Sigourney Jellins describes how she selected her off-the-track Thoroughbred for the 2016 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover. (Spoiler: it’s not as scientific as you might think.)
Just yesterday, I was asked to point out why I thought one young OTTB would be a better competition prospect than another. Confirmation, bloodlines, race history, and temperament can all play a role in choosing a horse off the track with the ability to be successful in a second career. In a completely objective world, only these things would matter. But sometimes it’s the look in the horse’s eye as you meet them, that special feeling you get when they give you that first nuzzle or whiskery kiss that makes the decision for you …
I met Oso for the first time in a shaded barn aisle at Eclipse Equine Sports Therapy Center in Paso Robles. I walked down the aisle, searching for his name on the stall door, excited to see him for the first time. I found his stall, and he looked at me and came to say hello. Now, I can try to say it was the rhythm and fluidity in his walk down the barn aisle, or the suspension in his trot as he jogged down the driveway that made me conclude he would be an excellent prospect for eventing or dressage. But in truth, it was the friendliness in his gaze, and the gentle way he reached his nose out to nuzzle my hand that told me Oso was a special horse.
Time will tell if he will be a future dressage or eventing star (I think he has all the tools to be!). For now, I’m going to savor our first few rides, and enjoy seeing his lovely face over the stall door every morning.
Sigourney Jellins is a professional eventing and dressage rider in Northern California, and a 2016 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover trainer. Oso Smart is a 2011 gelding by Curlin. Oso is sponsored by Neigh Savers Rescue; click here to check them out on Facebook. “Like” Oso’s page on Facebook to get updates on his progress!
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