Gail Vacca, Age 47.
Owner/Operator of Top of the Hill Farm in Wilmington, IL
My "in house" family includes.. my signifcant other of 13 years, Scott, and our 2 Cane Corso dogs, Bella and Titus.
My "in the barn" family includes:
Equines; Rollick's Boy, aka Rollie (TB gelding age 27), Fully Motivated, aka Fully (TB gelding Age 17,) Arctic Challenger, aka Rodney(TB gelding age 21), Veloce (TB gelding age 11), Arcilla the Hun, aka Cilla (TB mare age 6), My Friend Kenny, aka Kenny (TB gelding age 6), Catszilla, aka Monster Child, lol, (TB weanling colt age 9 months), and our resident loud mouth and mascot, Burrito (mini-burro age appx. 18)!
Felines; Smarty Jones, Tiny Dancer, Stripes, and Slick.
Top of the Hill Farm--House and Barn
Barn Aisle #1
Stratton Equiciser Machine
Got my very first horse, a wonderful pinto mare, named Lucky Lady at the age of 5. I went on to show and train top level hunter/jumpers in New England throughout my teens and into my early twenties. The highlight of my showing career was in 1977 when I qualified for the Maclay Medals Finals at Madison Square Garden in New York City....didnt win or place in the top ten, but I sure did have a great time! I was lucky enough to have the best horse on the planet as my partner for most of my show career. Anonymous (aka Kris aka Iggy)won hundreds of ribbons and dozens of hunter championships throughout New England during our many years on the "A" circuit. Sadly, upon his retirement at age 23, Kris died in a tragic barn fire after only having enjoyed a short few months at a new boarding facility that was better suited to the needs of a retired gentlemen than the show barn where he had lived for over a dozen years. RIP my sweet and gentle Iggy..until we meet again. Your mum loves you!!
While riding jumpers, I also worked summers at Rockingham Park Racetrack in Salem, NH. Spent many a day walking hots, rubbing horses, and galloping racehorses. In 1986 I passed the trainers exam's and started out on my own training racehorses. The very first horse I claimed is still alive and with me to this day, his name is Rollick's Boy (Rollie) and he is now 27 years old.
Throughout the years, Ive kept a hand in both the show horse world and in TB racing. Upon moving to the midwest in 1989, I owned and operated a large hunter/jumper stable in central IL, where I trained hunters, taught hundreds of children and adults to ride, and transitioned dozens of OTTB's to new careers. I sold this farm in order to return to racing in 1998.
I currently own and operate Top of the Hill Farm in Wilmington, IL which is home to 2 of my retired racehorses, 1 adopted CANTER horse, 3 rescues, 1 racehorse prospect, 1 adopted burro, and usually a dozen or so TB track lay-up's. Never a dull moment with this "gang!"
4-H and Pony Club: Im proud to say that Ive been a either a member or volunteer for several 4-H and Pony Clubs for over 30 years. Ive conducted many free clinics for 4-H students, both mounted and unmounted, and am a volunteer judge whenever time permits. Some of our 4-H clinics include topics such as; equine first aid, proper feeding and nutrition, equine health care, proper horse show "turnout", equine welfare, and proper equitation/horsemanship. I would strongly urge our wonderful FOB nation of horsemen to give freely of your time to our nations young equestrians! 4-H and Pony Club are wonderful progams, and they need our support!
Equine Rescue: While I am not a non-profit equine rescue, I have always been very active in equine rescue starting with the first OTTB I rescued from the track when I was 14. Her name was Cracklin'Ruby and I shall never forget this sweet little 2 yr old filly who came to me with a fractured knee. We rehabbed Ruby and she went on to win many a ribbon on the hunter circuit.
Throughout the years, the number of rescue's taken in, rehabbed, and rehomed have been many. Most of these horses were either OTTB's or horses I've purchased from auction kill pens. A great deal of these horses went on to great success with former students of mine, and/or friends.
I support and work closely with many fine equine rescue organizations including the TRF, CANTER, ReRun, The Exceller Fund, HAHS, and LOPE..just to name a few.
Equine Welfare: Volunteer Coordinator for the National Horse Protection Coalition from 2003-2006. During this time, I drafted and lobbied for legislation in Illinois that would ban horse slaughter and close the Cavel plant in IL. Our legislation was defeated several times, but through the tireless efforts of many equine advocates..including our wonderful FOB's, the IL bill was ultimately passed in 2007. 2006-current..volunteer coordinator for the Animal Welfare Institute www.awionline.org. Our current goals/legislative efforts include passing the AHSPA (HR 503/S 311) and passing legislation in IL (HB 4166) to outlaw the use of double deckers for the transport of any equine.I have once again been asked and have agreed to represent AWI's interests in the Illinois General Assembly for the year 2008. I am also a licensed humane investigator for the IL Dept of Agriculture, representing the Hooved Animal Humane Society.
FOB related rescues:
Cavel Miracle horse rescue
Worked behind the scenes with Lynn Parks to secure the rescue of dozens of pregnant mares languishing at the Beltex feedlot in Morton TX. Through my contacts I raised appx. 18K for this effort.
Raised funds for the Cavel Miracle "mom" Snickers surgical effort.
Secured a deal to purchase and transition 11 IL slaughter bound mares to safe harbor at the Hooved Animal Humane Society in Woodstock, IL.
Worked with Jill Curtis to secure a safe transition for the TB gelding, Galt from the racetrack to his new home where he is very much loved by his new ?mom."
April, 11, 2008 Rescued 6 TB's from Sugarcreek Auction in Ohio.
Donated to or assisted in many other rescue efforts along the way and am very proud to be a member of such a fine community of passionate, selfless horse lovers!!
Rollick's Boy  (pictured in 2007 at age 26)(aka-Rollie--aka The Big Hoss)! Starts: 102 Wins: 23 http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/Rollie1.jpg
Fully Motivated  (Fully)Starts: 62 Wins: 19 http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/FullyMotivated.jpg
Arctic Challenger  (Rodney) Rescued directly from a meat truck headed to slaughter in 1995. Rehabbed, retrained and shown extensively with great success! http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/Rodney1.jpg
Veloce  (Adopted from CANTER in 2003) http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/Veloce.jpg
The only non-TB on the farm, our adopted and much adored Burrito Bandito! http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/Burrito1.jpg
Arcilla the Hun (Cilla) track rescue 2006 http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/Cilla1.jpg
Cat Wild (pictured at 6 weeks) aka the "monster child" Mom Cilla is pictured in the background. http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/Catszilla2007.jpg
My Friend Kenny  (Kenny)track rescue 2007 http://i28.photobucket.com/albums/c217/onthebit/MyFriendKenny0011.jpg
Other FOBs you have developed a network with through your activities.
Questions from other FOBs
This this space available for FOBs to ask you questions. Answers can then be worked into the above content if appropriate.
GREAT Wiki-page, Gail!!! Welcome to the ABR wiki-world :)
Kenny looks AWESOME, very handsome horse! And Rollie, for his age, is still a beauty! Your facility is super-nice! Good luck with your "Monster Child" - are you planning on racing him? swedishkat 1/20/08
swedishkat...thanks so much!! I am so grateful to Mary for providing such super instruction and for "holding my hand" through the WIKI process! I tried a couple of times to do this on my own, but alas, my techno clueless brain just could not remain focused. Mary made it very easy!
Kenny is AWESOME! He came in here about 150 lbs underweight and with the worse case of rainrot Ive EVER seen. He had gone from the track into the hands of some folks who are known for using horses in Mexican rodeos and illegal horse tripping events. He had some rope burns on his front pasterns, so I strongly suspect that they had "tripped" him.
He has gained about 200 lbs (100 lbs or so since that photo was taken), his hair has all grown back, and his "trust" issues are well on the way to being behind him. Kenny is going to be a superstar at dressage, eventing, or as a hunter/jumper. Im looking to make the right owner match for Kenny so that he will go on to shine like I know he can!
Yes, I do plan to race the monster child (MC)! We are a long way from a race, but that is the plan! MC is pretty well bred. His mom is a Horse Chestnut daughter, and his dad is the son of Storm Cat and Hollywood Wildcat. Hollywood Wildcat won the Breeders Cup Distaff and is also the dam of War Chant! If he can run anywhere near as fast as his pedigree suggests, we might just have ourselves a racehorse!
Gail, just wanted to show you how you can make the horses' names "clickable" to show their pedigree on pedigreequery.com. I did Cilla's (please feel free to edit it back the way you had it, if you like) just to show you. If you go into edit on that page, you'll see how it is set up to show up in blue ink like that. The only thing - I am not sure it is the right horse, the pedigree on her dam's side didn't seem to add up...? Just take out the http-link and the [ ] if it is wrong or you don't want it there. :)Kat swedishkat
Kat...that is very cool! Thank you! Yes, that is Cilla's pedigree. It is Catszilla (name pending JC approval) that is by the stud (Margie's Wildcat) who is by Storm Cat out of Hollywood Wildcat. How do I do this for the others? Thanks again!
ps...I checked out your WIKI page...your horses are stunning! Seems like you and I share a lot in common! Also, If you know anyone looking for an awesome sport horse prospect, please let me know. Kenny is ready to move on now that he is healthy again, and while I would LOVE to keep him for myself, the sooner he moves on the sooner I have an open spot for the next horse in need.
Once the horse's pedigree is up on your screen (pedigreequery), just copy the http-link (in the browser area at top), then on your wiki start w/ (bracket) [ paste link space horse name (other bracket) ]
NO SPACES between brackets and text - only SPACE between link and name (what you want to show as BLUE INK). If you're not sure, go into edit and look at the Cilla line. And test it out by hitting "pre-view" before you save.
About Kenny, I'll definetely keep him in mind! Have you tried to jump him yet, or maybe free-jumped? One of my students was looking for a while, after her mare came up lame and needs some time off, but then they told me they had another TB mare, who they called the "problem child" and they had kind of given up on her... So, I put some training into her and now the kid rides her and we're going to her first schooling show in a couple of weeks! Really nice little mare with a super canter. Just a bit misunderstood, sensitive and "happy" - a typical TB :) I just LOVE 'EM!!!
Otherwise, Kenny would have been a good prospect for my student... :)
Kat...that is so easy and so much FUN!! I didnt do it quite right, but the info on my horses is now there! I used Equineline so that the pedigree and tabulated race records would both be included.
We havent jumped Kenny yet, mostly because there is no place to really ride here now that winter has set in. My indoor space is taken up by the Equiciser machine, so Im looking for a place to board Kenny for the winter so I can continue his reschooling. Not an easy task to find a suitable boarding facility that will live up to my extremely picky standards, lol!
That is great news about your student's mare...it is always a great sense of satisfaction when these kinds of "issues" can be brought to a positive outcome! Best of luck to you and your student at your first show! Please let me know how you make out!!!
Thanks for your help in educating me to the fine points of WIKI...I am having a blast doing this!
:)) it's FUN - isn't it!! You're going to be a "wiki-junkie" like me if you keep this up (LOL). I took the liberty of "cleaning up" your blue links on your "Willie N" page too. Go into edit on that page and look at how it is set up - then you can do the same with your future links. HAPPY WIKI-ING!