Donna Smith was a pari-mutuel teller for 36 and a half years before she retired and became a horse owner.
“I wish I was a horse owner sooner.” she said. “I never paid attention to the horses while I was working, but now I am hooked on horses. They call me the carrot lady, as I am always bringing treats to the paddock.”
Donna is one of the nine owners of Our Mojo, a eight-year-old Kadabra gelding out of the Balanced Image mare, Got Sno Socks. Our Mojo was purchased in 2010 through the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association’s New Owner Mentoring Group.
Eight owners and their mentor, Dan Clark, each contributed $4,500, while the SBOA added a $15,000 forgivable loan to the pot. These funds went towards purchasing Our Mojo, and his expenses such as staking, training, blacksmithing etc. The SBOA hoped this initial sum would cover all expenses until Our Mojo started making money racing.
“I found the Canadian Yearling Sale, held at Flamboro, most exciting.” recalled Donna. ”Mike Keeling, our trainer, asked us to choose 10 yearlings out of the sale catalogue. Then at the sale, he taught us what to look for. He has been fabulous and so patient with all our questions. I don’t think Our Mojo was on my list, but thankfully he was on Mike’s.” Donna chuckled.
Our Mojo was purchased and the group became the Caveator Stable. The new owners visited the Keeling farm regularly and began to understand how a true horseman, like Mike, trained and raced to bring out the best in their horses. After a while the group learned that the best course of action with Our Mojo was to race him in the winter and send him to the pasture farm in the summer.
Most of the SBOA’s previous New Owner Mentoring groups kept their horse until the end of its three-year-old racing career and then put the horse into an auction and disperse the profits among the owners.
“We had all become so attached to Our Mojo by 2012 that we asked if we could stay on as owners.” said Donna. “ There wasn’t a single owner that wanted out.”
The SBOA directors were thrilled. The Program they had started back in 2005 had always encouraged one or two new horse owners per group to become full-time horse owners, but they had never had all nine from one group want to stay on as horse owners. The Caveator Stable kept their ownership in Our Mojo and since each year members of the group have purchased new yearlings.
Now age eight, Our Mojo made an incredible $232,845 during his racing career.
Dan Clark, a retired school teacher from Hamilton, has been the lynch pin that has held the Caveator Stable together, emailing all the owners about upcoming races, farm visits and fielding general horse questions. When it came to the decision about where Our Mojo should go when his racing days were over, Dan contacted his group and asked them to decide. They did their research and unanimously agreed that Our Mojo would be sent to adoption through the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society.
“They screen their applicants, and check up on the adopted horses, so we felt that OSAS was our best option to find Our Mojo a good forever home.” Donna said with a sniffle.
Our Mojo entered the OSAS adoption program at the first of July 2017.
“He will make a great riding horse,” says Mike Keeling’s wife, Paula Wellwood.
If you are interested in adopting Our Mojo, or another fabulous retired Standardbred racehorse you can contact the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 905-854-6099.
The SBOA will be offering a New Owner Mentoring group again in 2017. If you have never owned a horse and would like to experience horse ownership contact Tammy McNiven, a director of The Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association at email@example.com or call 519-318-8882.