100-Day Challenge Training Reports

100 Day Challenge Training Report #1

100 Day Thoroughbred Challenge Training Report #1

By Steuart Pittman

Monday, December 10, 2012

The four horses arrived at Dodon Farm Training Center on the weekend and began work on Monday, Dec. 3. All are in at night and turned out during the day. Alluring Punch and Suave Jazz go out with some other geldings but stick together as new horses often do. They are very calm both in turnout and in the barn. Declan's Moon has private turnout in a paddock that connects to his stall, so he can go in and out at will during the day. He is a very confident horse and seems happy with this arrangement. Gunport is turned out with two other mares during the day. She is full of energy and rarely seems truly settled, but has not become particularly attached to the mares in her field.

100 Day Challenge Training Report #2

Training Report #2

December 18, 2012

Today was Tuesday of the third week of training. Before even getting into how much fun we are having with the horses I have to say just how overwhelming the response has been already from the public. Our Facebook numbers shot past 5400 fans today with a weekly total reach of nearly 20,000. Eleven thousand of our 110,000 You Tube channel views happened in the last two weeks. We are all over the net: Chronicle Forums, Eventing Nation, Daily Racing Form, and had a photographer out on Friday for a feature story in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. In addition to Thoroughbred Charities of America, Maryland Horse Breeders Association, and Bourbon Lane Stables, we have just signed on Maryland Jockey Club, Stübben, and Bit of Britain. This is all just the start.

These four horses couldn't know that they are ambassadors for their kind, and that they have the power to convince thousands of people to learn to ride better and to find themselves a Thoroughbred off the track. They can't know, but they act like they do. That's how hard they try every day. At least that's how it seems to those of us lucky enough to be working with them.

100 Day Challenge Training Report #4

January 12, 2013

HWE logoThe Maryland Horse World Expo begins this coming Friday. Michelle Warro and I plan to ride the horses in front of a crowd that is seated in tall bleachers set two feet from the railng of the 60' by 120' arena. Two weeks ago we were worried. Now we are more confident. Steady progress with all four horses, but a bump in the road for Gunport.

The expo takes place at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium. Tickets are purchased at the door for $10. Parking is free. Our booth is near the southwest corner of the Cow Palace. We will have our magnificent black Equicizer, Idle Dice, and 100 Day Thoroughbred Challenge t-shirts designed by our funky cool designer Julie Magruder, along with RRTP hats, saddle pads, and fleeces. Here is the schedule:

Friday at 4pm in the Exhibition Hall Arena (building uphill from outdoor show ring) - We will present each horse in hand, moving free, and jumping through a chute. This will be an educational forum in evaluating Thoroughbred horses for various sport disciplines and be the only opportunity to watch these superstars free jumping.

Saturday at 11 am in the Cow Palace Seminar Hall - I will lead a discussion about Selecting and Starting Your Ex-Racehorse. We will cover as much as we can get to in an hour and take questions from the audience.

Saturday at 1pm in the Cow Palace Main Arena - Michelle Warro and I will each ride two of the horses. We will discuss where they are in their training after six weeks and where we expect them to be at 100 days. This is the horses' first public appearance under saddle since their last races. We will do basic flat work and a bit of jumping.

Sunday at 1pm Exhibition Hall Arena – This has been titled Jockey Dressage but is actually a presentation about how sport horse riders can integrate the methods of exercise riders and jockeys into the basic flat work that we do with our horses off the track during that critical time when they are learning to rebalance themselves as riding horses. In years past we have had retired Lady Legend jockey Andrea Seefeldt Knight, but this year will have a guest appearance from another star jock who can do dressage in a racing saddle. We will use the two of our Challenge horses who have seemed to enjoy the crowds most.

Now for the actual report on the horses...

100 Day Challenge Training Report #3

December 29, 2012

We have had the horses for four weeks and have three more before they appear in front of the crowds in the chaos of the Maryland Horse World Expo. Training horses for a show or an event feels different from training on the horse's timeline. The strategy that I try to instill in myself and in students is to separate in our minds the expectations of judges and spectators from the intimate relationship between ourselves and our horses. It's hard to listen to the horse in the moment when our brains are busy with fantasies of glory. The nice thing about this 100 Day Challenge is that we have no prescribed course or test to perform. Our job is to educate the public and inspire them about Thoroughbreds off the track. My biggest fear is that the horses come undone completely in the arena and confirm the stereotype that they are there to destroy. All we can do to prevent that is to plod forth with our training and invite the horses to find confidence in their work with us.

February 3, 2013

I have so much respect now for Eric Dierks, Tiffany Cattledge, and Kerry Blackmer. Training horses for an audience on a timeline is a hell of a challenge. We made them ride those horses in front of the MD Expo audience on Day 1 and at the PA Expo after five weeks. We rode ours at the MD Expo in the sixth week and will take them to the PA Expo in the 11th week, and we are still feeling the pressure of the timeline.

The Maryland Expo was a huge success from a public visibility standpoint. Our crowds were larger than for any other clinician or demonstration there. People love Thoroughbreds and they love watching them being trained. We got great coverage in the Chronicle of the Horse, Thoroughbred Daily News, Eventing Nation, and a great article came out that weekend in Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred. For PA Expo we'll be going for mainstream media.

Video footage of Saturday's session at the Maryland Horse World Expo, taken by Leslie Diamond.

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The RRTP is a charitable organization  under Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Donations are tax deductible pursuant to applicable laws. Our mission is to facilitate the placement  of retired Thoroughbred racehorses in second careers by educating the public about the history, distinctive characteristics, versatility of use, and appropriate care and training of the iconic American Thoroughbred.

Funding is needed to maintain and expand our internet services, conduct our Throughbreds For All events, produce educational videos, and finance our presentations at horse expos and other high visibility public events. We do not use donated funds to care for individual horses. That work is done by the farms and organizations that we serve.

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