Journey to the RRP Thoroughbred Makeover 2021: Lindy Gutman’s November Update

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

“A great horse will change your life.  A truly special one defines it.”  – Author Unknown

So this happened since we last chatted…

Photo courtesy Lindy Gutman.

Yep, it’s big, I know.  The picture is big, and so is the jump.  It’s 3’6” – maybe just a touch bigger.  I know because I measured.  Twice.  Maybe it’ll never happen again, but it happened five or six times that day.  Maybe it will happen again.  Wanna watch the video?  Watch it anyway   I watched it approximately 111 times.  All in one day.  And then again the next day.  Anyway, you get it.  Not only was it the biggest thing I ever jumped, but it was BY FAR the biggest thing I ever jumped.  On a horse that I’ve retrained myself.  Can you say proud moment? 

I’ve never actually jumped a fence big enough that my horse needs to wear splint boots.  I’m a less is more kind of rider and don’t use boots just to use them.  The bell boots, arguably, help the shoes to stay on.  But splint boots?  They just make the legs sweat.  Sticks get caught in them. Until the day of the big jump.  He interfered with himself just enough that he’s going to wear boots for lessons moving forward.  I don’t guess that’s something to be excited about, but somehow…

There’s been lots going on, and my confidence is soaring.  It always worries me extra when my confidence is good because it means I’m due for a come down!  This month’s blog is going to be full of pictures.  Other than the giant jump, it’s not because we’ve done anything so impressive, it’s because we’ve done so many different things.  

Riley’s been body clipped so that we can hunt, and he looks so handsome.  As a turf horse on the track, he had winters off, mostly.  I’m not sure that he’d been clipped before and he handled it in stride, just like he does most everything else.  I’d never had a clipped horse until I started hunting a few years ago and it really does make things easier this time of year.  They are so quick to dry and so much easier to keep clean! So much for less is more…

I’ve been curious to try side saddle.  I’d never sat in one before.  I didn’t even know how to put one on.  One of my barn friends had one for sale and she brought it out for us to play with before it sold.  And so, we tried side saddle.  Riley behaved beautifully, though he was a bit confused.  I was all over the place.  My stirrup was too long, though that was the shortest it would go.  I was crooked and didn’t sit up straight enough.  I was afraid to canter, but we did some walking and trotting and did some circles and I can say I tried it.  It was fun, but I didn’t feel nearly as elegant as I thought I should.

Photo courtesy Lindy Gutman.

Fox hunting is tricky in a COVID environment.  As things have gotten worse, we’ve adapted to follow all of the local rules and have been in touch with the local horse council to make sure that we are adhering to any and all guidelines for safety and social distancing.  We are wearing masks now, even when mounted, which is a little cumbersome with a hair net and a thingy to keep your ears warm!

I took Riley to opening day of our formal season, which was just before COVID really blew up again. That’s a big ask for a green fox hunter because the field is so big and there are more followers and photographers, both car and foot, than we’d normally have.  He handled it pretty well.  He had a few exciting moments, but always quieted, and it was a beautiful, warm and successful day.  His “brother” from another mother is going to do most of the hunting this season, but it’s nice to know that I have two if I need to press Riley into hunting service.  I spend most of my time on this horse with a big grin!

Hmmm. What else have we done?   We went to a Paper Chase at the beautiful Mount Harmon Plantation and schooled in the new County Agriculture Center’s brand new ring with show jumps.  

Photo by Chandler Willett Photography.

Last weekend, we went cross country “schooling.” Since I don’t do any competing where cross country is necessary, it is really cross country playing for us.  You guessed it, he was really awesome here, too.  It might not seem logical, since I fox hunt and jump in the ring, but cross country jumping is out of my comfort zone.  I’ve never evented, so have had very few cross country lessons.  I stick mostly to jumps that are on sorta flat ground and not very tricky in their placement.  Either way, it’s out of my comfort zone, but we had a great time!  You’ll see here that he doesn’t get too excited about much. 

Photo courtesy Lindy Gutman.

I’m very proud.  I’m proud of myself, but even more of my horse.  I feel like I’m his support system and he’s having so much fun — and that it’s my job to keep it that way for him. He loves to jump and is very honest.  He’s good jumper, too!  He likes a challenge.  He’s friendly and never puts his ears back at other horses.  He likes to walk side by side on a trail ride, is fine leading or following, both hacking and jumping.  

Today, we Paper Chased (no pictures yet). Just find me someone that says that OTTBs can’t do it all.  I’m itching to have a chat with them.  

It’s said that it’s not all fun and games, but the past month for us has been just that. 

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.