How did you get started retraining OTTBs (or horses in general)?
I’ve always been interested in buying green horses or having friends send horses over to me to start and bring them along. I recently retired my jumper/event warmblood and was looking for a project and decided to get an OTTB. This is my first year competing in the RRP. My primary is eventing and secondary will be show jumping.
How did you find your horse for this year’s makeover and why did you pick them?
I went out to a barn to originally look at another horse at the barn. He was nice, but not really my type and the woman suggested I try her other horse who was a bit younger and fresher off the track (this barn takes the horses and gives them about a month or so of downtime and then gets them used to riding normally). Anyway, I tried the other horse (Brody) and I loved him. I got him right then and there. His strongest quality is his wonderful brain and eagerness to try new things.
His weakest quality is probably is his “stickiness” in his shoulder movement (laterally). But with time, I think he will be just fine.
What is your favorite thing about the Retired Race Horse Project’s Makeover?
My favorite part of the RRP is probably the fact that everyone is at the same level in the beginning. Everyone has a racehorse. And seeing in a year what they can make of them as a regular horse is just incredible.
Do you have any advice for people retraining horses?
Something to remember is that if you’re used to horses having all of these buttons that work when you press them, these OTTBS are not going to have the same buttons. You have to slowly introduce these buttons to them, and don’t get angry at them for not understanding. You have to remember that this is all very new to them. Don’t yank on the reins when they get too fast, don’t kick or whip them with all your might to make them jump a jump. Try to make everything a positive experience.
Do you have any funny stories from retraining a horse?
Not necessarily a funny story, but for me, having a horse that is calm in the woods/roads/trails is a must, so I always bring Brody out for hacks on our light working days. So obviously with a lot of practice, he’s become amazing on the roads. My aunt and I decided to hack together one day. She rides a 28-year-old QH and Brody is a 4-year-old OTTB. Brody is walking down the road on the buckle of the reins with his head down while the 28-year-old QH is jigging and trying to run. Ironic.
What is your greatest challenge as a rider/trainer in this year’s RRP Makeover? How do you plan on overcoming this challenge?
The biggest challenge as a rider/trainer in the RRP is constantly comparing Brody and me to the other teams. Maybe their a little further along in a certain area or their horse seems more fit or athletic. But I just need to remember that every horse and rider learns at their own pace and that really, Brody is doing so wonderful and I’m sure some people are thinking the same thing about Brody and I that I’m thinking about the other teams.