Highlighting: Jessica Urksa and Automatic Jax
I met Jessica Urksa and her mom Jen a little over a year ago when they came to see a horse I had for sale by the name of Automatic Jax. Their trainer had come to the farm to ride Jax in hopes he would make a nice english mount for Jessica. She gave the thumbs up and the mom and daughter team headed to the farm to meet Jax. Let's back up a bit and meet the buyer.
Jessica Urksa is a 17 year old senior attending South Fayette High School in Bridgeville, PA. She started out riding both english and western 6 years ago with her first horse. She enjoyed a little bit of jumping and feels that riding english helped her improve her riding skills. She did a bit of everything from barrels and poles to roping and jumping. She enjoyed riding thoroughbreds off the track in the past and was looking forward to finding one in the future to be able to do both riding styles with.
I knew when I listed Jax that he would draw a crowd because of his good looks and silly personality. However, as people read further into the ad they would see that he seemed to show mild signs of stringhalt while traveling on a circle. It never showed on a straight line at all. While there were tons of admirers, he had noone stepping up....except for Jessica and Jen. They didn't mind his slight "hitch" in his giddy up. They fell in love with him almost immediately when they came to see him. Even after two different vets told me that this horse did in fact, have stringhalt, he has never shown his hitch while living with the Urksas. It is possible this was a nervous hitch, or maybe something mechanical that actually got better with a different type of riding. Whatever it was, it has never been an issue since retiring from racing.
Jessica taught Jax....now known as "Spartan" tricks on the ground and is hauling him around to different shows to compete in poles and barrels. The more she rides him, the more she thinks this was his calling. I asked her what it is that she loves about Spartan. Her response, " I love that Spartan is so willing to learn. He tries his hardest even if he doesn't know what you're asking and that's what's made it so much fun to teach him. He also has the biggest personality of all the horses at the barn, everyone loves him! He's the nicest mover and such a smooth ride. He teaches me something new every ride even if I'm the one that's supposed to be teaching him! He challenges me and has made me a better, more experienced rider." With barrel racing and contesting shows and rodeos being dominated mostly by Quarter Horses, why would she want a thoroughbred off of the track? Especially one who is nearly 16.3 hands now (he was 16 hands at retirement). Jessica throws her answer out quite easily, "I decided to buy an off the track thoroughbred because of their athleticism and heart. I had ridden several OTTB's and fell in love. At the time I wanted a horse that could do both English and western if I chose, but I ended up sticking to western. I've seen how much they put into what they do and how much they love having a job. I really wanted a horse that loved what it was doing to make it more fun for the both of us."
A little over a year has passed since this team meet each other and they've had a chance to go to lessons, school off the property and also compete in shows. Jessica states, "Spartan is so willing to learn. He tries his hardest even if he doesn't know what you're asking and that's what's made it so much fun to teach him. He also has the biggest personality of all the horses at the barn, everyone loves him! He's the nicest mover and such a smooth ride. He teaches me something new every ride even if I'm the one that's supposed to be teaching him! He challenges me and has made me a better, more experienced rider." Her future plans for Spartan are to finish him on barrels and possibly poles. The ultimate goal is to compete at professional rodeos and bigger shows and jackpots. Big plans for a 17 year old riding a 5 year old!
As the former owner/racing connection and also as the person who listed Automatic Jax, it has been such fun watching videos of these two as they learn and progress. Spartan seems as if he has found his calling and these two have formed a wonderful bond. The Urksa family always puts his health and happiness first. I couldn't ask for a better home for one of my former horses. I asked Jessica if she would consider buying another OTTB again.
"I definitely would buy another OTTB. It has been such a fun learning experience and I'm so thankful for this opportunity. There have been ups and downs but I wouldn't trade this horse for the world! If I ever do decide to get another one it'll definitely be through you Jen! I can't express how happy and thankful I am to have found Spartan!"
Welcome to the dark side Jess.....you know that saying about potato chips? It's true...you can't have just one. When you are ready, I'd be thrilled to be the one to find you another one!
#feedtheaddiction #convertedanotherone #ottbsrock #ottbbarrelracers