So it’s the Year of the Thoroughbred…more specifically, the Year of the Off-the-Track Thoroughbred (OTTB), so I wouldn’t feel right unless I put my two cents out there. (And for the record, this will be the last time I spell out the OTTB acronym in any post. Moving forward, you should know it)!
It won’t come as any surprise that I agree with the masses, that I believe OTTBs can go on to have brilliant second careers regardless of their record on the track. Some people will say – oh only an OTTB that was a terrible racehorse will end up being a good sport-horse…those racehorses that excelled and enjoyed running won’t be.
This, I don’t agree with.
I believe that any Thoroughbred, whether their feet danced inside of a winner’s circle or not, has the potential to move onto a second career. Any Thoroughbred sound of mind and body can dominant in any of the other disciplines out there.
Of course, some will show more potential in the dressage world than others…some are natural born jumpers. Some will be beginner-safe, dead-quiet trail horses. But the point is that they can and will be something else…given the chance.
A lot of non-horse people out there may be wondering what the big deal is…what’s with all this retired racehorse fuss? It’s pretty simple – and I’ll use myself as an example. I’m a human with a lot of good qualities (I like to think so anyway!). I’m very talented in some areas…not so much in others. In school, I excelled in English class, devoured books, and wrote outside of class – for fun! I was an ‘A’ student without trying. So I had to wonder sometimes, how is it that someone like me, who’s a fairly bright person, absolutely crumbles in a Math class? Algebra, Geometry, you name it, I couldn’t figure it out. I passed all my math classes with Cs – and only because I stayed after school for extra help three to four times A WEEK! I was that bad. And my teachers must have felt sorry for me.
So it makes sense that now, years out of the classroom, that I write for a living. But imagine if I didn’t have control over that. Pretend I came out of college and didn’t have control over my future and all of a sudden I found myself working (or attempting to work) with numbers. Say I was (shudder) a statistician (or some other numbers person). Of course, every day I would come to work and not do my job well. I would get yelled at by my boss on a regular basis. Every day was terrible and try as hard as I could, I would not succeed.
So then, given the fact that this career of choice obviously wasn’t a good fit, shouldn’t I be allowed to look for another job? Shouldn’t I be allowed to move to another field where I could play to my strengths? Shouldn’t I be able to find my niche in life?
That’s what I (and many others) want for the racehorse. I don’t have any problems with racing (as long as horses are cared for and trainers/owners are responsible), but if a horse isn’t a born runner, give him the chance to figure out what he was born to do. Let her find her niche. Retire them sound instead of running them at the claiming level and re-home them while they still have futures as athletes in other disciplines.
Don’t make them work with numbers all day. Let them write.