by Jen Roytz
With the Retired Racehorse Project's $100,000 Thoroughbred Makeover just weeks away, more than 400 competitors are making final preparations with their horses. In Kentucky and Virginia, those preparations included an open practice and media preview aimed at giving their horses off-site training that would mimic the environment they will experience at the Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park Oct. 5-8.
Local media, including television stations, newspapers, and equine publications were invited to attend, which allowed competitors the opportunity to educate the public about the versatility of Thoroughbreds in non-racing disciplines and promote their journey to the world's largest and most lucrative racehorse retraining competition.
“We had 10 horse and rider combinations attend our Makeover Preview,” said Clare Mansmann, who coordinated the Sept. 22 Makeover Preview at Salamander Resort Equestrian Center in Middleburg, Va. Mansmann is slated to compete in the Thoroughbred Makeover in the eventing discipline aboard Noosh's Tale (by Tale of the Cat).
“Each of us got a chance to speak to the crowd about our horses and answer some questions,” continued Mansmann. “Then, everyone did a wonderful demo that doubled as a schooling. The horses handled the crowd and the loudspeakers very well. The folks at Salamander couldn't have been more accommodating and several of their guests wandered down to watch. They were very impressed with the horses and riders and offered to make it an annual event.”
Yesterday it was Central Kentucky's turn to allow Thoroughbred Makeover competitors to show off their horses. Held at the Masterson Station Park Equestrian Complex in Lexington, 15 competitors brought their horses and demonstrated the strides they've made off the track in the disciplines of barrel racing, competitive trail, carriage driving, dressage, hunter/jumper, eventing and more.
“The preview day today was the first time my filly had ever been off of the farm, so it was a real gift to be able to not only get her into a new environment, but a supportive environment with other Makeover trainers,” said Thoroughbred Makeover competitor Neleigh Olsen, who rides in the mornings for trainer Vicky Oliver and will be competing in the Competitive Trail division aboard Skyce (by Ice Box). “That's what the Makeover is about to me–horsemen supporting other horsemen. We all love Thoroughbreds, and we all want to see each other and these horses succeed.”
Sponsored by Thoroughbred Charities of America, the Thoroughbred Makeover is put on by the Retired Racehorse Project, whose mission is to increase the value of retired racehorses as competition and riding prospects and educate the equestrian community about their adaptability and versatility to a wide variety of disciplines. More than 400 horses and riders will compete across ten equestrian disciplines (barrel racing, competitive trail, dressage, eventing, field hunter, freestyle, polo, show hunter, show jumping, working ranch) Oct. 5 and 6. That Saturday, the top three finishers in each discipline will return for the finale, in which each divisional winner will be announced, as well as the overall Thoroughbred Makeover Champion will be crowned.