Cora Halla, a Junior rider from Jackson, Tenn., rides out of Oak Grove Stables and takes lessons with trainer Danielle Tursky. She has been riding for seven years. Her OTTB, She’s Forever, barn name Grace, was a project Cora took on herself, doing all the retraining and prep for the TB Makeover.
Tell us about your OTTB: Grace’s Jockey Club name is She’s Forever. She came off Spendthrift Farm and raced at Churchill Downs and Keeneland, among others. She’s a 4-year-old, born April 4, 2018, and ran in 14 races. Her placings were 1 first, 0 second, and 2 thirds and she won $34,495. Grace’s last race was December 18, 2021. I found her on the OTTB marketplace on Facebook, and I decided to train her in Show Jumping because that is my passion and she took to jumping very well and seems to really enjoy it!
Why did you decide to enter TB Makeover? This has been my dream for years. I thought it would be a very educational and exciting challenge.
What other breeds and disciplines have you ridden and shown? I have ridden a variety of breeds, such as Quarter Horses, Thoroughbreds, Draft crosses, Warmbloods, Arabian crosses, ponies, and a few Gaited horses. I have mainly shown in Hunters, Dressage, and Show Jumping, but in my early years of riding I did Barrel Racing and Western Pleasure.
In your opinion what makes the Thoroughbred special? I love how big and powerful they are. They are sensitive and high strung which makes them a challenging and exciting horse to ride and train. They always put forth 100% effort into everything they do.
What has been the biggest challenge throughout the retraining process? The biggest challenge was learning how to ride and train a large, young, and very spirited horse after mainly riding an older, slower Quarter Horse pony.
What did your TB pick up on quickly? She picked up on jumping very quickly. She is very brave over fences and jumps with room to spare.
Who has helped you the most during this retraining process? My mom.
What were you most excited about leading up to the TB Makeover? Being in a big show environment and hopefully showing all the hard work that we put into this.
What were you most nervous about? I was nervous about going without a trainer because she was not able to make it this year, but thankfully she was available when I texted for help.
What are your hopes for this horse? I hope to continue her training in Show Jumping, and start to train her in Eventing. I hope to continue to move up the levels with her in either one of these disciplines.
Advice you would give to anyone looking to purchase an OTTB? I would look for one that has good strong legs and kind eyes. I love horses that are curious, brave, and have a desire to learn.