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Dream It. Live It. Love It.


The journey from foaling stall to racetrack is a progression Louise Thompson thoroughly enjoys.


Love itWhat started with a neglected historic estate and a foal named Dream the Blues is now a thriving horse farm and business. Two fillies from Soldier's Lodge are racing this season. And it's Louise Thompson's dream come true.

It all began in 1994, when Louise and her husband, Earl, bought Soldier's Lodge. No one had been in residence since the 1950s and the 1833 home had fallen into disrepair. It took three years to complete restoration and modernization and allow the Thompsons to move in.

At first, they kept cattle in the 700 acres of pastureland surrounding the house. "But it was such a readymade location for horses," Louise recalls. "Each year we bought or bred another one," she says. They added more fencing and renovated barns to keep up with the growing herd. And they found feed and supplies and help at their local Southern States store, in Goochland Courthouse, VA.

The greatest joy in racing for Louise is the process, "seeing them as foals and yearlings running in the pastures, then getting them to the track." Blue's Approval, foaled by Dream the Blues, is going through that process now and will race at Colonial Downs later this year if all goes well.

"When you see a new foal, you think, 'Is this the one?'" Louise says. "Horse racing is such an interesting, complicated business. There are so many nuances to it." And she should know, she's raising winners. Pioneer Princess took her first race in March, and has competed in several around Virginia and West Virginia.

Live itMost people are aware only of the big races that result in the quest for the Triple Crown. But, says Louise, a huge portion of the race industry is made up of small owners. There are many tracks that have races almost every day. Colonial Downs in New Kent, VA, has Thoroughbred racing every Friday through Tuesday between June 16 and August 12. The majority of entries are from small operations.

"The little guy can have fun in the racing business," Louise says. "You can have a horse, modestly bred, from a small farm, and still compete with the $500,000 horses."

But don't bank on the horse business being a money-maker. "We both have full time jobs," Louise says, "so it's a busy life." Earl is a builder and developer and Louise is a Realtor. Both have offices at home, which allows the flexible schedule necessary to maintain a full-time horse operation.

So Louise doesn't have much time to ride these days, though she enjoys it when she can. "We have a semi-recreational horse, a Quarter Horse, who is used mostly for ponying the race horses, but we don't have a horse for trail riding," she says. Louise believes there's also a pony in the future at Soldier's Lodge. Her two-year-old granddaughter loves horses already.

There have been many additions to Soldier's Lodge since it once housed soldiers returning from the Civil War, but Louise believes the most important ones are her family, friends and horses. With any luck, she will continue to live her dream and her horses will continue to bring home the gold.

Anne Craig owns and shows Quarter Horses and Paints. She is a NARHA Registered Instructor, teaching disabled children at a therapeutic riding center in Franklin, TN.


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