The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program has named its Young Rider of the Year and Thoroughbred of the Year award winners.
The Thoroughbred Incentive Program (TIP), which was created in October 2011, sponsors Thoroughbred-only classes and divisions and high point Thoroughbred awards at open horse shows and competitions.
The Thoroughbred of the Year Award recognizes a Thoroughbred that has excelled in a non-competitive career, such as equine-assisted therapy or police work.
This year’s recipient is Maud Star, aka Aspen, a 1989 gelding who raced 32 times and won $9,587 in his four years of racing.
Aspen is a therapeutic riding horse at the Rainier Therapeutic Riding center in Yelm, Washington, which provides therapeutic horsemanship lessons to wounded, active-duty and veteran members of the military. Aspen is the oldest horse in the program and has helped more than 26 riders overcome the wounds of war, including Post Traumatic Stress, brain injuries, anxiety disorders and other physical injuries.
According to Elisia Mutter, the executive director of the Rainier Therapeutic Riding Center: “Aspen is a program favorite who stands quietly for riders as they overcome their fears and anxieties of working with a large horse for the first time. His quiet insistence that his handlers ask him for things correctly helps these amazing people once again have the confidence to be a leader.”
The young rider award, which recognizes a rider 18 or under who owns or leases a Thoroughbred for use in 4-H, Pony Club or other activities, was split among three riders, Sydney Luzicka, Kendyl Shantz, and Elizabeth Spann.
Luzicka, who is 12 and has been riding since she was 3, plans to use the award funds to attend clinics and horse shows. “It is my dream to be able to ride with the best clinicians in the USA and soak up all their knowledge,” she wrote in her essay. “It is also my dream to compete against the best riders.”
Luzicka, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, rides an off-track Thoroughbred named Olive Way, aka Catnip or All That Glitters, a 1996 mare she purchased from the Minnesota Retired Racehorse Project.
Shantz, a 17-year-old from Bridgewater, New Jersey, rides Canyon of Heroes, aka Hero, a 2005 gelding who raced 23 times and retired at age 5.
“I’ve never trained a horse from scratch, and Hero’s never been a sport horse but he proves to me in the ring and on the trails he’s intelligent, courageous, diligent, willing and trusting.” Shantz wrote in her essay.
“Though everyone thought I was crazy to buy him … now not only do we prove them wrong, we surprise ourselves with what we’re accomplishing. I couldn’t have bought a better horse.”
Shantz plans to use her TIP award funds to help with college, clinics and shows.
Spann, an 11-year-old from Lake Mills, Wisconsin, who rides 12-year-old off-track-Thoroughbred Who’s the Fox, aka Fable, said: “This award says that I am a caring and compassionate individual who takes good care of my horse and I care about my barn. It will also show that I will do as much as possible to promote second careers for OTTB and help other people get involved with riding.”
Spann wants to use her TIP award to help other riders join Pony Club and take lessons, and to attend the Pony Club regional camp and annual meeting.
The Jockey Club committed $100,000 to TIP for the pilot program in 2012, for which 167 horse shows from 26 states and two Canadian provinces were approved.