Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Thoroughbred Makeover

We traveled to Lexington, Kentucky last week to participate as a vendor at the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium organized by The Retired Racehorse Project. I'm not an overly emotional person but several times throughout the event my eyes misted as I felt a surge of wonder.

Barrel racing thoroughbred
 The race track has no shortage of critics. Most have never experienced the life and harshly judge by appearances. Some don't possess the fortitude required and become disgruntled. Some formulate an opinion from hearsay. Here's my account gained from twenty-five years of working at the track not because I had to and certainly not for the money.

Thoroughbreds waiting to cut cattle
It's immediate and it's fast, almost as fast as the horses. Daily occurrences are unpredictable and outcomes unknown. Routine exists in repetition that can quickly derail. Flexibility rules throughout the twists and turns of managed chaos. In this environment, there's not much time for those who long for nurturing, patience and most of all, the sweet essence of bonding. There's not much time to accomplish honorable goals with an eternally revolving door of horses and their connections.

Big, bad, high-strung thoroughbred being ridden off into the sunset by a red-caped five-year-old child.
When the horses are sold, claimed or otherwise leave the stable, all we can do is whisper a prayer on their behalf and wish them the best. This is why I was so profoundly blown away as I witnessed these thoroughbreds being transitioned into second careers. Show requirements state that eligible thoroughbreds must have raced within the last year. The people who take them on are keenly respectful of the talent, athleticism and intelligence inherent in the breed. I've always said, after they come down from the demanding race track life, they're just like any other horse...only much smarter.

Thoroughbreds are natural cross-country competitors.

This horse is ready to jump a 10-foot fence, if you ask him to.
Two-time Horse of the Year, tough as nails, incredible champion, Wise Dan.
God's horse,

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