Mar. 8, 2016

Highlighting: Jimmie Echo

There will be times that I switch to highlighting a OTTB that I think has a special story. This week Samantha Silver tells the story of "Jimmie Echo" from her point of view. Thank you Samantha for contributing!

"Jimmie Echo is a 2003 Pennsylvania bred Thoroughbred by Eastern Echo out of Fractious. He ran a total of 23 starts over both flat and hurdle races coming in first twice, second four times and third five times for a total career earnings of $53,840. Jimmie Echo’s claim to fame is his winning of the 2006 Gladstone Hurdle Stakes. In an article by Jamie Santo published in the 10/31/07 The Times/Steeplechase & Eventing newspaper, Santo writes: “Jimmie Echo was in danger of becoming trivia, a name pointed at in the program accompanied by the half-articulated question ‘Wasn’t he…?’ The 3-year-old champion in 2006? Yes. But less than 12 months after winning the $50,000 Gladstone Hurdle – his lone jump score – the 4-year-old found himself entered for a $7,500 claiming tag at Morven Park Oct. 13.”

 His problems? Starting line antics. Jimmie Echo decided that the starting line was not the place to stand still and his poor behavior started there and ended up beginning as far back as causing tardiness to the paddock. Once the race began he was all business but the insanity caused in the paddock and starting line ultimately led to his retirement.

 Jimmie Echo ran his last race on 10/11/08 however he remained in training for some time afterwards. My best friend, Michelle Craig, was galloping him at the time. All I ever heard was how amazing Jimmie Echo was, how professional, how easy… the list goes on and on. She told me repeatedly that I would just love this horse.  When he was retired in 2009, Michelle snatched him right up. After a layup period, her and her husband Dustin put about 30 days re-training on Jimmie Echo and then I was lucky enough to get my hands on him. I got him in April of 2010 and leased him until I ended up purchasing him from Michelle in December 2010.

From the minute I sat on him, I knew that he was the horse for me. Maybe it was because my brain had been so conditioned from the year plus of Michelle talking him up, but whatever it was, I came home with a loaded trailer that day brisk spring day.

Jimmie Echo – now named Echo – and I flourished and did some local schooling combined training and dressage shows, finishing the 2010 show season with a schooling Beginner Novice horse trial. He was WILD on cross country for a long time – as I am sure any ex-steeplechaser would be. It took me quite some time to figure out how to ride him and an equally significant amount of time for him to take a deep breath and realize that he was no longer being asked to race. He was also wild in show jumping but that, too settled down to the point where he is now fairly competitive hunter. So I bought Echo – did a limited vet exam since I had had the horse for so long. He flexed about a one on his hocks which was no big surprise to me. I figured I would inject his hocks when I needed to and that would be the end of it. Right?

 Wrong. I will make this brief as I can but needless to say, 2011 was not the best year. In early March he came up lame with a vague lameness that ended up being bilateral hind limb suspensory desmitis which brings with it a poor prognosis for return to soundness. He underwent surgery (fasciotomy with plantar neurectomy and PRP) in April and we began the lengthy rehab process. For elaboration, please see another contest submission I sent on the topic of rehabilitation success stories:

 Through sheer stubbornness on both of our parts, Echo was back to where he was competition-wise exactly one year after his lameness onset. My super tough horse was back in action and despite some minor hiccups along the way- we are still going strong. Even more exciting, a recent ultrasound (done in late 2015) revealed that his hind suspensories were normal for a horse his age/size! In 2012, Echo decided that his vacation (aka rehab) shouldn’t be over and that standing up and waving was a better option than working. Absolutely. Not. So, off Echo goes – back to Michelle and Dustin where Dustin showed him that rearing is not the right decision. Dustin took him to several horse trials including two Novice level ones. Since then, Echo has been the ultimate all-around horse. Other than being not the best trail horse, there is very little I haven’t tried with him English-style and I am very tempted to go borrow a Western saddle and give barrel racing a try! We have competed in Thoroughbred shows in jumpers, hunters, and pleasure along with dressage if the particular TB show offers it. We also have done combined training shows, horse trials and recognized dressage shows. Together we have done the 3’ jumpers and Novice Level eventing along with First Level dressage.

 While my focus has been eventing and hunter/jumpers for the past several years, I have begun working towards my USDF Bronze Medal in straight dressage. In 2016 we will be showing Second Level with my trainer, Allison Spivey, planning on starting the flying changes with him in late summer. Echo wore a double bridle for the first time last week as Allison wants him to be ridden in it occasionally to adjust to the set up before we start legitimately using it in the fall. He shows clear potential for Third Level and possibly beyond that and I will try to continue to move up the levels until he tells me “no more.” Outside of competition, Echo also enjoys giving pony rides to friends and family – both children and adult alike. I am confident enough in his good behavior to put anyone up on that big chestnut horse’s back.

 Jimmie Echo’s life has quite drastically changed throughout his 13 years on this earth… he went from being a star racehorse to a bad racehorse to a spoiled rotten pampered pet. He truly is one in a million and loves to go jump a  jumper course then turn around and place in a pleasure class and go home to give pony rides."