Wednesday, July 7, 2010

From the Race Track to Eventing-- Paddington's Story

From time to time, The Second Race, features stories told in the words of the owners of ex-race horses whom they have adopted or taken in for a new career. Here is the latest installment by Ashley Sager and her horse, Paddington.

I purchased Acrobatic Champ (aka Paddington or Paddy) from a small farm in NJ in April 2006. He had been off the track for about 2 weeks and I had this crazy idea that it would be fun to learn how to jump (I had been riding for 15 years but had always done Saddle Seat and never jumped) and so I thought I'd buy an off-the-track thoroughbred (I probably should have thought that through a bit more but it all worked out in the end).

When I first went to look at Paddy I thought he was about as ugly as a horse can be - he was about 100-200 pounds under weight, very gangly, all legs and had a skinny little neck. As they tacked him up I literally was trying to decide whether or not I even wanted to see him under saddle! But once I saw him move and rode him, I did a complete 180 - he was AMAZING. I couldn't sleep that night (that's how you know it's the right horse) so the next day I called and bought him.

After my purchase, I instantly fell in love with Paddy - he is the sweetest, most gentle, most well-mannered horse I have ever met. When I first bought him he had no idea what treats were, he reluctantly took a carrot from me about a week after purchase and it was a year before he'd try an apple, 2 years before eating horse treats and he still won't eat peppermints! But back to his story, over our first year we slowly learned how to jump together, he jumped like a gazelle and I am sure I didn't look much better but we figured it out.

Somewhere along the road, someone mentioned that they thought Paddy would be good at eventing, I thought "sounds fun" and we started eventing! We went to our first starter horse trials in 2007 and I was instantly hooked. I decided to take a year off from my day job and be a working student for Megan Moore at Team CEO Eventing in Kentucky, probably the best decision I ever made - it was an absolute blast! Paddy couldn't get enough of cross country and neither could I, we moved up the levels quickly and today we compete at the prelim level with hopes of doing our first one-star this fall.

Our current instructor, Babette Lenna, even thinks he could go Advanced one day, wouldn't that be something? He is the first horse I ever took to a horse trial, he is the first horse I ever rode Beginner Novice, Novice, Training and Prelim - I really hope he is the first horse I take Intermediate and Advanced (knock on wood). I am SURE he can do it, he is incredible talented, the only question is whether I can!

Paddy just turned 8 on April 15, 2010 (sorry, we don't follow the typical January 1st birthday - he's too special to have a generic birthday). He is 16.2hh, bay with some chrome and a star, he is still mostly legs but a lot less gangly then when I bought him 4 years ago, he has the cutest face (everyone says so) and is a yellow-lab in a horse costume, he'd sleep in my bed if I'd let him. His name is Paddington because he really does have the personality of Paddington Bear!



  1. Paddington is a wonderful horse and I can personally say it's a true love-love match with Ashley and was a pleasure to see them train here with Babette in May and I wish them all the best for this season and onwards.

  2. He does seem lovely. Nice too, that first impressions where wrong for both Paddington and Ashley. They look like a great team.

  3. Heather and King Koal KlassicJuly 7, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    They are a fabulous pair. Talent horse and talented rider. Wishing them continued success.


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