Let’s talk about thoroughbreds. Outside of a stint training welsh/thoroughbred cross ponies, most of my 25-year involvement with horses has been with off-track thoroughbreds.
My very first horse was a thoroughbred, and I had him for 18 amazing years. He taught many of my students how to jump, and he taught my own babies to love horses as much as their mama does. I’ve had some others, trained some others, and matched some others with students while I was still teaching. I know thoroughbreds, and love thoroughbreds like nothing else.
I grew up riding at a farm that was a lay up facility for a few thoroughbred trainers. We got a lot of horses ready for retirement. It was just normal for us- all of my riding buddies, and me- if you convinced your unsuspecting parents to get you a horse, you got a thoroughbred. We thought we were hot stuff because we could ride race horses. (Realistically, we had a good trainer, lots of supervision, and super understanding horses.)
I never had the budget to show on the A circuit. The lower levels were full of thoroughbreds, with a random warmblood here and there. It seemed like the higher the level you showed at, the more people looked down their noses at thoroughbreds (at least in the hunter/jumper world that I grew up in). Not only did I not have the budget to show on the A circuit, I didn’t have the budget for a fancy warmblood to ride there.
Thoroughbreds have gone the way of rust-colored breeches and hunt caps. But like all good trends, they’re coming back. So guess what? You don’t need a warmblood. You can get a thoroughbred for a fraction of the price of a warmblood, and man do they ever have heart. Now, the people who appreciate the heart and athleticism of the thoroughbred
and classic style of the rust-colored breech are doing something about it.
Have you heard about the Retired Racehorse Project? Started by respected horseman Steuart Pittman, RRP is changing the narrative for thoroughbreds, and, I believe, changing how people view horse racing and “the track” in general. RRP holds the Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park in October. Thoroughbreds compete in up to 2 of 10 disciplines (10 disciplines at one show?!) with 10 months or less of post-track training. It’s a level playing field. Amateurs compete against professionals and juniors alike. It is truly a showcase of the breed, in a way that hasn’t existed previously.
I attended last year for the first time, as a spectator. It won’t be the last. You can watch all 10 disciplines over the course of just a couple of days. Bonus- it’s at the Kentucky Horse Park, which is a lot like equestrian paradise. If you haven’t been, you should go…. and wear your rust-colored breeches!
Check out my Instagram feed for more thoroughbreds! @adventures_in_thoroughbreds