Like many young Thoroughbreds, Market Light – a 3-year-old filly by After Market – got her start a year ago as a 2-year-old in her quest for a career as an equine athlete.
After all, this daughter of the stakes-winning racemare Lighten Up Tiny possessed a pedigree that made her destined for a life as a racehorse. And her sire, After Market, was a Grade 1 winner on the racetrack. The genetics all added up.
But it didn’t work out.
Market Light was being prepared to be a racehorse at the renowned WinStar Training Center in Versailles, Kentucky when she revealed that her talents were not meant for racing. The lovely filly – perfectly sound, with the mind and conformation of a horse with a promising purpose – was retired early from a career in racing without ever entering a starting gate a single time.
However, her journey was only beginning.
Breeder Emily Wygod – of the famous Wygod family of top Thoroughbred breeders – gave Market Light to her current owner, Christine Siegel, a Nicholasville, Kentucky-based horsewoman who quickly saw the potential in the filly – now named “Marley” – for what would become Marley’s new career: Dressage.
“A friend of mine heard of a filly needing a home, so I contacted the farm that had her to make an appointment to go see her,” Siegel said. “My vet and I checked her out and gathered some of her history. She was so impressive from the first moment. I knew right away that she was special.”
Siegel received the filly in January, and originally planned to give her until the fall before trying her new career. But in March, Marley was showing all the right signs to start ahead of schedule, and Siegel knew she had made the right move after her first riding session with Marley.
Siegel introduced Marley to one of Central Kentucky’s up-and-coming dressage professionals and a 2014 USDF Gold Medal winner, Miramonte Equine’s Emily Brollier. After just a single ride aboard Marley, Brollier also discovered that the filly had found her calling, and even recommended that she be trained for Retired Racehorse Project (RRP).
“Marley makes an ideal dressage mount because she encompasses the most desirable characteristics that a Thoroughbred can offer. She's responsive to aids, light in the bridle, eager to work, forward thinking, athletic, inquisitive, and kind. This horse is a joy to work with,” said Brollier.
Marley’s journey will focus on several outings in the coming months to showcase her abilities in her new career, including targeting the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium Oct. 23-35 at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky. Other goals for Marley include acquiring a good base in dressage through the remainder of 2015 and beyond, as Siegel hopes that by next year the filly will be able to be introduced to other disciplines, such as jumping. The long-term goal is to event, all while allowing the filly to naturally show what discipline suits her best.
The equine jewelry company Enter At A will be sponsoring a customized browband to keep Marley looking her best during competition, Equi-librium Therapy, LLC will be onboard to keep Marley feeling her best throughout the season, and Wendy Wooley from EquiSport Photos will be the official photographer.
RRP is a membership-based association that focuses on repurposing Thoroughbred racehorses into a second career as an equine athlete or pleasure horse. The growing organization hosts several public events and clinics throughout the year, including the aforementioned Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium. To learn more about RRP, visit RetiredRacehorseTraining.org
To follow Marley’s journey up to the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium – and beyond, find her on Facebook