You’re Going to Use That Thoroughbred for What?

Each week a different expert ranks three OTTBs in terms of their suitability for a specific discipline. This week features eventer and 2013 RRTP Makeover trainer Rebecca Bowman.

This Week’s Evaluator: Rebecca Bowman, a native of Australia where she grew up eventing, playing polocrosse and even as a jockey on her family’s horses.She came to United States and became famous with her work in the Extreme Mustang Makeover and was also a part of the 2013 Retired Racehorse Training Project Thoroughbred Makeover with the gelding Dinaka, whom she rode bridleless right on the racetrack.

This Week’s Thoroughbred Placement Organization: Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (T.R.O.T.)

Chosen Discipline: Eventing

Favorite Thoroughbreds: Halo, Cigar (I started his half-sister, what a sweetheart!) and Pleasant Colony

Horse#1: Justoutoftheblue

Horse#1: Justoutoftheblue

Horse #1: Justoutoftheblue

  • Foaled in Ontario on February 8, 2006
  • 16.3 Chestnut Thoroughbred mare
  • By Kinshasa out of Danghazi by Ghazi
  • 31 starts, 2 firsts, 5 seconds and 6 thirds with earnings of $32,604
Horse #2: Prayers at Mass

Horse #2: Prayers at Mass

Horse #2: Prayers at Mass

  • Foaled in Florida on February 29, 2008
  • 16.1 Dark Bay or Brown Thoroughbred mare
  • By Mass Media out of Redskin Rhumba by Songandaprayer
  • 18 starts, 2 firsts, 1 seconds and 2 thirds with earnings of $18,955
Horse #3: Xtralicous

Horse #3: Xtralicous

Horse #3: Xtralicous

  • Foaled in New York on January 30, 2008
  • 15.2 Bay Thoroughbred mare
  • By Rock and Roll out of Miss Sweet Time by Marquetry
  • 2 starts, 0 firsts, 0 seconds and 0 thirds with earnings of $190

Criteria: I am generally not hung up on pedigree so you will not hear me talk about that a lot. As for discipline I believe each horse is best suited to something so I will let you know what that is as we go. Each horse may be different and their job should suit their capabilities.

Generally, I look  for OTTBs between the ages of 3 and 8. The fewer races the better although I will take one with a lot of races. If a horse can run 30 times and retire sound, nothing the average person does with a horse will come close to that.


THIRD PLACE: Horse #3, Xtralicous

A nice 5-year-old mare. She is very pretty and while looking at her before I read the description, I couldn’t help but think polo or hunter–she is beautiful. Her conformation has everything I look for and I love her age. Another plus is she only raced twice. But, after reading her description, I am thinking eventing might be her best bet. This mare has done a lot of different things in the last three years and she needs someone to be a bit more patient with her. Not all horses can jump right into another program. I would also make a wild guess that a round of ulcer treatment might help also as her description points that way (especially the cribber). 

The broodmare sire of Xtralicous, Marquetry, a beloved favorite while at Old Friends in Kentucky.

The broodmare sire of Xtralicous, Marquetry, a beloved favorite while at Old Friends in Kentucky.

She already knows how to jump so this mare is the perfect choice for someone on a budget looking for a quality horse. She has great conformation paired with talent, training and no injuries. A great Pony Club mount… often I see brave teenagers on a budget–this is your horse.


SECOND PLACE: Horse #1, Justoutoftheblue 

Overall I liked this mare. At age 8, she is a little older than I typically look for but I would not turn her down for this.She raced 31 times, heavily in 2009 and 2010 and very lightly for the 2 years following.She has been off the track for 1 1/2 years and I love that. It makes retraining go a lot faster. The only thing left is to put weight and muscle on her. She is probably not my favorite of the three for several reasons but is growing on me as I type.

Head shot of Justoutoftheblue-an eager, perky face!

Head shot of Justoutoftheblue–an eager, perky face!

Let’s start with what I do like about her: First, she is a nice size and with some muscle over her top line, she will really be a beautiful mare. She is uphill, another plus for dressage, and she looks like she is very attentive. In every picture her ears are forward. This mare enjoys what she does. Those are the fun ones to train.

And now the things that worry me: As an eventer, I tend to shy away from knee injuries. But as our X-ray machines become more powerful, we see more and more injuries that we never did before. I believe over time what we think is an “acceptable” injury will change. Conformationally, this mare is a little straight up and down in her shoulder. I would like to see a bit more angle here. Also her back end is further out behind her than I would like. That said, I still believe she will make someone a great trail or lower level dressage horse.With her apparently great attitude, you can go a long ways.


FIRST PLACE: Horse#2, Prayers at Mass

This mare is my first choice. She is in my opinion the perfect age to start a new career at 5 years old. She has been correctly let down, having been off the track for a full year. This makes the retraining process much easier. In this mare’s description there are two things you rarely hear in a Thoroughbred: Barefoot and easy keeper, wow! She is 16.1, which is a great height for everyone. She had 18 starts and only placed 5 times. I would say this mare just didn’t enjoy racing.

Prayers at Mass moving nicely on the longe line.

Prayers at Mass moving nicely on the lunge line.

Overall I like the way this mare is put together. Judging from the pictures she is a beautiful mover and could be a hunter, event horse or a polo pony. This mare would probably do well in any discipline. She is ever so slightly uphill making dressage an option also. With her conformation, she naturally carries herself beautifully. I always like to see how a horse carries himself without a rider. This mare makes me want to head to Florida and bring her home.

RetiredRacehorseTrainingProjectIf you think an off-track thoroughbred might be right for you, no matter what the discipline, find out more information on what to look for, how to purchase and get re-training tips at


The Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (T.R.O.T.) program is based near Tampa, Florida and is affiliated with Tampa Bay Downs racetrack.  T.R.O.T is a 501(c)3 dedicated to the safe retirement from racing, rehabilitation, retraining and re-homing of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds.  Find out more at

About Our Evaluator: Rebecca Bowman is a trainer based in Atlanta, Georgia. She primarily teaches eventing and loves teaching children. She specializes in matching people with horses. Rebecca grew up in Australia where she evented, played polocrosse and held a jockey’s license, all on her horses owned by her family. Upon arrival in the United States, she spent 10 years in Kentucky, both starting Thoroughbreds for the track and retraining them for second careers.

Rebecca and her RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Dinaka, at Pimlico. (Anne Pennington photo)

Rebecca and her RRTP Thoroughbred Makeover horse, Dinaka, go bridleless at Pimlico. (Anne Pennington photo)

Rebecca recently became well known for her work in the Extreme Mustang Makeover where she worked with four different mustangs. In 2013, she was a part of the Retired Racehorse Training Project Thoroughbred Makeover where she rode her OTTB gelding, Dinaka, bridleless on the track and over fences.  Rebecca states: “ I competed last year in the RRTP makeover and my love affair for thoroughbreds became stronger. There is no feeling in the world better than galloping a thoroughbred around Pimlico Racetrack bridleless.” You can find out more about Rebecca’s training program at


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