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Second Chance Thoroughbreds


By Leigh Ballard
Danielle Durette Tursky has travelled all across the United States working with horses. Now she has settled in Jackson, Tennessee to build the life she’s always dreamed of – her Second Chance Thoroughbreds farm, where she provides homes for rescued Thoroughbreds. A newlywed, she shares her enthusiasm for horses with her husband Brad Tursky, and together they are building an equestrian life together.

Danielle grew up in New Hampshire riding horses throughout her childhood. She participated in Pony Club activities until she finished high school and went away to college.  She evented successfully with her small half Arab/half Paint for years.  But she always wanted a Thoroughbred.

Danielle attended Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO where she studied Equine Science. After college, her passion took her to Vermont summer horse camps, and to Georgia where she managed an eventing facility and taught lessons. While in Georgia she worked with Midland Foxhounds and taught off-the-track Thoroughbreds to jump. She moved to Alabama to teach, train and work with Pony Club groups.

She started fulfilling her dream of owning and riding Thoroughbreds with Bailey, a Thoroughbred obtained from a rescue facility in Georgia. He was not a racehorse, but he needed a home, and Danielle provided just the right place. Bailey is now her main competitive event horse, and at sixteen years old, he is the “old man” on the farm. He has taught many students to ride, including a five-year-old who just learned how to post. “He’s so funny!” Danielle says, “He’s so trained to voice commands that the kids can kick and kick, but he won’t take off until I ask them,  ‘Oh do you want to TROT?’ Then he trots! He looks at me sideways waiting for me to say ‘trot.’ I think he wants to make sure they aren’t going to fall off!”

Danielle finds rescued horses from several sources, with networks from Kentucky to Arkansas. She works with Thoroughbred groups and racehorse trainers to find her horses. These groups keep their eyes open for horses that might be suitable for Danielle’s program. Danielle does not choose horses that have been raced hard, and might be prone to injuries. She takes young horses that will have a future. She doesn’t ride them before she buys them. She watches them interact, sometimes watches them trot, but mostly she chooses them based on a look in their eye.  When she gets them home she gives them a few days to decompress and settle in, then she begins with groundwork, grooming and a lot of personal interaction to assess personality and temperament and to check what “buttons” they might have. Then they start to work.

 Danielle’s focus is eventing, but she lets the horses tell her what they want to do. In January she started with her first two horses. Within ninety days, each horse had shown its capability; one went to be a hunter/jumper in New York, and the other moved on to a job as a dressage horse in Murfreesboro, TN.

Danielle currently has a new group of six horses, ranging in ages from four to six. One horse shows no aptitude for cross-country work, but will likely make a great hunter/jumper prospect. He loves to be the center of attention, which will fit in to a show-horse life.  Another horse has a spectacular floating trot perfect for a dressage horse, but at 17.1 hands, needs time to mentally grow into his huge body before he can make a career in dressage. Another horse, Inki, is the newest addition to the group. He was raced, he even won a race and placed second in another. But he progressively became slower and slower until he was deemed “uncompetitive” and had to find a new job. He has surprised Danielle with his almost immediate enjoyment of jumping. She has already taken him to two shows, where if the jump isn’t 3’9, he is unimpressed! He’s looking at a future in eventing.

Facilities at Second Chance Thoroughbreds are currently under construction. Danielle and Brad bought property in Jackson, Tennessee that was formerly a wheat field. Now the farm has roomy pastures for the herd of beautiful, well-bred horses. An eight-stall barn is going up, and the arena is usable now although not complete. By spring of 2012 the barn will be complete with living quarters, and the outdoor, lighted arena will be finished, complete with a dressage arena and a full show-jumping course. There will be a cross-country course on the grounds, as well.
Danielle’s goal is for her farm to be a busy, happening place for Pony Clubbers, students, boarders, and horses in training. She hopes to help develop and support an active Pony Club community as well as an eventing community in the Jackson area. Pasture board is available now; full board will be available when the barn is completed. Lessons in English style riding are available now for any age level, and a student doesn’t have to be focused on eventing. Her students can learn riding basics with dressage work and develop advanced control in the arena, before heading out to the open areas to learn cross-country riding. 

That Thoroughbred Danielle always wanted, but somehow could never have as a child? No problem; she has lots of them now!

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