Olympic three-day Eventer Boyd Martin says there was no “mystery” to his decision to compete an off-track Thoroughbred against the very best sport horses at Rolex last month.
Simply put, his 11-year-old gelding Blackfoot Mystery was the best horse for the job, even pitted against “specifically bred” international sport horses who drop from their mother’s bellies with the genes to compete at all three phases: dressage, cross-country, and show jumping.
Sire: Out of Place
Dam: True Mystery, by Proud Truth
Foal date: April 30, 2004“I think the deciding factor in three-day Eventing is the cross-country. You need a horse to have stamina and endurance, and that’s why I went with a Thoroughbred,” Martin says in a telephone interview with Off TrackThoroughbreds.com. “They’re bred to run fast and for long distances … and even though there are horses are being specifically bred for Eventing, I feel a good Thoroughbred can take out any breed.”
Martin obtained his eye-catching gelding about 10 months ago after learning from a former student that Blackfoot Mystery, the horse he’d admired for his “old style Thoroughbred build” —a big, lanky type with a long-distance quality— was being offered for sale.
“I was teaching his former rider when last year she mentioned she’d sell him. As soon as she said it, I rushed to call all of my owners to try to rally the money together to buy him,” says Martin, who notes that he believes the chestnut Thoroughbred is “the complete package,” a horse who could become a chart-topping performer.
“He’s very sound and very good at the dressage,” says Martin, who notes that finding a horse who has the movement for dressage, the stamina for cross-country, and the aptitude for show jumping is what keeps him looking toward the Thoroughbreds for that rare trifecta possessed by Blackfoot Mystery. So thrilled is he with his 17.2-hand gem that he told Eventing Nation last July that he thought this Thoroughbred might be Olympic level.
“For me, I’m trying to put together a group of top class horses for the Olympics next year. This will be the first off-track Thoroughbred I’ve syndicated since Neville Bardos,” Martin told Eventing Nation. “I don’t think horses of this caliber come up for sale very often, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the ride on him.”
Martin’s decision to campaign an OTTB in the upper echelons of horse sport was music to the ears of longtime OTTB advocate Steuart Pittman.
Pittman founded the Retired Racehorse Project to help prove that OTTBs make excellent sport horses; the same reasons Martin selected an OTTB for competition.
“Most stories of off-track Thoroughbreds at Rolex are about young up-and-coming riders whose careers were launched by the ex-racehorse that nobody else wanted. The top riders usually move on to the purpose-bred horses that their clients bring to them,” Pittman says.
“Boyd Martin could have put a syndicate together to buy any event horse in the world that he believed in. People in the sport know that. When his search brought him to an American Thoroughbred ex-racehorse that sent a great message to young trainers.”
“It means they can go to the track, find a talented horse, train it well, and sell it on for serious money to a top rider.”
16 responses to “‘Thoroughbreds can take down any breed’”
Love ottbs all i have in my stables ❤
I am glad to see them being saved but please OH please do not run them to the ground like they did ob the track, they race them before their legs and back are fully developed ! Are you doing the same thing?
Jeannie, most OTTB horses are at an age when their musculosketal system has been fully developed. There were 2 OTTB horses that competed in the Olympics, Blackfoot and a Brazilian rider did very nicely on his ex-racehorse and displayed that he puts his horse first, as Boyd Martin does – great to see the multi talented thoroughbred being represented at the Olympics.
There most certainly are some equestrian horses who are pushed to extremes with their welfare not a consideration, with unethical and cruel methods used to get the horse to do what the human wants of it.
I was appalled when the commentator, Vicki Roycroft from Australia, said “the horse has let him down”. I think it was a New Zealand rider, in the Jumping yesterday. All of the horses were tired after a gruelling cross country the previous day, as Boyd said this course was hard on the horse. This particular horse was very tired and doing his best. It’s the humans who let horses down! There should be one day of rest and recover after the cross country. It’s not natural equine behaviour for the horse to jump but he can be trained to jump. Make no bones about it, they’re not loving it ….because it’s stressful with those high jumps whilst racing against the clock. And of course the magnificent horse has no choice but he kindly obliges. More respect for the horse, Vicki Roycroft!
Carolyn while I completely agree with most of your comments and horse welfare should rule the day, I totally disagree with the jumping comment. Horses are built to handle terrain. That includes jumping. Many, including my own, absolutely love the challenge of jumping. He gets all excited to roar out on cross country and have a ball. He’s an OTTB, is brave, kind, and brilliant. Just like dogs who love obstacle courses, horses can love the physical and mental challenges of eventing and people like Boyd look for horses who enjoy it as much as he does. They are out there. We should care for them AND have a wonderful, fun, and loving partnership where we can thrive together. Thank goodness for people who rehome and retrain this amazing and mighty breed. They love to run AND they can love to jump. They are made for it.
I agree about the jumping part especially! My mare would rather jump than eat and I’ve had several that would jump obstacles in their pasture on their own just for fun!
Blackfoot and Boyd have just done themselves proud in the jumping event.
At this point in time, they’re on top of the leader board.
What a team these two are – yesterday 6th place after cross country.
The thoroughbred gives his all.
Blackfoot is green competing against very experienced rivals who are mostly warm-bloods. Thrilled to bits for horse and rider, they’re so in sync with Boyd’s expertise and Blackfoot’s natural talents.
I have had all other types of breeds but bought my first OTTB in November last year as a 4 year old mare and she is one of the best I’ve ever had. I’ve ridden other tb before and she is not like any of them smart yet not flighty. I am hoping she goes far in the eventing world also.
Thank you Boyd for your great article. We just entered the OTTB WORLD with our daughter and her horse Amber. So far a wonderful experience. They love eventing.
I have ALWAYS LOVED THOROUGHBREDS. I feel they can excel in any sport. But as with any breed, it is not the breed as much as each idiviual horse has to be hand picked for each chosen horse sport. This is true for EVERY BREED. You don’t just buy a certain breed without KNOWING how you will use it. In my experience the Thoroughbred is quicker to learn, has more heart, and has more stamina when trained and fit….for all disciplines. I have ALWAYS felt that their agility is due to having a lighter bone structure to move around with giving them more endurance therefore not breaking down as much as the heavier boned and bodied horses. I am not including race horses that are pushed at a far younger age of development….2 and 3 year olds. But there are lucky ones that do come off the track unscathed fortunatlet and there are a lot of these and they are WONDERFUL. Just choose them wisely
Thank you Boyd for a terrific testimony about your horse and for raising awareness of OTTBs and the amazing creatures they are!
Never did I think I’d own a TB, let alone a OTTB – Britty T-but she’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me (aside from my children 🙂 I’m honored to be her person.
Susan Bellinger, these were my thoughts exactly on a post on The Chronicle of the Horse which everyone ignored. I think there is a big correlative if you can find the stats on the breeding of each of the deaths and serious injuries to human and equine alike.
I have TB,s all my life(I,m87) and there is nothing like them.I have a mare on the SA circut (off the track) in three years she has reached 130.m and never fails to be plac ed or win!
Are there records kept of falls in cross country? My question is about the horse. Could it be when the heavier sport horses get tired they are more prone to get caught on a fence. Just wondering??? It seems that in the old days the sport was dominated by Thoroughbreds….
An illuminating message from Boyd Martin. One very lucky ex-racehorse, keep safe.
Bon chance to you both. You look great together!!! Take care, Mary in Boone