The journey to the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover 2020 continues! Read on for our first update from Courtney Poole and RRP teammate Megan Thomas on their road to the RRP Makeover 2020. If you’d like to read more about Courtney’s RRP Makeover 2019 experience, click here.
Are We Mare People Now?
After a successful 2019 RRP Thoroughbred Makeover show, my best friend and teammate, Megan Thomas and I decided that we were going to do this all over again in 2020. We bought our 2019 horse sight unseen from a Facebook post. We were prepared for the same risk, knowing the outcome may not be the same as last year. After the holidays, we began our search for an eligible 2020 horse. Our criteria has always been excellent conformation with an uphill build, clean legs, and it must be a gelding. We have always been “gelding people” and steered clear of mares.
After weeks of searching with our criteria and budget, we were not having much luck. We began to discuss if we would take a mare. A mare named “Tomorrow Tomato” caught our eye. She was at the Equine Rescue of Aiken, SC. She came with multiple items that were being donated with her. Megan and I always take a horse as a project and re-sell it to a quality show home after the Makeover. We were always under the impression that equine rescues do not allow the re-sale of horses. We came to find out each rescue is different with their requirements. I filled out the application and was accepted.
The rescue was only about 2.5 hours away, so we made the drive down to look at five RRP eligible horses. All the horses were lovely, quality horses that would have all been very competitive at the makeover. Our eyes kept getting drawn back to Tomorrow Tomato; she was sweet, kind, and willing. She had never been lunged before and quickly figured it out with a short session while we were there. She stood quietly while we polo wrapped her legs and walked quietly to the ring while horses were hollering and spinning in their paddocks. She had a kind eye and never offered us the “mare look” we were avoiding while we pestered her in the paddock checking her over. She had a vet check in a few days from someone else that was interested in her, but no deposit had been paid.
We had to decide quickly if we wanted this mare or not. We drove home and thought it over but could not forget about this amazing mare. We bought her the next day!
I drove up two days later with our third team member, Addison Taylor. Addison turns 12 this year, so she was super excited when we asked her to be a part of our team. The age limit is 12 years old at the time of the Makeover, so she wasn’t old enough last year. Tomato walked right on the trailer, then into her pasture and settled in comfortably at her new home. We gave her about a month off to rest, adjust to her shoes being pulled, and gain weight.
We have had about nine rides on Tomato, and she has been off the farm once for a field trip. She is currently walking and trotting very well, but her canter is still a bit inverted and unbalanced. She does take both leads easily, so this will be easy to work through. She has been an absolute joy to work with. She is forward thinking but not hot. She has been happy and eager to please. On her field trip, she was super easy and polite. A horse with good ground manners is worth their weight in gold! We are taking our time with her as she just turned three years old on March 28th. Also, with the current world events and COVID-19, we are debating keeping her eligible for RRP 2021. With her young age, only having a handful of rides, and our boarding facility possibly closing to boarders for the month of April if not longer, we know that it might be best to save her. This decision has not been made yet, but it is an option for this talented horse.
So, the question is: Are we mare people now? The verdict so far is yes. If having a mare yields a horse that is personable and eager to learn and please, then call us “mare people.” I’m not sure if all mares are like our sweet Tomato, but this mare sure has proven to us that manageable mares do exist, and geldings are not the only way!
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.