by | Mar 11, 2023 | Shows, Horsemanship & Training

Greaney has a passion for thoroughbreds and is North Dakota’s only selected trainer for the 2023 Retired Racehorse Project. [Photo: Amber Langerud]

The Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky isn’t on many northern equestrian’s radars. However, Annika Greaney of West Fargo, by way of Sweden, and her 8-year-old retired racehorse, ‘Lonesome Phil’, have the East Coast on their show schedule for this October 2023.

With a predominate dressage background, the eastern North Dakota equestrian is ‘all in’ when it comes to training retired racehorses and is the only North Dakota trainer to be accepted into the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP).

“I’ve been riding dressage, since I was a kid. I rode a lot of green and inexperienced horses,” stated Greaney.  The student athlete that once played college soccer for Minnesota State Moorhead is now doing more than running across the green these days. Greaney trains horses, particularly thoroughbreds, and is a software engineer.

Greaney getting a lesson from instructor, Heather Salden. [Photo: submitted.]

The RRP created the Thoroughbred Makeover to showcase the trainability and talent of off-track thoroughbreds. The competition is intended to inspire good trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, and the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in taking care, training, and the sale of these horses to responsible owners.

This is the only national gathering of the organization’s trainers and farms dedicated to serving these horses when they retire from racing, according to The Thoroughbred Makeover Retired Racehorse Project.

“My friend, Morgan Kastner, recently participated in the RRP with her thoroughbred she obtained from the racetrack,” said Greaney. “I followed her journey and have trained some thoroughbreds, so I thought, ‘Why not apply?’”

Greaney said she truly loves how athletic thoroughbreds are. The trainer said there is just something about the breed, their work ethic, and their willingness to learn.

“Thoroughbreds are so personable and attach to you as a person. I’ve never felt this with other horses. The first original thoroughbred I trained from the track was, ‘All the Juice’, barn name, ‘Jojo’,” Greaney recalled.

‘Jojo’ is an 8-year-old mare, and her racehorse career was cut short due to COVID-19, running 19 races. She later went on to take the mare to some local shows, where people were genuinely inquisitive about the large thoroughbred.

The RRP Program consists of accepted trainers (professionals, amateurs, juniors, and teams) who apply between January 2 – January 20, 2023, with Jockey Club-registered Thoroughbreds who marked a workout or race after July 1, 2021, and did not have more than 15 retraining rides prior to December 1, 2022. A wait list is also maintained through the end of June for late applicants.

When Greaney decided to do the racehorse makeover, she couldn’t use Jojo due to RRP regulations, so she found ‘Fedden’, registered as Lonesome Phil, bred in Louisiana, and obtained in the state of Ohio.

Fedden is a war horse, by definition a thoroughbred that has ran 50 or more times on the racetrack. Fedden ran 60 times at 16.2 hands and is 8 years old. Greaney obtained the gelding at the end of October, with only limited rides before December 1, 2022 to be in accordance with the RRP.

“Surprisingly, the training process has gone very well so far. He has settled into it, and the biggest transition for him has been not being stalled and being a horse. He is learning to be a horse and play and finding his way through the pecking order.” said Greaney, “It is fun to watch him come out of his shell. He is always curious as to what I’m doing.”

Saddle fit has been a bit of a challenge according to the trainer. The gelding has long withers and not much top line, but the duo is working on that and building his topline through distinct exercises and a good feed program.

The goal is to keep him sound and happy. “I would like to make him a steady, all-around 4-H horse. He has a great brain so exposing him to as much as possible sights and sounds. This week we are going to a clinic for moving cows, dressage training, and other obstacle/trail clinics by May and then move him into jumping training once his muscles developed and the racehorse side of his brain has shut off a little more,” noted Greaney.

Kentucky and the Thoroughbred Makeover is on the books for October 11-14, 2023, as well as the Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P) Finals, where Greaney and both thoroughbreds are planning to compete.

Being no stranger to cold temperatures, the equestrian is sure to find the positives about training and living in eastern North Dakota. “It takes a little more time and planning up here. All our shows are a bit of a drive, but the winter months allow horses to be horses, heal up if they have soundness issues, and us riders time to keep working on our skills and goals for the future,” smiled Greaney.

Greaney said she and her horses are very thankful for the continued support of these sponsors: Brassy Bit Tack – CL Custom Saddles in Glyndon, Minnesota helping us with saddle fitting and tack. Muvado Therapy – Rhonda Stuewe for all pre- and post- ride needs in Alexandria, Minnesota, and Back on Track- USA.

For more information on the Retired Racehorse Project, visit The Thoroughbred Makeover Retired Racehorse Project.

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