Second Career Star: Grabin Courage

Second Career Star: Grabin Courage

After his racing career, Grabin Courage has embraced his new life and work.

Second career racehorse Grabin Courage. Photo by Sarah Winfield

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The American Quarter Horse Journal logo

By Andrea Caudill

The racing program of Joyce and Erik Lehtinen of Uxbridge, Ontario, has been a successful one. Over the past two decades, the Lehtinens have raced horses that have earned more than $1.5 million. It’s a true DIY operation – they breed and train most of their own horses, including their leading earners such as Jog My Memory ($243,869), The Diamond Side ($203,931), Get A Secret ($124,564) and Shes Sizzling ($100,732), while racing almost exclusively in Canada. 

One of the graduates of their program is Grabin Courage, a 2014 brown gelding by Captain Courage, a Grade 1-placed runner who has sired the earners of more than $5.8 million. Grabin Courage is out of the Shazoom mare Grabin The Cash, who is also the dam of Grabin Awards (by Winners Award, $42,765). Grabin Courage made nine career starts, all at Ajax Downs, lighting the board in six of them including one win, earning $14,065 in his racing career. 

He retired from the track and into his new home with owner Kaeleigh Farrington of Midhurst, Ontario. When the brown gelding known as “Chex” first arrived, he was very anxious, Farrington said, and was “walking on egg shells.” 

Time, patience, lots of groundwork and a short stint with a professional reining trainer helped cure that. 

“After bringing him home, he had a lot more confidence and we were able start our new path together in speed events,” Farrington said. “He went to his first speed show in May of 2019 only being green broke a few months beforehand and never even spooked at anything.”

Farrington continued her patient ways with Chex, and it paid off. They started trotting and loping the pattern, but made steady progress on both the pole bending and barrel patterns. 

“He hauled with my seasoned barrel horses all season long and handled the whole thing like a champ,” she said. “He is like a sponge, he absorbs all the information you give him and is so quick to pick new things up.”

At the close of 2019, he earned a buckle for being reserve champion green horse in their local club’s year-end program. 

Lat year, despite the challenges posed by the global pandemic, Chex continued improving in form, speed and consistency. 

“He really impressed me the last two years running, and surpassed all of my previous goals I had set for him,” Farrington said. “Because he went above and beyond with the previous goals I have much more in store for him in 2021 season.” 

But Chex is more than just a speed event horse – channeling the versatility of his American Quarter Horse breed, he is cheerfully participating in whatever fun activities his owner has on the day’s docket, from trail riding to jumping a small course, to giving pony rides to young kids and even giving other riders a boost in their confidence. 

“He is now a very laid-back guy from when I first got him,” Farrington said. “He loves switching things up and doing new activities.

“He loves little kids and people in general,” she added. “He loves to just be in your pocket and constantly getting attention and love.”

The key to Chex’s success, his owner, says, is his intelligence. 

“I know people all say their horses are smart, which is true, but I have truly never met a horse that is so naturally smart,” she said. “This is why I love off-the-track Quarter Horses for how smart they are.”
The happy 7-year-old gelding has been cared for his entire life, and now that he has retired from racing has found the perfect fit in second career. 

“His old owners love hearing the progress he has made and are so happy he is loving his second career,” Farrington said. “I love this little man so much.” 

Second Career Stars is an ongoing series on retired racing American Quarter Horses in new careers. If you know of a horse that should be featured, write to acaudill@aqha.org. AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.