Earlier this week I posed a question to a handful of horse people. From Facebook groups, to friends and professionals. I asked them which horse in their lifetime (leased, owned, ridden in lessons, any encounter really) they felt had the most value. I said it did not have to be the most expensive horse, or the horse that made the most money, though that answer was perfectly acceptable. Overwhelmingly, even from the professionals, the horses that had the most value were horses that they at some point in their life had used for a recreational rather than a professional purpose. It was the lesson horses who got people hooked on riding, trail horses that made riding fun again after an accident, the horse that was so tough that it made them seek help from a trainer and in turn become a better horseman. The response from the posed question was pretty on point with the statistics from over 10 years ago.
Now to bring this all back to Cooper and the Thoroughbred Makeover.
What led me to look up these statistics and ask this question was what happened when I took Cooper team sorting last week. It was a just for fun event. No big prize money. Just a bunch of horse people having some fun playing with horses and cows. It was Cooper’s first off site ride, and first time seeing cattle. I couldn’t have been more proud of him. He went into the herd, sorted out his cow, and stood patiently in between runs. But the best part of the evening was when one of the riders on the oh so typical Quarter Horse made the comment; “I am so impressed with how that Thoroughbred is doing. He is so wiling and quiet, it looks like you guys are having a great time.” THAT last bit. That she said it looked like we were having fun was what I appreciated the most. Because that is what a recreational rider looks for when they buy a horse. They want something they will have FUN on. From the beginning, that is what I said I wanted to focus on this year heading into the Makeover. Doing well would be great, but if I can enjoy the journey, and show as many people as I can how much FUN an OTTB is, that is what at the end of the day will get more of these horses into homes after they retire from racing.
So yes, I’ll post progress posts on training. I’ll go to practice trail shows, and as many events as I can. But I’ll also be posting photos and videos of all the fun we have in between. When we ride backwards while hanging out with friends after a long day at work. When we ride double on the trails behind the farm, or go swimming this summer as I know we will. I am going to start garnishing these posts with the # OTTBSHAVEMOREFUN, and I encourage every contestant and every OTTB owner to start doing the same. Let’s see how big of a trend we can start. Let’s show the industry how much enjoyment we get from these horses. If we can get more people who never would have considered an OTTB as their next recreational riding partner to change their minds, we will have accomplished a great deal for these horses. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and have some fun with your OTTB!