The off-track Thoroughbred, or OTTB, is experiencing a huge resurgence in popularity: more and more equestrians are rediscovering the breed’s versatility and athleticism in a variety of disciplines, and adoption groups, rehoming services and social media are making it easier than ever to bring an ex-racehorse home.
But what do you look for in a sporthorse or pleasure prospect? How do you pick the right horse? And when you get your OTTB home … now what?
To help answer these questions and educate a new generation of OTTB enthusiasts, whether they’re brand-new to the world of ex-racehorses or returning after many years away, the Retired Racehorse Project has added the Makeover Master Class, an interactive session of demonstrations and discussions with four leading trainers and four adoptable prospects relatively fresh off the track. The Master Class is free to attend and will take place on Sunday, October 7 at the Thoroughbred Makeover, held at the Kentucky Horse Park in Lexington.
The horses: Four adoptable prospects (who will all be 2019 Makeover-eligible) from four leading aftercare organizations: CANTER, New Vocations, Turning for Home and Mid Atlantic Horse Rescue
The format: Representatives from each aftercare organization will introduce the horses and what they’ve learned about them, including both their track history and their program history post-track; the four featured trainers will discuss conformation and personal preferences using the four horses as examples. Each horse will be evaluated at liberty and through a jump chute, and trainers will then be assigned a horse through random draw.
Trainers will then work with their horses for an hour in individual roundpens using whatever methods they feel will suit the horse best, then regroup for a summary of their observations and impressions plus what they might expect in the individual restarting process. The day will conclude with a Q&A session.
The trainers: Four trainers/trainer combinations who are not only specifically Thoroughbred Makeover veterans but longtime OTTB enthusiasts and horsemen. With four unique backgrounds and perspectives, the demonstrations and discussion are sure to provide plenty of insight!
- Tik Maynard literally traveled the world in pursuit of horsemanship knowledge, spending time as a working student in Germany as well as an assistant trainer to Anne Kursinski. His own training business, established in 2014, focuses on eventing and horsemanship. His recently-published memoir In the Middle Are the Horsemen gives readers a glimpse at how much there is to learn in a well-rounded horse life
- Rosie Napravnik is off the track herself: the first female jockey to win the Kentucky Oaks (she did that twice) and a Breeders’ Cup race, she has since retired and is now establishing herself as a sporthorse trainer, transitioning Thoroughbreds from the racing life to the sporting life
- Elizabeth James is both an educator and a horsewoman, previously an equine professor at Laramie County Community College in Wyoming and University of Kentucky. She is now the manager of Double Dan Horsemanship
- Tom and Clare Mansmann have a combined 65 years of experience in the horse world, including working horses both on and off the track. It might be easier to list what the Mansmanns haven’t done on horseback — the pair has competed up to the CCI3* level in eventing, plus hunter equitation, show jumping, dressage, cutting and field hunting. Clare Mansmann authored Horse Nation’s popular series “So You Want To Get An OTTB.”
The commentators: To provide added insight, commentators will cycle around the trainers as they work with their horses and help narrate what’s happening in individual sessions.
- Emily Brollier Curtis, USDF bronze, silver and gold medalist. Curtis has developed six horses to FEI levels and competed horses at every level of the sport
- Dan James of Double Dan Horsemanship, originally from Australia and now based right in Kentucky, winner of the 2008 Way of the Horse colt starting competition and the 2012 Road to the Horse colt starting competition
- Richard Lamb, coach and clinician with decades of experiencing, chef d’equipe and/or coach for the US Pony Club team at the USEF National Pony Jumper Championships
The Master Class will start at 10 a.m. in the TCA Covered Arena — it’s free to attend and there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions! Learn more about the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover at the event website.
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