Jenifer Kelly and Sea Lord

RRP Featured Rider: Jennifer Vickers Kelly

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

I have always had a love for the thoroughbred breed but they are not the “ideal” pick for barrel racing. It is very heard of to barrel race a thoroughbred, usually, they are off the track quarter horses or Appendix (QH/TB). However, I decided I wanted to show hunter/jumper and moved to a barn that the trainer had multiple OTTB so I was able to watch her work with them and even got to ride them for her as well. They were always such willing partners and had tons of personality.

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

I actually found him off facebook. He was posted for sale due to the owner needing to pay for board. He wasn’t my first RRP horse, I had purchased a mare but she was lame and after having her checked multiple times she was not given a very good outlook for a future riding career. She is now happily turnout as a broodmare and then Captain came into my life.

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

I think it’s an amazing opportunity to show off how versatile and athletic the thoroughbred breed is. It has really broken down the wall that people would see that the thoroughbreds were usually done coming off the track but now people are seeing what they truly can do after their racing days are over.

Sea Lord and Jenifer Kelly with their winnings

Do you have any advice for people retraining horses?

Listen to the horse. Many people have asked me how I have been successful with Captain so far and truthfully I have just had to listen to him. He really brought me back and gave me patience that I was lacking. Sometimes we need the knockback to reality and Captain was mine. He is so smart and athletic but he likes for things to be done his way so we have to meet in the middle.

Do you have any funny stories from retraining a horse?

Not sure about funny but just the goofy moments that horses have when they are figuring out their new career. Sometimes you feel like they have spider legs going everywhere and then one day it clicks and no more spider legs, lol.

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

We will be competing against some amazing trainers and horses. We will definitely have to bring our A game but the most important thing is just to remember to have fun! It’s easy to get wrapped up in the stress of competition but just relax and have fun!

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