It’s been an amazing three weeks of newlywed and honeymoon bliss, but we’re back in action! We thought a great way to get back into the swing of things would be with a truly special guest blogger post. Meet Alexa Basile, a 26 year old middle school Literacy Specialist in Rochester, NY who is also currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Rochester. She has been competing on the Syracuse PHA circuit for a few years as well as showing in Vermont, Saratoga, Lake Placid and hopefully the World Equestrian Center this coming winter! She has a special place in her heart for OTTB’s, and a great story offering insight to those who have ever been interested in the process of taking a horse from the track and retraining for new discipline.
Equestrian enthusiasts are reading more and more about the Thoroughbred Incentive Program and The Retired Racehorse Project. These programs are meant to help people realize that transitioning the Thoroughbred racehorse to a new career can be fun and rewarding. There are more and more adoption and rehoming organizations for Thoroughbreds that retire from the racing world as well.
I’ve been showing and leasing OTTBs throughout my junior and adult years. One was luckily saved from the slaughter pipeline and was competitive at Harrisburg, The Hampton Classic and Zone finals. Another was injured during his steeplechase career and with a little rehab time, he would literally jump the moon in perfect form every single time and took me to the Junior Hunter and Medal ring. Buying my first horse on my own at 25 years old was a goal of mine and I did it. Robert (Jockey Club name-Robert Noble) came off the track in October 2016 and has been a complete dream to work with. Bred exceptionally well and sharing a sire with 2015 Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah is pretty cool too but he has started to pave his own path outside of the racing world.
“Green”? Yes! Your OTTB is green like any baby horse you may work with. Your OTTB is special though and is learning a new job. Imagine yourself going to college for 4 years to learn to be an expert in your career field. Now pretend that you failed at it and need to find a new job and learn brand new skills in a brand new environment. How would you feel entering that new job? You will need time to understand the ins and outs of that new job and build confidence. Lots and lots of confidence! Your OTTB operates that way too. Never rush. Take your time and understand and believe that it is NATURAL for the Thoroughbred breed to be very giving and wanting to please you as long as you communicate that new job very clearly. Your OTTB is bred to be athletic and unless they left the track with a serious injury, they will be able to perform any discipline you ask.
Whether your aspirations are to perform beautiful dressage tests, navigate a Cross Country course, fox hunt, run barrels or jump around a Hunter Derby course like myself, your OTTB will perform for you. In fact, 17 horses who performed at Rolex this year were Thoroughbreds and 6 of them were OTTBs. I’ve had the pleasure of riding and showing absolutely drop dead fancy warmbloods at many A shows but my heart returns to the Thoroughbred breed. Maybe it’s the challenge? Maybe it’s the rush of sitting on such a powerful and sensitive animal? Maybe it’s the fact that the rewards are endless. The athleticism is endless. Most importantly, the heart of the Thoroughbred breed never ceases to disappoint.