Extreme makeover Thoroughbred edition

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Extreme makeover Thoroughbred edition

I love OTTBs– getting a new one is like getting a package under the Christmas tree. You’re filled with hope, excitement, and anticipation of what could be in that mystery box. Such is how I feel when turning over rocks, poking into corners, and stumbling upon what *could be* a future nice horse.

Of course, when that new horse steps off the racetrack, there may be some doubts. The skinny, scrawny, awkward animal is a long way from the average image of a dream horse. You squint, close one eye (or both), to try to imagine what that rack of bones can be with another hundred pounds of muscle and fat. You pray that the wired, buzzy mentality will settle into a willing, well-adjusted partner. Positive thinking and patience is your friend.

It may take weeks and months of time, good nutrition, and hard work. But then one day, you step back, and you hardly remember the wild risk you once unloaded from your trailer. Instead, you recognize your once-blurry vision, now clear in front of you: a healthy, strong, vibrant young prospect well on his way to being a desirable event horse. The pencil-neck is now arched, the ribs are gone, the hindquarters full and strong. Your faith in pedigree and conformation is rewarded to discover a bold jump with tidy footwork. It’s all finally coming together.

 


 

Such has been my history with many OTTBs, including my latest project, “Bella Veloche.” Bella was not the horse most people would drool over at the track; she was very skinny, high as a kite, and my husband clearly had his doubts. But trusting her pedigree (by Sightseeing), she was the one I wanted. As soon as she arrived at the farm, her attitude changed; she was instantly quiet, level, and easy to handle.

Physically, it took a little longer. The good news is that she loves to work, and willingly works very correctly: stretching to the bit, forward, accepting contact and using her back. Months of this long and low work has built up a stronger loin connection, and developed muscle in all the proper places. It hasn’t been a quick turnaround; it’s taken a year of slow, but steady, progress, and my patience has been rewarded. Bella has turned into an easy ride, a willing partner, and an obvious, good-looking horse with a bright future.

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