Sometimes a horse comes along that changes the lives of the people around them. For Rae-Lyn Kropius, Whining was that horse.
Rae-Lyn fell in love with Whining the moment he stepped out of the trailer from New Mexico where her employer and trainer Don Schnell had purchased him. The dark bay gelding was sired by graded stakes placed Simon Pure and was out of the End Sweep mare Sweeping Showers.
Whining continued his career as a racehorse, but wasn’t too successful. He was able to pick up two wins, one at Turf Paradise and one at Canterbury Park.
“[One day] he put his head on my shoulder and hugged me,” Rae-Lyn recalled. “He came into my life when I needed him and he needed me.”
When Whining suffered a small injury, Don Schnell gave the horse to Rae-Lyn. “I kept saying he was going to be my Retired Racehorse Project and forever horse.”
Rae-Lyn already had experience with Off Track Thoroughbreds. Her father was a horse buyer and her mother was a trainer. She had spent her entire life working alongside her mother, whether that be grooming, galloping, or ponying. She has worked for multiple trainers, including Don Schnell, but now works primarily in riding young horses and training Thoroughbred prospects.
Not only did Rae-Lyn’s mother teach her the horse racing life, but she also passed down a love for Off Track Thoroughbreds. “My mom had such heart for them it carried on to me!,” Rae-Lyn explained. “I love how versatile they are and willing to do anything you want. Honestly, it is the most rewarding thing you can do - track to ranch horse.”
Retraining racehorses isn’t always easy and Whining was no exception to this. Whining had been difficult as a racehorse, a “wheeler”. Many people thought Rae-Lyn was crazy for wanting to retrain a hot horse that had an injury, but Rae-Lyn wasn’t going to give up on him that quick.
“I stall rested him, turned him out, and when we started riding in February he was a little hot,” recounted Rae-Lyn. “When I checked him in April he was healed and the vet said it was amazing!”
Rae-Lyn took a clinic with Les Vogt, the 15 time World Champion that is known for reining and reined cow horses. She also got some help from Gary and Jodi Johnson. “I strongly agree that learning horsemanship will always better you as a trainer!”
The cow work taught Whining the patience he needed. Rae-Lyn worked diligently to help Whining learn how to relax, drop his head, and collect himself.
“Being 10 and a war horse, sometimes they are less patient and set in their ways. You really need to know how far you can push them before they have had enough,” Rae-Lyn explained. “But I believe Whining has always been insecure and the bond we built...he trusts me and will do anything I want. He truly is the nicest horse I have ever turned into saddle horse.”
This past weekend, Rae-Lyn and Whining participated in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, a training competition to showcase the progress a horse and rider have made in no more than 10 months.