I took Wolfn for our last gallop together this weekend, and there is nothing in this world like a fit thoroughbred galloping underneath you. They gallop and jump and compete for the same reasons we do—for the sheer joy of it. It is such a wonderful feeling, but it got me thinking. For the first time since 2001, I will not have an OTTB in the back of my trailer this season. It made me very sad. Nothing can compare to a thoroughbred’s work ethic, their speed, or their heart.
|Photo courtesy Xpress Foto|
At the same time, the thoroughbreds are continuously being bred down ever lighter and faster, and that is making them break down ever sooner. The thoroughbred industry has become, like most things in America, a throw away culture. A horse on the track who lives to finish his career usually only has two, maybe three options. The “lucky ones” go to the breeding shed, some slow horses with considerate owners might be sold privately into “second career” or retirement homes, but the rest— like my horse Wolfn, find themselves at a meat auction. We need more horses like Zenyatta-- big, beautiful, started slowly and correctly, and oh yeah, BIG WINNER!! Seeing her get as much attention and doing as well as she did gave me some measure of hope for the racing industry.
In today’s most elite events, warmbloods are creeping into the winner’s circles, because they are finely tuned machines, purpose bred. But I believe that as long as this sport is still about running and jumping, the OTTB will always be in the fight to have a place at the podium!
We, of course, need to do our part as well. Awareness is so important, so I’m going to share some links of some great work that Steuart Pittman of Dodon Farm is doing out east to help promote OTTB’s into 2nd careers. His project is called the Retired Racehorse Training Project, and starting in a few weeks, they are doing a training challenge where 3 elite trainers (including my mentor, Eric Dierks!) will take 3 OTTBs for one month, and then be judged by a panel including Jimmy Wofford! Very cool!
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