A summer full of activities has sidelined my writing endeavors both on the blog and on the follow-up manuscript to Finding My Way to Moose River Farm. Time to write will return in the crisp autumn air. Until then, I don't want to miss a moment of summer's offerings, both on and away from Moose River Farm.
Earlier this week two friends and I attended Thoroughbreds for All, at Traylor Stables just outside of Saratoga Springs. This event was a preview to The Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium that will be held at the Kentucky Horse Park in October. The main objective of these events is to promote second careers for OTTB's, (off-track thoroughbreds) as sport horses. The athleticism, grace, and temperament of the thoroughbred is suitable for show jumping, dressage, combined training, and polo, just to name a few of the disciplines in which these horses excel. When you consider that the average racehorse is retired at age five, (they can live up to and beyond thirty years), the horse industry is morally obligated to promote them for a useful career beyond their limited racing days. The alternative for many of these horses is a lifetime of neglect or a one way trip to the slaughter yard.
Thoroughbreds in this country are being considered now by an industry that left them behind in exchange for European warmbloods back in the 1980's. Until that time the sport horse disciplines sought out OTTB's who moved on to produce memorable accomplishments. Show jumpers, Jet Run, Idle Dice, Touch of Class, For the Moment, and Number One Spy were thoroughbreds who dominated show jumping at the international level after lackluster performances on the racetrack. Keen was a celebrated thoroughbred in Dressage. JJ Babu, Ready Teddy, Eagle Lion and Might Tango were among the great thoroughbreds who competed successfully in three day eventing.
This resurgence of thoroughbred sport horses is long overdue. With luck the trend will continue so that all retired race horses can serve a purpose during their longevity once they cross the finish line for good.
Photos by Michele deCamp
RRP's logo displays the versatility of sport horses who are made in America.
International event rider Laine Ashker rode her current OTTB mount, Anthony Patch, (aka Al).
Laine prefers thoroughbreds for eventing...
...because their combination of agility and speed compliments both dressage and jumping.
The most successful female jockey in racing history, Rosie Napravnik rode thoroughbred makeover candidate, Dare Me.
This horse is an over-achiever...
...who will surely benefit from Rosie's expertise in the saddle.
M.C. Steuart Pittman asked Rosie to share her experience with thoroughbreds. She is clearly their biggest fan!
On a personal note, I caught up with my former boss, Olympic show jumper and Kentucky Derby winning trainer, Michael Matz.
A panel of experts from many different professions in the thoroughbred industry was asked to critique the confirmation and condition of the demonstration horses.
Michael considers the heart of the horse above all other selection factors. Confirmation, blemishes and athletic condition are not nearly as important to him as the horse's desire to work. "In the end the question is does the horse want to do the job he is going to be asked to do?"
Laine Ashker's mother Valerie has an eye for picking future eventing stars off the track.
Rosie Napravnik spoke about reforming her racing position from knees in to knees straight. The change strengthened her base of support and enabled her to ride more efficiently, particularly the horses who pull on the bit.
Event and exercise rider, Jennie Brannigan follows Rosie's advice.
Rosie is the quintessential girl next door whose passion for the American thoroughbred is evident when sharing her experiences with the crowd.
Thoroughbreds make wonderful polo ponies as was demonstrated by local players.