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The Thoroughbred Makeover, what’s it all about and how do you train a retired racehorse to compete in the makeover? The makeover was started many years ago by the Retired Racehorse Project to try and showcase off-the-track thoroughbreds and raise awareness of the versatility of this breed. Since this project started the demand for thoroughbreds for other disciplines has increased tremendously.
Back in 2015 was the first year the makeover was at the Kentucky Horse Park. I attended the first makeover with my off-the-track thoroughbred Soar and won the title of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred. Fast forward six years later, I win the title again with my thoroughbred mare Thunderous affair, aka Elysia.
The Thoroughbred Makeover consists of a variety of different disciplines you can enter and compete in, but first, you must purchase an off-the-track thoroughbred. There are many ways you can purchase an OTTB, but one way is from a rehoming agency, like Canter or Turning for Home. Places like these usually do any rehabbing and x rays that are necessary. That way they can offer a better background on the horse or if it requires any special care.
Once you have you’re OTTB, you can start the retraining process but not before December 1 of the year before the competition. So, if the competition is in October 2022. You cannot start the re-training process until December 1st of 2021. There are many disciplines you can choose to re-train your OTTB, western disciplines like trail, ranch riding, barrel racing, etc. English disciplines like dressage, eventing, showjumping hunters, and then there are also some non-traditional or not as popular disciplines like field hunter and polo. And then there’s also freestyle, which is where you get five minutes in the ring to do whatever you want.
This past year, I went down with Alyssia, and we competed in trail and freestyle. She ended up winning both of her disciplines and then went on for America’s Most Wanted title. How that works is the first-place horse from each discipline is then able to compete in the finals and from there the winner of America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred title is decide by a panel of judges.
Elysia’s journey wasn’t an easy one, she struggles with a severe lack of emotional confidence when off property. She is amazing at home but would get so stressed out to the point that she became frantic. This is way it’s very important to make sure we don’t only train the physical aspect of horses but also the emotional aspects. This becomes more useful when dealing with OTTB. They learn different skill sets in every situation, but it takes time, and it takes repetition so they realize it’s no longer a race. It took Elysia double the amount of time to get her settled and her emotional confidence in check. What seemed to work best for Elysia was the Harmony Horsemanship calm connection exercises, which helped her become more relaxed, more focused to be able to eventually ride her off-site without any meltdowns.
My advice to anybody interested in the thoroughbred makeover is to go visit an event if you can, you will encounter so many different thoroughbreds and so many different disciplines. When looking into purchasing an OTTB, connect with a rehoming agency for thoroughbreds. The agencies provide lots of information about the horse, regarding, health, and any maintenance they are going to require. A great way to get a thoroughbred started off the track is to establish a calm connection. As mentioned above the Harmony Horsemanship Connection Exercises are a great way to do this. Harmony Horsemanship also has loads of free resources on our YouTube channel, on there you can check out Elysia’s trail and freestyle where we do bridaless with a big blue tarp.
Just remember at the end of the day to train the physical aspects but also the emotional and mental pieces as well. So as always enjoy the journey and remember, you can always check out more great free resources and other information at https://harmonyhorsemanship.com/ or check me out on my personal website https://www.lindseypartridge.com/ .
Thanks so much, bye for now.