When Morgan MacKenzie Ross of Langley, BC went looking for a horse to train in dressage last year, she knew exactly what type of horse she wanted. She didn’t get it, but what she did get was a remarkable off-the-track thoroughbred, Monsterinthecloset, who has become a special horse for Ross and anyone who spends time with the 10-year-old gelding.

Ross adopted the Washington-bred son of Vying Victor through New Stride Thoroughbred Retirement’s Carmen Kramer.

“Carmen was a friend of my riding coach and there were three horses I looked at,” said Ross. “I didn’t want a thoroughbred, a green horse or a chestnut horse either, but I fell in love with Monster.”

Originally a $2,000 yearling purchase in 2007 by Doug Clyde, Monsterinthecloset raced 50 times through 2013 for three different owners. He came from eighth-place halfway through his penultimate race to win a $4,500 claiming race for Hammer Racing and trainer Larry Grieve. In total, Monsterinthecloset won 10 races and over $93,000.

“He had an interesting personality,” said Ross about why she was lured to the somewhat fiery thoroughbred. “And there was just something about him.”

It wasn’t long before Ross realized dressage was simply not in the cards for Monster. “At first he was a real spitfire when I started riding him. I bought him a fancy dressage saddle but he just didn’t like doing dressage.”

Ross switched the gelding over to a western saddle and had a friend teach him to jump and since then, the Monster has thrived. Together, the pair have paraded at fairs while carrying a large flag and greeted hundreds of people and children who want to give the Monster a pat.

The most recent performance came at the Abbotsford Agricultural Fair when Ross carried an American flag while riding her gelding.

Other days, he is showing in jumper shows with Ross’ friend Anya. “He loves jumping,” said Ross. “My younger sister has never jumped with a horse before and she rides him.”

Monsterinthecloset was an honest and hard-trying horse on the track and is displaying the same amount of desire in his new hobbies as a retired runner.

“At first he loved to buck and he was difficult,” said Ross. “Now anyone can ride him. He can be cuddly too, but only on his own terms. He has so much heart.”

Ross has had a few offers for the versatile gelding but says she is not selling. “He’s been a blessing, I won’t ever sell him.”