This will be part of a 3 part series I’ll be writing, about OTTB’s, the negative stigma that seems to surround them and some other observations..
As I sat shivering and cold yesterday, soaked from meandering throughout the property at the barn – First, walking Errika and her fellow cougar mare friend, KC, down to shelter and then helping another boarder with her horse – I was determined to stay and watch the future events unfold. In front of me, a 7 year old Thoroughbred, 2 months off the track was being brought into the arena by it’s rider, ready and eager to participate in the clinic.
I was curious how the trainer/clinician, who I had never seen work, would approach this situation. First and foremost, my feeling was that this clinician was pretty brave and was open to jump into whatever horse or rider came his/her way. I liked that. I’m not going to go into talking much at all about what the clinician did. Tid bits here and there that stuck with me that either I’m re-thinking and re-playing or things that I felt good about overall. But, I was more concerned with what the horse was doing and what it wasn’t doing. I wanted to learn from the horse. It’s reaction from the things that the rider and clinician were doing and what worked and what didn’t and why. I have never had a chance to watch a fairly, fresh off track Thoroughbred be worked and trained from a spectators perspective.
When the horse first came in, I studied the conformation, I studied it’s apparent disposition and most importantly it’s eye. I had an up-close, personal, yet in-personal opportunity to watch a horse who I was not connected with, move, respond and work.
Instantly, I liked the horse. I didn’t like it’s way of going or essentially how it was put together. However, I was aware that, in time, much of what I didn’t like, would change. Not the conformation, obviously, but it’s way of going to a degree. So I discarded that thought. But I did like the horse. At seven, this horse had been further around the block than most OTTB’s. I wasn’t expecting the horse to jump through the rafters, [unlike] to the surprise that some exhibited (and were probably thinking) when the the horse traveled willingly around.
The rider takes the horse to the mounting block and it’s apparent that he [the horse] hasn’t been introduced to the idea of standing at this mounting contraption. It’s hard to teach an OTTB that sometimes, because they are so used to doing things quick and on the move, including mounting. But the horse did a couple things that made me instantly appreciate and respect him. Standing, was beside the point. The horse was kind but prepared. He was already anticipating the riders presence on his back, ready for the next step. He shouted, “I want to please!” to me. I don’t know if anyone else saw that or not, but I did.
Let me talk about the owner/rider for a moment.. I talked to this lady a couple times. In her fifties, a mother and fairly new to owning horses again (I say again because she said she had one when she was growing up, but is just getting back into owning and riding for the second time in a while) I was impressed with her go-get-it attitude. She was open-minded, sweet and so happy to be doing what she was doing with her horses. I liked that. She rode well, despite not knowing much. I respected that. Nothing else mattered or matters to me. But others felt different. It was a little disappointing that we as horse people can so quickly cast judgement on others. In a way I felt bad for the lady. She was so eager and seemed almost innocent to the horse world, just beyond her smiling face, that can be unforgiving and judgemental. Nothing is perfect. No rider, no horse. But to me, someone who takes a positive approach, wanting to learn for all the better of herself and the horse, is definitely respectable. The rest comes in time.
What more do horse people want? What more do you need to, be happy for someone who is traveling a similar path that we ALL once did, at some point?
I am very much turned off right now, with the disappointment and frustrations I feel for the horse world that hovers over, jealousy, strife and narrow-mindedness.