Straight off the track after 62 starts and amassing $125,000 in purse earnings, Bold Vindication began training for dressage as easily as if he left all those starting gates; he now does a collected canter instead of a hard run for the finish line.
Under the guidance of Minnesota trainer Suzanne Wepplo, Bold Vindication learned in eight short weeks to do a collected walk, trot, and canter with good contact, while holding a steady frame, and with natural elasticity.
“He’s been easy in every way,” she says, noting that he had many fine attributes, including an uphill conformation and a natural desire to take good contact with the bit and go in a steady frame. “He has three good gaits, and he’s a pretty smart horse.”
Wepplo and Bold Vindication recently demonstrated their training progress at Pimlico Race Course at the Retired Racehorse Training Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, an event featuring the progress of 26 trainers, including Wepplo, and 26 off-track Thoroughbreds who had previously raced, but did not have the benefit of training in a new discipline.
The point of the event was to prove that off-track Thoroughbreds can be taken from track and taught a new discipline in a relatively short time.
Dam: Bolsa, by Mr. Prospector
Foal date: May 8, 2006
Earnings: $125,505 in 62 startsWepplo was chosen to participate by event organizer Steuart Pittman, a proponent of Thoroughbred sport horses, and creator of the Retired Racehorse Training Project. And Wepplo chose Bold Vindication to participate in the training project at the suggestion of Anna Ford, executive director of New Vocations Racehorse Adoption Program. Wepplo adopted Bold Vindication from New Vocations after watching a video Ford had shot of the horse, and considering his conformation photos.
“His neck was set well, it wasn’t too low, and he had a good canter, which is imperative,” she says. “A good canter is what you need, a trot can always be improved.”
And when Bold Vindication arrived at her barn, located just outside Minneapolis, the pair got right to work in a low-stress environment that gave him plenty of opportunity to learn that galloping was no longer expected.
On some days he just went for hacks at a walk, on others he stood in the lesson ring, soaking in the sunshine, as Wepplo taught riding lessons while sitting on his back. “This helped teach him that when a rider sits on him, he doesn’t necessarily have to do something,” she explains. “It taught him to be patient.”
During his lessons in fundamental dressage, Wepplo focused on building up Bold Vindication’s body correctly, and helping him become relaxed, soft and able to make elastic connections with her.
At the end of two months, her horse performed his new moves at Pimlico looking relaxed and happy.
Though not much time had elapsed between his racing and non-racing days, he walked onto the track ready to demonstrate his new discipline with aplomb.
“He was the second most successful horse (during his race career) at the Makeover,” she says. “He came straight off the track, had no let down, and he went back to the track to perform—it was impressive.”