An Eventer’s Guide to the 2016 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover

2014 $10,000 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest winners Icabad Crane and Phillip Dutton. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography, courtesy of the Retired Racehorse Project. 2014 $10,000 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred Contest winners Icabad Crane and Phillip Dutton. Photo by Megan Stapley Photography, courtesy of the Retired Racehorse Project.

Thinking about throwing your hat in the ring of this year’s Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover? Do it!

For roundabout the cost of a regular horse trial, you could not only jump-start the career of an off-track horse but also be part of the biggest OTTB lovefest of the year. The 2016 Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium takes place October 27-30 at the Kentucky Horse Park and will feature competition in 10 disciplines ranging from eventing to barrel racing and polo.

Trainers will have a shot at $100,000 worth of prize money, including a $10,000 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred prize and a $5,000 Thoroughbred Ambassador Award. Organized by Retired Racehorse Project (RRP), a nonprofit organization that promotes off-track Thoroughbreds for multiple equestrian sports, the event also includes educational demonstrations, seminars, a Makeover Horse Sale and a sponsor fair.

The Makeover is accepting up to 500 trainers for this year’s event, and the application process is underway.

Icabad and Phillip have done well for themselves since -- the horse won its first CIC1* at Plantation Field last fall. Go Icabad! Photo by Jenni Autry.

Icabad and Phillip have done well for themselves since — the 3rd place Preakness winner won his first CIC1* at Plantation Field last fall. Go Icabad! Photo by Jenni Autry.

Detailed  information is available at the RRP website but if you’re still on the fence, here’s a fast and dirty overview:

How do I apply to be a Makeover trainer?

The Makeover is open to all members of RPP so if you aren’t already you’ll need to join. Membership is $45 a year and has several perks including a one-year subscription to Off-Track Thoroughbred Magazine, a copy of Retired Racehorse Resource Directory, a free ticket to the Thoroughbred Makeover, discounts from sponsors and other benefits. Professionals, amateurs and juniors are all welcome to apply.

The next step is filling out an online trainer application, which asks for competition highlights, references, and videos of your riding skills. The application process opened on Jan. 2 and closes Jan. 31, with selection to be announced in mid-February.

There’s a $200 entry fee; if not accepted the fee will be returned minus a $25 processing fee. http://www.retiredracehorseproject.org/The application process opened on Jan. 2 and closes Jan. 31, with selection to be announced in mid-February.

Is my OTTB eligible?

The Makeover is open to Jockey Club registered horses that raced or had a published work after October 1, 2014. They must not have begun training for a second career before the start of 2016 other than a maximum of 15 allowable rides. Some trainers will already have horses identified and others will begin a search after they are approved. Trainers can contract with owners or acquire the horse themselves.

What does it cost? 

There’s a $200 entry fee; if not accepted the fee will be returned minus a $25 processing fee. Other expenses, such as stabling at the competition, are outlined here.

What if I need to withdraw my OTTB?

While accepted application fees are non-refundable, trainers may withdraw a horse from the Makeover at any time using the online Makeover Horse Withdrawal Form. Trainers may replace a scratched horse with any eligible horse before Aug. 30, or as late as Sept. 31 if that trainer has been the primary rider of that horse since Aug. 31. This rule will ensure that no trainer brings a horse to the Makeover that he or she has not been training for at least eight weeks.

Replacement horses must be registered with the online Makeover Horse Registration Form.

What does the Makeover competition for eventing entail? 

Format for dressage: All horses will perform USEF 2015 Beginner Novice Eventing Test A in a small arena (20m x 40m).

Format for jumping: All horses will jump a course of four show jumps immediately followed by six to eight cross country obstacles. Each jump will have two options, one at Beginner Novice dimensions (2’7”) and the other at Novice (2’11”). Riders can jump either fence. After the final fence horses will accelerate to a gallop of 520 meters per minute or more and then gradually pull up to a walk.

Finale: The top three scoring horses will compete for additional points in the finale, demonstrating basic work on the flat and jumping a course that includes show jumps and cross country portables in the covered arena.

Attire and equipment should adhere to that described in USEF Rules for Eventing.

What is judging based on?

For the jumping phase each horse will receive scores on a scale of 0 to 10 for each of the following six categories: rhythm (10 points), straightness (10 points), carefulness (10 points), bravery (10 points), form over fences (10 points), and rideability and efficency of gallop (10 points). The sum of these six scores will be multiplied by a factor of three, making possible a maximum score of 180.

The top three placed horses can earn an additional 60 points to their scores during the finale. Judges will award between 0 and 10 points in each of the following categories: rhythm (10 points), straightness (10 points), carefulness (10 points), bravery (10 points), form over fences (10 points), and rideability and efficiency of gallop (10 points).

How does the scoring work? 

Final placing for the top three finishers will be based on the sum of their three scores. Placings below third will be based on the sum of their two scores.

All scores are the average of points awarded by each of two judges.

Why not use the same YEH judging from the 2015 Makeover? 

Young Event Horse judging is based strictly on the potential of the horse as a top level eventer, whereas the Makeover is primarily a training competition where prize money goes to trainers rather than owners. RPP explains, “We think that by judging ‘performance’ rather than “potential” we are striking the right chord.”

Why not run the Makeover as a regular horse trial?

According to RRP: “We decided against running as a regular horse trials because in a division of between 50 and 100 horses we would have so many penalty-free jump rounds that top placings would be based solely on dressage scores. We hope to develop a system of judging performance over cross country and show jumps in eventing that can be exported to other competitions in partnership with our friends at the USEA.”

What happens after the Makeover is over?

Owners can choose to keep their horses at the end of the process or offer them for sale. The Makeover Horse Sale is not an auction but an opportunity for buyers and sellers to do business in a setting that allows trial rides, pre-purchase exams, and observation of horses in competition.

For much more information, visit the RRP website.

Go OTTBs. Go Eventing.

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