A Good Combination

I recently ventured out to Antebellum Farm in Lexington, KY for the Antebellum Combined Test with a couple of co-workers to watch another of our colleagues, The Horse news editor Erica Larson, compete with her off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB), Dorado. (I will have a feature on Erica and Dorado soon)

Anyway, the purpose of the trip was to support Erica and Dorado as well as learn about grooming for eventing and to gain a better understanding of OTTBs in second careers.

One discussion particularly caught my attention between two riders, as one of the girls was waiting to go on course for jumping in Erica's division. This competitor mentioned that she was an assistant trainer for a Thoroughbred racing trainer. Thus she was discussing how she has always been around the track and competed in three-day events and combined tests with OTTB's.

She mentioned "I always have preferred Thoroughbreds and have competed with several over the years." She went on to reminisce on past OTTBs she has evented with, but the horse she was on today was actually chosen and possessed by her, versus being borrowed or possibly leased from her trainer. She proudly specified that her current horse was "right off the track."  Clearly the horse had been trained for jumping and dressage as well, but you get my point.

In short, I have really only spent time with a handful of OTTBs in second careers. To hear two strangers exchange words on their favortism towards eventing with OTTBs was enlighting and upifting.

On a side note, I will admit that I also learned how to be an eventing groom.  

The video below is Erica's dressage test and simply ignore my commentary as I am a student of eventing.


Leave a Comment:


Good column, Adam!! I too am a fan of OTTBs, and the more people see and read about what wonderful candidates TBs are for second careers, the better for them and the better for racing.

I've owned "Huey" aka "Echo Dancer" (Eastern Echo x Cherry Lady/Bold Lad) since 1998. Chris McCarron rode him to his first win (Del Mar, August 1997). Huey was retired about six months later because he had breathing issues. After giving him down time and figuring out all his buttons, we have done a bit of dressage and a lot of trail riding.

TBs have such good hearts and are full of "try." Once they have been retrained, their career paths are almost endless. The trust between the OTTB and the owner/rider is a beautiful gift, and watching the ex-racer perform at its second career is, as you say, "uplifting."

Thank you again for the column today.

01 Sep 2011 8:42 AM

Let me begin by agreeing 100% with what you heard in that OTTBs, actually any horse with significant TB blood in them in my opinion, are amazing athletes that are perfectly suited to the sport of eventing.  I can't think of a breed with more heart to go with their innate athleticism than TBs.  Giving these horses an new career is a wonderful thing.   Love the OTTB in the video!  

As far as your grooming experience goes, I commend you for going out and getting involved in the sport.  Most people are not aware of the little things involved with getting a horse and rider ready for a show.  Regarding your “commentary”, everyone has to start somewhere and it sounded like you had a helpful person nearby.  I’m guessing you learned a lot!

05 Sep 2011 7:12 AM

I've never understood how warm-blood enthusiasts can claim more "scope" than the breed that jumps the Grand National Course.

One was commenting during a TV show at the moment a warmblood, out of thin air, dropped a leg straight down in the middle of a spread jump. He didn't get that little trick from the hot side of his pedigree!

02 Mar 2012 11:45 PM

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