All the glory and fame for thoroughbreds come on the racetrack, so to most it's a bit of a mystery where the horses go after their racing days are over.
Well, Betty McCue knows.
Seven years ago, McCue and her sister, Evelyn Martin, opened EHM Stables in White Hall to take off-the-track thoroughbreds into their care and use them for personal showing. Today, though, EHM Stables has become a huge operation and grown much faster than McCue had expected, with numerous students, riding lessons offered and participation in local shows.
"It is my heart and soul," McCue said. "I love the horses that we have and take into our barn. We go to the barn each morning and each afternoon. It goes way into the evening during school days. Summers are easier for me with the vacation."
McCue is a second-grade teacher at Timonium Elementary, so running a year-round stable is tough. EHM Stables doesn't have an indoor arena for a year-round operation, so when summer comes, McCue happily spends her days out on the farm with her students.
On Wednesday, "I was holding horses for the farrier and I told the riders, 'Go ride bareback, have fun and don't fall off,'" McCue said. "They went out and had fun, laughed, jumped double and took pictures of each other."
Her love for thoroughbreds has been there her entire life, having grown up in Virginia riding horses, but her idea to create a stable with her sister was a bit by chance. Evelyn visited McCue in Maryland and decided to move to be with her sister and her horses to create EHM Stables — named for both McCue and Martin's initials.
"She has taken in so many thoroughbreds from the racetrack to her farm, and she's giving them time off because they needed it or she's gotten the girls and retrained them to [show]," said Georganne Hale, Maryland Jockey Club's director of racing and co-creator of the Totally Thoroughbred Horse Show at Pimlico Race Course. "All kids just love her. She's an elementary school teacher, so her patience is unbelievable to deal with all the kids. She's a true horseman, rode her whole life and still a riding teacher, and just all around a good person."
Most of McCue's students are ones she knows from her teaching days. Though her group is small — McCue estimates that there are 12 that are fully dedicated — she enjoys taking her students to local shows.
And today, McCue and EHM Stables will participate in the second annual Totally Thoroughbred Horse Show at the infield at Pimlico Race Course, bringing 12 horses and 10 riders to the event, including Baltimore Raven, Cayman Condo, Powered by Love, Prideland, Oregon Ridge and Saratoga Jet.
Hale and Stacie Clark-Rogers, manager of Adena Springs Retirement program, created the event to give off-the-track thoroughbreds a second career. Hale partnered with MidAtlantic Horse Rescue and Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue, and when she approached McCue about having a horse show at Pimlico to raise money for the rescues, Hale knew it would be a hit.
"Last year, we just decided, let's try to make some money for the OTTBs," Hale said. "Betty teaches so many kids, and since she had so many thoroughbreds that she teaches them on, she was all gung ho, and if you need her for anything, she and her kids have been wonderful."