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Racehorse Travels From Australia, to China, To Heart of 11-Year Old Girl

Anna & Manhattan Striker. Photos provided by Sara Anderson.

Racehorses often travel far and wide during their careers. In the case of Manhattan Striker, it was from Australia, to China, to the heart of an 11 year old girl. Manhattan Striker’s life began in the land down under. He was then shipped to China for his racing career. After his career on the racetrack was over, Manhattan Striker made the long trip to Michigan with twelve other horses. They were referred to as the “Hong Kong Twelve”. He came stateside at the perfect time. Sara Anderson was looking for a horse for her daughter Anna. “I had known about CANTER from my years working at a barn that would foster them,” Anderson explained. “My daughter then rode for Jennifer Blades (who keeps all of the Michigan CANTER horses) with the Interscholastic Equestrian Team and I had the opportunity to see many of the CANTER horses that were coming in.”

“He came out of the stall and I knew immediately he was the right one,” said Anderson. “He had a great eye, a settled confidence about himself, and he was solidly built. He was jet black and had such a commanding presence without being intimidating.” Sara got on Manhattan Striker and gave him a whirl. She was able to walk, trot, and canter Manhattan Striker with a reasonable amount of relaxation. Every step he took was solid and his legs were ice cold. He was perfect for them.

“Manny”, as he was called, did not understand why this young girl was trying to love on him at first. He had an all business attitude and his sensitive skin (likely from ulcers) made grooming a sort of challenge. But, it gave Anna an opportunity to learn how to maneuver around a large horse. After 30 days of “getting to know you” time (no riding), Manny’s personality transformed.

“His personality transitioned from ‘what do YOU want’ to a ‘protector’ of his little girl. We used to tease that he was like a big fierce dragon being led around by a sweet little girl in pink bows,” Anderson described. “Two years later Anna and Manny have such an incredible connection and we see moments of playfulness and silliness with him. He completely agrees now that he is a pet and not simply an asset.”