“Have you experienced any events that caused a significant setback in your training plans?”
I’m looking at this question on my final RRP Thoroughbred Makeover entry right now and I don’t know how to answer it, the short answer being a resounding ‘yes’. I don’t know how many blogs are too many blogs describing how far behind I feel in my training with Finnick the Fierce, but this one will be no different. The past month has been busy with vacations and ear infections rivaling those I had while in diapers, so Finnick had the month to turn into a wild Bluegrass pony.
Yesterday I brought him back from the field with a concerted effort to try and clean up the wild and turn him into a horse that will be competing in the Makeover in two months. I can’t believe how quickly time has passed. As I removed burrs from his cock and he fell asleep to the relief of all the itch he couldn’t scratch, I thought about how much I had fallen in love with him. The setbacks we’ve had don’t matter to me. He and his happiness is what drives me every day and yes, we’ve dealt with skin issues, hoof issues, attitude issues, discomfort – but at the end of the day, if this horse ends up being my companion, a horse that I get pampered and brushed all day, that’s enough for me.
I’m sure it pisses people off. How did I end up with this star athlete and I’m not going to push him to be the next great sport horse off the track? It’s still something I think about every day when I compare it to the countless other OTTBs I know. Admittedly, it’s not yet something to write off either. Finnick is five years old. During this fall’s makeover, it won’t even have left the runway for a year. I said in my interview with Natalie Nevills when Finn first retired that I was going to take it easy on him. I was going to let him tell me what he wanted to do. Right now he and his body are telling me that he still needs to settle down, to figure out how to handle a life after the track.
When I started running my hands over him yesterday I was in awe of how good his coat looked, but when I reached his back I noticed the same telltale signs of ‘funk’ he had previously. What I thought I had conquered with probiotics, supplements galore, and medicated baths was back. Not in full force like in the winter, when a quarter of his coat had completely fallen off, but he had come back anyway. I also saw a big crack on the side of his right forehead that wasn’t there when I left for Alaska. I’ve been wanting to put it back on Kombat Boots for a while and this is the latest push that’s going to have me spending the money to get it on. Finn is a sensitive guy, and any discomfort he feels is reflected in our rides, so now, two months out from the makeover, I’m going all out.
So earlier when I pressed “submit” on my entry, we opted for Competitive Trail instead of Dressage. If things had gone a little differently, we could have stuck with my original plan and do dressage, play to a Backstreet Boys song like we dreamed of, but everything inside me told me that the real victory would be if I could improve his condition. up to my standards, and play on the trail course.
For me, the most important part of the Retired Racehorse Project thoroughbred makeover is the fun and community it creates, and of course, the love of the horse. If I drag Finnick to Kentucky Horse Park in October and all we do is look pretty while we cheer on our friends Oak Hill and Leah Alessandroni in the dressage ring, then that’s what we’re going to do. If I can go on and fulfill my dream of going to school outside of the Rolex Arena, that’s what we’re going to do. If we go to school and he feels good and I think I can get him across the head of the lake, I can die happy the same day. No matter what, we’ll be having fun with celebratory drinks outside his booth for those who want to join us because we’re alive and because we can. Every day I stay above ground and have the chance to build a relationship with this horse I call mine is a good day, especially when surrounded by my friends and like-minded people who know the love of an OTTB.