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Lindsey Partridge and Thunderous Affair (Credit: Retired Racehorse Project)
Lindsey Partridge and Thunderous Affair (Credit: Retired Racehorse Project)

The moments -- and horses -- that took our breath away at the RRP’s Mega Makeover by Natalie Mayrath


If you’d asked Lindsey Partridge how her day was going with Thunderous Affair (aka “Lissy”), she would not have suspected it would end with the pair being named 2020 Thoroughbred Makeover Champion, sponsored by Churchill Downs. “I literally fell off,” she says, explaining that it was a “rough morning” at the Retired Racehorse Project’s Mega Thoroughbred Makeover, presented by Thoroughbred Charities of America, an event that fit two years into one, displaying highly competitive and talented groups for both the 2020 and 2021 classes (read further to experience just a taste of the magic).

Lissy, who had made it into the finale in two divisions (Freestyle and Competitive Trail) and went on to earn blue ribbons that day in both categories, is highly sensitive to the energy of other horses around her. While riding at a walk that morning, they encountered another horse, and Lissy reared and sprung into the air. Partridge tried a quick abandon-ship dismount but didn’t quite land squarely on her feet, lost hold of the reins, and Lissy proceeded on a free gallop through the cross-country area before somebody caught her.

Partridge laughs now that running loose may have contributed to her 4-year-old’s calm composure in the show arena that afternoon. “She was extra-tired after galloping through the horse park in the morning… Maybe that’s everybody’s new plan, is to let your horse loose in the morning!”

The horse's - and rider’s - dominance in the 2020 Makeover is impressive in many regards, beyond the mare’s “wild side.” Partridge gave birth to her second child in July, missing training during pregnancy, and then finding herself on the fast-track preparing a horse who she says cannot be rushed or pressured. “I didn’t do anything with her while I was pregnant, so when we went back to our first show in the beginning of August, she was leaping in the air on all fours, and I could only get her calm enough for someone to lead me around the trail course.” There were moments, where I was like, ‘Do I have to pull this horse from the competition?’”

But Lissy has what Partridge calls “all the good qualities” of a Thoroughbred. “She’s so athletic, she’s so talented and she’s wickedly smart.” At the end of the day, the horse won the hearts of the judges, spectators, and commentators with her obedient and relaxed attitude in the ring. “I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew it could go pretty darn amazing or it could be a catastrophe,” Partridge explains.

“She’s been so hard. She didn’t trust me in the beginning. We would literally just go places and hang out… she was so calm and relaxed here and able to trust me to do everything,” she said while holding back tears during the presentation ceremony.

In taking Championship honors, Partridge reasserts that she has plenty of talent herself in bringing retirees along in new disciplines. She has competed nine horses at various RRP Makeovers throughout the years, capturing the overall title back in 2015 with Soar. Her Harmony Horsemanship method puts a singular focus on the human-horse relationship as the ultimate goal.

The 16.2 hand gray/roan mare never made a start, but did train to race. Thunderous Affair is by Liaison out of the Thunder Fan (Thunder Gulch). Partridge, who says she always buys her horses sight-unseen, bought her off of a picture, with placement help through CANTER Michigan. Partridge says this precocious mare only showed a tiny little bit of what she’s actually capable of during this show. “She can do so many things, we only got to scratch the surface in her freestyle,” Partridge says. She hopes that Lissy will be her new demo horse accompanying her on the road for many years to come.


Jazz Napravnik on Legend’s Hope (Photo Courtesy: Jazz’s Facebook)
Jazz Napravnik on Legend’s Hope (Photo Courtesy: Jazz’s Facebook)


If they wanted to keep the Makeover Eventing title in the family, there was only one possible result for Jazz Napravnik and Legend’s Hope (“Chester”). They delivered and then some, winning the Eventing division to make it back-to-back Makeover Eventing blue ribbons for Jazz and her sister, former jockey Rosie Napravnik, who won the Eventing division at the 2019 Makeover on Sanimo. For a family who is used to winning, Jazz described the moment as “pretty freakin’ special” for their family. “My sister and I have a special bond. We are always there, one for the other, rooting each other on, so for her to win, and then me to come win, is a special moment. My sister, my mother, they shed a tear, and I shed a tear during my pinning before exiting the arena,” she recounts.

Jazz and Chester also won the People’s Choice award, sponsored by Achieve Equine, which is decided through text-voting by fans for their favorite horse of all the discipline winners. Jazz shares the sentiment for a horse she says is full of talent. “I always fall in love with the horses that nobody likes, but I’ve finally fallen in love with a horse everybody likes,” she said while accepting the honors. She said that this horse must’ve “learned to jump in the womb” considering his natural ability. “He’s an example of everything a Thoroughbred can be, and I wouldn’t want to sit on any other horse.”

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