OTTB Update: Windy Jim; Plus a Giveaway!

I love it when a past Beyond the Blinkers subject takes the time to email and give me an update on his or her off track Thoroughbred! Do you guys remember the story of Windy Jim as told by owner Jackie Cross in March 2011? (Click here to refresh your memory).

Well, Jackie emailed me a few weeks ago to give me an update on the 16-year-old Feel the Power gelding and it sounds like he couldn't be better!

Windy Jim was given to Cross by her childhood riding instructor, Pat, who had cared for the gelding after he retired from racing, but was experiencing some financial constraints.

Like many OTTBS, Windy Jim may not have had the best racing career--he failed to find the winner's circle in six starts and was retired after his 3-year-old season due to a bowed tendon--but he sure has found a winning new vocation with Jackie.

Jackie, who formerly boarded Windy Jim at a farm near her home in Bridgeport, W.V., has now acquired her own land keeps her gelding in a spacious pasture outside her back door.

"I love being able to look out my kitchen window and see him playing with his best buddies Chance and Bandit," Jackie said. "We have miles and miles of beautiful trails right behind our new barn. Windy loves to be on the trails and takes great pleasure in leaping (usually from a standstill) over the smallest ditches and logs. When he lands on the other side he usually takes off and lets out a playful buck. I've learned to prepare myself and hang on. It never fails, I still laugh after all these years when he bucks. My girlfriend has always said, 'Poor boy couldn't buck his way out of a paper bag, but he sure has fun trying!' "
Jackie further related that Windy is the "king" of his small herd and keeps Chance and Bandit in line.

"One of the things I've always loved about him is how kind and accepting he is of any new horse he happens to meet, which always seemed odd since he's an alpha type horse," said Jackie. "He was considered the resident babysitter at the old boarding facility. You could put any new horse in a paddock with him on day one and he would be their friend and protector until they gradually worked their way into the herd. Once they were accepted by the others, then he made sure they knew HE was the was funny to watch all the different sides of his personality. He's just so intelligent!"

Windy Jim (right) with his pasture mates

Windy Jim's favorite treat is still peppermints and Jackie swears he can hear a plastic wrapper from 100 yards away.
"Our other two (horses) are also very lovable and they like a lot of attention too," said Jackie. "But if I walk out into the pasture Windy comes up to me immediately and tells the other boys to back off.  I think he's afraid they might get one of his peppermints!"  

Windy Jim with another OTTB friend, Killing Frost, which Jackie recently re-homed

Windy's new favorite pastime is to tell Jackie where he wants to be scratched.

"I was in his stall one day and trying to clean around him," said Jackie. "He came up behind me, put his head on my behind, and gave a little shove. I turned around and asked him what he wanted and he picked up his right hind leg, shook it, and then stomped the floor.  

"I had no idea what he was doing, so I turned around and went back to my cleaning. A couple seconds later I feel another shove, but this one was a little harder. I turned around and again asked what he wanted. I figured he was bored and just wanted to play so I started rubbing his head. He pulled away as if to tell me, 'no.'  

"Then he shook his hind leg again and stomped it down. I went to his back leg and started to scratch him and immediately he started shaking his head up and down. He was so happy that I finally figured it out, but I didn't quite have the right spot yet. He then moved his body to position my hands exactly where he wanted them. Voila!!!  I guess you could say Windy taught me a new trick. Now, on a pretty regular basis, he will nudge me first then put whatever part of his body is itching up against me and wait for me to scratch him. Some people might say he's a little spoiled."

Now it's your turn to tell me about your favorite OTTB's funniest or most endearing personality quirks. It could be an OTTB that you personally own, or just one that you've come into contact with. Please leave a comment below and a winner will be chosen at random next week. The prize is a free New Vocations t-shirt of your choice. Good luck! 

New Vocations shirts; the one on the right says "Raised to Race, Recycled to Ride"

Windy Jim


Leave a Comment:


Wow! What a beautiful place for Windy and all his friends. So hapy to see the update!

You may remember my Blue Blue Sea who was featured in February 2011. He continues to do well and his brother Gran Huracan who was resuced out of Puerto Rico in November 2011 is still looking for his home.

I think most people know that there's little Blue does that I don't find endearing. :) His most endearing trait to me would be how he will come to the gate when he sees me arrive at the barn. This is especially touching when I've had a bad day. There is nothing more wonderful to see than your horse coming to you over the grass in the field and his horse pals.


29 Nov 2012 7:14 PM

Great story.  I bet Windy Jim knows exactly how great he has it! It also demonstrates the intelligence of animals, which too many people think is pretty much nonexistent.  I have a dog that also insists that I scratch him where it itches and lets me know this with very similar "hints" to that of Windy Jim's.  Perhaps, the primary thing that separates us from other animals is their inability to speak our language. But as with any groups of people, language is often more than the spoken word.  Stories like this one should remind everyone why the horseracing industry must do better at safeguarding the welfare of all of its athletes. Our society may well be judged in how it treated its animals.  (A nod to M. Ghandi.)

30 Nov 2012 12:56 PM

hey you sould do a story on advice, who was adopted from new vocations earlier this yr, or the recently adopted joe vann.

30 Nov 2012 3:05 PM
Linda in Texas

This is just decent. Nothing in the world but decent, loving, and exactly how they all should live out their lives.

Thank you for caring for all three.

Lovely idyllic place i might add for all of them to nudge the grass and you for a little scratchin':).

And thank you Jackie for keeping in touch with Esther.  

I read this as i was just searching to find out what ever happened to a favorite of mine, EightyFiveInaFifty!

Thank you Esther for your article.

I always love to know how they end up once they are up for adoption.


30 Nov 2012 8:51 PM

My favorite OTTB story would have to be that of Lava Man.  After failing at full retirement, he still wanted to work. He has been retrained as a successful pony horse and  demonstrates to the world that every horse has something to give.  Like people, many will have two or three careers throughout their lifetime.  I enjoy reading about OTTB who are blessed with second (and sometimes third) chances.  Thanks for the story!

01 Dec 2012 9:27 AM

What a great story. It's always great to hear about OTTB's who have found a wonderful home. My OTTB mare, Sound Advice, loves to sneak up on me when I'm doing chores outside. She is as quiet as a stealth bomber, and when I turn around there is her nose right in my face. She seems to think that her trick is hilarious, because after she is found out she'll start racing around and bouncing like Tigger. She'll also pick up any tools that I happen to leave on the ground and start experimenting with them. She is a sweetheart and I am so glad I found her.

Thanks so much for the success stories. I always look forward to the next one.

01 Dec 2012 12:51 PM

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful story! Windy Jim is indeed very smart and intelligent! Would love for more updates on this remarkable horse!

Someone mentioned Lava Man's new vocation, and at the same track, Hollywood Park, Awesome Gem will undergo training to be another famous pony horse, right alongside Lava Man! These two horses have brought such joy to millions on the track, and their fame and notoriety shines a light on aftercare for all our equine heroes!

02 Dec 2012 11:00 AM

Thank you for that wonderful story. My OTTB Bold Stuff, aka Stuffy tries to be polite and well behaved, but if he is fresh and just has to have a leap and a buck he will warn me by shaking his head. First time he does it, he is trying to contain himself, 2nd time, it is the get ready shake, and third time is usually accompanied by a squeal and a shake and a buck! With Stuffy, there is never a dull moment, but he is a treasure.

03 Dec 2012 4:02 PM
Ute Shepherd

My OTTB mare Torys Prospect came to me a little over 3-1/2 yrs ago. She had been through some rough times after being abused and nearly starved to death. She proved to be a fighter and was all heart. I was blessed to have her in my live until about 5 wks ago when she had to be humanely euthanized due to recurrent problems with cellulitis. During our time together, she and I had a wonderful time. She was the most loving creature and she had a special way of showing her affection, yes affection. I will never forget the day when I turned her and my 2 geldings out to pasture and she turned back from the field to gallop back to me. She put her forehead against my shoulder, gave me a little nudge and then headed out for a day of grazing. I was fortunate to be able to share my story in a blog recently. I miss her terribly, but she will always be with me and I am glad that I was able to have her be part of my life.

05 Dec 2012 12:28 PM

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