Friday, October 25, 2013

Suffolk Downs CANTER New England Showcase 2013

Last Sunday, I traveled up to Suffolk Downs Racetrack with my friend Claire, and we attended the CANTER New England Showcase. Claire bought her horse Boe off the track years ago, and is an OTTB fan, so she was the perfect person to take along. All of the horses who were finishing up their race careers and not candidates for the trek down to Florida were paraded around in the Test Barn at Suffolk for a crowd of OTTB-loving people, most looking to take their next horse home. It was a very exciting day!

Before we even made it to the Test Barn, a trainer came up and offered us a horse for free. Seriously. We politely declined and kept on walking through the maze of barns until we found the crowd. It was so exciting.

Some horses walked in looking like they could take a kid in a leadline class tomorrow. Others they needed a bit of a time out to learn how to relax ;) Granted, some had raced the previous Wednesday so they were probably feeling quite full of themselves! There were some reeeeeally nice horses up for grabs. I hope a lot of them found homes.

Here are some photos! I did not write down names of horses, unfortunately.

A horse enters the test barn as everyone admires him. People came prepared
with notepads, cameras, and of course the catalog of available horses that CANTER
had made available.

The catalog had info like their names, ages, genders, race history, reason for retirement,
and any other info they could provide. The CANTER volunteers did an excellent
job!! I'm sure that was a lot of work to put together.



enough said.

This horse was quiet and so friendly! After he had been shown off, he said hello
to the crowd of potential new owners.

Talk about flashy!!! This horse was eligible to be registered as a pinto, apparently.
You can kind of see his roan ticking all over his belly. He was gorgeous.

This beautiful mare came in all braided up with a gorgeous western show halter on.

Jessica Paquette emceed the Showcase. She did a fantastic job! Some horses who
came in weren't even in the programme; they were just last-minute adds. She still
managed to get as much info as she could from the trainer and relay that to the crowd.
She let everyone know who the horse was, their age, any injuries, why they were being
retired from the track, and what disciplines they had potential for.

Some of these horses already had experience being turned out in a farm setting. Some
knew how to cross tie already. Some even had show experience!! There were so many
that I wanted to take home.

Most of the horses were shown off in-hand, but the quieter ones were actually ridden.
This mare was beautiful and very well-behaved.

There was a line of horses outside waiting to come in for their turn. They looked
beautiful out in the sunshine but I was grateful to be in the building because it was
chilly and windy.

This horse was quite full of himself. He was scared of the PA system that the
emcee was using to make sure everyone could hear her. Each time his trainer
walked him by the speakers, he had a fit, his hind end kicking out toward the crowd.
Hopefully he finds a nice home where he can relax and learn about speakers! lol

A trainer talks about her horse as she shows him(?) off to the crowd.

Each horse was walked up and down the test barn several times, and then trotted
out for the crowd to watch them move.

Oh my goodness, WHAT A FACE :)

This horse wasn't part of the Showcase but he was so cute standing in his stall watching
us walk by as we headed back to the car.

We had such a great time watching the Showcase. I got to see some horsey friends whom I had met on previous excursions to Suffolk, and of course it was awesome to hang out with Jessica, even though she was very busy as the emcee! I also got to meet Susan Salk, whom I've been chatting with off and on after she interviewed me for an article about Lucy for her Off-Track Thoroughbreds blog a couple years ago, but I had never met her in person. She is a huge supporter of OTTB's and I was so happy to meet her in person finally!

When we first got to the track, we stood off to the side trying to find a good spot to stand, and a lady standing next to me said, "Do you have a horse named Lucy?" She recognized me from my blog. Stardom moment, for sure! She was horse shopping so I hooked her up with Jessica, who helped her narrow down her list of horses she was interested in. I hope she found the perfect one! The crowd was excited to be there, and I know some people took horses home that day. Best of luck to anyone who bought a horse off Suffolk this year and if you see a photo of your horse in this blog, send me an email and I'd be happy to send you the photo.

On the way home to Rhode Island, we stopped in at SmartPak's retail store in Natick and fawned over the gorgeous tack, blankets, halters, clothing, and other merchandise before heading upstairs to the bargain area. If you have never been to SmartPak's store, make a pilgrimage. The bargain area is like the forbidden cave in the Aladdin movie. So many treasures!!  I bought Cairo a new ThermoManager dog coat for TEN BUCKS on clearance. There is nothing wrong with it at all!! Retail was almost $40. I couldn't believe it.

I also bought a really nice fleece-lined saddle cover for $19 that had someone else's initials embroidered on it. I haven't decided if I'm going to remove that embroidery with a seam ripper (time consuming, but not complicated), or if I'm going to sew some kind of patch over it. Retail for the saddle cover was $40 so I am happy with that bargain. A lot of the merchandise in the bargain area is stuff that people ordered and had personalized, then returned. SmartPak can't exactly re-sell that item with someone else's name on it so it gets heavily discounted. It's my favourite part of the whole store!!


  1. That sounds so fun (and tempting)! Thoroughbreds are so gorgeous! I have been "recognized" from my blog before and it is a weird feeling!

    It's so cool that you have a Smartpak store near you. I have no idea where the closest one to Oregon is but I'm sure it's not very close!

    1. I believe the one in MA is the only one! So you'll just have to come visit ;)

  2. There looks like there was so many nice horses there. I love OTTBs. It would have been fun to be there, even if I wasn't going to buy anything.

  3. Ok, why are you torturing us with these beauties!! The Sabino, that bay mare...drool!!

  4. Ooh that dapple grey.. and to live close to Smartpak, so fun! Glad your enjoying your blog-fame lol. It is a small world :)

  5. That looks like so much fun! I think I would have had a blast. And I'm doubly jealous of your excursion to the SmartPak Store...I'll have to make a trek up there sometime I think.

  6. Definitely want to go next year, but we must leave the trailer at home... Maybe. :) I miss being a part of the OTTB group *sniffle* It wasn't cool when I had one.

  7. Someone needs to arrange an OTTB thing like this at a Texas track! I would so be there!

  8. That first grey looks like First Speaker! He is a Trainer listing right now, so could have been at the showcase. I'm in LOVE with him....

  9. Oh man LOVE the roany pinto! Love love love.

  10. Hi, I just found your blog and love it. I just lost my OTTB and she was a CANTER Mid-Atlantic Horse off of the West Virginia Charlestown Track. I never went to a showcase though. I found her on the CANTER website and fell in love. It is such an amazing organization that EVERYONE should support. I look forward to reading more about your adventures!


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