Not all thoroughbreds have successful racing careers or even the speed to make it to the racetrack but that doesn't mean that they can't have rich and full careers elsewhere.
Equine enthusiast Judith Newton picked up ex-thoroughbred 'A Little Favour' from the late Mick Whittle and after a name change, 'Sea Sabre' has had a magnificent career in both dressage and show jumping. He was named the winner of the “Best Performed OTT Thoroughbred in the IRT Arena” at this year’s South Australian State Show Jumping Championships which is the pinnacle event on the South Australian show jumping calendar.
After his win, Judith wrote a lovely letter to us at Thoroughbred Racing SA to share the story of Sea Sabre and to tell us how rewarding it is to take care of an Off The Track (OTT) thoroughbred.
"I will tell you a bit more about my horse Sea Sabre, and I am comfortable for you to share his story as I feel it's positive for Thoroughbred Racing South Australia."
"His given racing name was “A Little Favour” and had I known that when I picked him up he would still be called that. However, I named him after a book from my childhood “Sabre the horse from the Sea” because I drew some parallels with the horse character in the book. At home he is called Sabre. I gather he was bred in Victoria, but when I met him he was at Mick Whittle’s yard at Langhorne Creek. Sadly Mick has since passed away. Mick used to train his horses on a lead from the car, and Sabre does like to race cars on the beach so I would guess that method was used with him. He trialled twice and came last in both trials and was put in the paddock. Four months later I arrived looking for an OTT horse and Mick steered me to my then 15.1, scrawny, three year old and already white, grey."
"Sabre has competed with me at dressage, eventing (one and three day) and of course show jumping. He has a super jump and a big heart to give everything a go. He does not refuse and he is the horse to trust over ditches and into water. He has only been trained by me, showing how trainable a normal thoroughbred can be. Whilst he has won many ribbons in the disciplines, the rug he won for the 100cm invitational final at the show was his first, with the OTT rug his second! His favourite ridden pastime is trail riding, either in the forest or on the beach. In the forest he is one of those horses that like to stop and look at the views or watch the kangaroos. At the beach he likes a gallop and to walk in the waves, but is not very keen on stingrays or jet skis! Due to his colour he is very popular with holiday makers for their photographs. Born in 2007 he is now 15.3 and at nine years old, as you saw, strong, lithe and well-muscled. He lives out all year round and is happy with just a shelter and paddocked with two miniature horses and my young Irish sport horse. He is a real character in the household, probably the best ride I have had, and has a home for life with us."
"Thoroughbred Racing South Australia’s involvement does go a long way to ensuring the continued success of our marvellous State event and I know my fellow riders would agree with my sentiments of gratitude."
This is just one of the many stories of life after racing for our beloved thoroughbred racehorses. If you have a similar story to Judith that you would like to share or would like more information on racehorse retirement programs in South Australia, visit theracessa.com.au or email firstname.lastname@example.org