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This is my first time guest blogging on Equipepper, to be honest my first time guest blogging period. A minor introduction; my name is Rebecca Berry, I am from British Columbia, Canada and my website, Horse Sport Destinations, focuses on horse related travel. I thought since Equipepper’s tag line is Racehorse Retraining Blog, I would write about the very thing. I hope you find this information useful.
Dying and Thriving Industry
Thoroughbred racing in North America is difficult to describe. It’s a world I am not overly involved in but I have friends in the industry and have always ridden off the track thoroughbreds (OTTB). From an outsiders perspective it seems the industry is both dying and thriving. Many smaller tracks in Canada and the US have shut down while some larger tracks have taken on casinos in an attempt to keep people passing through the doors. On the other side, we have the Pegasus World Cup, the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup races with a collective purse of over $50 million.
My point in all this is as long as there are thoroughbred race tracks, struggling or not, there are going to be horses needing a new career after their racing days are over. For as long as I can remember people have been buying and retraining OTTBs successfully, but like the industry, I feel the appeal of OTTBs was beginning to wane.
The Thoroughbred Makeover
The Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) gave us amateur and professional horse trainers the shot in the arm needed to remind us OTTBs have talents that can transfer into many different disciplines.
The RRP’s mission is to, “facilitate placement of Thoroughbred ex-racehorses in second careers by increasing demand for them in equestrian sports and serving the farms, trainers and organizations that transition them.” The RRP is a charitable organization that has put together the Thoroughbred Makeover as a way to show the trainability and versatility of OTTBs.
Now in its sixth year, the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover has 794 trainers competing for $100,000 over three days. This isn’t actually a horse show but rather a training competition. Each ex-race horse must have 10 months or less training as the horses are judged on their progression rather than the finished product. Trainers, who can be professional, amateur or junior, can enter their horse(s) in one or two of the 10 disciplines offered (eventer, jumper, hunter, field hunter, dressage, barrel race, competitive trail, freestyle, working ranch and polo).
All horses will compete in preliminary rounds held Thursday and Friday and the top five from each discipline will move forward to the Saturday finale. The finale will be broadcast via livestream, which will enable everyone at home to see who wins Makeover Champion for each division.
Bringing the spotlight back to ex-racehorses
During the three days of the Thoroughbred Makeover, spectators can also attend a National Symposium, the Makeover Horse Sale and a vendor’s fair. If that isn’t enough to entice you, the Makeover is being held at the Kentucky Horse Park, home of the Land Rover Kentucky 3-Day Event CCI**** and 2010 World Equestrian Games.
The Thoroughbred Makeover is a fantastic way to bring the spotlight back to ex-racehorses and to prove the wide range of their capabilities. I am looking forward to going this year, as it will be my first time covering the event. By the time I get home, I will be full of information to share with everyone. Plus, a friend of mine is entered with her horse and I can get the inside scoop and a behind the scene glimpse.
If you find yourself in Lexington the week of October 4-7 you might as well head over to the beautiful Keeneland Racecourse to watch live horse racing, buy a t-shirt in their fantastic gift shop and take one of their tours. You should also take a drive through the Lexington countryside to see the famous and stunning thoroughbred horse farms. For more information on what to do in Lexington, Kentucky visit Horse Sport Destinations for all horsey and non-horsey things to do while there.