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Pioneering Trust and Riding Resilience: Anna and Pioneerofan Empire's Enduring Story

Pioneering Trust and Riding Resilience: Anna and Pioneerofan Empire's Enduring Story

By: Alexis Arbaugh

Knowing where to start when you are ready to buy a horse is very unnerving and a difficult process if you don’t have guidance from someone who is experienced in purchasing horses. Anna Krupka sought assistance from her trusted long-time trainer, who then reached out to Lynn Sullivan at Thoroughbred Athletes. Thoroughbred Athletes is a Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance accredited organization located in Gutherie, Oklahoma. It serves as a haven to off-the-track Thoroughbreds who needed caring homes. Lucky, Lynn knew which horse to pair Anna with when her trainer explained exactly what Anna was looking for.

Lynn was confident in matching Anna with Pioneerofan Empire. She knew he would find a loving home with Anna and benefit from a well-structured training program. When Anna and Pioneerofan Empire met, there was an instant connection. During their first ride, Anna noticed his enthusiasm for work and willingness to adapt and learn new skills. He displayed a desire for affection but remained cautious, seemingly nervous to get too close. Anna explained, “he was this mysterious mix of wanting love and attention and to learn and go to work, but it’s like he was internally at odds with the fact that he didn’t fully trust people”. His immense personality intrigued her. After their ride, Anna and her trainer both knew that Pioneerofan Empire had found his new home.

As part of their regular protocol, Thoroughbred Athletes provides their rescue Thoroughbreds with an opportunity to undergo retraining for a fresh career. As a result, Pioneerofan Empire received some under-saddle training before joining Anna. That training combined with his thirst for knowledge made the transition into a new program very easy. Anna admitted she experienced “ups and downs” in their initial riding sessions. It takes a while for horses and riders to adapt to one another’s styles, personalities, and quirks. The pair continued to work together, and Anna noted gradual improvement as they arrived on the same page.

Throughout their journey, Anna found the more they worked together, the more trusting Pioneerofan Empire became. The hard work the pair put into their training allowed a special partnership to develop. Anna discovered that Pioneerofan Empire is dynamic and intelligent. She shared her awe that he enjoys versatility across disciplines. He remarkably transitions from Dressage to Hunters effortlessly, maintaining a calm and professional demeanor regardless of what he is asked to do and eager for new challenges.

Currently in their training, Anna and Pioneerofan Empire are schooling First Level Dressage. The duo has been successful at many schooling shows, scoring in the upper 60s and low 70s.  Anna is optimistic that soon they can compete in their first recognized Dressage show at First Level. Pioneerofan Empire also enjoys jumping around in the Hunter ring, so Anna is making sure that he gets his fair share of jump schools. Anna hopes to move up to the 2’6 classes and looks forward to participating in some T.I.P. (The Jockey Club’s Thoroughbred Incentive Program) classes, which are exclusively for Thoroughbred horses.

“There’s a lot more to the story, but [I] enjoy sharing whenever possible as a platform to support Thoroughbred Aftercare,” Anna wrote. “I used to work in horse racing in Lexington on the commercial breeding side of the business so it’s a cause very near and dear to my heart”.

Thoroughbred racehorses, after their track days, deserve a fulfilling second chapter. Accredited organizations who belong to Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance offer care and opportunities for these horses, unlocking their potential beyond racing. Examples like Pioneerofan Empire demonstrate how these horses can thrive in new roles such as riding or therapy, each fulfilling a unique purpose in their post-racing life.

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