Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: Overcoming Hurdles by Jen Roytz|05.21.201505.22.2015|11:40am7:58am Traditionally we think of a horse's second career being the one they transition to after retiring from racing. Jimmie Echo is different. His career after racing is actually his third career, as after moderate success as a racehorse on the flat, he became a stakes winner and Champion in 2006 as a hurdle horse. He was loved by his riders and grooms and known for being an easy, agreeable horse nearly all of the time, but the one thing that would set him off ended up leading to his retirement from racing: his explosive behavior and antics leading to the start of a race. Jockey Paddy Young described Jimmie Echo as a lunatic in an article published in the Steeplechase Times in 2007 after what would be his final win. In the same article, trainer Ricky Hendriks explained that “He's fine at home, like a normal horse. We put cotton in his ears [on race days] but the noise does bother him. He's a little nutty in the paddock.” After that win and the winter and spring off, Jimmy Echo made two more starts over hurdles for claiming tags in 2008, but was eased toward the finish in both two-and-a-quarter mile events (which is more common in hurdle races than flat races, as the distances are much longer and, thus, it is more common for a horse to tire and get outrun by the rest of the field). He remained in training for a while after that last race on October 11, 2008, and was ridden daily by exercise rider Michelle Craig. “All I ever heard was how amazing Jimmie Echo was, how he was so professional, so easy the list goes on and on,” said Samantha Silver, a friend of Michelle from Richmond, Virginia. “When he was officially retired in 2009, Michelle snatched him right up. After a lay-up period, she and her husband Dustin put about 30 days of re-training on him and then I was lucky enough to get my hands on him.” Samantha and “Echo,” as he is known these days, clicked instantly. He was everything Michelle had made him out to be and more. Samantha began leasing him from Michelle and Dustin in April of 2010. With the help of Samantha's riding coach, successful eventing rider and 2015 Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event competitor Lainey Ashker, she and Echo made strides quickly. They started with local schooling combined training and dressage shows and finished their first year together with a run in a Beginner Novice horse trial in late 2010. Echo in the show ring By the end of their first year together, Samantha was sold on Jimmie Echo, and Jimmie Echo was sold to her by Michelle. “He was WILD on cross-country for a long time, as I assume any ex-steeplechaser would be,” said Samantha. “It took quite some time to figure out how to ride him and an equally significant amount of time for him to take a deep breath and realize that he's no longer being asked to race.” When Samantha purchased Echo from Michelle, she had a basic lameness exam done by a veterinarian, as is standard in most equine purchases. “He flexed about a one on his hocks, which was no big surprise to me after a career of flat and steeplechase racing,” said Samantha. “I figured I would inject his hocks when I needed to and that would be the end of it, right? Wrong.” In March of 2011 Echo started showing mild signs of lameness. Thinking it would be something with a simple fix, Samantha's expectations of competing were shattered with the diagnosis revealed bilateral suspensory limb desmitis. “That type of diagnosis carries with it a poor prognosis for a return to full soundness,” said Samantha. “He underwent surgery in April of 2011 and we began a lengthy rehabilitation process.” Eventing Nation published an article submitted by Samantha on his rehabilitation. “Through sheer stubbornness on both of our parts, Echo was back to where he was competition-wise exactly one year after his lameness onset,” said Samantha. “My super-tough horse was back in action!” Samantha explained that while there have been a few bumps along the road for Echo, which included a short-lived propensity to rear up, she and Echo are competing in a variety of shows and disciplines. “After his rehabilitation vacation, Echo decided that standing up and waving was a better option than working. Absolutely Not!” said Samantha. “Off he went back to Michelle and Dustin, where Dustin showed him that rearing is not the best approach to work. Dustin also took him to several horse trials, including two at the Novice level.” Since coming back from Michelle and Dustin, Echo and Samantha have been busy on the show circuit the past few years, competing in everything from eventing to hunters. “With the right rider, he is phenomenal,” said Samantha. “I am more of a 'get 'er done' type of rider when it comes to jumping, so Echo is only semi-competitive in the hunters with me – with the right rider, he is phenomenal,” said Samantha. “There's very little I haven't tried with him in an English saddle, and I am very tempted to go borrow a Western saddle and give barrel racing a try! “Had he gone to a professional, who knows what level of competition he would be at by now,” she continued. “He has already proven he is a world-class athlete by winning the Gladstone Hurdle Stakes, and he is now content to pack his amateur owner around the three-foot jumpers and hunters, along with Beginner Novice and Novice eventing and 1st Level Dressage.” THE DEETS Name: Jimmie Echo (a.k.a. “Echo”) Born: March 9, 2003 Color: Chestnut Sire: Eastern Echo Dam: Fractious Sale History: None Race Record: 23-2-4-5 Race Earnings: $53,849 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.