Reality Check: Bringing a New Horse Home

It is a very odd feeling to drive over six hours, load your new horse into the trailer, drive over six hours back home, and not get to spend any time with your new horse. A feeling most likened to going to grandma’s house for Christmas, openings your gifts, and then your parents taking them away to load them in the trunk before you even know what you’ve got. Those hours driving home are way longer then the ones spent driving there.

Ruth Leaving New Vocations

Photo Courtesy of New Vocations

A six hour drive isn’t that bad when you really think about it. I used to drive tractor trailers for a living, when six hours was a short trip. Professionals are flocking south this time of year and are laughing at six hour trips. But these six hours (worsened by downpours and treacherous mountain passes) slowly crawled by as we drove Dancing Ruth home.

Thoughts of “What did I do? Is this right? What is she thinking? Wouldn’t it be cool if we clicked right off the bat? What if we don’t click? Whose idea was it drive this all in one shot? How long until I can ride her?” ran through my head and often exited my mouth.

Needless to say, Dancing Ruth is home safe and sound. She settled right into her stall, made herself at home, and then had a good roll. I am still more then positive at the outlook for this well put together mare.

New Vocations couldn’t have made the entire process any easier and I thank them for all the hard work they did for me and continue to do for the ex-racehorses. The question I have is “what stops other amateurs from doing this too?” I feel that most amateurs do not feel they are capable of handling a young off the track horse, which might be the case for some but not the others.

Now, more then ever, there is a push to re-home thoroughbreds after their days at the track are done. These horses do make great show horses. We have seen it time and time again; OTTBs are excelling in all disciplines of riding, especially eventing. I think that more amateurs should give an OTTB the chance simply because they deserve that second chance at a career not on the track.

As an amateur, I do lack some of the expertise most professionals have. To be honest, at times, it does worry me that I may get into a situation I’m not sure how to get out of. That is where having a good, solid support system comes into play.

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Ruth at Sunset Hill at McCuan Farms

I rely on the solid support system I have built over the years to get me through the sticky situations that I have no answer for. I will use the guidance of my wife (who is a young horse trainer), my jump coach (when we get to that point), and other professionals and amateurs I surround myself with. I know that with the combined help of this vast support system, Dancing Ruth will be a good, nay a great event horse.

My suggestion to anyone following along with this that is thinking of doing the same is this: develop a support system that does not rely on one single person, become well educated in the experiences of others and use them as guidance, expect to be challenged every day, open your mind and listen to your horse, and, finally, know that it’s to ask for help.

With a positive mind set, some education, and a willingness to push through the hard times, a great horse may be just around the corner.

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