The Kentucky Derby is drawing ever closer in just a matter of a couple of days. I have been reflecting on that as it caused me to pause and think of our Smarties and our horses.
In each of the Derby horses you will find champions of the racing world in their pedigrees. Champions like Sunday Silence, Goldencents, Smarty Jones, City Zip and it is a prolific long list! Many may recognize Smarty Jones for his stellar performance in the 2004 Classics in the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness and just falling short of the Triple Crown in the Belmont.
While we here at Walder’s Way and All In Rescue are aware of the greatness in the pedigree we share a deep love and affection for him because we have been blessed with not one but two sons of the great Smarty Jones. Watching the Derby this year and cheering on a grandkid of Smarty will make it more special!
Our Smarty Jones connection is found in two Thoroughbreds that have homes here at Walder’s Way Equestrian Center. One in Pennsylvania
and the other (pictured below) stabled near Wellington, in our Florida division.
It’s Smarty Time is in training as a jumper with my Mom, Madison Walder. Madison is very talented, and a Grand Prix level rider and he’s already won several ribbons in local shows starting out. They both worked and trained and now It’s Smarty Time will be in the show rings at Wellington, Florida which is their new home base soon! It’s Smarty Time is enjoying the ride of his life with Madison! The sky is not the limit and the dynamic duo have endless possibilities!
My Walder’s Way family is also involved with a rescue division in our operations named All In Rescue. This is a joint venture with Dr. Jeff Walder, his wife Robin Walder and Aileen Stevens. The rescue has just been barely operating for one year and the work that has been done to save, rehome and rehabilitate horses in need of homes and a new life is nothing short of amazing. We are all so proud of them and the work and it’s not easy. It’s a huge undertaking and an expensive one too.
Thanks to the generosity of family, friends and people from all over the country we can do what we do to save equines from a terrible fate through no fault of their own.
Our second “Smarty” – whose racing name was Perfect American enjoyed modest success in the lower class ranks of racing. He was perhaps what would be consider more blue-collar racing legend in his class. The hard-knocking horses that show up every time and do their best. They are the backbone of the sport and it’s not easy too. But they try and give their all.
Fortunately for Perfect American, his path found a way to the attention of Aileen Stevens while she was viewing the website of an auction he was in. It is also very sad and upsetting to see any horse from any background in auctions where they have no future unless someone steps up for them. It was worrisome to see the son of Smarty Jones in need of a home and in an auction where his future was not predictable or certain. It hit close to home because of our connection with It’s Smarty Time and it also reminds us that even horses with racing royalty in their pedigrees bad things can still happen to horses of any background. A sad truth.
Prior to the auction Private American had been a lesson horse after his racing days were over and ownership changed hands a couple of times. It is probable he also did not receive the most ideal care and because of that he ultimately landed at the auction house. Aileen raised the necessary funding and had him quarantined and vetted. He was very ill during the process and it took some time and solid medical care before he could come home to Walder’s Way Equestrian Center in Mount Joy. He did get well and now Aileen and her devoted friends and volunteers are working with him daily to help give him the training and tools needed for where his journey will take him. Being a former racehorse, he must learn new ways of doing things. In addition to his new lessons in life his new barn name is Quinn.
The team has found that in both Smarties, their personalities are kind and gentle and they have won the hearts of everyone at the barn. They are open to training and learning new things and like their sire, Smarty Jones are so handsome! We are so grateful to two of our barn friends that have devoted many hours of time and training with Quinn, Zena Schwartz and Sabrina Drouillard. They both are accomplished in horsemanship and love to ride and they adore Quinn! He is learning quickly with their patient guidance.
Sabrina shares: “With Quinn, it was love at first sight! His gorgeous chestnut color (I am a sucker for redheads) and sweet eyes stole my heart. You could see that he had been given the short end of the stick and needed his own person. Someone to love him, care for him, and teach him.”
“After he settled into the barn, it didn’t take long before I was asking, “When can we start working with Quinn?” I was chopping at the bit to work with this fiery thoroughbred and see what he could do! After I was given the ok, we started his “training”. We first started with standing in the cross ties and being groomed. Then it was time to move onto bigger and better things. I enlisted the help of my barn pal, Zena, the miracle momma of grounds work! Her dedication and assistance has played a huge role in Quinn’s progress. She has worked with him daily doing carrot stretches, teaching him to stand, backup, side pass, and go to the right, something that tends to be difficult for ex-racehorses. We have also worked on lounging at a walk and trot, with and without a saddle. He is one smart cookie and really does his best to please. I was even privileged to take him for a light ride and did so well!”
“It has been a real pleasure working with Quinn and seeing his progress. He has learned so much and so have I. Our hope is that in the near future, he will find his forever home with someone who will continue his training and love him forever. “
Friends it is very hard to know that not all horses have this good fortune and it is important to be aware of the avenues and resources of help that is available. It does take a village of people and barns to help and with awareness and the willingness to get involved so much good can be done.
Zena also stressed that with any horse it is fundamentally important to start with the basics. Just as Sabrina shared, they both understand and take the time to get the basics down pat before moving on with the next phase of training. Laying the foundational groundwork is crucial in the learning process.
Zena generously shares a wealth of knowledge and experience with horses with her friends at the barn and the horses themselves and plays a very important role at Walder’s Way. Her work with the horses and the students and fellow boarders is an appreciated blessing for everyone.
We extend many heartfelt thanks to Zena and Sabrina and the entire team of supporters and staff at Walder’s Way.
Their hard work, loyalty and effort is valued and needed for the success and safety at the Center.
As we enjoy the Kentucky Derby and the Classics to follow, take time to remember other horses who may need help and get involved. Our rescue and others like it really need the help of donations and volunteers willing to dedicate their time to help with training, horse care, marketing, fundraising and so much more. It means so much to the rescue and even more to the horses they’re helping.
In addition, we have some horses in the rescue that will be permanent residents and if you would like to help sponsor their care that is another way to help. Two Saddlebreds that were former buggy horses have medical issues that will prevent them from being rideable, and they need sponsors. They have a lot of love and life in their hearts and sponsorship is critical.
If you want to help us help horses, All In Rescue has a Facebook page and a website and would love to hear from you.
Simply navigate to our ALL IN website and all the information and links to our rescue is readily available. If you’d like to visit the farm and meet the Walder’s Aileen Stevens and see the horses and the wonderful work that is being done, please contact us!
We also like to wish all the horses in the Kentucky Derby good luck and look forward to the winner’s circle. In our hearts and minds, all horses deserve that coveted position in the winner’s circle!
Love to all from sunny Florida!
Koenraad and Madison!
Photo and video credits:
Robin Walder, Madison Walder, Tess Flores, Aileen Stevens, Zena Schwartz, Sabrina Drouillard, Kristy Pollock, Crystal Tyner, Susan
Many, many thank you’s to all the supporters and loyal friends of Walder’s Way Equestrian Center and All in Rescue!
Your support means so much to us and the horses in our care!!