By Chelsea Miller

Showing was once a big part of my life. I started riding when I was 6 years old with Sarah Davis in Millboro, VA. Over the next 12 years Sarah taught me an immense amount about the world of Hunters and Equitation. She introduced me to the love of horses, which I believe is a disease that cannot be cured. As I grew up I lived for the show ring. I loved the moments where my horse and I could show off our teamwork. After graduating from high school I continued my love for the horse industry by attending Virginia Intermont College in Bristol, VA. There I lived for the IHSA and IDA shows on the weekends. While obtaining my Bachelor of Science in Equine Studies with a minor in Business Management, I learned so much about all aspects of horses from some of the best college coaches in the US. While at shows I loved the challenges, atmosphere and the companionship of the horses and people alike. Since graduating in 2010, my main focus has been coaching others and sending them into the show ring while I stand at the ingate and admire their progress, dedication and hard work. It is so rewarding for me. 

kid pic

My trainer, Sarah Davis, and I at a horse show. I was 9 in this picture aboard my first pony, Reese Cup.

Recently, the desire to personally show has been reignited. Through my long, and sometimes exhausting thought processes, I decided that if I were to re-enter the show ring for myself it would be most meaningful if it were on a horse that I started myself. I began to think about what I wanted in an equine teammate. Thoroughbreds have always been my favorite breed of horse for so many different reasons. In my personal opinion, TBs are stoic, brave, athletic, resilient, smart and versatile. My final conclusion was that my equine partner would have to be an OTTB since I love to see these amazing horses excel in their new careers. 

Through Coti Hausman, I got connected with a true “horse angel” by the name of Stacey Anne based in Ohio. I purchased an amazing War Horse through her. El Tequila was everything that I was looking for in a horse and had the conformation of a horse that was built to last. I only had the privilege of owning such an amazing horse for 3 short weeks. A rare health issue took him away from me very suddenly. I hadn’t been so excited to work with a horse in such a long time. There was something special about this one. I bonded with him the first time I saw him. Sometimes we just don’t understand why things happen and maybe we aren’t meant to truly understand. I was ready to put my new goal of re-entering the show ring aside, that is, until I connected with Stacey Ann again. She was heaven sent as she helped me through the grieving process. She gave me the nudge that I needed to pursue finding another OTTB. She showed me videos of a horse and I was very drawn to him. Then she sent me pictures and just like that I proceeded to a vetting. With the emotional support from Stacey Anne, and with the help of my Dad’s checkbook, I was blessed with a new partner. 

luke

Luke and I drove all night to pick Payden up from the track in Ohio. 

Payden Cash came into my life and now I understand why Stacey Anne told me that “sometimes even a tragedy takes us to the right place we’re meant to be.” Payden was foaled on April 24, 2012 and had 21 Career Starts on the track. Stacey Anne described him as a sweet horse but the track life wasn’t for him because it made him extremely nervous. He had great owners and trainers but it was not his cup of tea. Almost immediately after bringing him home, his eye softened and became a pretty laid back and easy going guy. 

I have been interested in competing in the Retired Racehorse Project 2018 for some time now. I love the organization and love what they are doing for the OTTBs of the world. They truly are great horses and can so easily be transitioned into a new career. Retiring from the track is just the beginning for them. I feel that this competition is a great goal for myself and for Payden. I am happy to say that we have been accepted to compete in the makeover and I could not be more excited. I feel that it is a great way to transition him into his new career so that he may redefine himself. As for what discipline I will complete in at the RRP, I am leaving that up to him. Deep down I am praying that he wants to be a jumper but we shall see.

first ride

First Ride!

I have given Payden December and January to have some much deserved down time. As for a lot of horses off of the track, his feet need to grow out some and his body needs time to heal. I have had about 10 amazing rides on him so far. As for now, these rides consist of a lot of walking and stretching. I want him to learn to trust me and for us to establish a bond before the real training begins. He is such a personable horse and there is never a dull moment with him. He absolutely loves the attention and would be a lap dog if given the opportunity. He is quite the gentleman and his ground manners are quite amazing. I feel that I have already struck it rich with this one! 

I invite you to follow our journey as we reignite and redefine ourselves as we pave the road to the RRP Makeover, which is held at the Kentucky Horse Park in October. I am sure that it will be full of laughter, tears, challenges and victories. It will also be a time for my husband to prove that he does, in fact, have the patience of a saint. I am thankful that he is supporting both Payden and I on this journey.