Monica Russell Comes Full Circle with One’s Own Accord
Monica Russell showed hunters/jumpers growing up and started making some extra money by buying Thoroughbreds at the track and retraining them. It wasn’t long before she started galloping horses in the morning and working at the track. When the trainer she worked for needed some time off after some heart problems, Monica stepped up, wrote the trainers exam and took over the barn. 22 years later, she found herself back in the show ring on another off-track Thoroughbred!
Monica claimed One’s Own Accord in Phoenix in January 2011 as a four-year-old, and she owned and raced him. He was claimed from her once, but she did the unthinkable and claimed “Mikey” back. He had a special place in her heart and in the barn.
Monica gallops her own horses and she loved going out to the track on Mikey in the mornings, “He was never very cuddly on the ground, but I loved training him in the morning. He’s so nice to ride. He is a good mover, has an incredible stride and he is always a total professional.” Mikey attended the Olds College Exercise Rider program as a school horse, and the students all loved him. He made each student pay attention and stay focused on him while they galloped, which created good discipline!
After 86 starts, 10 wins, 20 seconds and 19 thirds and $126,682 in earnings, Mikey decided he’d had enough of the track at the end of the 2016 season. Monica knew she couldn’t let him out of her life and he brought her full circle back to her show roots. “22 years is a long time to be away, but I’d had really good coaches growing up so it all came back. And Mikey is all class. Whatever you ask him to do, he gives it 100%. We’re both very competitive and this gives him a job he loves as a second career.”
Monica moved Mikey from his stall at Northlands Park to a stable outside of Edmonton and started doing flat work and teaching him how to jump. “He’s got so much personality. He’ll push me out of the way to get to carrots and doesn’t love attention in his stall but the minute we get to the ring for a class he turns into a total show off! He knows when it’s ‘go time’ and he gives everything he has, just the same as he did on the track”
Monica and Mikey have shown at Killerney Farms Shamrock series shows in 2017 in the Thoroughbred Incentive Program classes. They excel at 2’6 and that’s about as high as Monica wants to take him, “He’s really good at that level and I’m comfortable there too. As a trainer who makes my living training and galloping my own horses, I have to be a bit cautious about jumping. And Mikey raced hard and this is his retirement. Neither of us want to push too much and get hurt!”
Monica and Mikey were the Thoroughbred Incentive Program 2017 English Pleasure and Equitation and Hunter (West) Reserve Champions, and are already gaining points for 2018. Monica was able to take Mikey to the Killerney Shamrock show in May and were the TIP English Pleasure and High Point team. With four more shows to go this season, they will be well on their way to more end of season awards!
While Monica and Mikey are both very competitive, Monica says that having fun and enjoying Mikey in her time away from the racetrack is her end goal. She’s had several offers to sell him, but she’s refused them all. “He’s mine for life!” Mikey has found his forever home with Monica, and she’s loving her return to the show world.
*Photos provided by Monica Russell