Each week a different expert ranks three OTTBs in terms of their suitability for a specific discipline. This week features “The Classical Cowboy” Patrick King.
This Week’s Evaluator: Patrick King grew up riding and competing with many breeds of horses in various disciplines; from jumping to driving to western pleasure.A challenge from a difficult horse threatened Patrick’s life and sparked a journey toward truer horsemanship than what he had found just riding for the ribbons.Today, he may climb off of a Grand Prix dressage horse to climb onto a roping horse, or a reining horse or jumper, and eventually finish the day out on a backyard trail horse. Patrick claims to be “dressage by passion, but western by function,” which has always allowed him to fit equally well across the lines of English and western disciplines and has earned him the nickname “The Classical Cowboy” along many of his clinic routes. King is also the trainer behind the OTTB training web series “The X Project.”
Favorite Thoroughbreds: Affirmed and Seattle Slew
This Week’s Thoroughbred Placement Organization: CANTER Mid Atlantic-Mountaineer
Chosen Discipline: Western Dressage
This Week’s Horses:
Horse #1: Wiseman’s Woman
Foaled in Kentucky on May 9, 2008
16.1 hand bay Thoroughbred mare
Wiseman’s Ferry x Tilted Tiara by Affirmed
37 starts, 2 firsts, 0 seconds and 6 thirds for earnings of $20,762
Horse #2: Keeping the Honor
Foaled in Kentucky on March 9, 2006
16.1 hand grey Thoroughbred gelding
Tapit x Mepanache by Deputy Minister
41 starts, 9 firsts, 5 seconds and 3 thirds for earnings of $147,363
Horse #3: My Dollar
Foaled in Kentucky on May 2, 2009
15.3 hand bay Thoroughbred gelding
Honour and Glory x Time Will Tell by Storm Creek
17 starts, 1 firsts, 2 seconds and 3 thirds for earnings of $25,517
Criteria: Really, I like to look for the overall balance in a horse.Where are his hocks in relation to his knees? Where does his neck tie into his chest? How does his hip tie into his back and his back into his withers?Does he look like he’s ready to go put in a day’s work on the ranch?Does he look like he can reach far enough under his body with his hind legs to engage and articulate for collection?Do his shoulder look free enough to reach those front legs out for extension or for a nice free gait? It’s all in the overall balance for me.
How I Placed Them: 2-1-3
Third Place: Horse #3, My Dollar
This gelding would be last on my list, mostly on account of his high hocks (in relation to his knees).If he were pictured with his hind legs set a bit more squarely underneath him, it’s likely that his back would appear to be more solid than it’s looking right now in this posture.He does look to have a nice solid barrel and a fine wither, but looks to have a bit more length in his back than I would like for a Western Dressage horse.His tail set is not terrible, but he’s got more of a flat croup than I’d like to see (again, could be simply from the fact that his hind legs are strung out behind him).
His neck ties in to his chest where I like to see it, but his under neck looks to be a bit more developed than the topline of his neck, and he appears to be pretty thick in the throat area.All of his faults (as they appear in the photo) tell me that collection and extension would be the most difficult for this horse of the three, making him my last pick of the list.
Second Place: Horse #1, Wiseman’s Woman
The posture this mare is standing in makes it a bit tough to make a fair assessment of her good and not-so-good qualities.I like that her hocks and knees appear pretty level — that’s helpful to keeping her gaits free and in good rhythm, and also enabling her to reach farther under herself and articulate her joints well for collection.I also like where her neck is tying into her chest, although I’m not a big fan of how it ties into her wither.The entire neck looks like it needs developing (along with the rest of her body), though, so it would likely come along fine with time.I like a fairly short back (as compared to a long back, at least), so she gets good marks from me in that regard.
She looks to be pretty expressive, which would tell me that she is apt to be sensitive — and that’s something I like as well.Her hip angles could be a bit smoother for my liking, but her tail sets in there in a fine place, so with development, I would think that she’d make some nice changes in her body.She goes back to Affirmed, as does the stallion that is my primary demo horse for Western Dressage, so I have a soft spot for her in that regard.She’d be my #2 pick of the three.With time and proper development, she might end up my #1 pick.
First Place: Horse #2, Keeping the Honor
This gelding would be my first pick of the three of these horses, right from first glance. From the photo, his body balance seems to be the best. I like the way that his neck ties in to his shoulders, although I’d like to see a bit more development in the muscling of his neck.His wither looks to be solid without being exaggerated.His shoulder flows into a solid barrel with a good top line and a nicely connected hip with a fairly low tail set.His hocks seem to be fairly level with his knees, so reaching under himself for extended and free gaits, as well as for collection, should be easiest for him of these three horses.
Add that to the fact that he’s got a handsome face (although pretty is what pretty does) with a soft but alert expression, and his color (yes, I have a soft spot for a grey), and I’d call him my first pick of the three.I sure wouldn’t mind taking this fellow to the Western Dressage arena next weekend.
If 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 retiredracehorsetraining.org
CANTER Mid Atlantic is a free service offered to the Mid Atlantic racing trainers and owners to help them find non-race homes for their retiring racehorses. CANTER Mid Atlantic covers six separate tracks including Charles Town and Mountaineer (WV), Delaware Park (DE), as well as Laurel, Pimlico and Bowie (MD). There are no fees charged to purchasers.
CANTER Volunteers visit these tracks weekly in order to speak with owners and trainers about retiring horses and selling to the sporthorse market. CANTER is unique in that it has two approaches to helping horses into new homes. If thoroughbreds are unable to be listed on our site for sale to the public, as funds allow we take horses into the program for rehabilitation, retraining and rehoming. CANTER is not a retirement home for Thoroughbreds, but rather a rehoming service for horses of sound mind and body.
About our Evaluator: Patrick King grew up riding and competing with many breeds of horses in various disciplines, from jumping to driving to western pleasure. He enjoyed success in the show pens with various breeds and disciplines.Eventually, though, a horse came into Patrick’s life that wouldn’t put up with inadequacy on the part of the human.A challenge from this horse threatened Patrick’s life and sparked a journey toward truer horsemanship than what he had found just riding for the ribbons. Since then, Patrick has been a student of the horse and a pupil to the teachings of the masters that have come before him as well as those that continue to cross his path.
Throughout the year, Patrick travels around helping people and their horses through his horsemanship clinics, seminars, and demonstrations.His clinics are attended by riders of varying levels, from backyard 4-H riders to Grand Prix dressage riders.What he teaches is not so much an exercise or drill, as so many other clinicians and trainers teach, but a feel.It’s a feel that becomes a connection and a synchronicity of two minds and two bodies, the horse and the human.
With an appreciation for both the Vaqueros and Dressage masters of the past, Patrick claims to be “Dressage by passion, but Western by function,” which has always allowed him to fit equally well across the lines of English and Western disciplines and has earned him the nickname “the Classical Cowboy” along many of his clinic routes.
In 2014, Patrick has also teamed up with the non-profit Dreaming of Three to bring to the public “The X Project.” The X Project is an online video series following the OTTB, Pookie, through foundation training and into barrel racing training.This series was conceived in the hopes of making more horse owners or potential horse owners more comfortable with the OTTB and giving them the tools needed once they bring one into their barn.They hope that by showing Pookie’s gentle temperament and trainability, it will help to diminish the typical stereotype of off the track Thoroughbreds.The X Project is being produced by Dreaming of Three, so donations to help with this effort are tax deductible.You can learn more here.
Patrick’s website can be found here.