Sassy Ashley RRP Update April Adventures

April brought a lot of adventuring around for Ashley and Kalley.  Here’s what they’ve been up to!

Sassy Ashley

Ashley had her first beach ride!

There’s not too many weekends I get to myself, especially when clinic season starts, but we snuck away yesterday to give Ashley a taste of the good life.


She did great for a horse straight off the track. Where we go, there is about a mile or so of sand dunes as you trail through the trees etc to get out to the beach, so its a little tough going and gets them thinking before they see and hear the waves crashing to shore.

It was a perfect morning, couldn’t have been more beautiful. Ashley got to see some odd looking “articles” on the beach which made for some perfect training and confidence building along our journey.

Ashley also has been getting plenty of trail riding experience.

It’s a little tricky getting the hours logged on my 2018 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover horse “Ashley”, while globe trotting to my BHT Clinics, but, we manage to get out to some pretty awesome places in the in between times.

This is a little state park that over looks the beautiful city of Petaluma, CA. There’s a lot of activity here; bicycles, hikers, runners, dogs on leashes, and more, which is fantastic exposure for Ashley’s training.

Slow and steady is our pace for now.

And as a special treat, Rachel from CARMA and Golden Gate Fields reached out to her contact at Calumet and was sent back two special treats!  Baby photos of Ashley and renewed a connection with some employees at Calumet that have known Kalley since she was a kid!

Ashley was born and raised at Calumet Farm in Kentucky, until she was a yearling. Then sold at the Keenland sale, and came out to California.


I don’t think there’s a better progress through a racehorse’s career than Ashley’s had. She was sold once, raced, did okay… won almost $40k, retired, went through the correct channels with California Retirement Management Account (CARMA) and Neigh Savers Foundation, and then I got her.

The owners and trainers Ashley had did a phenomenal job… she is quiet and sensible (great bloodlines helps that!), and she’s really well broke for a racehorse. HUGE KUDOS to those who influenced her life from the beginning in a good way. She’s carried those experiences forward, and they will help her be successful through the rest of her life.



Sassy Ashley Update – Feb & March 2018


Sassy Ashley

Sassy Ashley has had a busy start to 2018.   After arrival on Valentine’s Day at Kalley’s ranch, Kalley spent time getting to know Ashley and getting her looked at by her new vet and farrier.  Ashley also let Kalley know very clearly which food she wanted to eat and which she didn’t.

Me: Timothy/Alfalfa pellets mash?
Ashley: “No.”

Me: Timothy/Alfalfa + Oats?
Ashley: “No.”

Me: Plain Oats?..All racehorses love oats right? Ashley: “No.”

Me: Ok fine, you’re not a Sr, but how about Triple Crown Feed Senior?
Ashley: “Yes…Finally!”

Sassy Ashley   Sassy Ashley

In early March the real work began.

“Ashley’s been ridden a lot on the track, won almost $40k, but never been in a western saddle before… and Wowee did she have something to say😲

I grew up retraining off the track horses for Polo, and some horses you knew were started with western tack (breast collar, and back cinch included), and others like Ashley, you knew only ever had an English saddle on.

Sassy Ashley   Sassy Ashley

I like to saddle and turn them loose to let them get themselves acclimated to the different tack out on their own, that way I’m mostly out of the picture and blame for any upset in their mind. Then, once the dust starts to settle, I’m there to get them organized and settled, as they start to figure out it’s not something bad, it’s just different.

She got big and bad for a couple rounds, holy smokes, but impressively sorted it out very fast and settled in. I rode her yesterday and she was great. I tell you, this mare is so cool, I just love her. She’s got a “constitution” for sure, but a ton of common sense as well… to me, the perfect combination.”

Sassy Ashley     Sassy Ashley

She has gotten to enjoy lots of free time with new friends out in our lush green winter pastures just learning to socialize with others and enjoy a bit of freedom.

Kalley has been so impressed with Ashley that as of March 23rd, Ashley now belongs to Kalley!  She’s off the market!  But she will continue on to the Retired Racehorse Project under the Neigh Savers name.


Teenagers and Retired Racehorses


– by Jenny Whitman – Bear Creek Stables

What do teenagers and retired racehorses have in common?

Both teenagers and racehorses come into the world surrounded by our hopes and expectations for their futures. In developing to maturity, individual teens and horses use sounds and body language to communicate with and be influenced by others. There is a need across the life span among humans and equines for family structure and inter-individual boundaries to feel safe and secure. Choice of friends and a need for peer leadership and acceptance is also common to both communities. And of course, teens and horses experience loneliness, fear, boredom and anxiety — vices or other habits can arise in both groups to help manage frustration, anxiety and pain. Believe it or not, both groups are familiar with drugs.

How can retired racehorses help teenagers?

Horses are grounded in the natural world. Their survival frequently depends on being fully in-the-moment and responding rapidly to changes in their immediate environment. As herd animals, this requires the elaborate and instantaneous use of non-verbal communication between themselves.  Entering into the equine world and gaining an understanding of this herd language can help teenagers bring to a more conscious level the universal body cues that we all practice in the presence of others.

Additionally, like all of us, teenagers need to know that their lives matter. When teens interact with these deceptively vulnerable and sensitive creatures, they may identify with these softer qualities. In the presence of 1200-pound thoroughbreds born and bred to dominate a race track, teens can learn that vulnerability and sensitivity are actually among their own personal strengths. Working with horses can teach them that accepting one’s own nature is fundamental to keeping oneself safe.

The honesty and sincerity of horses provides a window into what abstract concepts like ‘intent’ and ‘centeredness’ really mean. The directness and immediacy of the human-equine relationship is a powerful experience of what it is to have flexible and resilient boundaries in the face of peer pressure.

Racehorses don’t understand or have a need for the value labels of ‘good and bad’ or ‘right and wrong’.  They simply respond to what works and what doesn’t work. When communication from their human partners includes fear and anger, horses respond like the prey animals that they are – they attempt to fight or flee. But when our interactions with them are based upon mutual respect, humility, and understanding, horses seek our leadership – they view us as first among equals.

As one young man from Los Gatos High School who was volunteering for Neigh Savers horse rescue at our stables recently exclaimed, “Why does she want to come to me…. she’s wild.” The idea that this inspiring creature from the natural world had a place for him in that world was startling and, quite possibly, life-changing.

Teenagers, like all of us, have a need to be depended upon and truly seen by others. In a lovely example of complementarity, racehorses need a human leader to collaborate with and in whom they can trust.  Sometimes it’s just that simple.


2018 RRP Candidate: Sassy Ashley

We are excited to announce that we have accepted another CARMA Placement Program Graduate into the Neigh Savers program that will be aiming for the Retired Racehorse Project!  Sassy Ashley is a five year old mare with impeccable pedigree credentials, a blue-blood from the esteemed Calumet Farm in Lexington, KY.  Sassy raced 21 times in the California circuit and was letting down from the track at San Luis Downs when the December tragic fire broke out that took the lives of so many fine race horses.  She is a survivor of that fire and afterwards her connections retired her for good, as they were already thinking about it after her last race in October 2017.

Now, in partnership with Kalley Krickeberg Balanced Horse Training, we are once again paving the road to Kentucky and the Retired Racehorse Project for the third consecutive year and for the third time with a CARMA horse. We would like to thank CARMA Project Manager Natalie Reitkirk for her help in this placement. We look forward to many updates from Kalley as she begins prepping Sassy for Kentucky.  Ashley has been adopted by Kalley and is officially off the market.

You can keep an eye on Ashley on her dedicated video update page!





Bear Creek Programs Update

Los Gatos High School Freshman spent a muddy weekend learning how to communicate safely and effectively with retired thoroughbreds. They learned how to apply and release pressure to begin a dialogue and how to read the horses facial expressions and body language. Each student practiced round pen skills to gain trust and understanding of the horse. Later, the group hand walked the horse on the trail practicing quieting skills.  The students also mucked stalls, groomed horses, cleaned tack and then hugged plenty of OTTBs.  The students were required to complete 10 hours of community service and will present their projects in an open forum.  We are pleased that we could offer this service to the community at large.
A special thanks to Bear Creek Creek Stables’ NS volunteers, Team Leader, Jenny Whitman and to Diane Azevedo and Karen Read for providing rain gear and refreshments to all the participants.

8th Annual Holiday Turf Club Party Wrap Up

Our 8th Annual Holiday Turf Club Party at Golden Gate Fields on December 2, 2017 was a huge success! It was a beautiful day in the Bay Area and everyone who attended enjoyed a day of racing, great food and wonderful company. There were some amazing items in our Silent Auction and raffle and we were able to end the day with almost everything being sold! Of course, we could not do this without the help, support and compassion of all our dedicated volunteers and donors and a big high five to Karin Wagner, our intrepid leader, who always puts so much effort into making this event our biggest fundraiser of the year! Thanks to all for supporting our program and helping make a difference in our beloved OTTB’s lives!!

Just a small sampling of the over 30 volunteers that came out for us on the day of to volunteer. It truly takes a village!!! From L to R back row, Fred, Amy, Minjae, Maureen & Karen. From L to R front row, Grace, Becca, JoJo, Luna, Caroline, jockey Rocco Bowen, Karin, Gina, Diane, Alisha A. & Alisha L.



Race for the Rescues 2017

Race for the Rescues 2017

Another successful Race for the Rescues is in the bag! Thanks to our team we raised over $13K to help animals in need! Great job everyone involved including our couch potato racers, our team mascots Blaze and Kai, and huge thanks to all of you who supported us!!

Race for the Rescues 2017

A big thanks to all who participated!
Maureen Sowell, Team Captain
Karin Wagner
Bryan Miccolis
Barbara Dutra
Ingrid Nuernberg
Helen Pollack
Victoria Brentwood
Dharinne Perera-Myers
Jenn Collins
Race for the Rescues 2017

Thanks to all of our RRP Sponsors!

It takes a village to get a horse to the Retired Racehorse Project!  We want to thank everyone that has helped Taxi along the way and especially his sponsors!

A big thank you to KC Horse Transport for donating haluling and getting Taxi to Kentucky safely!  There is not a better hauling company out there!

A big thank you also to Estolia’s for sponsoring Intaxication AKA Taxi AKA Mr. E!  Head over to their website to buy some of their yummy salsa and support other non-profit projects!

Thank you to Dr. Shawn Frehner, DVM (his vet), Tony Steele (his chiropractor), and David Brough (his farrier) for keeping Intaxication healthy!

Big thanks to trainer Lindy Christensen for doing a wonderful retraining job and keeping him happy, healthy and showing him beautifully in Kentucky!

Thank you also to Claire Painter of Clever With Leather for donating a beautiful hand made halter for Taxi at the show!

Intaxication came from the barn of Billy Morey at Golden Gate Fields and was a CARMA Placement Program graduate.

Thank you everyone that expressed interested, gave support, and cheered us on!




RRP Wrap Up – Intaxication

A Neigh Savers horse attended the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover at Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington, Kentucky for the 2nd year in a row. Last year Neigh Savers was represented by Oso Smart, a horse taken from the CARMA Placement Program. This year Neigh Savers took another CARMA Placement Program horse, but this time it was Intaxication.

With the Makeover being moved up 3 weeks, the trainer timeline was even tighter than ever! This year had more horses enter, more horses show up and some really top quality talent (both trainer and horse). The Polo winner (trained by Junior rider Charlie Caldwell) won America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred, a small chestnut roan with big presence (Woodford Channel) won both the Freestyle and Field Hunter events and the Dressage winner, a horse fittingly named Chapter Two, almost pulled off a double as well taking 2nd place in Eventing.

Because of Taxi being a little late to the retraining game this year, trainer Lindy Christensen wasn’t sure he’d be ready in time for RRP, but he showed her good signs in their last show before RRP and she decided to take him anyways with only 5 months of retraining off his injury. She didn’t expect to win, but she did expect solid tests and good relaxation from him. He did a fantastic job on so little time and really impressed with his chill attitude in the big scary indoor arena that caused more than a handful of meltdowns from others.

In Dressage, Intaxication placed 35th out of 78 (a much-improved placing over last years CARMA grad Oso Smart). Lindy and Taxi earned a 60.58% on their regular test and a 42 on their demo ride (they placed 22nd in the scoring for the demo ride after Taxi noticeably relaxed in the second test out).

In Freestyle, Intaxication placed 23rd out of around 40 entrants. They performed a lovely Western Dressage test and may have helped inspire a promised addition of Western Dressage for next year’s RRP! It wasn’t the flashiest Freestyle, but he was certainly one of the most relaxed horses in the arena and Western Dressage may just be his calling.

We are so proud of Taxi and thankful to Lindy for doing such a wonderful retraining job with him.  We are already looking forward to next year!


Tack Sale Wrap Up

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Our tack sale held on Sunday, September 24th was a huge success and we raised nearly $1,400!

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Thanks to our coordinator Barbara Dutra and everyone who cleaned tack, organized the layouts, baked goods and helped with fitting horses and giving advice to our shoppers.  Shout out to Friends of Bear Creek Stables member Melany who drove down to deliver cupcakes and help haul stuff from the trailers to the set up area.  Other shout outs go to Scott Williams and Gary Ashford who did more hauling both before and after the event.

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Executive Director Karin Wagner was with us all day long showcasing our beautiful NS swag and our own Sunday junior volunteer Maddie was the ringleader along with Emma and Evie (Scott’s girls) who decided to lure customers off of Bear Creek Road for some of our baked goods- they delivered and made a wonderful contribution!

Bear Creek Tack Sale

Great team-work!  Diane Azevedo & Karen Read were there all day long with Barbara and it was a solid group effort!  The Race for the Rescue’s event is in a few weeks-proceeds go towards a wonderful cause!

Bear Creek Tack Sale





Final update before RRP

Taxi's Final Update

Alas, here we are. My final update before Taxi takes his long journey to Kentucky. I can’t believe how quickly time has past. It seems like just yesterday that Taxi found his place in my arms. He’s been such a good boy from the start. It’s very impressive to see how much he has accomplished in a short amount of time. The sky is the limit for this sweet boy. Everyday he impresses me more and more. He is so mellow, so kind and oh so talented. Everyone has been very impressed with his temperament. Just the other day the landscapers were doing there thing right by the arena where we were working, we had leaf blowers and lawn mowers on either side and it didn’t phase him in the least bit. He remained focused and attentive on me and got the job done. Those who witnessed this phenomenon were quite impressed with him.

His dressage work has really excelled in the past month. He is successfully doing first level movements and even a couple of second level movements. He is just a blast to ride and to be around.

With Taxi moving along so nicely I’ve had numerous people ask how I could let something so talented and amazing go. Here are the facts, Taxi has all of the tools to succeed no matter where he goes. With his quite disposition and talent he has a bright future. I look at him and say to myself “Wow!!” I can’t believe that I played such an imperative role to this horses life and future. Isn’t that what it’s all about? I wish I had all the money and time in the world to keep every horse that comes through my barn, but I don’t.  Just like Taxi needed me there are so many others that could use my help. Saying goodbye to him won’t be the end, just another start to lend my talents and time to another in need.

I’m really looking forward to taking that trip down centerline in the coming weeks. We’ve had mountains to climb to get to this point and no matter the outcome Taxi is a winner. I never pushed this horse. The decision to go Kentucky was his. He’s proven that he is more than ready for the journey. Wish us luck and we’ll be sure to post lost of updates once we reach our destination.

Here is the link to Taxi’s latest video. I hope you all enjoy watching how much the boy has blossomed!



10th Anniversary Gala

Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala

IT’S A WRAP!!  Neigh Savers Foundation’s 10th Anniversary Gala was a huge success.   Board Directors Paul & Caroline Nathan opened their beautiful home for the event which could not have been more perfect!  Stunning views, gorgeous weather, amazing food and drink all combined to make this a spectacular occasion and, most importantly, gave us the opportunity to show our appreciation for so many of our loyal and committed supporters, including donors, adopters, sponsors and volunteers who were in attendance.    None of this would be possible without these compassionate and dedicated people who believe in the work we do and continue to do so.  We are so very grateful and look forward to the next ten years of making a difference in horses’ lives!!!

Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala   Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala

Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala

Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala

Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala Neigh Savers 10th Anniversary Gala