This is really the most exciting development that I’ve seen in the racehorse retirement front: Steuart Pittman’s new Retired Racehorse Training Project.
It’s described in the press release as a “charitable organization whose mission is to increase demand for Thoroughbred ex-racehorses through public education and promotion.”
In addition to a really hella-cool idea, this includes a fun new GAME: the Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge, which will pit three sport-horse trainers against one another to select and start OTTBs, reschooling them for five weeks and blogging their progress (!!) before they show up at the Pennsylvania World Horse Expo to show the class how much their horse learned. This sounds like so much fun. Heavy-weight judges include Stephen Bradley and James Wofford, both eventing stars. I can’t wait.
The website, http://www.retiredracehorsetraining.org, is meant to be a hub for education and support, and contains something that I am very excited about: the Bloodline Brag. It’s a database where you enter in your horse’s Jockey Club name, breeding, and fill in information about his quirks, temperament, talents, etc., to give us a better idea of what traits are really passed down in Thoroughbred breeding. I have been trying to figure out a way to do something like this myself, but I really don’t have time, so thank goodness they’ve come up with it!
There are already horses listed on it… just a suggestion, the program doesn’t capitalize first letters, so if you want this thing to look nice and professional, be sure to write Mr. Prospector and not mr propeostocr.
Pittman gives us this sobering statistic in the press release:
“United States Equestrian Federation statistics show that Thoroughbreds declined as a percentage of horses registered for national competitions from 41% in 1982 to 10% in 2011,” according to Pittman. “One cause of this trend has been a lack of effective education and marketing about the attributes that these horses bring to the sport and recreation rider. Thirty years ago we all revered retired racehorses because we all rode them. Today we have a new generation of riders who need to hear the good news.”
Ten percent? That’s bad, people, that’s bad. Let’s hear it for Pittman and the others that are putting together the Retired Racehorse Training Project! I’m so excited!