The Silver Lining Initiative was created to prepare ex-racehorses for a new life off the track with the assistance of some of South Africa’s top riders. Since its launch in July 2014, the team has had great success, not only in re-homing horses but also in raising awareness of the special requirements of this complex and talented breed.
One of the trainers is Shannon Smith, the Junior Derby Champion in 2014. HQ spoke to her about her experience with the Silver Lining Initiative.
The first horse I started off for the Silver Lining Initiative was a three-year-old mare by Windrush, called Windhover. Holly, as she became known, was a very feisty and quirky horse who wasn’t always the easiest to work with. However, being a mare, this was understandable.
Holly was eager to learn and had a nice jump from early on. She was very careful which made jumping bigger and scarier fences a challenge. Holly’s training schedule was a mix between flatwork and jumping, lunging and outrides. She was ridden every day in order to keep her calm and relaxed. She was also lunged at least twice a week to help build muscle.
I enjoyed working with Holly and I look forward to seeing how she progresses in her training with her new owner this year. Windhover has now been adopted by a lovely lady and stays in a beautiful home in Beaulieu. I wish them both all the best!
My second horse, Sugar Bay, a four-year-old mare by Mullins Bay, is definitely a horse to keep an eye on. She’s flashy, tall and beautifully natured. She is scopey, well balanced and her calm, laid-back personality makes working with her a dream. I’ve loved Sugar Bay from day one and I’m really excited about her future. I’ve only ridden her a few times but she has jumped a couple of jumps easily and confidently.
Sugar Bay’s programme will now consist of simple flatwork including a few small jumps about three to four times a week. I will also add lunging and walking out once or twice a week, as I believe it’s very important to allow young horses to have breaks in their working week and a bit of enjoyment outside the arena. I think this one could be super special!
I want to say thank you to Highveld Horse Care Unit for this awesome initiative, as well as Lorette Knowles-Taylor and Joanne Pursey for all their hard work with this project. Sponsors are an essential part of this programme and I’d like to thank Royal Feeds and Renita for feeding these horses while they are in training, Wayne Dale for doing their dental work, Shaun Allnut for doing their feet and shoes, and Northrand Animal Clinic who came on board with Windhover. Your help is greatly appreciated by all of us!