Twenty-three years ago, an off-track Thoroughbred brought Denise Dahms and Annette Mohr to Willow Hill Farm. On October 6, the duo will express their gratitude for the breed when they again host their annual Fall Classic Horse Show in Montgomery, NY. The show will benefit the TRF for the second consecutive year. In its 20-year history, the Fall Classic has raised more than $185,000 for worthy causes, including animal rescue and veteran organizations.
“I have always had a soft spot in my heart for Thoroughbreds,” said Denise Dahms, Willow Hill’s business manager and co-owner, along with Head Trainer Annette Mohr. “Years ago, Annette and I bought an off the track Thoroughbred named Ayers Rock Aussie. I didn’t even vet him out. He was up for sale, and I took one look at him and thought he was magnificent. We bought him the next day! Then, shortly thereafter, Annette and I bought Willow Hill – just for him!”
Although winless in four starts as a racehorse, he sure could jump! Aussie found a new career as Dahms and Mohr showed him as a hunter/jumper. He lived to be 32 years old and passed away two years ago. Although Aussie was eleven when he came to Willow Hill, he was around to see the 157-acre farm grow into a full-service equine training facility that, according to Dahms, currently has 50 horses in its care and hosts another 30 boarders. There is now a garden and stone on the front lawn, dedicated to his memory.
It was fortuitous for the TRF that Willow Hill is located in Montgomery, NY, approximately 30 miles from the TRF’s flagship Second Chances Farm at the Wallkill Correctional Facility near New Paltz. Now active in eight state prisons, Second Chances is a vocational program for inmates that teaches equine care. The TRF is in its 35th anniversary year, and Second Chances has drawn worldwide acclaim for its innovation and success.
“Over the years, we have rescued horses of our own,” Dahms said. “Last year, we wanted to do something to benefit the TRF, mainly because of its reputation. But also, we liked the idea that it was a national organization that was solid and had been doing good work for a long time.”
“We are so thankful for people like Denise and Annette who support the TRF and its mission because they appreciate the breed,” said Jennifer Stevens, the TRF’s director of development and communications “Thoroughbred horses want to please so much and are extremely versatile athletes. They are easily trained for any discipline. Events like this allow us to help those horses as well as the horses that will not be able to have a second career as a riding horse due to age or injury sustained in their racing career. We are proud that Willow Hill has again thought of the TRF for its Fall Classic Horse Show, especially for their 20th anniversary. We wish them much success.”
Willow Hill Farm is located at 611-641 Route 211, Montgomery, NY 12549. For information on the Fall Classic, call (845) 457-1414 or visit http://willowhillfarmny.com/home.html