- Bonnie McRae
Graduate Spotlight: NonPlusUltra
Today we're talking about NonPlusUltra, a horse whose name I didn't even fully understand until doing this interview (see the first question). NonPlusUltra is a gelding by Nonios that was born in 2016. He came to After the Races in partnership with New Start, retiring from racing 17 times, mostly at Penn National. He only retired from racing at the end of 2020, but is beginning to make some new strides with adopter Katie, who was very happy to share an update with us. Hi, Katie. Thank you for participating! Let's start with how long you've had NonPlusUltra now, and what you're calling him.
I have had Nonplusultra for about two years now. His barn name is “Riddle." When I brought him home everyone asked me what his name meant and my response was “I don’t know; it’s a riddle I haven’t figured out yet,” hence the nickname Riddle. Since then I have researched and learned that Nonplusultra means “Nothing further beyond”. It’s famously said to have been inscribed on the Pillars of Hercules at either side of the Strait of Gibralter, in part as a warning to sailors not to travel beyond the edge of the known world. In normal speak it is translated to “unsurpassable” or “second to none”.
2. What drew you to him/her when you were searching for a horse? How did you know he was "the one?"
I have always purchased horses based on personality. When I went to look at some horses at ATR I noticed he was very willing to come out of the field and leave his buddies who were eating hay. He willingly free lunged in the round pen and then stood still on his own (no lead attached) to have his blanket put back on. While he was very stoic I know many race horses just tolerate being moved and transported often from barn to barn, never getting the chance to really attach themselves to their own person. After bringing him home he remained stoic for awhile, just tolerating me bringing him food, brushing him, and blanketing him. I gave him about three months off, hanging out in the field with my other horses, just being a horse. We then did several months of groundwork which started our bond and really brought out his personality. I found he is actually quite cuddly and loves his face and ears to be rubbed. And although he is not a fan of peppermints, apples, and most horse treats, he absolutely LOVES carrots. 3. What are the two of you up to these days?
We have gone to a couple different venues for some schooling shows. He is very well behaved in new places. We have done some baby cross-country events and he has done everything I have asked of him. We have jumped courses at 2’ and while he likes jumping he is very quick, like most OTTBs, and likes to use his momentum to jump. We are working on softness and suppleness, tracking up, and building muscle. He is quite the hard keeper but he has finally put on some weight and is filling out nicely. 4. How has he taken to his new career?
He likes the attention but has his moments about “the work," particularly dressage. He is willing and tries very hard, but sometimes has a baby meltdown. It is quite comical as you can tell it’s just a little temper tantrum, some crow hopping and spinning. I joke with my trainer “wait for it…. there it is!” LOL.
Once he gets that out of his system he gets to work. He definitely makes me ride, but as he gets stronger in his body and more fit to do the job, we see the these moments less and less.
5. Have you faced any challenges together (training, health, etc), and how did you work to overcome them?
He had an injury with his neck - no idea exactly what he did, the chiropractor thinks maybe when he rolled he did something. I first noticed it when he was struggling to stretch his neck down to eat. Then doing some groundwork he had trouble bending his neck to the left. His poll was locked up and it took several adjustments give him some relief. I also did several months of Magnawave on him which really seemed to help his healing. It set us back a couple months but I feel like we can start working better now as he has maintained the flexibility in his neck.
6. Do you have any favorite memories from your time together so far?
Probably the first time I took him cross-country schooling. You never know how they are going to react to the jumps, the water, ditches etc…. He wasn’t really phased by anything. He walked right in the water without hesitation. Such a relief for me as my other two horses were not a fan of the water and it was such a process to get them used to it. 7. Any advice for someone considering adopting a Thoroughbred?
Be patient. They are used to the fast-paced racing life, going barn to barn, not always having stability. Give them some downtime to decompress before transitioning them to another job. 8. Anything else you want people to know about Riddle? We plan on going to Aiken, SC for some winter schooling in 2023. Hoping to be competing at beginner novice by the time we come home!