• Cara Van Leuven

Not Amusing pt 1

This is the first in a series of stories that will be shared over the next month and a half. Bear with me, to get to the good stuff I need to share my history.


In the early 90s I was prepared to graduate from my palomino pony to something with a little more horsepower; I had my heart set on a thoroughbred.

When I saw a red flyer showcasing an underweight and not terribly attractive OTTB that “will jump anything” it felt like destiny. He was full of chrome and, despite a cowboy’s ominous poem, I bought him anyway.

One sock, buy him

Two socks, try him

Three socks, deny him

Four socks and a blaze, kick him in the nose and feed him to the crows

There is something about holding Jockey Club paperwork that any person who has ever owned a former racehorse will tell you is very special. When I was handed mine I beamed with pride, especially to see this Ocala-bred horse was related to Kentucky Derby winner Northern Dancer and shared the same grand-sire as Ciger. Be still my heart, be still.

I would stare at the paperwork for hours but there was one aspect I did not understand … at the time. My new horse, whose sire was High Comedy, had originally been dubbed “Not Amusing.” At some point that name had been crossed out and he had been renamed “Irish Wit,” leading to an easy choice for a barn name, Patrick. Solid Irish chap that he was not.

And so I began reschooling my first thoroughbred. I was riding at a hunter barn and to say we weren’t the popular duo at that stable would have been an understatement. Instead of a long, steady trot and smooth moves we were up and down, oingo boingo. The horse loved to jump, but we were a disaster. He was too fast and there was simply too much going on underneath my saddle.

It was disappointing. Here was my dream horse, full of chrome, love and attitude and we were an utter failure. I had sacrificed riding with my best friends to be at this show stable where we were an embarrassment. In shame, I loaded Patrick on a trailer and moved him to a family-run facility with big pastures, a laid-back atmosphere and most importantly my best friends.

In all honesty, I thought my serious riding days were behind me, but I loved to ride and wanted to ride with people who loved me in return. Patrick had a stall across from my best friend’s horse, right at the end of the aisle so he could look around. I felt at peace.

My story could have ended very simply.

But a hungry trainer from Indianapolis heard about all these hungry kids hanging out at a family-run facility with big pastures and a laid-back atmosphere.

My story shifted in ways I never thought possible.