Emma Hill’s life changed forever when she turned nine years old; her family purchased a horse farm. They were mostly new to the world of horses at this time, but this new adventure put Emma in an environment where she was growing up learning how to care and ride for horses. This lifestyle transformation introduced her to the world of Off-Track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs).
The first OTTB came into Emma’s life a year after she began riding. This horse, a Maryland-bred mare named Another Taste, was originally purchased for her mother, but it was Emma who fell head over heels. They named her “Annie”.
Annie, a daughter of Grade 1 winner Latent Heat, failed to win a race in sixteen attempts. Still, she managed to rack up $23,217 in earnings with a handful of second and third-place finishes during her time on the track. It was off the track that Annie would find her success; she helped Emma progress from the 2ft hunter division to 3ft jumpers. Together they earned third overall in their first TIP Championships at the 2’6” level in 2019 and won Champion at the New Vocations Championship at the 3’ height in 2023.
“Annie was always very work-oriented and serious about her job. She was good at making her opinion known, but also had a very sweet side to her.”
Emma recently decided to part with Annie and though she is sad to see her go, she is looking forward to seeing her continue to succeed with her new owner. “She always put her all into everything we did together and the memories I made with her will never be forgotten.”
Another OTTB came into Emma’s life three years after she got Annie. This horse, I Get Around, was race-trained but never ran due to an injury. He had been out of work for a while and needed to get back into shape when Emma bought him. She and “Hucks”, as she named him, competed together for two years.
“Hucks is always very friendly and loves playing around in the field and coming up to greet me in the pasture,” she described. “He also has a very goofy personality that is easy to get along with.”
Though Emma no longer shows Hucks, she plans to continue having fun with him at home.
She came across Quick Louder, a lightly raced but winning son of Woody Be Quick, while searching for a horse to move up the levels with. He had been out of serious work for a few years, but his eagerness to jump and fantastic work ethic drew Emma to him immediately.
She named him Fig and though the two have been together for just under a year, they’ve already earned an eighth overall in the 1.0m Jumper division at the 2023 TIP Championships, third in the 2023 New Vocations Championship horse show, and champion in 1.0m jumpers for the South Carolina Hunter/Jumper Association.
“Figaro (Fig) definitely has the loudest and goofiest personality out of all of my horses. He is very friendly and never hesitates to express his opinion, especially when treats are involved.”
Emma plans to continue riding and competing Fig throughout college with hopes of continuing to attend TIP-sanctioned events in the years to come.
Thanks to Emma’s experience with her horses, she was selected to be a TIP Youth Ambassador from 2021 - 2023. TIP, short for Thoroughbred Incentive Program, was created by The Jockey Club to encourage the retraining of Thoroughbreds into other disciplines upon the completion of their racing or breeding careers.
“The program highlights the versatility of thoroughbreds in the sport as well as rewards riders for their efforts in retraining OTTBs,” Emma explained. “Being able to share the program’s values with other riders has been a rewarding process that I have thoroughly enjoyed during my time as an ambassador.”
Emma’s involvement with OTTBs has taught her a lot about the breed. She praises their work ethic, versatility, and willingness to please and advises people interested in owning these horses to have patience with them.
“They are hard-working animals with a great work ethic that should not be taken for granted or rushed into new and unfamiliar challenges,” she urges. “Knowing that they will put their all into everything you ask of them is very important, especially when dealing with greener or inexperienced OTTBs.”
As Emma embarks on the next chapter of her life, attending college and continuing to compete with Fig, she will remain a testament to the power of Off-Track Thoroughbreds. She will carry the lessons her horses taught her - the value of patience and hard work - through this new stage of her life. Her story is an ode to the resilience of OTTBs and the profound impact they can have on one’s life.
About: Champions of the Track works to create new fans of horse racing through entertaining, engaging, and informative content. Made by fans of horse racing, for fans of horse racing. Powered by KPB Media.