Kelly Garrison and Monte

RRP Featured Rider: Kelly Garrison

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

I started riding when I was 4, my parents signed me up for a summer riding camp and the rest is history. My interest in thoroughbreds started when I had the opportunity to ride an older OTTB for lessons. I instantly fell in love with the Thoroughbred mind, they think quicker than warmbloods and I liked that. Ever since then I have been working with thoroughbreds any chance I get.

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

I found Amontillado, Monte, by luck. A friend of mine had gotten several OTTBs from a trainer in Arkansas and they just so happened to post him for sale. I got him as a Christmas present for myself in 2015. I ended up giving him almost all of 2016 off due to a suspensory injury and just allowed him to grow mentally.

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

I love how it is advocating for thoroughbreds and allowing people to show off their versatility. The thoroughbred use to be an all around sports horse but warmbloods have slowly taken over. This event allows people to see how thoroughbreds are true sport horses.

Do you have any advice for people retraining horses?

Take it slow. There is no need to set a timeline for your horse’s learning. It’s always best to start with easy and realistic goals and to make sure you can accomplish they easily before moving on to new areas.

Do you have any funny stories from retraining a horse?

I did have one OTTB that I retrained that had to have a Krispy Kreme donut every time we walked out of a show ring. He would literally stop just outside the gate and wait for it and wouldn’t move until he got it. Needless to say, we always had Krispy Kreme.

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

Time management. I teach lessons full-time as well as working as a rep for County Saddles. So actually being able to squeeze consistent training rides on Monte can sometimes be a challenge.

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