Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Thoroughbreds for All: A symposium and celebration of OTTBs

Cathy Wieschhoff rode her stunning TB Ready for April at the demo
One of my BTB friends,  Becky, suggested that we attend Thoroughbreds for All while we were at Rolex. I knew nothing about it but I love my own dear thoroughbred, so I signed up for the evening clinic/symposium/workshop on retraining thoroughbreds. I had no idea that the cast of speakers would be such an elite and knowledgable group, but with Bruce Davidson there, anything else was icing on the cake -- and there was a lot of icing! The other experts are  notable  in the thoroughbred and eventing world and with good reason -- experience, experience, experience. Their names are at the end of this article.

The evening centered around helping the audience understand the world through the eyes of an ex-racehorse, and to help us to size up the potential and best use of the individual OTTB. Someone has already summarized the event in a brief horseadoption.com article if you want to read it. I'll cover it in a bit more detail but overall it was fun,  informal, the food was delicious, and I would have spent twice the amount of the ticket for this experience.   Bob went too, and he enjoyed it as well.

I have captured some video of the evening -- it starts out a little dark but it improves, so keep watching! In this first part, we see our team of experts evaluating one of five adoption candidates presented--a former Kentucky Derby runner, Advice.

I'll note that the horses presented aren't specially selected; they are intended to be representative of what's out there. While the horse presented below (Advice)  has a lot of "jewelry" from his race career, others in the group looked ready to move into hard work. Still, the beauty and quality of Advice is undeniable.

When you're watching the video, note that Bruce is in the blue denim shirt, and here is a description of the others: Dr. Alladay is in the white shirt, Steuart Pittman is in the navy shirt, Cathy Wieschhoff is in the green and white shirt, and Dorothy Trapp/Crowell is in the sweater. Anna Ford is in navy and she's the first speaker.

Advice, a six-year old TB

Later Cathy Wieshhoff  showed off her gorgeous chestnut TB, Ready for April. We were all drooling as she showed us her training techniques. Her horse was focused on her like a border collie, and I found a video of Cathy online demonstrating the same concepts.



  1. Geeze. Advice is so beautiful! And breaks my heart. My horse was so lucky to not have that treatment. He raced at Turf Paradise (Advice's last track) in claiming races, but his owners gave him away to a non-race home before his claiming price dropped too much to keep him out of the hands of the types of trainers who would have worn him down. He retired totally sound, with the best legs my vet had ever seen on an ex racer (11 races only), and was just lucky that he had some of the many unheralded great owners who really cared.

  2. I really appreciate you showing Cathy training her horse for jumping. So nice and relaxed, and kind to the horse!

  3. I was totally in Awe of Cathy. She had that horse watching her every move like a cutting horse, and she rode beautifully. Her horse exploded at one point -- really launched -- and she stuck like glue.

  4. This was so interesting. I'm hoping the title of this video being part 1 means there are more clips to come! It seems really challenging to predict what prospect horses will be good at and turn into when you don't have the benefit of a pedigree slanted towards one discipline and a perfect history of the horse. Cool to see so many experts willing to share their insight.

  5. Did anyone understand a word that vet said? I heard "bowed tendon," but the rest of his presentation was gibberish. I'm sorry, too, because I love to learn from people like the assembled group, especially about OTTBs. Like the other man who spoke just before the vet said, "[Advice] doesn't owe anybody anything." Every single ex-racehorse sound enough to have good quality of life when their competitive desire wanes deserves to be retrained and rehomed, a job New Vocations is doing very well. I just wish the vet had spoken slowly and clearly enough to be understood.

  6. Oh, boy, am I ever jealous! I knew that event was taking place and if I make it next year to Rolex I am SO going if they have it again. GREAT IDEA! I'm so glad you were there and I get to see/read something about it, at least. The ball is rolling, folks, it really is, and more and more people are waking up and realizing these wonderful horses are right under our noses here in the US and need to be given homes! No, not all of them are going to turn into 4* eventers but neither are all they a bunch of nut cases like many horse people seem to believe.

    I am of course old enough that back in my day OTTBs were all anybody rode in the H/J world - Warmblood, what the heck is that?? Guess that's partly why my dream horse always has been and always will be a Thoroughbred...


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