Journey to the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover 2020: Lindy Gutman’s End-of-July Update

The journey to the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover continues — now slated for 2021. Read on for our fifth update from Lindy Gutman.

Just a few days after my last blog submission, Retired Racehorse Project decided to postpone the 2020 Makeover and have a mega Makeover in 2021.  I completely support, understand, applaud and agree with this decision, and I am still disappointed.  My horse is ready. He’s 10 and doesn’t need the extra year to mature.  I had that to my advantage.  I can’t help it; it’s part of me.  I do like to win.  I do like blue ribbons. I do like to know where I finished in the group. I suspect a lot of others do, too, and are more reluctant than I to admit it. I travel a lot for work, normally, and with COVID-19 have been able to remain home.  I’ve been able to ride and train more than ever.  Though we’ve not been to a horse show, we’ve had lots of chances to ride off property. 

As a few weeks have passed, I’m excited about being a part of the biggest and best Makeover ever.  The delay gives me more time to get some friends that have briefly mentioned wanting to do the Makeover to get a horse for the 2021 class so we can have a “friends” #MegaMakeover and share this with each other. #twicethefun.

From my view, Talk Show Man would have gone into the 2020 Makeover at the top of his class.  In 2021, he will be limited by me, his rider.  It bugs me that I will limit him. I’ve improved a lot since taking on this challenge, but at the end of the day, I’m a 2’6” rider.  That’s all I want to be. His competition will get better with more opportunity, but my horse will be stuck at whatever my limit is.  Don’t get me wrong, he’s going to do everything well, he’s fantastically versatile, and he’s exactly what I want — but he’s not likely to get better at any of it.  I’ll add more to his repertoire, and he will see and do more things, but he’s jumping a beautiful 2’6” course with lead changes, and is a trail champ.  So, on we go.

I’ve decided to continue blogging monthly.  We were given choices by Jumper Nation on how to proceed with the postponement, and though you might get tired of hearing from me, I started this journey with a mission.  That hasn’t changed.  I want to show that regular folks can ride OTTBs.  I want to give these horses more opportunities off the track and show that they are not all hot headed and hard to ride and retrain.  As long as you’ll read, I’ll write!

The day that I sent in my last blog, we tried something totally new.  After I wrote about the soccer ball, I received some feedback that horses that like the ball the way Riley does usually respond favorably to working cows.  I’ve never worked cows before, so I set out to find a place to try it.  Find one, I did, and let them know we’d be coming in an English saddle.  The trainer said, “The cows don’t know the difference” — and she was right!  We had a BLAST!  

Working a cow! Video by Lindy Gutman.

We completed our first paper chase.  A paper chase is a marked trail ride, either with or without jumps, that is judged based on an optimal time.  They don’t tell you what the optimal time is when you start. They are usually 5-8 miles long, and it’s one of my favorite things to do. We entered the slow pokies division, which is walk/trot, though we cantered some and we jumped a few optional jumps along the way.  In some areas, I think these are called hunter paces.  We have hunter paces here in Maryland, too, but they are usually shorter!

Paper chases can be a little bit tricky because there are usually a lot of horses there that might pass you and can be seen in the distance.  Since this was a socially distant paper chase and was held over an entire weekend, it was far less busy.  We were challenged in that there were horses around that we could see in the distance, and Riley got used to that quickly.  The big news is that we won our first blue ribbon!  He looks so chunky here!

Our first blue ribbon! Photo by Lindy Gutman.

One of the local farms also had a horse show schooling day.  We were able to go over there and jump around over pre-set hunter courses in a socially distant way. I, like so many of us chicken amateur hunter folk, rarely go to a place where I jump around without my trainer (insert eye roll).  It was a big deal for me to go over there with a couple of friends and accomplish that, and while my favorite picture from that day is not one of us jumping, it was a HUGE success!

My favorite photo from our horse show schooling day. Photo by Debra Cogan.

We’ve had the chance to go out with more hounds and had a great opportunity to actually school with some. We were allowed to really get to know the hounds.  They walked back and forth past us, and then we were asked to just walk right into the pack of them.  It was really fun and educational for both of us, and Riley loved that, too!  Hound walking season here has now officially begun, and we’ve been out twice to do that.  It happens so early in the morning, though.  I don’t like having to be places too early!

Learning about the hounds. Photo by Lindy Gutman.

Our first “official” hound walk. Photo by Lindy Gutman.

We received our first award for 25 recreational riding hours.  If ya’ll trail ride, you need to sign up for this program.  I do it with our other OTTB, Fullback, and some of the prizes are pretty cool.  It’s really easy to log your hours, and there are a few different ways that you can do it   We’ve actually got 100 hours now, as of yesterday, but I haven’t sent the paperwork and pictures in yet!

25 hours in the bank!  (Well, really 100).  Photo by Lindy Gutman.

Our first real horse show will be this weekend.  I’ll save that for the next blog to make sure that I have something to talk about 🙂

I thought, for the last four years, that I had the coolest OTTB ever.  Fullback is such a versatile dude and does a lot of things, like Riley does.  Now, I have the two coolest OTTBs ever.  I’d honestly challenge anyone to find more versatile horses than these.  

Fullback recovering from kissing spine surgery. Photo by Stephanie Nally Photography.

As for Talk Show Man (Riley), I love this horse.  He’s all that and more.  He’s sweet to people and other horses, alike.  I’ve never seen him offer to bite or put his ears back at another horse.  He asks me to rub his ears, and he does it politely.  He loves to be groomed and fussed with.  He’s pretty, and pretty is as pretty does.  He loves his varied routine and he loves to work.  And also, he loves me!

About Lindy

Lindy Gutman lives in Westminster, MD with her husband, Adam, two hounds, a mini pig, and three Off the Track Thoroughbreds.  She describes herself as an “amateur’s amateur” and has ridden, in some capacity, most of her 51 years. She balances a full time job in sales with foxhunting and showing hunters at the terrifying, towering height of 2’3”-2’6.”  The Thoroughbred Makeover is her loftiest goal to date. Talk Show Man is her first restart project.