I am a proud owner of an OTTB. I, in all honesty never thought I’d ever be a thoroughbred person. It’s not that I didn’t want to be, it was that I never thought I’d be a good enough rider for one. I started taking riding lessons when I was 17 and have been around horses for about 11 years now. Quarter horses were the majority of what I rode and a few Arabians here and there. My experiences with Thoroughbreds came from the local race track. My first season working there was spent watching from above in one of the video towers on the back stretch. It was my job to film races. I loved how beautiful and athletic they were. The next year my friend was working there ponying horses and I came and hung out with her in the barn and in the paddock before races. I then got in touch with a trainer who was looking for a groom. It was my chance to be really up-close and personal with these amazing athletes. The first day I showed up before the sun came up and mucked stalls while avoiding being kicked, smooshed, and eaten. I then got to help administer ointments and medicines again avoiding being trampled to death. Feeding time included part of my shirt sleeve apparently. It was then time to groom for the race. it was like grooming the horses at the barn where my horse was kept except surprise, surprise these horses danced all over and tried to flatten me. I learned some weird grooming techniques though. They use lemon pledge instead of show sheen. It blew me away that they did that. But it worked, quite well. Also instead of hoof polish they had me apply automotive transmission fluid, it kept the dirt off and the hoof shiny. Weird. I never got to lead the horses to the paddock but I was their little goffer and had to make many sprints back to the area of the barn where his horses were kept grabbing things that had been forgotten. Then after the race and after photos and congratulatory handshakes and hugs the horse was handed over to me again. It would drag me up and down the aisles in my attempt to hot walk it until we could get to the wash stall. A quick bath then back to dragging me around the property until it was time to go back to the stall. That was usually how my days there went. The trainer asked me one day if I wanted to breeze his horses in the morning. (at that point in my life I was the same weight as a jockey…ahhh the good ol days!) The money was good but I wasn’t crazy enough to do that. I really wish I was a stronger and more confident rider back then. I’d LOVE to be able to breeze a horse on the track.
So that was my experience with TBs until last year when a 9 year old chestnut gelding stole my heart. My decision to get a TB was a scary one but the price was right in my range. Free. 2 days before we made our journey to pick him up I called the barn owner/my riding instructor and said “NO WAY am I going to get a Thoroughbred!! Danzig almost killed me!” Danzig was a young unraced TB from the same racehorse rehab home that I was traveling out to, to find my new horse. The barn owner calmed me down saying that he was just a bit full of himself and that when I got my horse she’d help me every step of the way. I still thought I was crazy the day we pulled up to the ranch.
Stay tuned for part 2!