As the full leaser of an ex racehorse, you might accurately predict that I have a bit of a soft spot for thoroughbreds and ottbs. But in all honesty, I’d characterize it as just a big squishy heart for ottbs in general. Ever since I started riding with Alana, she has had off track projects around, and I have always loved watching these guys progress from little baby noodles (or perhaps big baby noodles) into solid riding horses. I even helped a little with one or two, but Murray has been my first full-time project (though of course he was quite a ways off the track before he came into my life).
There is just so much to love about the process of retraining an ottb. I like watching them learn their life is a bit different now, that they can relax a little bit, and seeing the changes in their bodies as they come down from a racing fit and develop into . I love watching their personalities come out as they relax and heal — my previous lease horse, Quincy, stared broncing and kicking out with joy after his first chiropractic adjustment. I really love when they start to figure out this whole riding thing; there is just something about watching a smart horse problem-solve (oh, you want me to use my back like this? You want my head here? I have to go over those coloured poles every time? Going over this is FUN?) that really warms my heart.
So of course I’ve always been a fan of the Retired Racehorse Project, and whenever I’ve had time (even in Africa! When my internet was crappy and I had to buffer videos for half an hour to watch 5 minutes!) I have kept up with their retraining challenges. Do you love RRP? Well, if you do, get amped: RRP is now offering a TV series! Steuert Pittman plans to highlight a bunch of different ways of training ottbs. Their first episode, “East meets West”, features trainer Dale Simonton faces off with Steuert to not only discuss the features that make a good ranch horse, but also see if he can put some Western moves on Steuert’s English-only trained horse. If you think you aren’t interested in western or working ranch horses, you’re probably wrong: RRP cuts in some fantastic footage of horses naturally cutting cows, and Dale ropes the legs of his horse, Rikim, and then has the horse walk out of it while under saddle. I was absolutely thunderstruck by that move! If I tried to rope Murray’s feet while he was walking with me on him I think he would dump me forever!
This episode gets three thumbs up from me. I don’t know where the third thumb came from but I loooooved the episode!
Check out the first episode here: http://vimeo.com/110858352
In the immortal words of Steuert Pittman: LTFR!