Anyone with experience in multiple equestrian disciplines knows there are numerous similarities in the foundations of training between each discipline. In the Retired Racehorse Project’s new docu-series, western trainer Dale Simanton travels from his ranch in South Dakota to Steuart Pittman’s farm on the East coast, where they share the similarities and differences in the training philosophies of restarting an ex-racehorse.
“The first day…if I can get him to just walk, I’m happy with that,” Dale says of his training of OTTBs. “I want them to keep their head together and focus on where we’re going.“
Dale does a lot of flexing and circle work to get the horse stretched out and in tune with his aids. He tries to spend time out in fields, exposing them to the elements of ranch life. He also teaches them to jump ditches and will eventually start them in cattle work.
“Some of them take a couple of months, some of them a couple of days,” Dale says of introducing his horses to cattle work. “The first thing is to get them used to swinging a rope over their head. Be damn sure you don’t hit them in the head with that rope! That’ll set you back three months.”
We call to mind Laine Ashker’s OTTB, Anthony Patch, who has a very strong aversion to cattle. Perhaps it’s best he ended up in the event world rather than doing ranch work!