sweet and calm, and that he showed clean and clear paces, that will develop as his muscles strengthen.”
“He is very immature in his body and still has a lot of filling out to do. He is just learning to come through from behind, come over the back, happily working in a relaxed downhill frame. With time he will find his own rhythm and balance.”
“It’s so important to remember; Don’t set yourself up to fail and don’t set the horse up to fail. I make sure that I do what I can to make the experience the best it can be.”
“I got up at 4am so we could arrive at Boneo nice and early, to let him absorb the atmosphere and take in his new surroundings. He was genuinely interested in the environment, and by the end of the day he was happily walking back to the float on the buckle, relaxed and calm. I was so proud of him.”
Growing up on the Peninsula, Deb is now based in Emerald, and has been riding since a little girl at pony club.
“My passion has always been to work with young horses in their re-education. All my horses I have trained myself. Concentrating on dressage, I currently have a talented warmblood mare in work, and I competed “Ruben” my beautiful Clydesdale cross successfully to elementary level.”
“When riders consider taking on an OTT racehorse, it’s vital that they understand that they are athletes, first and foremost. They need an experienced owner to guide them and teach them. A lot of people spell them first and feed them up, but coming from a set structured life, this can be difficult for a thoroughbred to adjust to.”
“With Col, once he came home, we started working together straight away. Just slowly and quietly, to develop a new routine that he could lean on and expect. I kept ticking away with basic education, working in an arena and doing poles,” Deb said.
“With all OTT horses, you must be committed and have the time and patience to put into the animal. Being an EA NCAS Level 1 coach, it is vital to not rush them. Be kind and ask them to do it willingly. It may take 18 months or two years of training the basics to gain their confidence and trust. You must be in it for the long haul.”
“Horse welfare is the most important thing to me, it’s not about winning ribbons. It’s incredible how versatile these horses are. Initially, I thought he would make a nice low-level showjumper, but as our training has progressed and our bond deepened, we enjoyed jumping logs and flat work. OTT horses can do anything with proper training.”
“It’s not about giving these horses a second chance, it’s about another opportunity to shine. As a rider and owner of OTT thoroughbreds, we have the power to show everyone how talented and versatile the ex-racehorse can be,” Deb said.
Col now has had a handful of events under his belt and can enjoy a two-week spell over Christmas.
“Next year we hope to compete at HRCAV events in show jumping and dressage, and our main aim is to compete at Wandin International Horse Trials in March in the 80cm class. Col and I will be sure to give it a red-hot go!”
Story courtesy of Musk Creek