From The Paulick Report:
Some Thoroughbreds’ careers take them around the world and back, but for Max Attack, he’s always been a Kentucky boy through and through. After his 14-race career resulted in zero wins, Max was retired at the age of five and became an eventing prospect for Lexington-based trainer Jennifer Joyce at her Sycamore Farm.
At the same time that Max was learning the basics of combined training, hunter/jumper rider Emma Partridge was entertaining the idea of transitioning to the discipline of eventing.
“I came across an off-the-track Thoroughbred named Max Attack and I thought I’d go try him out,” said Emma. “There was no need for me to try any other horses.”
Emma said that from the beginning she and Max just “clicked.” Max had gained a solid foundation in eventing from Jennifer and, combined with Emma’s equitation skills acquired in the hunter ring, the pair quickly developed synergy together both over jumps and on the flat.
“I barely knew anything about eventing at the time, so Max was my teacher,” explained Emma. “I had just learned how to collect a horse and just started riding in a dressage saddle. Max was very patient at times when I struggled.”
As the pair progressed, they learned more and more about each other. While Max taught Emma to haul butt around a cross country course and that it takes him approximately 10-15 sneezes in their warm-up sessions before he’s ready to work, Emma taught Max about the pure joy that can come from snacks.
“While Max isn’t a fan of most horse treats, he does like Buckeye peppermint treats,” said Emma. “He also likes brown sugar and cinnamon Pop-Tarts, but ONLY brown sugar and cinnamon, not any of the fruit flavored ones.”
This year Emma is a freshman at Lexington Catholic High School and is part of the institution’s newly formed Equine Academy, which pairs equine-centric courses and experiences with a traditional curriculum to equip students to better appreciate and understand Lexington’s signature industry.
“Emma has a passion and zest for the equine industry that is a true delight to see,” said Equine Academy executive director Sarah Coleman. “When you meet Emma, you just know she’s something special. She balances a demanding course load, her involvement in the Keeneland Pony Club, and competing on her own horse, Max. She’s truly someone whom you’ll say, ‘I knew her when…’”
While it’s only been eight months since their first ride together, Emma and Max have progressed from Beginner Novice to Novice, and placed second at the Kentucky Classique this summer. Emma’s goal is to keep moving up the levels of eventing, weaving competition and training time into her academic schedule, and making sure she’s giving Max all he needs to succeed.
“Thoroughbreds do whatever it takes to please us,” said Emma. “They pick up so much from the racetrack, from cute little quirks to life skills. It’s really what distinguishes them from other breeds.”