With her classic head, graceful neck, and sassy white tail, Tainted Love (by Amazing, out of Tuxedo Park) is rocking the A circuit hunter breeding rings. Despite large, competitive fields, the yearling filly has always placed in the top three, earning armfuls of tricolors and hardware, and is now leads the US Hunter Jumper Association Hunter Breeding Yearling standings by a huge margin. However, “Nala” is more than just a pretty face and ribbon-earner for owner and breeder Catherine Marcks, age 23, of Lancaster, PA. The Oldenburg filly represents the continuation of generations for both human and horse.
Many veterans of the East coast hunter circuit remember Tuxedo Park, the acclaimed junior hunter of the early to mid-2000’s that touched many lives with her blazed face and picture-perfect jump. When it came time for her to retire in 2011, Marcks said she was at the right place at the right time. “Her show record is somewhere around forty-three pages long, and I had grown up watching her compete. I bought her in-foal to Apiro, and she gave me such a wonderful colt, Asti. He’s three years old now, and with his puppy-dog personality will make someone a fantastic amateur’s horse someday.” Asti, or “Abu” as Marcks calls him, is currently in training with Jill Shull at her farm in York Springs, PA.
It was the whole young horse experience with Abu that convinced Marcks to breed Tuxedo Park (aka “Santana”) one more time. “Hunter breeding in America is an important topic,” stated Marcks seriously. “These young horses are the future of our sport, and shows like the Young Horse Championships in Lexington, VA, which showcase these promising talents, are critical to the next generation in our industry.” Marcks decided on Cornerstone Farm’s stallion Amazing for Santana, judging his style and temperament would be a good match for the distinguished mare.
Santana had the best of care during her pregnancy at Lesley Feakin’s Trevelyan Farm in Lancaster, PA. “Lesley has been an integral part of each of my horse’s lives,” said Marcks. “I consider her farm my home base.” The birth went smoothly, with one emotional detail that marked the filly as special before she even started nursing.
Both of Marcks’ parents, Richard and Linda, were huge supporters of Marcks’ equestrian dreams. However, tragedy befell the family as Marcks’ father had battled complicated health concerns and passed away a few years before the birth of Santana’s filly in 2014.
“One of the main reasons I feel so connected to Nala is because on the night she was born, literally during the moments Lesley and I helped her stand, the song “Tainted Love” by Softshell started to play on the barn radio. That particular song held a special connection for my dad and I, and it would always be our karaoke go-to during car rides. When I heard the melody, it felt exactly like he was there too.” Marcks continued, “It was a very emotional night…the story always gives me goose bumps. Nala was named right then, and I always feel closer to him when I’m around her.”
Marcks says that Tainted Love will always have a home in her family. “My mom and I are so attached to her. Of course she has proven herself to be very talented, very capable…a superstar…but she is more than that. She’s my connection to my dad, and that’s what it’s all about, horses who can connect you to yourself and to the universe. That’s what she is for us.”
Bringing Home Blue
Not only is Nala a soulful connection for Marcks, she is also a pretty, classy filly in her own right. Brilliant performances and championships at Devon, where she was Best Yearling and Best Pennsylvania-bred Horse, St. Christopher’s, Upperville, Swan Lake, and the Virginia Young Horse Festival, where she was top yearling filly, are only a smattering of her triumphs. Despite Santana’s lost registration papers that bars Tainted Love from the premium books, Nala has shown that she can strut her stuff with the best of them. “She’s going to finish out the season, and then get the winter off to be the baby she is. She doesn’t have to prove anything else, so she can come home to Trevelyan Farm and relax,” said Marcks.
Emily Anne Belin, owner of Magic Hill Farm in Douglassville, PA, trains and shows Nala on the line and laughs about the sassy filly’s quirks. “She has this ‘look at me’ buck which is her signature move. She’s very animated, very much a princess, and sometimes there needs to be a meeting of the minds before she can get down to business.” Belin praised Nala’s personality, continuing, “She is a very correct filly, absolutely beautiful, and I think that is why she has had such a banner year.”
“Everyone loves her little skunk tail,” chuckled Marcks. “It’s so unusual, and she whips it around every time she bucks. It’s like she’s showing everyone how athletic she is.”
While preparing for an extensive performance career within the next few years, Marcks said that she definitely has plans to breed Nala in the future. “I’d love to get a third generation from her,” said Marcks. “I know a lot of people who knew the mare [Santana] and are now following the filly.” Belin agreed, stating, “Every good junior was on that mare at some point in their career. Both Tainted Love and Asti are definitely their mother’s children.”
“She’s going to be famous,” declared Marcks proudly. As it stands with her fans and the scorecards, she already is.