Secretariat staue at the Kentucky Horse Park. photo by Amy Vodraska

Secretariat statue at the Kentucky Horse Park. photo by Amy Vodraska

When I was a horse crazed little girl I lived for anything horse-related.  Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, movies like National Velvet, Breyer horses, you name it, if it was horsey, I was all over it.  I used to love spending time with my Great Aunt Helen, a frequent visitor at the racetracks of New York and New Jersey. She would read to me from the racing forms and tell me stories  of legendary Thoroughbreds with names like Man O War, Nasrullah, Native Dancer, and, of course, Secretariat.  To my way of thinking, Secretariat embodied all that is magical about the Thoroughbred breed, and The Meadow, the farm where he was born, was the birthplace of that magic.

So what could be more magical than a horse show that celebrates the heritage of the Thoroughbred? How about a Thoroughbred-only show located  at the hallowed ground where one of the most celebrated examples of the breed was born?!?  The Thoroughbred Heritage Horse Show will be held July 25-27 at The Meadow, now known as The Meadow Event Park, in Doswell, VA, about 30 minutes from Richmond.  The show, the first such show to be held at one of the most celebrated farms of Thoroughbred racing, will feature three full days of competition for Thoroughbreds who are identifiable through The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program.  Entrants will be able to compete in Hunter/Jumper, Dressage, Side Saddle, Western and Combined Training classes, as well as Model and Leadline classes. Exhibitors will vie for the chance to win $4,100 in prize money thanks to generous support fromVirginia Thoroughbred Association, TAKE2 Second Career Thoroughbred Program Inc. and The Jockey Club Thoroughbred Incentive Program. Out of town competitors will find stabling available in 200 stalls in the Southern States Legends barn or temporary tent stables.

Secretariat's stall at the Training Barn. photo by Krista Hodgkin

Secretariat’s stall at the Training Barn. photo by Krista Hodgkin

Though the horse show itself will provide plenty of excitement, plenty of additional fun has been planned. There will be a special ceremony in which all descendants of The Meadow’s Thoroughbreds (not just Secretariat) will be asked to assemble in the show ring for a group photo. (To learn if your Thoroughbred descends from one of The Meadow’s residents, you can find a partial list here). In addition to showing their own Thoroughbred on the site of the track where Secretariat learned to gallop,  participants will be able to see various original structures such as the foaling shed where Secretariat was born and the stall where he was saddled for the first time. To add event more excitement, attendees can take the “Hoofprints of History” tour guided by Leeanne Ladin, co-author of the book Secretariat’s Meadow – The Land, The Family, The Legend, and walk on the same ground where Secretariat and his stablemate Riva Ridge once roamed.

The Yearling Barn. photo by Krista Hodgkin

The Yearling Barn. photo by Krista Hodgkin

Out of town competitors can find accommodation in Ashland, the childhood home of Meadow owner Chris Chenery, about 8 miles south of the showgrounds.  Ashland was also where the horses would be unloaded off the train and from there the grooms would hand walk them all the way to the farm.  Show attendees interested in history can visit the Ashland Museum, where they can learn about the area’s involvement during the Civil War, or tour the numerous other Civil War sites found in the area.  Looking for a little family fun time away from the horse show?  Look no further than King’s Dominion, Virginia’s premier theme park, which is also nearby.

Many horses who will attend this show would have had much different fates if not for wonderful organizations and individuals who have worked tirelessly to find new career avenues for Thoroughbreds when their racing careers are over.   One of those organizations, the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation at James River, home to two descendants of Secretariat, will receive sixty percent of the profits from the show.  If you would like to help support this groundbreaking show and ensure that future Thoroughbreds have a safe transition from the track to a new forever home, please consider supporting the Thoroughbred Heritage Show as a sponsor.  You can click here to download the Sponsorship Form.

To learn more about competing at the show, or the benefits of Sponsorship, you can reach out to thoroughbredheritage@gmail.com, or “Like” their Facebook page.   The Thoroughbred Heritage Show will also be highlighting adoptable Thoroughbreds from a select group of non-profit organizations like CANTER Mid Atlantic, MidAtlantic Horse Rescue, and New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program, so keep an eye on their Facebook page if you’re looking for your next partner!

Click here for the show’s complete Time Schedule.

I’m trying to talk my trainer into bringing our OTTB, James, down to the show so my kids and I can show him and take part in all the fun.  Sounds like an opportunity for a great family vacation to me.  Hope to see you there!

Amy