Here’s something not even the capricious Horse Racing Gods could have predicted: Hall of Fame jockey Chris McCarron sorting cattle, mounted on an OTTB, at Pimlico Racecourse.
Life is strange and full of wonders.
Now for the record, I don’t know how to sort cattle, so I can’t comment too heavily on McCarron’s method, although at a guess I would say he also doesn’t know how to sort cattle. I think he’s a little taut on the reins for this horses’ liking – I think the horses do most of the work in this game and he’s saying “yo dude, let go of my face and I will totally round up this cow for you.” (The horse is from southern California in this particularly dream dialogue I am cooking up.)
But I could be wrong. Cattle sorting enthusiasts, set me straight! What’s happening here?
UPDATE: Wonderful commenters gave us the inside scoop, and their details turn this great story into a truly extraordinary one. This horse, named Automobile, is literally fresh off the racetrack, and has less than a half dozen rides under his girth before he found himself sorting cattle. He was a replacement horse when the originally scheduled horse developed a cough. (So feel better, poor guy with a cough!)
So I encourage you to watch this video with fresh eyes, not just an OTTB doing his job, but an OTTB being asked to do something entirely new! And accomplishing it with relative aplomb!
When I think about how many horses I’ve been on who have taken one look at a cow in the far distance and decided it was halfway past time to head for the hills….
This guy is an inspiration!
And so without further ado, straight from the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium to you, Chris McCarron sorting cattle, on an OTTB, at Pimlico Racecourse.
When the Retired Racehorse Training Project announced their Thoroughbred Makeover and Symposium a few months ago, October seemed forever and ever away. Heck, I even thought I might make it to the event. I’d make plans… eventually. Closer to October. Or so I thought.
Photo: Retired Racehorse Training Project
Well, now it’s October and I’m getting ready for another business/family trip in the week after the symposium, so I won’t be able to catch a train to Maryland after all. But if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic and you are curious about Retired Racehorses, this is your opportunity to see them in action, hear from experts, and start putting together a cohesive answer to that lurking question: “Is a Retired Racehorse right for me?”
The Makeover is slated to be the star event, when more than twenty riders from across the country and from a variety of disciplines will show off what they’ve accomplished in the past three months with their project horses, all off-track Thoroughbreds with no further training than the races.
And in-between demonstrations there are some pretty unique exhibitions on offer: Chris McCarron’s “Ride Like a Jockey” (something I think all of us should learn how to do), presentations on hunting, show hunters, polo, show jumping, Pony Club, eventing, and dressage; and perhaps the most intriguing/bizarre: Who Let The Cows Out? This event, which ties in with the western presentation, will feature jockeys trying to pen cattle, because of course.
But the symposium forums look especially interesting. I wouldn’t miss these: a session on the business side of Thoroughbred retirement, a trainer’s forum featuring a panel of Thoroughbred experts: Rodney Jenkins, Cathy Wieschoff, and Hillary Simpson, and an open forum on the future of racehorse retirement and the racing industry’s involvement.
There are also sessions on soundness, sales, and healthcare which will doubtless be very informative, especially to the newbies who are looking for their first OTTB.
It’s going to be a very educational weekend at Pimlico, and I’m definitely jealous of everyone who will be attending! I encourage anyone who wants to share photos or trip reports to email me (natalie @ nataliekreinert dot com) and I’ll post them here at Retired Racehorse with your byline!
Here’s the very compelling promo video:
What are you looking forward to most at the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium?
The first Timber Ridge Riders novel had me hooked.
I’m a huge proponent of indie publishing, not least because it has allowed horse books to enter a whole new level. Gone are the days when I could choose between a $5.99 paperback from the Thoroughbred series or a $35.95 hardcover tome on dressage principles if I wanted to have a little horsey reading time.
(And on a side-note, whoever decided that horse training books should be published on expensive glossy paperstock and with beautiful slipcovers was probably some accountant reading a report about the 35-55 married female with disposable income demo that represents the majority of Dressage Today’s subscribers, not a horse-person who knows a training book is best perused in the rather dirty and disheveled confines of the tack room immediately before or after a training session.)
Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Indie publishing lets horse-people publish horse-books that I actually want to read.
You’ve probably noticed that I’ve reviewed Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana books quite often at Retired Racehorse. That’s because they’re not just excellent writers, they’re horsewomen, and they write horse books that make sense. No one is going straight to the Olympics after they went to a summer riding camp, taught an unbroken Mustang to jump logs in the woods by moonlight, and subsequently won the Grand Prix at the National Horse Show. (Any old Grand Prix will do.)
Instead, Maggie writes about tweens who are going about the very difficult business of growing up and working really, really hard to improve their riding because they know nothing else really matters in life.
As did the first Bittersweet Farm novel, Mounted.
Meanwhile, Barbara writes about teens who are going about the very difficult business of growing up (in a much more edgy manner, because teens) and working really, really hard to improve their riding even though they’re not entirely convinced that it’s the best way to spend their time (because teens).
The books lend to one another beautifully: As Barbara said, “Maggie’s books are a gateway to mine.”
And, I’d like to think, Barbara’s books lead to mine, which are written about adults in the horse business.
Nomore skipping from Thoroughbred to Mary Wanless in one not-so-easy step. Horse books have a progression now.
And indie publishing isn’t just wonderful because it allows us to read books we might never get to enjoy otherwise. Indie publishing also provides for a spirit of collaboration and friendship between authors who realize that by working together, they can provide the best possible reading experience for fans. Recently, they sent me this wonderful article:
How Two Rivals Came Together to Make a Team
The 3rd Bittersweet Farm book from Barbara Morgenroth, Wingspread
In the world of traditional book publishing, Barbara Morgenroth and Maggie Dana would be rival authors, both vying for the same limited space on bookstore shelves devoted to children’s and YA fiction. Very likely they’d be monitoring one another’s sales ranks and rejoicing if the other author dropped a few points.
“Hooray! Let’s break out the whips and spurs!”
But when it comes to indie publishing, all that has gone out the window. Independent authors are totally open about sharing resources and information and helping one another. Some have edited and/or proofed another’s books for free; other indies have provided their fellow authors with professionally designed covers, formatting, and typesetting (again, for free) because they believed in someone else’s book and wanted to help.
Six months ago, Barbara and Maggie only knew each other from their Amazon listings, but thanks to a chance encounter on a well-respected indie publishing industry blog, they connected in real time.
And they are loving it.
After getting to know one another via phone and email, they swapped information: Maggie has taught Barbara how to format her books for ePub and Kindle, and Barbara (whose multiple talents include writing for daytime television) has helped Maggie broaden her writing horizons. They’ve also swapped characters.
The latest Timber Ridge Riders release, Taking Chances, by Maggie Dana
Lockie Malone, Barbara’s enigmatic horse trainer who stars in her Bittersweet Farm series, makes a guest appearance in Taking Chances, the seventh book in Maggie’s Timber Ridge Riders series for mid-grade/tween readers.
At some point, one of Maggie’s Timber Ridge characters will show up in Barbara’s Bittersweet Farm YA books.
And who knows where this will lead? All bets are off as these two writers set aside any hint of competition and work together to make their genres the best they can be… and they’re having a boatload of fun while doing it.
About these two horse-crazy authors …
Maggie and Smoky show us how it’s done. Photo: Maggie Dana
Maggie Dana’s first riding lesson, at the age of five, was less than wonderful. In fact, she hated it so much, she didn’t try again for another three years. But all it took was the right instructor and the right horse and she was hooked for life.
Her new riding stable was slap bang in the middle of Pinewood Studios, home of England’s movie industry. So while learning to groom horses, clean tack, and muck stalls, Maggie also got to see the stars in action. Some even spoke to her.
Born and raised near London, Maggie now makes her home on the Connecticut shoreline where she divides her time between hanging out with the family’s horses and writing her next book in the Timber Ridge Riders series. She also writes women’s fiction and her latest novel, Painting Naked, was published in 2012 by Macmillan/Momentum.
Barbara Morgenroth, every bit as intense as her characters in the saddle
Barbara was born in New York City and but now lives somewhere else. She got her first horse when she was eleven and rode nearly every day for many years, eventually teaching equitation, then getting involved in eventing.
Starting her career by writing tween and YA books, she wound up in daytime television for some years. Barbara then wrote a couple of cookbooks and a nonfiction book on knitting. She returned to fiction and wrote romantic comedies.
When digital publishing became a possibility, Barbara leaped at the opportunity and has never looked back. In addition to the fifteen traditionally published books she wrote, in digital format Barbara has something to appeal to almost every reader—from mature YAs like the Bad Apple series and the Flash series, to contemporary romances like Love in the Air published by Amazon/Montlake, along with Unspeakably Desirable, Nothing Serious, and Almost Breathing.
Now, just so you can get an idea of how many books have benefited from this collaboration, here are the books in the Dana/Morgenroth empire. Go read them, horse-people! You won’t be disappointed.
If you’ve been following me for a while, you know that TROT (Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa) is one of my favorite Thoroughbred rehoming and rehabbing groups. Working directly with Tampa Bay Downs, they have helped many, many Thoroughbreds find new homes, whether it’s a life-time of pasture or a new showing career.
They’ve even been there for Bon Appeal’s half-brother, Mambo Appeal, who shares her squiggle of a stripe and sleek build.
When a couple of my friends from TROT reached out to me about Curragh Mon, it really touched my heart. I don’t have a lot of opportunities to write about OTTBs these days; I am spending most of my time in my cave of an office, writing fiction, and the racetrack in New York is a very expensive train ride away. I’m busy, and it’s hard to keep up. But when someone needs help, I hope I can say I’ve been there for them. Or him. Curragh Mon.
Curragh Mon’s story is living proof that it can happen to anyone (I’m starting to think it does happen to everyone at some point in their fifteen to forty years on the planet — horses just don’t have good luck in our society). It can even happen to tall, well-bred dapple grays: the ones that people are supposed to swoon for, the ones that are supposed to be the most desirable. We all of us, at one point in our horse-crazy lives, have day-dreamed about a tall dapple gray. You have, and I have, and that’s just how it is. There’s something about them.
But that something, and all those daydreams, aren’t enough when the horse is in the wrong hands and falling off the radar. And it’s so, so easy for a horse to fall off the radar. There’s no vetting process for horse owners, or even for horse trainers. Should there be? I’m really starting to think so.
This is Curragh Mon’s story. He was lost, and he’s been found. It took hard work and it took dedication and it took love and compassion. Thanks to TROT for telling me about it and linking me to this impressive press release. Take a read, and take a think, and hug your horse, and if you can share this story, or throw a few bucks Curragh Mon’s way, do so. And maybe, down the road, let’s talk about how we’re going to stop horses from falling off the radar.
The following is a press release from Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa (TROT):
CURRAGH MON RETURNS HOME WHERE HIS RACING CAREER STARTED
Arriving with just a halter fit for a pony, this 17 hand Thoroughbred was on his way to a better life. The only memory of his racing days is the one front shoe that remains on his overgrown hooves. The transport driver said, “He just wants someone to love him”, and he was right. On Curragh Mon’s first leg of his long, bumpy road to retirement, this gray gelding seems to know his life was worth saving.
Now, Thoroughbred Retirement of Tampa, Inc. (also known as TROT) is appealing to horse lovers and racing fans to assist in funding Curragh Mon’s transition to life away from the track.
Curragh Mon’s racing career began full of promise, when he rallied to finish second in a Tampa Bay Downs maiden special weight race for 3-year-olds in his January 2009 debut. He broke his maiden eleven months later at Tampa Bay Downs and went on to win three more times. The striking gray/roan son of Maria’s Mon — sire of Kentucky Derby winners Monarchos and Super Saver — appeared to have an extremely bright future.
However, the trips to the winner’s circle were few and far between and he changed owners seven times over four years of racing. His last three starts were in March and April of this year at Fonner Park in Grand Island Nebraska. After that, he fell off the radar.
Fortunately for Curragh Mon, organizations such as TROT, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the safe retirement from racing, retraining and rehoming of Tampa’s racing Thoroughbreds, have taken the lead in an effort to ensure that Thoroughbreds have a chance to lead happy and productive lives after their racing careers are over.
After locating Curragh Mon through painstaking diligence, TROT is bringing him back to the Tampa Bay area to begin his well-deserved retirement.
The horse’s former owners contacted TROT board member Vanessa Nye as they were concerned about what happened to the horse. Nye, a Tampa attorney who owns and operates Voodoomon Stable, is a strong advocate of safe retirement and aftercare for Thoroughbreds.
“I believe, and always have, that retiring these horses properly, transitioning them into other careers and supporting the aftercare of these great animals is paramount for the racing industry’s future.”
Nye made scores of telephone calls in her quest, enlisting the aid of numerous horsemen. On May 9, she found out that his last racing owner had given Curragh Mon away. It took another five weeks to finally locate the horse, which had changed hands and for possible use in unregulated match racing.
Finally, they were able to contact the individual possessing Curragh Mon, who agreed to sell him for $2,500, an amount Nye agreed to pay along with shipping costs. Nye said Steve Breen helped with coordinating his return home and the horse’s former owners are chipping in to cover the expenses.
No one can say for certain what Curragh Mon’s fate would have been had not Nye and her contacts put in the hours and diligence to launch the process of tracking him down. “It took me eight weeks and about 400 phone calls, but I was very determined,” she added.
Curragh Mon is scheduled to return by van to TROT’s foster facility in Myakka City in the next few weeks. “Really, TROT is full to capacity, but we don’t want to turn away a horse that has raced at Tampa Bay Downs. We (racing owners) all have to become more conscientious and investigate who we give these horses away to,” Nye said.
TROT estimates it will take at least a month for Curragh Mon to wind down from racing before starting retraining and being available for adoption. TROT is seeking donations to support him and the other fourteen horses currently in the program and available for new careers or as loving companions.
Please consider making a donation to Curragh Mon’s rehabilitation, or to help the other fourteen horses in the program. Use this link to access the PayPal donation link -http://tampatrot.org/how_you_can_help.html.
Thanks so much to everyone who supported our efforts to help our friends in Oklahoma who lost everything in last week’s tornado. This includes the authors who graciously donated books to the sale: MaryAnn Myers, Glenye Cain, and Juliet Harrison. As far as I know everyone still has some books available, so if you still want to get in on the fundraiser, I’ll leave that page up for the next week.
And now I have something for you!
Absorbine/W.F.Young was nice enough to send me a box of their new ShowSheen Try Paks to give away to blog readers. I’m sure ShowSheen needs no introduction; don’t most of us have that sweet smell burned into our nostrils from a hundred horse show mornings? When I first learned to ride, I was not allowed to brush a horse’s tail unless it had ShowSheen in it first. It’s just one of those things that I’ve used my entire life.
I like to be dusty. I need a lot of ShowSheen.
And as a professional groom, keeping horses show-ring ready all day long, I learned that a little ShowSheen on a soft brush goes a long way towards repelling dust and keeping a horse’s coat gleaming. I’ve rubbed some pretty high-profile horses in my day, and I’ve used ShowSheen on every single one of them!
That’s why I’m happy to offer this nice little Try Pak from Absorbine. This is a company with products I’ve been using my entire equestrian life.
The Try Pak is a zip-up bag contained three travel-size bottles of Absorbine products: ShowSheen Original Hair Polish & Detangler, ShowSheen 2-In-1 Shampoo & Conditioner, and ShowSheen Stain Remover & Whitener. It’s a nice opportunity to try out the shampoos and stain removers if you haven’t used them before, or just a good size to throw into the trailer on your way to a show or event.
Just use the entry form below to get your ShowSheen Try Pak! You have through Monday, June 3 to enter.