I’m writing out the story of Ink and Reason for my friend Ashley, who is doing research on the horse racing industry. I thought I’d share what I’m writing for her, with you all too. Enjoy! 🙂
I was 17 years old when I first decided to adopt my first OTTB (off track Thoroughbred). I spent about a year researching information on them and what exactly was involved with giving them a home after their track days were over. There are so many things to think about when getting an OTTB. They are athletes, no short of the word. Very fit animals, used to living in a predictable daily routine. They know their job and most of them live for it. They need time to let their minds and bodies relax and heal from the high demands put on their young bodies.
I went about adopting my first OTTB in a way which was probably questionable to some (I jumped in with both feet. Although nothing would have stopped me from adopting Ink, a pre-purchase exam would have been a good idea. I don’t regret anything and a vet exam wouldn’t have changed my mind. But, it’s always a good idea!). I saw, who was going to be my first OTTB, through a photograph on the internet. I was immediately drawn to him for whatever reason. He sure was handsome. I was never so sure of anything in my life. I quickly called my mom over to the computer, where I pointed to the screen and said, “That’s him. That’s the one!” She agreed, he was quite the good looking horse.
A couple days later, both my mom and I were on the way to Woodland, CA. The home of TBFriends. A place for OTTB’s to go and find new homes. I remember who hot it was. Insanely hot. The thought of getting out of the air conditioned car was ludicrous. But I could care less about the heat. I was so excited to meet the horse in the photo. As we pulled in the drive-way at TBFriends, we were greeted by Joe Shelton and his wife, Kathy. Both were kind and welcoming. Little did anyone know, but my calm appearing self, was jumping up and down inside. Internally, I felt like a little kid!
I remember Joe pulling out various horses for me to look at. I enjoyed looking at a couple mares he showed me, which were sweet and you could tell would sit with you all day, pouring their hearts out. But, even though I liked the mares, I kept peeking around as Joe put one away after another for the big bay gelding I was absolutely dying to see. I heard some noise next to one of the barns in the back, where a tall bay gelding stood. I couldn’t see him that well, but something told it was him. I told Joe I wanted to see the gelding, “Ink Spot,” who was on his website. When Joe came back, he came leading a big bay horse. The moment came like slow motion. The horse had serious presence. It was in that moment, right there, that I knew. What I was feeling and what I was thinking was walking towards me.
“Ink Spot” walked towards me like he was going out to run the Kentucky Derby. His head held high, very serious, intense. You could tell what he lived for. You could tell he was a bit conceited. I don’t know if Ink noticed me, but I sure noticed him. Joe handed over the lead rope and for the first time, I was leading my first OTTB. I remember walking him thinking inside, “Oh my god. He’s amazing.”
There was no doubt, I adopted him that day. The next week, he was home.
This was my first challenge. It was time to get to know this horse.