Karlie Mitchell is the proud owner of two off-track thoroughbreds. She explains how, even if they failed at the track, they still won her heart.
This weekend as I was feeding my bottomless-pit, feed-monster OTTBs and they were throwing tubs of beet pulp in the air I wondered, why do I love these special thoroughbreds so much? I also asked myself… WHY??!! Is it better to eat your beet pulp and grain after flinging your rubber feed tubs into the air scattering it everywhere (sometimes on me) first?
The first reason I love these horses is the second chance. Both my OTTBs are very well-bred thoroughbreds who theoretically should have had success on the track. But, in reality they did not. One is very athletic and fast, but was not cut out of racing, so after a few races he came up for sale. The second is a large, powerful horse who was rejected due to lacking in the speed department. It gives me a great feeling knowing I can give these horses a second chance. Just because their first career did not work out does not mean a second career won’t. There’s so much potential I can apply to something else.
The second reason is the challenge. Retraining these guys has pushed my horsemanship to new levels. I can say that after starting young horses from scratch and retraining these guys sometimes it’s easier to teach from scratch than erase previous training and retrain. Learning to retrain has really developed a new set of horsemanship skills for me.
One person’s loss is my gain. These two didn’t work out for others but hey, I’ll use them! They are both over 16 hands, with great conformation, good minds and loads of power–great English/jumping horses. Plus, after having a career that did not work out they have a sense of gratefulness I can feel from having a chance to succeed at a new career and be happy. And these geldings of mine are not restricted to just the arena. They both trail ride too!
They are also super smart. There’s a misconception that thoroughbreds are known for having behavioral issues when really they are smart. Smart and athletic can be hard to handle. However, apply that intelligence and focus that athleticism into a discipline and it is awesome.
I even love all their little, silly quirks. Maybe I just ended up with the quirky ones, but my two have funny little quirks that make them individuals. OK, at times some of them can be a bit frustrating, but overall its adds character.
About Karlie: I am from Alberta, Canada and live on a farm with my equine crew (a Paint, QHx Arab, and two OTTBs). I mainly do English and jumping, but also enjoy western and trail riding. I love riding, training, learning about Equine Science related topics, and having a great time with my horses.
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