Welcome to Horse Tales of the UV pt.1, the Off-the-track Thoroughbred or OTTB.
Meet the gorgeous Ms. Tippi, or Tropical Trip as was her official racing name. Liz Clarke of South Strafford, VT adopted her from Akindale Thoroughbred Rescue in Pawling, NY this past spring.
Liz is a “re-rider.” She rode from age 9 through college. She stopped for work, family, children, etc. As she had more free time, she began to consider the idea of riding again. Liz purchased one horse, Luca, a quarter horse mix, whom she adored (and continues to do so.) Sadly, after 5 years he broke his coffin bone and became unrideable.
It took Liz another 10 years to consider finding another rideable horse, and in came Ms. Tippi. Liz was lucky; Ms. Tippi was down in Aiken, South Carolina with Heather Carlson for some retraining and Liz was able to spend two weeks riding her before deciding whether she was the right horse. It seems as though she is, the two make a beautiful pair.
Liz has continued Ms. Tippi’s training with the help of Dartmouth grad student Janice Galejs, who is a rider/trainer.
The racing Thoroughbreds career tends to be short. If they don’t get injured and if they make money, most will still be retired by the time they are four. Some will stay on the track until they are seven or so, depending on their health and winnings. However, Thoroughbred racing is a business, and it is run like one. A good business owner knows that having more animals in your pasture costing you money than you have out racing, bringing money in, is bad financially. For most farms, there isn’t a lot of room for holding on to horses out of love.
So, where do these extra horses go? If they aren’t sold right off the track, some are accepted at lesson programs or go to rescues but, it can be hard to find homes for these big, beautiful animals.
However, as more people discover the wonderful work ethic and sweet manner of the Thoroughbred, the breed is gaining attention in all manner of disciplines, and more people are taking retired racers on as retraining projects.
When I asked Liz why she loves Thoroughbreds, she answered, “They are so smart and sensitive. They have a refinement of looks and mind. The way they move is just elegant to me.”
Horse Tales will be a regular blog featuring interviews, discussions, and news from the Upper Valley horse community. Keep on the lookout for upcoming pieces on fox-hunting, raising foals, and riding as a child. If you have pieces you would like to see, send suggestions my way!