Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: Getting The Urge To Take Action - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report
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Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: Getting The Urge To Take Action

Got the Urge, aka Surge, has gone from potentially being sold for slaughter to earning ribbons, thanks to Rhiannon

It was the evening before Thanksgiving in 2013, and Rhiannon Toman was perusing her Facebook timeline before going to sleep. She had recently “liked” the Camelot Weekly page, where pictures and information on horses being sold at the weekly all-breeds auction are posted prior to the sale in an effort to network the horses nationally to prevent them from being sold to “kill buyers.”

Not in the market for a horse herself, Rhiannon clicked through the gallery, mostly out of habit, when one photo made her stop. There was something about the horse in the picture that drew her in. According to the description, he was only three years old, but he had the look of downtrodden defeat from head to toe. She clicked passed him and continued through the gallery, but something kept drawing her back to the gelding.

She awoke the next morning with the sad gelding's picture burned into her mind, and the normally financially conservative Rhiannon made the snap decision to purchase the horse and make sure that, no matter what had happened leading up to him arriving at Camelot, his life would get better from there.

“I bought Surge from Camelot from a picture I saw on Facebook. Yeah, crazy, I know, but it gets better,” said Rhiannon. “I even gave them my credit card information over the phone. I live in Virginia and the auction house is in New Jersey. I paid more in transportation than I did for him!”

Surge wasn't Rhiannon's first foray into horses. Growing up in Virginia just a few miles from the birthplace of Secretariat, she was interested in horseracing and breeding from a young age, following the big races and sales and learning about pedigrees whenever she could. That evolved into riding, and while she initially learned to ride Western, she transitioned to dressage and eventing when she attended Averett University.

During her freshman year, Rhiannon fell in love with a horse at the university and eventually he became hers. They enjoyed three and a half years together before intestinal cancer robbed him of his health and ultimately his life.

While she briefly considered purchasing another horse (also an OTTB), she just didn't seem to connect with him the way she'd connected with her first horse and decided not to purchase him, happy instead to get her animal fix at the small animal clinic where she worked as a veterinary technician or by riding other people's horses when she had the opportunity.

Once Surge was on the trailer and heading to his new home in Virginia, Rhiannon tackled the task of learning all that she could on the Internet about her new horse.

“I found an email address online for his last owner at the track, and several people who knew him along various other stops on his journey reached out to me via Facebook after seeing me post on the Camelot page that I had purchased him,” said Rhiannon. “Just goes to show you the power of social media.”

It turned out that unbeknownst to Surge's last owner, the bay gelding had been sold after his last race to a horse dealer, then to a woman looking to get back into riding, then ended up back at the horse dealer and onto Camelot to be offloaded.

The photo that inspired Rhiannon to rescue Got the Urge
The photo that inspired Rhiannon to rescue Got the Urge

Surge's last racing owners were pleased to learn that Surge had ended up in good hands and transferred his papers from the racing office to Rhiannon, asking if she would be willing to keep in touch with them regarding his new life away from the track. They also surprised her with the photo from his one and only win, which came in his final career start.

Another woman who saw Surge on the Camelot page and the information about Rhiannon purchasing him reached out to her and explained that she had originally bought Surge from the horse dealer who had brought him to Camelot. Apparently she was getting back into riding after nearly two decades away from horses. After getting Surge, she worried that he might not have been the best choice for her to get back in the saddle and opted to return him to the horse dealer.

“She told me she had prayed all night after seeing him posted on the Camelot page, and when she heard the next day that I'd bought him, she knew her prayers were answered. I think it gave her so much relief to talk with me and know in the end that he was okay.”

In the past year and a half since leaving the Camelot Auction grounds, Surge has made tremendous progress and has found his niche as a dressage horse. Rhiannon says most things seem to come surprisingly easy to him and the pair is currently competing at Training Level, with aspirations of moving up to First Level in 2016 and possibly exploring some low level combined training events.

“As my trainer has told me, Surge and I just fit like a good pair of shoes,” said Rhiannon. “Since the day I first swung my leg over his back, we have fit together so well. His exuberance for life and work is infectious, and he makes me want to try harder and be better every day I see him…I am riding better than I ever have, and Surge's potential is unlimited.”

Rhiannon said she is so happy to have gotten to know people from Surge's past, and someday she hopes to be able to connect with his breeder, James Glover, and tell him about all of the wonderful things his little bay foal has gone on to do.

“Everything has been so easy with Surge. He is a real athlete, he loves to work and he has awesome gaits,” said Rhiannon. “Thoroughbreds have so much heart. They are such smart, interactive horses who truly seek to please their person.”

THE DEETS:

Name: Got The Urge (a.k.a. “Surge”)
Born: April 5,2010
Color: Bay
Sire: Purge
Dam: Raise a Roar
Sale History: none
Race Record: 14-1-5-2
Race Earnings: $26,870

If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos.

Jen Roytz is a freelance writer and marketing and public relations consultant for various entities, both equine and non-equine. She can also still be found on the back of an OTTB most days.

Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.

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