Not For Sale: Casey & Alvie

Casey French has realized that Alvie is not for sale. In this month’s blog, she discusses the moment she realized that and what it means for their journey.

For 673 accepted trainers, the journey to the Retired Racehorse Project‘s 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover has begun! Over the training period, three of those trainers will blog their journeys, including their triumphs and their heartbreaks, successes and failures, for Horse Nation readers. This month, Casey French discusses realizing that Alvie is not for sale.

In the very first blog that I wrote for Horse Nation, I introduced myself and spoke about a few of my goals. One of those goals included the fact that I have been on the search for a horse that I could call my very own. Not a horse that I thought might be best suited for someone else, but a horse that would ultimately suit me. I am happy to say that Awesome Choice is going to be that horse!

Photo by Casey French

There really isn’t a way to explain this to many people because there isn’t much proof yet. There is absolutely no proof that we perform well in the arena yet whatsoever. Zero! But, I am still confident that the chips are going to fall in the right place. I truly believe that when you find a horse that suits you, you just know. That doesn’t mean that every day is going to be a great one and that you won’t have your disappointments or bad rides along the way, but there is an undeniable feeling of comfort when you are on the one that is for you.

Recently, upon completing my final entry, there was a box to check that asked if you would like to list your Makeover horse for sale during the competition at the Horse Park. I thought to myself, “What? As if I would ever sell my Alvie!!!”

I was almost insulted by the question. That moment was when I realized that I had finally found my next ONE. I don’t know if it is just because I’ve gotten caught up in the romanticism of this whole process. Maybe this is what it’s like for everyone with their first Makeover horse? I’m not sure exactly what it is, but this horse and I really have a strong connection. It may not even be one that will be seen by all in the immediate future, but the bond is undeniable.

Awesome Choice is the type of horse that makes you want to work harder to be a better horseman. He has taught me more in this small amount of time than I have learned working with other horses in decades. He has taught me how to be a leader and how to make good decisions based on a long-term goal.

Being in a competition that is on a timeline is difficult because it can take your focus off the long term goal, so you’re constantly torn between the two. There have been many days when I had to remind myself that we are training for the future, not the present — basically every day since I started this journey.

Photo by Casey French

Even though winning the Makeover would be huge, it’s not something for which I am willing to trade the integrity of my horse’s career. At this point in my career, I am looking for a horse of high a caliber. Great horses are made over years, not months. I think that this is only something you learn once you find out for yourself how truly rare they really are.

When you know that you have the opportunity to possibly have another, it makes you raise your bar a bit as a trainer. You try your very best to do the right thing every time because there is such fragility when asking a horse to perform at a high level. At any moment the walls can come tumbling down. But, if you are diligent in building and strengthening those walls, instilling that confidence each day, the odds that the walls won’t come tumbling down are going to be more in your favor.

Horses perform just because we ask them to. That’s it. They don’t know there are bills to be paid, or taxes or anything beyond the fact that we ask them to do a job — and they do it. I think the fairer we are in our expectations, the more we will receive from them in return.

With that being said, I’ve really taken my foot off the gas pedal over this past month with Alvie. We have been going to horse shows, but not showing. He’s been ridden, but we haven’t really worked barrels much in the past month at all. Quite honestly, we’ve worked them maybe once or twice.

Photo by Casey French

If my only goal with him had just been to win the Makeover, I think I would be doing the exact opposite during crunch time. Right now my motto continues to be, “He will get there when he gets there”. I think I am getting more relaxed about it because I have confidence that it is going to happen. He really has shown me that all the pieces are there, I just have to be strategic about putting them all together. The Makeover is only the beginning of our journey in the arena!


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