Quick Tune has been wearing some very lucky horseshoes even before his racing career got underway.
When he started training as two-year-old, his owner at the time, Debra Rombis, was quick to note that Quick Tune had trouble switching leads (switching which front foot to lead with) when he was on the track.
He was taken to the University of Guelph where Rombis was told that the horse had severe arthritis in his neck and would have to be euthanized. “She didn’t accept that,” says Jennifer Kohlsmith, Quick Tune’s present owner. According to Kohlsmith Rombis decided to take him to specialists at the University of Florida where he was evaluated a second time. “They said just leave him… he will grow out of it.”
And he did. Quick Tune began his racing campaign at Woodbine in July 2001, made a couple of starts at Thistledown in Ohio before finishing his career at Fort Erie Race Track in 2005. All in all, he had 45 starts. “When I bought him as a six-year-old he made $90,000 and had won seven races,” says Kohlsmith, who works at Fort Erie as a registered veterinary technician.
Kohlsmith crossed paths with Quick Tune, who she nows calls Tucker because of her work treating horses on the track. “I met him when I worked for the trainer and fell in love with him,” admits Kohlsmith. “You get to know a lot of horses there and they get to know you. Some see you coming or hear your voice and know that you are there to give them shots and can be difficult to catch or tough to work with. But others are the total opposite…like Tucker was.”
Kohlsmith was quick to note his kind personality when she came to the stalls to treat him. “He knew why I would be coming to his stall yet he was always still snuggly and kind. I never needed anyone to hold him while I gave him shots because he just stood and let me do whatever I was there to do.”
Rombis told Kohlsmith she would never sell him and planned to keep him forever.
“I was told I could never have him, so I kind of fell in love with another horse. And the other horse came for sale and they wanted a lot of money for him so I said no.”
But in 2005, Kohlsmith got a second chance when her phone rang with Rombis on the other line. “I was at home visiting my parents one day and I got a phone call saying that if I wanted Tucker to come pick him up otherwise he was on a one-way trip to the states to run …so he probably wouldn’t come back.”
Knowing that Tucker was hers to take, Kohlsmith picked him up three days after his last race in June 2005. Since she was pretty new to riding Kohlsmith decided to let her coach Leslie McCormick test him out before she hopped on. “Leslie rode him first because I wanted to see what I had…I didn’t want to die,” she bluntly admits.
Kohlsmith says she did get on Tucker not too long after that but found he was pretty wild. So she decided to give him six months off. “He just needed a little downtime.” Despite being out of the saddle, Kohlsmith spent time bonding with Tucker and would take him to the side of the riding arena where they would watch the other horses working.
In January 2006, she got back on him and the two have been in tune ever since. She has competed with Tucker in local schooling shows. Moving into his second career as a jumping horse, Tucker jumps under his show name Chasing Cars. “He can do basically anything,” says Kohlsmith who has been jumping 2’6” Tucker in the hunter division along with the help of Leslie McCormick. Tucker has also competed with McCormick in some trillium shows at the 2’6” level. “He’s good, he’s got a spaceship as Leslie calls him…he’s got more buttons than he knows what to do with.” Because of back surgery Kohlsmith had a couple of years ago she can only jump Tucker at the 2’6” level.
Listening to her gush about her “big teddy bear,” I can tell Kohlsmith has no regrets about investing in Tucker. “He is the best, he is the ultimate amateur horse…always leaves the ground, makes it work, he auto changes, he can counter canter, he can do anything I need him to.”
Owning Tucker for eight years now and working at the track for several of those years, Kohlsmith knows racehorses are worth a second chance. “They are fantastic animals.”
As we wrap up the interview, Kohlsmith’s parents are in the background giving Tucker some attention. They made a special trip not only to see their daughter but their “grandson” Tucker, as Kohlsmith jokes. We walk over and he gentle nuzzles my camera and my jacket hoping to find some treats. “He’s more like owning an oversized dog than a horse,” says Kohlsmith as I give him a mint and he then proceeds to lick my hand for more.
Despite my sticky hands and camera, I left the stables with a warm heart that morning knowing that Kohlsmith has wholeheartedly given Tucker a second chance in life and most importantly, a chance to be part of her family.