Retired Racehorse Project Blog: Jessica Hartley

Over the next few months, we will be featuring blogs from trainers who have entered the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover later this year. 

Grief makes you do crazy things. It makes you manufacture meaning out of tragedy. It makes you find
purpose in pain. When my gelding, Quinn (He’s From Queens, 2013), was taken from this world
suddenly and tragically last December, my brain began a desperate search for meaning and purpose.
“I’m sure it’s the grief talking,” I typed to my friend as I sent her an ad for a cute OTTB mare the day
after I lost Quinn.

I saw the “…” in the chat box appear… and then disappear… several times. Until finally: “DO NOT get
another horse right now. Give it a minute.”

I laughed. She wasn’t wrong. But a few days later I welcomed my new mare, Max (Maximum Entropy, 2013), to our farm. In the heady days following Quinn’s death – as I wallowed, grieved, and processed it all – the 2021 Thoroughbred Makeover came into focus.

The author with Quinn at his first show.

It became my meaning and purpose. Quinn’s life was a lesson and his absence an opportunity. And what better way to honor Quinn than to help another horse like him transition from track life and become a safe, sane, valued citizen of the horse world.

Because if Quinn taught me anything, it’s that I am a Thoroughbred person. Give me crazy, anxious, dangerous – and every other misguided Thoroughbred stereotype – and I will raise you athletic, sensitive, and loyal, with hearts as big as you need them to be. I applied for the Makeover with Quinn in my heart. I know that by the time we arrive in Kentucky, Max will have taken her place right beside him.

My journey with Max will be different than my journey with Quinn. It will be our own. And it will be
memorable and remarkable, full of meaning and purpose. She is a Thoroughbred, after all.

Jessica with Max.