I am sure most of you have been following the Retired Racehorse Training Project- http://www.retiredracehorsetraining.org/ but as I was watching the live stream this weekend I heard Steuart say “ottb’s have value.” I think that the project has highlighted the fact that the retraining adds the value to the horse. Each of the trainers started with a horse with a clean slate. What would the value of those horse have been with no training? What would you have paid for them? Would you pay more for them now because you get a clearer picture of what they are capable of since they have had some retraining?
I think the answer is that most people would be willing to spend more money because the horse has had some retraining and you can get a better idea about the horses talent, movement, personality, brain and all the things that we want to know when we buy a horse. Not to mention that many people simply don’t want to be the first person on the horse to test it out I get so many people who say that they are specifically buying a horse that has been restarted because they don’t want to be the test pilot on babies first trail ride, first off the farm trip, first xc school or first jump.
I find that many people are on the fence about CANTER and our prices. Some people tell me that our prices are super reasonable for the amount of time and retraining we put into the horses but others tell me that the horses prices are too expensive. Most of our horses range from $2500-$5k with two months of retraining but you have to remember they have all been let down for several months where we addressed the teeth, feet, worming, chiropractor and more. That let down time cost quite a bit of money if you are boarding a horse so I guess it depends on how you look at things.
I have never seen our horses as rescue horses or as cheap horses so I suppose that affects how I view the pricing and why others may view it differently. Yes, they are donated to CANTER but not because they are unsound or not valuable. For the most part, they are donated because they are lucky enough to have owners/trainers who care enough about them to place them with an organization that has a good reputation for finding horses homes.
I thought about the whole concept of value over the weekend. Do you all remember Calabria Rose aka Rosey? Read about her here- http://calabriarose.wordpress.com/the-calabria-rose-story/ When I think about her it just always makes me smile because she was a horse that had been passed over so many times. She was too small, not pretty enough, had a weird head and the list went on and on. I got her at my farm and immediately recognized this horse was quite special (Allie/Kelly knew that as well but she just needed a program so she could prove it to the rest of the world). She had an amazing brain, super jumper, loved trail riding, loved xc, super personality, sound and just the best attitude you could ask for. We upped her price significantly and she sold within a month or two of being at my farm. We couldn’t get people to look at her for $800 but for $3500 there were people fighting over her. Last week her owners called me to ask what I currently had for sale as they had a friend who was shopping and they wanted something just like Rosey. How cool is that! When this friend called me to talk about the horses that I had for sale she told me that Rosey was the type of horse that she wanted. She has seen Rosey at lessons, shows and hunter paces and is always amazed at how sensible and brave she is. She told me that Rosey just stands on a relaxed rein and just takes it all in. She went on to tell me that money really wasn’t an issue but she absolutely was going to buy an ottb because they are her breed of choice. She went on to tell me all the things that she loves about Tb’s and I couldn’t help but to smile. That is a person who recognizes the value of an ottb!
She really wanted to come see Areutrue but I told her that somebody may have laid claim to him already but I wasn’t sure. Over the weekend, a foxhunter came to try him out. We didn’t ride in the ring instead we tacked up on a day where there were 40pmh wind gust and stuck three horses in the trailer for a trail ride. Kurt and I were slightly worried about our horses behavior because they hadn’t been ridden in a while. Letterman had a shoe off and a bruised foot and Kurt is preparing for his trip so he has been doing farm projects instead of riding.
I wasn’t a bit worried about Artie even though none of them got turned out on Friday due to wet fields. I just know he doesn’t care much about things like that. We headed out down the trail and the trees were blowing and it was a bit spooky but the horses were all great. We all just walked on a loose rein enjoying the day. Artie’s person knows the area a bit better than we do because they hunt there so we rode down the side of the tax ditch. The tax ditches are basically very steep banks on both sides and filled with water. They can be quite spooky to ride down because you have a steep bank on one side and woods on the other. You can get a lot of stuff jumping up out of you and birds flying up.
He let Artie move on into a big trot and was just going down there on a loose rein while Kurt and I were holding our horses because they wanted to go. Letterman was cantering along wanting to be silly but doing his best to keep it together and Junior was behind me squealing The wind was blowing so hard the water was whipping up yet the horses just marched along like it was just no big deal.
We got back to the main path and he wanted to try out the canter. I wanted to give him some room so Kurt and I held back a bit. Oh boy Letterman was not happy with me. I need a stronger bit!!!!! The best damn thing about Letterman is that despite being a stakes winner and a pretty damn good racehorse he is very considerate to his rider and he doesn’t freak out if he’s in the back. Junior on the other hand was pissed. Artie has a big canter so he was pretty far out in front and I could tell they were doing just fine enjoying themselves. Kurt and I were working hard to maintain our distance. At one point, Letterman grabbed the bit and took off for a few strides so we did catch up but Artie’s rider was slowing up and Artie didn’t care a little bit that he had these two horses breathing down his neck.
We got back to the trailer and he asked how Artie did riding away from the other horses. I told he that he was great but go out in that field and give it a try. Kurt and I stood in the parking lot while he took Artie out in the corn field and rode out and back. Letterman was having himself a pissy fit about being left behind but it’s great practice for him. Artie didn’t mind a little bit that he was asked to leave his buddies and go way off. He didn’t even speed up coming back towards them. Very impressive!
I think at one point in our ride I looked over at Artie’s rider and told him that not all horses are so good :) Artie is pretty damn special if you ask me. Where can you go to horse shop that will take you out trail riding on a horse and let you really see it in action. I know that the buyers of Houndy, Dixie and Burgiss all went out with me on trail rides to see the horses in action. Each of them feel a bit more in love with the horse after getting to ride it outside of the ring.
I place value in all of these experiences that we give the horses and I know the buyers do as well. I’m very excited for the retraining project and all the great press that it has gotten. I believe it was Allie who said that the secret may now be out about just how awesome ottb’s really are.