Rewind about seven years ago: I was riding at a barn that was owned by some prominent people in the town, they happened to have dinner with the manager of a local Thoroughbred Breeding farm and he mentioned that he was looking for some help. The word was passed on, and I called about the job as soon as I could. Little did I know, it was a very LARGE breeding farm that was once one of the top stud farms in NYS (Keane Stud). Enamored with the almost 100 head of horses and all of the foals, I soon learned about a site, Pedigree Query ( thoroughbredhorsepedigreequery.com) and quickly became a junkie looking up EVERY horse that I could remember the name of. I would look up the stats, progeny etc. and became an endless encyclopedia of every horse on the farm.
Now to May of 2008 for a quick sidenote: My boss at Keane Stud is AWESOME. End of story. He has given me endless opportunities, most importantly the opportunity to train the "freebies" (the horses that are our collateral for unpaid bills and inevitably become farm owned) as well as some track rejects that just didn't cut it. Namely: Cranky Pants who got my whole idea of "lets retrain a TB" going in high gear. He was super easy, super fun and incredibly talented. It was for sure a learning experience but I credit all of that to my wonderful, super-fantastic boss (-es, actually) who allowed for all the shenanigans to happen :)
Ok, now back to about a year and a half or so ago: A friend posted an ad on Facebook that she found for a horse named "You Sure" a very well put together Cryptorchid at the Finger Lakes track for FREE. True to my Pedigree query-junkie self, I looked him up....and like that I discovered he was one of the kids from the farm. How cool!!?? So, I did some more research, found out that this site (Finger Lakes Finest) was a trainer listing for all horses that weren't making it...So the hunt was on to find more of my babies...
To clarify: when I say "my babies" I mean the foals that I saw be foaled, helped to halter break, taught to lead, played with, messed with, got dragged around by, stepped on, medicated, washed dirty bottoms, weaned, groomed, loaded onto the trailer for training and so forth. I may not pay the bills, but they are my kids... :)
SO back to last spring: I became friends with a trainer at the Finger Lakes track when I went up to watch a couple of them race. I spoke about the others and also gave my contact info in case some of them came up for sale. He told me to use his name to get to the backside anytime to visit.....Big mistake. It's a rare occasion if I am not met by someone that says "Hey, you look familiar, weren't you just here?" Alas, not only a pedigree query junkie slash Finger Lakes Finest junkie, we can now add, backside regular..
So....the start of Fall Semester 2011, a friend of mine started looking at horses as she wanted to try for a re-sale project. I went up and got to looking and needless to say fell in love with some of the horses I saw. It amazed me that these young, and promising prospects were all available, rather cheaply, and who know what sort of end they could meet if someone like my friends (and now us) didn't come along. My friend found a wonderful horse (through my trainer friend, Charlie) and as she started working with him, I started to get the itch to work with a fresh slate again.
I knew I wanted to work with an OTTB, especially after my trip, but the fact was there were SO many....My first thought was, well you can't save them all....or can you? So, Tesla and I got together and devised a plan...we would approach our director with photos and descriptions (compliments of the lovely ladies at Finger Lakes Finest) and a list (and sob stories if needed!!!) and give her our pitch: We would do an independent study, for credit where we take our horses, take full care of them, work with them, document it, promote the breed, and at the end of the semester sell them to great a and loving homes. Much to our surprise (and without the use of sob stories!) she quickly agreed....
The rest is history (and most of it documented here)....we unfortunately did not purchase anything on the site as people come out of the woodwork and we were approached with two that were not yet to be listed. Our hope for this is that the school can profit enough to fund another round of this project next year and that two (or more) lucky people can find those lucky TB's and find more homes. If we are successful (and we will be if I have anything to do with it!) potentially other schools can catch on and even more TB's can be re-homed...
Anyway, that's all for now!!
On a sidenote: Pogo's bad day is a thing of the past and he has been wonderful since, he is going well and progressing a ton, potentially another free-jump day in the future!