“A chestnut mare with a bit of a white wild eye that hasn’t been ridden for a couple of years… yikes!” Such was Lou Abey’s first impression when Mareeza Brown arrived at her property for retraining. In paddock condition with a rough winter coat, some superficial cuts, unkept hooves and a mane that came down past her shoulders, it was hard to see the diamond in the rough as she cast her eyes over the anxious young mare.
“I had spoken to her owner and trainer Martin Gray, who told me she was spooky, shied a bit, pulled back for the farrier and could get hot,” Lou explains. A Racing Victoria Acknowledged Retrainer, Lou was about to commence 12 weeks of retraining with Mareeza Brown as part of RV’s RESET program, a new pathway for Victorian thoroughbreds that have struggled to find the right home following the conclusion of their racing career.
Mareeza Brown, known as “Maizy”, had failed to impress on the track. Foaled in 2014, by Big Brown and out of Mareeza, she had three unsuccessful starts at Tamworth in 2017 before joining Martin’s stables in Victoria; she was prepped, but ultimately never raced again and later had a foal. Despite several attempts to rehome her, there were no takers. Without the safety net the RESET program provides, the future was not looking bright for Maizy.
Maizy settled into her new life and routine quite quickly at Lou’s farm near Bacchus Marsh in regional Victoria when she arrived in July. Yarded next to the family’s Shetland pony Chopsticks, her initial anxiety soon subsided and her sweet nature started to shine through.
“We did a fair bit of groundwork and once she decided to trust me, she proved to be a very quick learner and quite trainable,” Lou explains, adding that she never had a problem with handling her, nor was she challenging for the farrier or dentist. “She has a good attitude to her work and started to do some nice flatwork after just a few weeks.”
An experienced eventing and show jumping rider (who has also played polocrosse and campdrafted in the past), Lou soon introduced pole work exercises and jumping grids to Maizy’s program. After approximately two weeks of training, Maizy was ready to be entered in an online show jumping competition at the 65cm height, producing a very calm and balanced round!
“It was around the eight-week mark that Maizy really started to change shape, develop some topline and show some very good work on the flat,” Lou enthuses. As her summer coat started to come through, the young mare was blossoming and revealing what a lovely horse she truly was. Her work on the flat was going from strength to strength and – like most horses – in the right frame of mind, she was very trainable. “Her greatest strength was her good attitude. If stressed and adrenalised she was more challenging to work with, so we were mindful of this in all the work we did. Maizy liked to be with company, and she responded very well to routine.”