Megan Kaiser has a goal: To compete at Beginner Novice at Stuart Horse Trials this weekend. For Megan, a working mom with a 21-y/o horse, it’s kind of a big deal. She’s letting HN tag along.
This time, she talks about the partnership between Stuart Horse Trials and the Second Career Thoroughbred Program.
As I watch each country’s Olympic team show up on EN I think about my own riding bucket list. I don’t have one that involves me riding in the Olympics–this would be very difficult with myself imposed three-foot jumping limit. But they do include a real life cattle drive (check), ride on beach (check), seeing a foal born (not yet–two hours old, yes, but I’m greedy and want to see the real thing), several tempi changes–on purpose or not I’m not picky (not yet), and participating in a victory gallop at Stuart (nope). I would love to pin there some day. I don’t have to win, just pin.
My guy is 21 so this isn’t going to happen and in fact I’m pretty sure that this will be our last year of going to anything organized. So this leads me to day dream about my next horse. I have visions of breeding something and being there every step of the way, but I know that involves so much time. Not just time for the little baby to grow up and finally being able to sit on its back, but time spent every day from even before the hooves hit the ground. Riding isn’t my career. I don’t have the talent and I don’t have the time with the choices I have made: husband, house, kids, non-riding career. Therefore I know better than to think too long about this as a possibility.
So… on to fantasy number two: a young one off the track. Not that this also doesn’t take a huge time commitment, but this I can handle. I know there are great horses that just aren’t cut out to be race horses and they have great second careers. I have one, almost everyone knows one. You hear the feel-good stories of famous ones all the time and not just in eventing: hunters, equitation, trail, police horses, therapy horses, from one of your friends, or from your best friend that happens to share a pasture with one.
Finger Lakes Race Track is about fifteen minutes from where I live so you find OTTBs all over the place. There have been rescues and placement centers but in the past couple years I feel like they have exploded and are finally getting some visibility.
Stuart has partnered with the Second Career Thoroughbred Program for “celebrating and promoting the retraining of off-the-track, Second Career thoroughbreds.” There are features of the highest placing OTTB by the NY Racing Association (www.nyra.com), cash awards, ribbons, and saddle pads (and for someone that thinks of saddles pads as the equivalent of shoes–you can’t ever have enough–that part sounds pretty cool). As of about a week ago they had 42 signed up at Stuart–so cool. Second Career has partnered with several events through the summer in NY and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that other states are doing similar things.
So maybe, just maybe, if I ever get to check participating in the victory gallop off my bucket list maybe I will then be able to represent, looking fly, doing my next stadium course with a fancy new Second Career saddle pad. Go Second Career!
…Or I may cheat a bit and let a person that really knows what they are doing take care of the retraining and I can start up a new organization “Third Lower Level Career: An organization for those that love the OTTB but understand their own human limitations and have already started to save for the OTTB that has done Training but would prefer Novice.” In the mean time I’ll work my new organization’s name–maybe something shorter would be better.