|The eye of my inspiration|
Over the last few months, it came to my attention that there are several organizations doing a really good job at promoting the OTTBs they have for adoption--photos on Facebook pages, email marketing, all very good. There could be blogging and story telling, too, but for the most part the word was getting out. What struck me was that most of the posts I was seeing were from East Coast organizations with a smattering from Southern California.
How could it be that here in Northern California, with a prominent track, we didn't have someone helping horses transition to new careers? Ah, but we do! As I hinted at in my last post, we did connect with NeighSavers--a group that has been doing this since 2007. We are still looking for the right facility up here--preferably one with a good arena and access to trails--to do the rehabilitation and retraining these horses need, but the team is ready.
We actually get our first horse next Sunday, a long-term rehab named Queen of Paris, or Paris for short. We met her that rainy night we met with NeighSavers and she handled six of us in her stall, petting her, picking up her feet, surrounding her, with calm curiosity. She got smooches. She is lovely.
She needs sponsors, by the way, but back to the mission. Oh, wait. That's part of the mission. Paris needs sponsors to help mitigate the costs of caring for her as she recovers.
Paris raced around and about the same time Calabar did--she's a year older--and then retired to become a brood mare and went out to pasture. She is currently suffering from laminitis and fractures of her coffin bone, but the vet has assured us she can heal and be rideable after her rehab. No, she won't ever be a jumper or eventer. But she is sweet and even tempered and we have a year to make her into a pleasure horse. Which makes me incredibly glad to be working with this team of women.
This team of women rocks.
Karen came from the icy land of Canada where she worked on the tracks for several trainers. It was there she found her Bobby (Halograph). He came off the track with fractures and pain. After three months of body work and light, gentle exercise, the same vet who pronounced him no better than a permanent pasture ornament didn't recognize him. The improvement was that dramatic.
Devon has been around horses for years, shown various disciplines, and now spoils her on-track Thoroughbreds rotten. She rides and trains her own and when they can't run any more, she finds them homes. She is brave enough to get back on horses that travel 35+ mph even after ending up underneath one a few times--something that encourages me when I'm feeling terrified.
Katie got me into this whole mess but I am the reason she ended up with an OTTB, so I think that means we're even. She loves the energy Forrest has and his willingness to learn. They have tossed a lasso around me and Forrest thinks it's actually rather amusing. He does gates almost as well as Lena does and better than Calabar ever will. She is training him to be the horse she wants and he is responding with, "Okay, what's next?!"
Keri was introduced to OTTBs by her aunt and uncle--polo people who take Thoroughbreds off the track and teach them to play, well, polo. Keri's first OTTB, Ink, taught her a lot and took her to the Expo in 2009. She has had to deal with the loss of Ink, which helped her find found Reason, and her writing and creativity is so valuable to what we are trying to accomplish.
Then there is me. I am the rookiest rider of the bunch--likely I should have started with a nice, old, quiet Quarter Horse but instead I started with Lena who is anything but. Lena led to Calabar and all that led to my passion for Thoroughbreds. He is curious, he is smart. He is not easy. He has taught me volumes about riding and about myself. What do I have to offer this fine group of women? My ability to put pieces together, to find the correlations between this goal and that potential sponsor. My complete willingness to send emails to people that should intimidate me. What? The worst they can say is 'no' and very often they simply ask what we have to offer.
We, this talented group of people and me, have a lot to offer. And it's all focused on helping the rest of the world--or at least the horse world portion of it--recognize the beauty and grace of the Off-Track Thoroughbred.
We call ourselves the Northern California Retired Racehorse Re-Education (NCRR) Alliance. For now, you can find us on Facebook (and please do!), but our own website and blog are coming very soon. Videos are being planned--how-to's for working with horses off the track, from basics about where they've been and what they know, to common injuries and how to treat them, to more advanced topics as we move forward.
We've already reached out to the California Authority of Racing Fairs (CARF) to see if we can show off OTTBs in conjunction with racing. We're working with the Petaluma Arts and Equestrian Festival to secure a booth at their event in July. We'll be at the Western States Horse Expo in June. We even approached the Retired Racehorse Retraining Project about putting some West Coast events together.
Is there a limit? Maybe. Will we find it? Possibly. Are we doing good things? Absolutely. The super duper announcement is we're live and here to help OTTBs in Northern California. And not just our OTTBs, either.