By: Christian Ackman
I was 9 years old when I got my first horse. From then on, I consistently had a horse to ride and compete in horse shows. Following college, I decided to retire my aging Thoroughbreds from riding, leaving me without a horse to ride for the first time in 14 years. At the time, I remember telling a friend that I would get another horse but was in no rush. I was adjusting to adulthood, home ownership, a new career, and I didn’t have the budget to acquire a trained show horse. I was so blessed to find a few horses to catch ride, and even found a wonderful horse to lease while I very casually looked for my next horse. I jokingly said I was waiting for the perfect horse and situation to fall in my lap. And boy did it!
Through LubriSynHA’s partnership with Secretariat Center, I have been lucky enough to spend some time at their facilities. Everything about Secretariat Center is top tier: their horses, facilities, trainers, staff, and rehoming program. They continuously have adoptable Thoroughbreds coming and going, and one is more gorgeous than the next. While there one afternoon, I remember peeking into a stall to find a huge gorgeous grey horse with the kindest eye. I remarked on how beautiful he was, and they introduced him as “Sonny”, registered with the Jockey Club as Son Of Ga Ga. He was a 4 year-old 16.3 hand Thoroughbred Gelding. After leaving, I didn’t think much about him. I knew he wouldn’t last long there, who doesn’t want a big grey horse? The next time I was there, they had Sonny out in the arena working him, and WOW! Watching him work under tack was a game changer. LubriSynHA was streaming a live video, and my (very non-horsey) mom sent me a message commenting on how gorgeous the grey horse was! Turns out he is a gorgeous mover, and even more striking under tack. Before leaving that day, I asked about their adoption process.
Secretariat Center is a unique rehoming organization in that all potential adopters must be approved. Before you can look at an adoptable horse, you must submit information about yourself and your horse experience, provide multiple references and present pictures of the facility the adopted horse will live. In my case, once I got everything submitted, I was quickly in touch with the Executive Director to schedule a visit to ride Sonny as soon as possible! I wanted to find out if he was going to be a good fit
for me and my riding/competition goals. During this visit, Secretariat Center laid everything out on the table for my trainer and me. Like many off-track Thoroughbreds, Sonny had suffered a minor injury while racing, which they were completely transparent about, with full details and x-rays of the affected limb. They provided training records from his time at SC, routine health records, behavior reports and more! When I tell you Secretariat Center covers everything, I mean it! I’ve never seen any horse adoption or sale that included so many details and information about the horse!
You probably could have guessed, but I fell in love with Sonny immediately! As soon as I got on, he confirmed my assumptions: he was kind, eager to please, and had untapped potential! After my initial ride, I asked if I could come back for a second ride, to confirm it wasn’t a fluke! Our second ride was even better, and I could feel the progress he continued to make in just a few days since our previous ride! With that, I asked my veterinarian to come and check that he was physically suitable for my goals. I also wanted his opinion on Sonny’s existing injury. When Dr. Allday confirmed that the injury could be maintained with a joint supplement and proper arena footing, Sonny was ready for success!
I let the staff know I wanted to move forward with adopting Sonny, and there was minimal paperwork to complete. Once that was done, all that was left was to go pick up my new best friend! When I showed up to bring him home, Secretariat Center rolled out the red carpet! He was bathed and spotless, wearing a brand-new leather halter that he got to wear home. They loaded us up with all the feed,
supplements and supplies he used during his time at Secretariat Center. The transition home was so easy, they had everything covered!
Now that I have had the giant grey baby horse for several months, I am still elated with my decision! We have gone to a handful of horse shows, and he hasn’t blinked an eye. He takes everything in stride, and we have developed a strong partnership! We have established a mutual trust, and it has been overwhelmingly fulfilling to bring him along in his training. Secretariat Center checks in on Sonny, who now goes by “Junior”, as they do with every horse adopted through their organization. Each horse is “tracked for life”, so even if I were to sell Junior, they would get in touch with his new owner to ensure he remains in a good situation.
When LubriSynHA first partnered with Secretariat Center, I was immediately smitten with the organization. Now that I have the additional perspective of an adopter, I cannot articulate how much this organization means to me! They always do right by the horses in their care, and it is evident that is their top priority! If you are in the market for a new horse (for ANY discipline), Secretariat Center would be my first stop!