The Retired Racehorse Project. Thoroughbred Makeover. If you are a thoroughbred fan, it’s likely you’ve heard these names. I first learned about the Retired Racehorse Project (RRP) a few years ago. The organization started in 2010 with the intention of increasing demand for thoroughbreds when their racing days are over. Thoroughbred racing has provided me with nearly every horse I have ever loved. I have ridden more horses than I can count in my lifetime, and a great many of them have been retired thoroughbreds.
As soon as I learned that RRP had a Thoroughbred Makeover, I was intrigued. I have followed RRP and the Thoroughbred Makeover for many years now. If you don’t know, the very high level idea is to take horses who are newly off the track, and retrain them over the course of not more than 10 months, to compete in one of 10 disciplines. The Thoroughbred Makeover has been held at the Kentucky Horse Park (KHP) for the last several years, and has grown to an enormous event.
Let’s pause for a moment. I have a confession: I have lived within less than a day’s drive of KHP for almost 10 years. Last year’s Thoroughbred Makeover was my first trip to KHP. And it lived up to the hype.
Okay, play. I casually and quietly decided I would make it my goal to compete at this event one day. Unfortunately, I’m a one-horse woman. I mean, do you know how expensive it is to keep two human children alive? They grow out of clothes every 5 minutes. They are always wanting to eat and be entertained. And daycare and preschool! $$$$$ Each kid costs the equivalent of about 2 horses. And I’d really like to pay off my student loans before they go to college.
So I can “afford” one horse. You’ve read about my dreamboat heart horse, BooBoo. As a senior horse, who had retired some 20 years ago, he wasn’t eligible for the Thoroughbred Makeover. He was such a constant in my life. My first tall, dark, and handsome. Mr. Reliable. No matter where I moved, I could drag him along, and he was up to whatever I threw at him. Always there. No matter what. Until he wasn’t. And then I was horseless for the first time in nearly 2 decades. (Side note: how can I be that old?) You’ve probably read about Wex, too, and how I came to own BooBoo’s cousin.
I was casually reminded by my bestie that Wex was 2019 Makeover eligible.
While we stew on that fact, let’s revisit my current situation. I hadn’t ridden in 6 months. Prior to that, I was sharing my semi-retired senior horse with my kids. My training days were long behind me. I hadn’t even ridden a horse that wasn’t BooBoo with any regularity in more than 8 years. Plus, I have a full time job, a long commute, and 2 incredibly busy kids. In all honesty, I really had no business with a 3-year-old colt.
So obviously, I applied to be a trainer for the Thoroughbred Makeover 2019. I cobbled together an entry with a highlight reel of my past life. I begged and borrowed rides from friends so I could get some more recent videos of my skills (can I just mention how far digital video has come in 10 years?!). I wrote a narrative about the thoroughbreds that have graced my life. And then I waited. Two long weeks.
And I got in.
You guys. Wex and I are going to compete at the Kentucky Horse Park in October. We have 8 months to be able to successfully complete a hunter round. For the record, I can trot about 6 steps at a time right now, so I guess you could say we’ve got this thing in the bag.