A Love Story: Why I Love My Off The Track Thoroughbred

by Patti Schooley • photos: Patricia Kackert @amaterofamomentphotography

IEHJA and Santa Anita Park have partnered to promote second careers for retired racehorses by emphasizing their versatility, temperament, and ability to compete in all equestrian venues. They excel in competitive venues such as in the hunter, jumper arena or on three-day event field , as a barrel racer or gymkhana speedster, practicing the precision of dressage, or just the family horse going quietly down the trail.

IEHJA has queried its OTTB owning members asking them to submit stories about their own experiences. This month, Elizabeth Kackert tells the story of her OTTB Tismywishcometrue (Tissy). Elizabeth and Tizzy won the hi-point Thoroughbred tack trunk for the 2022 Showcase Training Stables Show Series. Her story is as follows:

Horses have been a big part of my life; one could even say I learned how to ride before I knew how to walk. Growing up, my mom was a horse trainer, and we lived on many acres of land, so the opportunities were endless when it came to horses. At a very young age, my siblings and I would help around the ranch while my passion for horses continued to grow. I began learning how to ride on ponies, and from there, I started attending shows, clinics, rodeos, conferences, and even going on the occasional fox-hunting trip. My first pony that really inspired me to continue my journey as an equestrian was Jingles. He was a little POA, about 12 hands tall, and quite cheeky. Jingles taught me many excellent skills and was a wonderful friend until I outgrew him. After Jingles, I had a few horses over the years, but none that seemed to ignite the same spark of passion and partnership that Jingles did.

Unfortunately, sometimes life takes unexpected turns, and for a while, owning a horse was no longer feasible. To continue to ride, I had to rely on my friends and their horses to keep up my skills. Eventually, I saved enough money to convince my mom to let me buy my own horse. I wasn’t looking for anything fancy, just something that could walk, trot, canter, and was sound of mind and body. Finally, after nearly a year of looking, my sister stumbled upon the phone number of a gentleman who had a few horses for sale, and we decided to go and see what he had to offer. The facility was certainly no high-end horse barn, but they had plenty of horses to choose from, and sure enough, one happened to catch our eye. A four-year-old, off-the-track thoroughbred stallion. Now, this particular horse had just finished recovering from an old track injury, but man, when we turned him loose, he played like there was no end. We watched him jump nearly five feet in the air from a standstill, and I thought, “That’s it; this horse is going to get me killed.” As the owner rode the horse, sure enough, he rode around like it was an ordinary Tuesday. Now the only issue was that he was everything we didn’t want; a thoroughbred, four-year-old stallion, 16.1 hands, and lame since his feet hadn’t been maintained that well. The most comical part was when the owner told us his name, we thought at first, he was pulling our leg. There was no way this horse was named “Tizmywishcometrue” or “Tizzy” for short. Regardless of the name, I just felt there was something special about Tizzy, so sure enough, we went through with the sale and brought him home to our boarding facility Great Horses of America.

For the first 60 days, I slowly trained Tizzy to gain muscle by going on lengthy walking trail rides. After that, I began the arena work. Before Tizzy, I generally considered myself a good rider, but I quickly learned that riding a broken horse well and riding a green baby horse was an entirely different type of riding. Through patience, my fantastic mom’s training, and countless lessons, we started making progress. I made it a point to mix it up for Tizzy and took him on plenty of fun rides as well! We did everything you can imagine; racing through the neighborhoods, playing horse tag, swimming at the beach, various levels of desensitizing (which often included pool-noodle jousting), and even participating in the Fourth of July Parade in Temecula. Tizzy was always eager to try new things and quickly became an all-around horse who would try anything I asked him to. Through all of our adventures and training, our bond as a team grew very strong.

Once we both had enough training under our belt, I signed up for our first schooling show. It was a mix of showjumping and a cross-country course. Competing in this show was a massive step in seeing if our training was successful and paving the way for our future together. To my delight, Tizzy took the whole day in stride, giving his best at every turn. Excited about Tizzy’s performance, I signed up for another show in Norco, where we placed with a first and a couple of seconds. Tizzy and I were on top of the world with these successes, so we moved on to Showcase Training Stables for our first-ever IEHJA Show. We did jumpers for the first few shows and even did the 0.95 meters at Galway Downs for the North Inland Empire Show Series. Impressed with Tizzy and myself, I decided to challenge ourselves in the hunters at the next North Inland Show. Though I was initially concerned that Tizzy was going to stop at the jumps since he had never seen filler before, he proved me wrong and jumped everything in front of him! Even though it was our first time showing in the Hunters, we placed second or third in each of our classes. However, our fun didn’t stop there. We also decided to try our hand at Eventing, something I had always dreamed about doing but never thought possible. We started with a couple of schooling shows at a venue in Ramona to test the waters. We also participated in a few clinics to bolster our skills, including the Fundraiser Clinic at Galway Downs and even a clinic from my equestrian idol Boyd Martin. Tizzy was again a superstar and took everything in stride, continuing to excel in his training. After that, it seemed only natural when I decided to try our first recognized full three-day event at the novice level. Once again, he was fantastic and got us finished in fifth place; and at the next event, we got fourth and earned our very first victory lap. This season had been a success for both Tizzy and myself and beyond proved that our training and teamwork were paying off.

Looking ahead for the 2022 show season, I decided I was going to join IEHJA as a member and accumulate points. Throughout this show year, Tizzy and I became great partners; our relationship grew even stronger. We placed higher more consistently, and our rides together were smoother and effortless as we learned how to work together. This would be the first time in all my years of riding that I qualified for year-end awards on a circuit. All of the hard work finally paid off when the Showcase Show Series year-end awards came around, and Tizzy and I won year-end champion for the 2’9-3’ hunters, reserve champion for the 2’6” hunters and, to my surprise, year-end TIP highpoint tack trunk! I truly could not believe what we had accomplished in such little time. Tizzy caught me by surprise once again at the Medal Finals at the end of the year, classes that I hadn’t even planned on entering, yet Tizzy earned us our first sash and two more victory laps! However, our success this year didn’t stop there, as we also won the IEHJA year-end highpoint for the 2’9”-3’ Hunters for the entire circuit!

Throughout the couple of years he has been my partner, Tizzy has done everything from the Starbucks drive-thru to a parade, from Hunters to Preliminary Eventing, and has even helped in training my sister’s new filly. He is the reason I am successful in my riding and is my motivation to continue to advance in my own training. I hope to continue to grow together with him and one day even make it to the top of the sport. My goal is to eventually make it to the World Equestrian Center or Maclay Finals to compete in Hunters. Further yet, another dream of mine is for us to compete in the 5-star Rolex and even the Badminton Horse Trials. However, nothing means more to me than watching Tizzy teach my kids how to ride one day. Tizzy is not just another horse; he is my partner, teammate, and best friend. I wouldn’t give him up for the world if I had the chance, and while he may be tempted by a carrot or two, neither would he. He truly does live up to his name, and Tizmywishcometrue is a true embodiment of everything he means to me.

Author correction to the IEHJA article from our May issue, titled “Untold Stories: Two Riders Tell About Their Experiences at the USHJA Finals in Las Vegas.” Shannon Archer earned a score of 80 for her second place finish in her hunter division (not a score of 50). We apologize for the error.