Becky Shaffer and Serenity

RRP Featured Rider: Becky Shaffer

How did you get started retraining OTTBs (or horses in general)?

When I was very young I used to go over to my neighbor’s house that owned several Arabian. I instantly fell in love with horses. Everything felt natural when it came to me being around them. So after many years of talking well actually begging for a horse, my parents asked me a very dumb question. Do you want horses and a barn or a car at 16? Well hello, a horse and barn! They, of course, was asking a crazed horse kid!

So after what seemed a lifetime, the barn was built and I had 2 horses in the back yard. I began taking lessons at paddock stable with Nancy Arledge and Andrea Myers. From then on my life was horses. I had the opportunity to ride many OTTBs. But never own or retrain one until I was an adult. Beulah Park was still open and a friend of mine and I rescued many horses that were left and unwanted at the track. I retrained and rehomed. I fell in love with OTTBs. Their personalities and their hearts are one of a kind.

How did you find your horse for this year’s makeover and why did you pick them?

I was shopping around for one. I had actually seen someone had commented on a post I made on a Facebook selling wall and they had a horse for their profile picture. So being now a horse crazy adult looked through his pictures. I then realized he owned racehorses and was local. I messaged him on a whim and he said I have a beautiful filly. He described her and I was hooked. So after several weeks of waiting she arrived. I was in love as soon as I met her.

What is your favorite thing about the Retired Race Horse Project’s Makeover?

What I love about the retired racehorse project is that they promote the breed. Their versatility for any discipline. It shows that a lot of what is said about OTTB is a myth.

Do you have any advice for people retraining horses?

My advice to anyone retraining a horse is to take it slow. Do not push them. If you respect your horse your horse will respect you. Building trust is a big thing for me.

Do you have any funny stories from retraining a horse?

I had an Ottb that had more woah than go. He was an awesome boy. Well, one day I’m riding him explaining to a potential home that he is a bit lazy and sometimes needs to be reassured about things. Well, he proved me to be a liar. We went to canter and something just made him take off as fast as he could go and turned so sharp that I had to take a flying leap off. Needless to say, I never said he was a bit lazy ever again. Lol!

What is your greatest challenge as a rider/trainer in this year’s RRP Makeover? How do you plan on overcoming this challenge?

My greatest challenge is that I have rheumatoid arthritis. I have days where it is hard for me to even get out of bed. But Serenity has some knee issues. It seems on my bad days she is having a bad day. So we bound in other ways. I figure we will get where we are meant to be by the makeover. I will be keeping her. So we have plenty of time to grow as a partnership. No need to rush. But I do sometimes feel behind but there are amazing people behind me with this makeover and encourage me. Plus I have a great horse that is so willing and smart.

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