By: Jen Halliwell
Following twelve starts on the track and earning $61,450, Let’s Rumble was retired in September 2020 through Monmouth Park’s Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredited Second Call Thoroughbred Adoption and Placement program. He found his post-racing home at After the Races, another Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredited facility. This decision was prompted by the discovery of some changes in one of his knees. Recognizing the changes in his condition at an early stage, his connections made the responsible choice to retire him and give him the opportunity to thrive in a new career after a well-deserved break.
Although he wasn’t destined for racing greatness, trainer Jeanne Vuyosevich wanted to ensure that whoever adopted the 2017 gelding knew more about him. She left behind a handwritten note for his next owner, sharing insights into his personality, including his love of bananas.
After a couple months off, “Rumble” had settled into racing retirement, benefitting from the time taken to let his knee heal. Meanwhile, Courtney VanErstvelde had begun her search for a new barrel racing partner.
When she contacted After the Races and explained what she was looking for, they enthusiastically recommended Rumble. “Courtney was originally looking for a horse that would do well in western disciplines in general and who had a certain temperament” said Bonnie McCrae of After the Races. “He was so calm, cool, and collected when we rode him, and I thought his build, size, and temperament would suit well for trail riding and other western activities… I mostly just did my best to match her needs with a horse that would fulfill them, and it seems like I got it right!”
“The amazing staff knew me better than I knew myself and found me an amazing partner,” VanErstvelde explained. It didn’t take long for their relationship to bloom, and Rumble’s personality began to truly shine. “After some time running around the pasture with his new friends his goofy personality has really come to the forefront and his new favorite thing is hugs,” said VanErstvelde.
Rumble’s newfound bond with VanErstvelde on the ground has also had a positive impact on their partnership in the saddle. The duo has been successful enough in the ring to qualify for the National Barrel Horse Association (NBHA) World Championships in October and plan to make Rumble’s first rodeo appearance soon.
“He has so much heart and try into everything in front of him,” VanErstvelde said. “He really is a special horse and has inspired others in the area to look at thoroughbreds in a whole new light.”
Faith Sampson, in need of a mount while her own horse was recovering from an injury, had the chance to be part of Rumble’s journey as a barrel horse. During this time, Rumble became Sampson’s partner while VanErstvelde dedicated her attention to developing her greener horses.
“It has been such an amazing opportunity to get the chance to work with Let’s Rumble,” Sampson stated. “Never in my wildest dreams would I [have] thought I would like a Thoroughbred, let alone an [Off the Track Thoroughbred] – but Rumby has changed my opinion on them completely. So much, in fact, I ended up getting my own OTTB with hopes I can train him to be just like Rumby.”
While he continues to enjoy his barrel training, Rumble also enjoys going on trail rides, playing in the water, and has even taken on the role of a lesson horse for VanErstvelde’s beginner boyfriend.
“More than any competition or time he’s ran, I’m so happy that he gets to enjoy being his whole goofy self,” said VanErstvelde. “Thank you for doing everything you do for these guys! I never would have imagined the impact my Rum boy has had on my life – every day he has the ability to put a smile on my face no matter the circumstances.”