Second Career Star: Dees Black Dimples
Second Career Star: Dees Black Dimples
How can you ask for more from a horse?
The mare Dees Black Dimples cheerfully loads in the trailer for her owner Tamara Steeves of Midhurst, Ontario, and heads out for whatever adventure the young horsewoman wishes to do that day. It might be barrel racing or pole bending at a speed event, it might be trail riding, or it might be a hunter hack class at a horse show.
The versatile American Quarter Horse may not know for sure, but no matter what, she’s happy to do it.
The pair have a good relationship, Tamara’s mom, Tracey, says, but it’s a big change from when they first picked up the retired racehorse.
Dees Black Dimples was foaled in 2011, and was bred and raced by Rene and Darlene Hunderup’s Heste Sport Inc. of King City, Ontario.
She is by the First Down Dash son Black Moons Arising and out of the On A High mare Dee Dees Dimples, who produced nine runners – all winners – that ran up more than $200,000 on the track.
Dees Black Dimples was her best runner, and was an iron-legged campaigner, making an impressive 43 starts during her racing career. She contested at the stakes level in her younger years, but for the most part her work was done in allowance or conditional company, and she won or placed in 15 of those races and earned $51,959.
When she raced for the final time in 2018, though, she was ready to find a new career.
The Steeves are horse people – they raced Standardbreds for decades and worked in the industry – but had started cutting back to spend more time with their four children when their youngest, Tamara, became interested in riding.
Tamara had a Quarter Horse mare with whom she truly clicked with, but tragically the mare colicked and died.
“It was pretty devastating,” Tracey says. “My daughter, she was really upset. I went looking for a Bandaid, I guess. I didn’t know what to do to fix my daughter’s broken heart, so I went online looking for a horse and found this horse.”
Dees Black Dimples, who had a few months earlier come off the track, was a handful – and opinionated.
“When I first brought this horse home, she didn’t even want to step off the driveway onto grass,” Tracey says. “I think she had been on the track so long, she was like ‘No you’re supposed to stay on the track. This is what we do.’”
Time, patience, and a good friend that helped them restart the mare worked wonders.
“Her first year of showing her (in 2019), she was the reserve champion green horse at one club show, champion green horse at another club show, by the end of the year, she was in the 2-D for pole bending and I think ended up 3- or 4-D in the youth (barrel racing),” Tracey says. “So she’s coming along nicely.”
Tamara chose to call the mare “Raven” as a nod to the mare’s jet black coat, as well as Tamara’s previous mare, “Falcon.”
Raven took to the barrel and pole patterns, but she’s willing to do whatever her young mistress asks of her. When Tamara was invited to a horsemanship event open exclusively to top Ontario youth, she decided she wanted to try entering the hunter hack class, an English class which involves low level jumping.
They got some tips from a friend, practiced a little – and then came home with a top-10 placing in the class.
When the family goes trail riding, Raven is willing to go wherever she’s pointed.
“She’s so laid back,” Tracey says of Raven. “She’s become a real cuddlebug, she’s become an in-the-pocket personality horse. When we go to shows, we don’t get stalls, we tend to put out portable pens, and she camps out under a flapping portable tent just happy to be there. Doesn’t have a care in the world.”
Tamara is attending college at the University of Waterloo, but still finds time to ride Raven.
While COVID-19 halted most of their plans for competing in 2020, the few times they got out the pair still clocked :22 pole patterns and :15 barrel patterns, which indicates the potential for great success when events open back up.
“A lot of people really love their racehorses and like to know they’ve gone to a good spot, they’re carrying on and having a happy life,” Tracey says.
Raven is certainly one of those horses.
Second Career Stars is an ongoing series on retired racing American Quarter Horses in new careers. If you know of a horse that should be featured, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. AQHA News and information is a service of the American Quarter Horse Association. For more news and information, follow @AQHA Racing on Twitter, "like" Q-Racing on Facebook, and visit www.aqha.com/racing.