Cosequin Presents Aftercare Spotlight: ‘Lucky’ Not Once But Twice

It was 2008 and a recently retired race filly named Lucky Starlite was sitting in the Enumclaw Stockyards in the state of Washington. Just three years prior she had been at a much different sale – the Washington Thoroughbred Breeders Association Mixed Sale – where she RNAed for $1,700. In between she had a brief racing career, running 9 times, but never notching a win.

Local horsewoman Janna Jopp from Lakebay, Wash., noticed the filly and decided to take a chance on her, hoping she might become a nice dressage prospect. Like so many trainers, Jopp ended up having more horses than time and a year later she gifted the filly to longtime friend Melinda Thomas.

If only Lucky Starlite had a crystal ball. She would have found comfort in knowing how truly lucky she would become. A decade later she would be the dam of several talented show horses and a beloved teacher and friend to lesson students learning the ropes of showing and hunting.  

“Her disposition is the sweetest I have ever met and she has a heart of gold,” said Thomas, an eventing rider and trainer who, at the time, also lived in Washington. “I decided to breed her because of her conformation and stellar disposition and chose a paint stallion to give me a little bulk and color.”

Her first foal was a lovely and colorful filly that was so impressive Thomas decided to breed Lucky Starlite back to the same stallion. The second foal – a strapping, conformationally correct colt – passed away due to a freak accident, but the owners of the stallion kindly offered to allow Thomas to breed back to their stallion free of charge in hopes she would produce another foal with the sport horse potential of her first two.

Shortly after Lucky Starlite – who is known around the barn as Tiki – was bred, Thomas and her husband made the decision to knock an item off their bucket list and move east to the rolling Bluegrass hills of Kentucky.

“Kentucky had always been a dream state since I was a little girl and started watching the Kentucky Derby. I’d been riding since I was 4 and eventing since age 15 and I just really wanted to see more of the world and explore eventing on the east side of the country,” said Thomas. “I had someone in Washington wanting to buy Tiki [Lucky Starlite]. We were still waiting to see if the breeding was successful, and I told her if she wasn’t pregnant, she could buy her, but if she was in-foal then it was meant to be and she was coming with me.”

Spoiler alert: Lucky Starlite made the cross-country trip to Kentucky.

It wasn’t long after Thomas and her husband settled into their new home in Kentucky that Lucky Starlite went into labor. While her previous births had been uneventful and straightforward, it soon became apparent that something was amiss this time around.

“I have foals many mares prior… when Tiki’s labor did not progress like normal I knew something was wrong. I saw it on the camera first, and then when I went to the barn to check, Tiki was talking to me – she knew something was wrong,” said Thomas. “I sterilized my hands and gently checked, and I could feel no hooves, but a lump. I was new to the area and wasn’t sure who to call.”

Thomas called Bryan McNabb, a friend and veterinarian in Ohio, who suggested she go to Hagyard Equine Medical Associates and offered to call ahead to prep them on the dystocia case (the technical term for a difficult delivery) they were about to receive.

By the time Thomas arrived with Lucky Starlite in the trailer, the surgery team was waiting for them outside and jumped into action immediately.

Lucky Starlite with Jordyn and the young student’s first horse show.

“I drove as fast as I could – I felt like Tiki and her foal’s life depended on it,” said Thomas. “I was so amazed by Dr. Liz Barrett. She was definitely no stranger to turning a dystocia,” said Thomas. “I was sure the foal would have been dead at this point and I was just worried about her saving my Tiki, but in the end Liz delivered a healthy filly. I will never forget what Liz said. When she pulled her out, she said, ‘That’s no Thoroughbred!’”

Nicknamed Mira (short for Miracle), the foal was a flashy bay and white Paint-Thoroughbred cross, and thanks to Barrett, was no worse for the wear.

“Liz and I still laugh abouot that story, since she usually delivers solid-colored Thoroughbreds,” said Thomas.

After the traumatic ordeal and feeling thankful to have produced two beautiful, healthy fillies out of her beloved mare, Thomas decided that, at 12 years of age, it was time for Lucky Starlite’s breeding career to come to a close.

“When Tiki wasn’t breeding, I used her as a lesson horse, and when she was heavily pregnant, the lesson kids would pamper and groom her,” said Thomas. “Now she is an important part of the lesson program here at Dreamscape Farm in Dry Ridge, Kentucky. She takes such good care of the kids but is also fun to ride for intermediate riders. Students lease her out for horse shows and hunter paces. She has a huge heart and a mothering instinct for the kids.”

Thomas feels the nurturing nature that made Lucky Starlite such a good mother to her foals is also what makes her the perfect lesson horse for young children. She is as honest as the day is long, she explained, and does exactly what the rider asks of her.

“If they hold her straight to a cross rail, she will hop over it, but if they don’t steer or come in crooked, she will go around it, because that is what they asked her to do. And, if they ever fall off, she comes right back to them and nuzzles them to check on them,” said Thomas. “She will teach riding lessons as long as she can, and when the day comes for her to retire, she will be a lovely pasture ornament and live out her days at Dreamscape Farm. She is truly a one-of-a-kind horse.”

Name: Lucky Starlite (a.k.a. “Tiki”)

Born: March 17, 2004
Color: Bay
Sire: Kentucky Lucky
Dam: Ash n Jess
Sale History: RNAed as a yearling for $1,700 at WASOCT
Race Record: 9-0-1-0
Race Earnings: $1,843

Jen Roytz is a marketing, publicity and comprehensive communications specialist based in Lexington, Kentucky and was recently named the Executive Director of the Retired Racehorse Project. A native of Cleveland, Ohio, her professional focus lies in the fields of equine, health care, corporate and non-profit marketing. She is the go-to food source for one dog, two cats and two off-track Thoroughbreds.

Email Jen your story ideas at [email protected] or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

The post Cosequin Presents Aftercare Spotlight: ‘Lucky’ Not Once But Twice appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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