Journey to the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover 2020: Courtney Poole’s April Update

The journey to the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover 2020 continues! Read on for our second update from Courtney Poole and RRP teammate Megan Thomas.

Is 2020 or 2021 Our Year?

Since my last blog post at the end of March was written, the entire world has changed.  My boarding facility has shut down all riding due to COVID-19, along with everything else being closed. We are still able to visit, but our time is limited. With not being able to ride coupled with the trying time in our homes and work places, the stress has reached its max. We haven’t been able to ride Tomato since the end of March.

One of our last rides on Tomato before our barn closed to riding. Video courtesy Courtney Poole.

Fortunately for Tomato, she is not experiencing this stress. Tomato is doing wonderfully and has no idea of everything going on. She is enjoying her down time and thinks she’s on an extended vacation.  We had an entire calendar planned for the month of April and May including a clinic, off-site lessons, and several horse shows – and all of that was canceled. The state of NC is under a stay at home order until the end of April, and it was just extended again until May 8. Our schools are also all shut down for the remainder of the year. We debated taking her on some off-farm trips, but most farms are closed to outside visitors, as well. We would also feel terrible if we had a trailer accident and I had to call my veterinarian during a stay at home order.

Tomato receives a PEFT Magnawave treatment. Photo by Courtney Poole.

To top off this stressful month, Tomato pulled another shoe, and the farrier just told us last week that we need to have her go barefoot. She pulled just enough of her hoof off that he was unable to get a shoe on her. Her thoroughbred feet are just not holding front shoes like we would like. She needs downtime to let her feet grow and toughen up. When we pulled her back shoes back in January, it took about two farrier rotations for her feet to adjust. We are expecting it to take that long, if not longer, for her front feet to adjust to being barefoot. So far, thankfully she is comfortable and still able to go out in her pasture.

Tomato in her pasture. Photo by Courtney Poole.

We are most likely going to keep Tomato RRP Eligible for 2021. She is eligible as long as the rules remain the same. She last raced in December 2019 and has had less than 15 rides so far. We also haven’t showed her yet. The USEF and USEA just announced that all recognized shows are postponed until May 31, and that could be extended again. With our 2019 RRP horse, we did our first big overnight show in May, and we were doing 2′-2’3″ courses.

Financially, both Megan and I have suffered reduced pay and/or reduced job hours due to COVID-19. Horses are already a huge expense, so this has been a blow for both of us. Our ultimate goal is for Tomato to stay healthy, be cared for at a top level, and succeed in her new discipline. With the current pandemic, we will focus on getting us out to the other side and not let Tomato feel any of the effects. 

Tomato. Photo by Courtney Poole.

Tomato just turned 3 years old; a year of down time and rest would be beneficial for her in the long run. Asking a 3 year-old to be jumping 2’6″ courses by October is a stretch. With two adult amateurs that both have limited finances and time, this is a huge ask for the team.  The positive outcome of this is the RRP now has a waiting list. If we withdraw, someone else will get our spot! We are both trying to stay positive and look forward to the future with this amazing and talented mare!

About Courtney

Courtney has been riding hunters and jumpers her entire life. Her first horse was an OTTB named Skye (Jockey Club name, Elsberry); she competed with Skye in the Child/Adult hunters but also did Pony Club, eventing, dressage, jumpers, and fox hunting. Courtney is an adult amateur that resides in Locust, North Carolina with her husband, two horses, and two dogs.