Mar. 15, 2016

Highlighting: Brit Vegas

This week's highlighted OTTB trainer is Brit Vegas who hails from Lincoln, NE. I first met Brit online about 7 years ago through a mutual online friend. We hit it off pretty quickly even though she is several years younger than me. We had the same interests and had a passion for throughbreds off the track. Brit really had a soft spot for the older warhorses which was something I related to well. Some of my favorite horses did not retire from racing until they were 9 and 10 years old. Brit and I would bouce ideas back and forth on issues with different horses and I would live vicariously through her as she got in new horses to ride when I was on the disabled list for a bad back. Brit currently has 5 horses off the track that are at least 8 years old. She prefers these horses because they have not only proven they will stay sound after racing but she says they have seen most things you can throw at them and tend of be unfazed by it. She says, "I may ride a few other breeds for training, butthoroughbreds  tend to be brave with huge hearts. I will always choose to ride them over another breed."
In early 2015 my favorite racehorse in the barn was cast in his stall and suffered a high splint bone fracture to his hind leg. "Honest Expectation" aka "Abe" was already 12 years old so the decision was made not to rehab and race him because by the time he would be healed, half of the year would be over. He had more than earned his keep so we decided to retire him. I worried about where this brave horse would go at his "advanced" age and also having a current injury. That's when I contacted Brit. She never hesitated. "Absolutely!! I'll take him!" was her answer to my question. Talk about a relief. I knew Abe would not only be well cared for but he would get proper training once he had time to heal. As we talked more, the subject of the Retired Racehorse Project surfaced. We tossed around ideas and once Brit had a few nights to really think it over, she decided that this was to be her goal with Abe. She was going to take things day by day and get him well and then see how he handled the training. So Brit and her boyfriend Adam, made the 17 hour trip to Ohio to pick him up. We had a great weekend, finally meeting in person.
Recently, I asked Brit who her all time favorite OTTB is what she had to say, " My most favorite OTTB ever is Abe my 2015 rrp horse. To be honest, when I first met him in Ohio (I had driven over 20 hours to pick him up site unseen) I thought to myself... What did I get myself into. He was naughty, full of himself, and bite me about 50 times while getting a television interview. I took him home anyway, because I trust one of my best friends, Jen. She loved this horse (and at the time I couldn't see why). Well it quickly became apparent when I started his rehab for his fractured splint bone. He bonded so hard with me, he was like a puppy. He called to me from his stall when he heard my pickup, learned all sorts of tricks, and quickly became a piece of my heart. Once we started riding, I trusted him through anything, and you could always tell he was thinking about me up there. He schooled cross country up to training level and never refused once. It's no wonder he made it so far his race career, finally retiring at 12 years old. He has more heart and personality than any horse I have ever met."
Unfortunately, Somewhere along the way, Abe suffered a stifle injury and had to be scratched from competing at the 2015 RRP. He is scheduled for surgery to repair some cartilidge and anything else they may find that needs attention once they get him to surgery. Brit says the hardest part about this process has been keeping a very smart, very active horse happy while he is limited to hand walking and stall rest.
This year Brit has entered into the 2016 RRP with another older warhorse named, "Mega Rush." Mega is a 10 year old gelding who made over $364k on the track and was mulitple stakes placed during his long career. Brit is focusing on the Fox hunting division for this year's competition. She has already had Mega out several times this year and so far he has really taken to it. He is learning about the hounds, jumping many permanent jumps and crossing over terrain that may not always be cut and dry. Mega has a huge pressence and at 17 hands and jet black, he doesn't go unnoticed. 
In addition to teaching lessons and picking up the occasional training horse, Brit is a big advocate for large breed dog rescue. She is a foster home for many unwanted Great Danes and Mastiffs and spends many hours driving these dogs to their new, approved homes all over the state of Nebraska as well as surrounding states. You can check out the website for "Big Dogs, Huge Paws" here:
As if her schedule isn't already packed full, Brit is also a veterinary assistant to her boyfriend Dr. Adam Gengenbach. They run a mobile veterinary service that specializes in sporthorses, acupuncture, chiropractic and dentistry services. They can be found here:
If anyone is interested in speaking with Brit about her experiences with horses off of the track or would like to contact her for training please visit her facebook page for Haltered Hearts Training here:
Brit was interview by Jen Roytz about a very special horse she calls "Superman" and the bond her Daughter formed with this former exrace horse:
Last but not least, please check out and "like" the facebook page for Mega Rush and follow his journey to Kentucky in October for the Retired Racehorse Project Competition!: