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Off-The-Track galloper providing smiles at nursing homes

By Jordan Gerrans 

Staff and residents at the Bupa Aged Care in Toowoomba still talk about the times “Savannah” comes to visit.

Savannah is a mare who never did quite make it to the racetrack in her short time being based at a Clifford Park stable.

The daughter of Choistar completed some pre-training and was broken in but did not get close to having a debut start as a racehorse.

While her future was not to be at the track, Savannah has found her home with the Kajewski family at Clifton, on the outskirts of the Darling Downs.

Jodie Kajewski, who owns Savannah with her daughters, previously worked at the Bupa Aged Care in Toowoomba as a nurse and will now the take nine-year-old to visit staff and residents at the facility.

While it is a little unorthodox to take a mare into an aged care facility, those involved believe it is beneficial for both the horse and the people.

“They absolutely love it,” Kajewski said.

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“We try to get her there once a year – there is two nursing homes we take her to but Bupa is the main one.

“We will often take her in on Melbourne Cup day to make a scene out of it.

“We will go in there to visit now without the horse and the people will still remember her coming in and they will show us the pictures that they got taken with her.

“It is good to see these people light up and having something different, it is different from having a pony to a big horse, as they all have a story to tell now.

“Even the staff, they were obsessed with her to and it was good to see the smiles she put on everyone’s faces, it was a great.”

Kajewski, who has been around horses her entire life and competed in showjumping, first took her daughters and their ponies to the aged care facility, which the residents loved.

And, after having Savannah at their property for some time, Kajewski quickly realised she might also have the temperament to go into the facility and greet the residents.

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“We were just going to keep her outside and let them come out and pat her, but she was keen to go inside to see the people that were unable to come outside, so she did that,” Kajewski said.

“She went in and walked around, we went into the dementia wing and she had people hanging off and she would just stand there and lap it up. She loved it.”

Bred in Queensland by prominent Darling Downs owner-breeder Dr Kim McCasker - known recently for breeding Group 1 winner Hinged -  Savannah has proved to become a versatile thoroughbred.

Savannah was the only Off-The-Track horse at the recent Coonamble NSW state championships, where she was ridden by Kajewski’s daughter Kali.

“She does everything, she is an all-rounder – she jumps, campdrafts, sports and barrel races her,” she said.

“We only got back from NSW the other day, where she was riding for Queensland, and she picked up a few ribbons down there and did an awesome campdraft run.

“They held their own and they will be better for next year when they head down again.

“Savannah and Kali came reserve champion at the 2021 Queensland Pony Club State Championships, and then backed it up a day later at the barrel racing finals to run 1D times in the juniors, placing in the top four.”

Following her short stint in pre-training, Savannah took to her second lease on life like a duck to water, as Kali was riding her just a fortnight or so after she finished up at Clifford Park.

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“It was like she had been doing it for years, they are a wonderful breed and you can do anything you want with them realistically,” Kajewski said.

“Thoroughbreds are my favourite breeds.

“She has since not only taught my kids to ride but many others.

“She is truly an amazing horse which has found her forever home here with us.”

The Kajewski family have a number of former racehorses on their property, who Kali and her twin sister Kyra will often ride.

 

RQ-QOTT-Logo-01.pngDo you have an off the track Thoroughbred or Standardbred? We’d love to hear from you! Whether you compete with your retired racehorse, ride for pleasure or they’re a valued companion animal, we’d love to hear about your lives together and how you found your equine friend. Click here to connect with the QOTT Team.

Are you looking to retire and rehome your racehorse? Or are you a prospective new off-the-track owner looking for a retired racehorse? Click here to connect with the QOTT Acknowledged Retrainers.