Retired Racehorse Training Project rocks it!

Brazilian Wedding © Onawa Rock

Every seat was filled. And still, people streamed into the arena.

They congregated four- and five-people deep, at the fence surrounding the arena, or peered down from above, hoping to glimpse the action from a mezzanine.

Little children hung over the railing and stretched as far as they could to get closer to the horses who were the center of attraction.

Four ex-racehorse Thoroughbreds, fresh from the track and retrained for the public demonstration, did not disappoint as they showed off their new job skills at the Pennsylvania Horse World Expo last weekend.

Just as Steuart Pittman, the mastermind behind the Retired Racehorse Training Project, predicted, the ex-racehorses and trainers did more to dispel myths about the craziness and flightiness of Thoroughbreds than all the words and pictures of a Madison Avenue ad campaign.

Seeing, after all, was believing. And many eyeballs watched a demonstration that Pittman admits, gave him goose bumps.

“There were 1,660 seats and there were as many standing as sitting,” Pittman says. “We knew we’d have a good crowd, but we never expected this. People were enthralled.”

Balance © Onawa Rock

After roughly five weeks of training, three horses—Four X The Trouble, Solidify, and Brazilian Wedding—trotted and cantered around for the audience, demonstrating their balance, connection and ability to learn. And, a fourth horse, High Level, after a mere two weeks of training, proved to be a capable student too!

The horses were schooled as part of a Trainer Challenge, which tested the skills of equestrians Kerry Blackmer (paired with Four X The Trouble,) Tiffany Catledge (paired with Solidify and High Level) and Eric Dierks (paired with Brazilian wedding).

After performing for the crowd, an online audience, who watched the demonstration streamed via the Retired Racehorse Training Project website, voted for a winner of the challenge.

And, in the ring, eventing star James Wofford, author Alex Brown, and Allie Conrad, executive director of CANTER Mid-Atlantic, also cast ballots.

Dierks won the contest, but all four horses won the day!

“Eric was very popular online and was the clear winner. He used the contest not only as an opportunity to train Brazilian Wedding, but to teach the public,” Pittman says. “And, he produced. He transformed that horse in five weeks.”

It gets better.

Brazilian Wedding © Sarah Andrew

All four horses have attracted prospective buyers!  In some cases, multiple offers have come in on the Thoroughbreds. And they are selling for between $7,000 and $10,000.

The fact that horses off the track would sell at this price point after only weeks of training goes to the crux of Pittman’s argument. That Thoroughbreds can be sold for sums that provide trainers an option to dropping a slower horse into a low-level claiming race, where they could become injured.

“One of the highlights of this whole event was a comment that Jimmy Wofford made about wishing he’d taken a trailer to the demonstration, because he’d take all of them,” Pittman says. applauds the work of the Retired Racehorse Training Project and encourages others to follow in their footsteps.

8 responses to “Retired Racehorse Training Project rocks it!”

  1. Deb Wagner

    I have a retired thoroughbred myself, and, I will admit, he can be pretty flighty sometimes, but, for the most part, he is as gentle as a lamb. I call him my gentle giant.

  2. Brittney

    Great article! So glad people are beginning to see what amazing sport horses OTTBs can be!
    A trainer I used to work for has an OTTB who is now a silver medal FEI dressage champion! She got offered $40,000 for him but she just couldn’t pass him up, no matter the sum of money.
    I also now a lady in town who is a 2 time championship barrel racer, not sure the league, but her horse is an OTTB!
    They’re so versatile and learn so quickly. OTTB’s all the way <3

  3. Mary B.

    excellent review. If anyone is interested, I was there, and also wrote up a review for Eventing Nation and Horse Nation. The Retired Racehorse Training Project (RRTP) hasn’t posted their livestream video of the event, but you can see video clips, on my YouTube RRTP playlist here:

  4. Kitster

    I could not agree more! I dont know why the WB got so popular either. I find the Tb’s alot smarter, more athletic and willing to learn. I awlays rode TB’s and never found them hard to ride. I dont know whats with the riders today, or why some people think the TB are difficult. I am glad to see the project being a success and more shows and clesses being geared for OTTB’s. We have million dollar OTTB’s right here in the USA, with the hbest breeding. I couild never understand why some one would want to go to Europe and by thier rejects and spend lots of $$$.
    Ottb’s and OTQH’s are the best! Always rode them , always will!!!

  5. Portia

    This was the best project I have ever seen to help re-educate the horse world about how wonderful these horses can be with the same amount of training any horse would need to be successful. I already knew OTTB’s and TB’s were great but somehow the horse world forgot during the last 20 years that they are the foundation for almost all sport horse breeds and improve other breeds like WBs and QHs. The great trainers know this. I also would like to know when it became that TB’s were not exceptable mounts for Amateurs? Either Amateurs are not as talented as they used to be or everyone just became starry eyed over spending tons of money overseas for WBs.

  6. amy bush

    I love this Susan!!! I am so very happy that this event happened and that people will see that these are the best horses to turn around. I am just over joyed!!! 🙂

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