Quarter Horse barrel racer Jackie Harris was so badly bitten by the Thoroughbred bug that she decided to spearhead a documentary film project chronicling the transformation of her newly acquired ex-racehorse into a full-fledged barrel racer.
Partnering with well-respected horse trainer Patrick King, an expert in classic cowboy and dressage, the pair has launched an online training program, providing 35-minute clips demonstrating how her nicely built 4-year-old mare has adapted to his new job.
King and Harris plan to air two episodes a month, from Feb. 1 to Sept. 5, and have launched a fundraiser campaign on Kickstater called The X Project to help defray the costs of videotaping, in addition to boarding costs for Pookie.
Watching her new Thoroughbred train to do something few barrel racers can even imagine a racehorse doing, Harris says she has “had her eyes opened” by the cooperative and gifted breed.
Sire: American Tribute
Foal date: March 19, 2009“I never knew a thing about Thoroughbreds until I decided to hold a barrel race to benefit horses who deserved a second chance. I knew there were so many good horses of all breeds winding up at auctions, or going to kill pens, that I wanted to do something to help,” she says. “Then somebody said, ‘Why don’t you do it for Thoroughbreds?’ And that’s what started me on my way.”
Last year, the Quarter Horse girl found herself doing everything possible to get Thoroughbreds some respect in the discipline. She and her nonprofit Dreaming of Three successfully organized The Extreme Retired Racehorse Makeover Barrel Race, which challenged horsemen to retrain racehorses in 100 days for barrels.
The experience even spurred her into seeking out her own racehorse.
“One time while I was attending Steuart Pittman’s Retired Racehorse Makeover Event, someone asked me where my Thoroughbred was, and I admitted under my breath that I didn’t own a Thoroughbred,” she says. “ At the time, I had Quarter Horses in my barn, including one who had broken my arm. So, around that time, I decided to make a serious search for a Thoroughbred.”
With the help of those knowledgeable about the racing breed, she ultimately chose Pookie for her conformation and sweet temperament. “Her build is perfect. She has a nice shoulder and hip, and has a cat-like grace that I think will help her get down and around the barrels,” she says. And, she adds, her personality is like none she has ever experienced.
“She’s probably the most lovable horse I’ve ever owned,” Harris says. “Everybody falls in love with her. And now Patrick King says that he wants to get a Thoroughbred … if he lets me have her back after the training. And I have two friends with Quarter Horses who just recently bought off-track Thoroughbreds.”
Hoping to harness the enthusiasm for OTTBs, and using Pookie as the best example, Harris is providing informative videos that can help people understand the several stages of Thoroughbred re-training, and the possibilities inherent in the breed.
“Our goal is to bring in other experts: farriers for example, who can explain the angles of the hooves and how they affect movement, and world-class barrel racers too,” Harris says. “And Pat ultimately plans to train Pookie in Liberty methods, and ride her bridleless!”
But we already knew—a Thoroughbred can do all that.