Ashley Horowitz and Churchita
You never forget the name of your first lesson horse – that horse who taught you what you need to know to work with everyone who follows.
In this series, Thoroughbred industry participants share the names and stories of the horses that have taught them the most about life, revealing the limitless ways horses can impact the people around them. Some came early in their careers and helped chart the course for the rest of their lives, while others provided valuable lessons for veterans of the business.
Question: Which horse taught you the most about life?
Ashley Horowitz, Super G Sport Horses: “Chita” helped me to be kind and patient. When I got her, she was barely three years old and she did everything. Everything was easy for her and at four years old she was teaching people to ride horses.
Then, while I was teaching them about her, I was like, “You did that, now you should be able to do that on her,” and they didn’t have as quick of a learning curve as her. She never cared that they messed up, and however long it took, she just went with the flow.
Sit down and follow your horse’s advice, who teaches these kids how to ride a horse…if it took them longer to figure out how to get over a jump and not jump the horse in the face, she just absorbed that and was okay with that. She was so stable and easy with so many different types of riders, so many different ages and emotions.
She was balanced through it all, and I wasn’t always like that. I’ve become like that in my teaching, but I get tough and I get results from people, but certainly when I was younger, before, I was like, “That’s what I expect from you, and we are going to make that happen. You’re not always going to make it work. Seeing how stable and consistent it is at all times is pretty impressive, and it’s definitely something most people should aspire to.
A lot of people talk about their perfect course horses that have been doing this for years, and they’re so awesome, and they’re about 25 years old. Chita is 10 years old. She’s been doing this since she was four, so she’s got a lot of years under her belt, but she started out amazing. Often, good lesson horses have decades in their pocket. She’s only 10 years old, and she’s already influenced so many people, and helped so many people learn to ride.
Jonathan Horowitz, Arapahoe Park Announcer: I wanted to evolve from being someone who only talks about horses to spending time with them, riding them and ultimately being able to make a difference working with those horses after they retire. It changed my whole approach to horse racing and, frankly, my whole life.
Having a horse like Chita as my learning horse gave me the opportunity to learn to ride and compete on Thoroughbreds. From this experience, I was able to work with other horses off the track, and I really feel like I can make a difference for a cause that is close to my heart, in a sport and with athletes who have given so much. Now I can play a role and give back, and if I didn’t have a horse with Chita’s temperament, I don’t think I would be in the same position as me. It took a really unique Thoroughbred to give me a chance to learn about Thoroughbreds and then to be able to start taking those steps with the horses I work with now coming off the track.
(2011, m., Churchhill x Slewita, by Tsunami Slew)
Churchita was bred in Texas by Laurie Rosenwasser, who scattered her breeding stock before the big filly entered training.
She was listed on the CANTER Texas website, where she first caught the attention of Ashley Horowitz, but Churchita was instead sold to an owner in California. Shortly after the transaction, the filly was put up for sale again and Horowitz jumped at the chance, bringing Churchita to his base in Colorado. Churchita was already 16.3 hands tall when she was 3 years old, but Horowitz said she hasn’t grown taller since.
Churchita is currently pregnant for the first time, after being mated to Easter Man, the 2019 Arabian Races Horse of the Year. Not content with leading a sedentary life as a pregnant mare, she still gives lessons to young riders while waiting for her foal.