Most of you fellow OTTB enthusiasts know that the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover show was last week. A few bloggers were there with their horses, and it was fun to follow along and watch the videos and live stream. The Makeover is totally a bucket list item to me, and looks super fun. I reaaaaally want to try my hand at it someday, if ever there is room in my life for another OTTB. It’s pretty amazing to see one big week-long showcase of all the different things they can do, and with less than a year of retraining at that.
It seems like there’s always some kind of drama following this show (maybe something to be expected when you get so many different disciplines and green horses together?) and unfortunately this year was no different. My goodness, the drama around the barrel racing. Wow. Did anyone else see that unfold on social media?
For those who aren’t familiar, the Makeover is a show, but really it’s a training competition. It’s all judged and scored, and even the more simple timed events (like showjumpers and barrel racing) have flatwork tests where the quality of the training that has gone into the horse is judged. For barrel racing, its a relatively simple horsemanship test, the results of which are rolled together with timed runs to come up with a final score. No event at the Makeover is immune from a judged portion, because, remember, this is really a training competition. They’re trying to encourage people to prioritize a solid foundation over rushed training that leaves a lot of holes.
So anyway, the girl who ended up with the two fastest times on the actual barrel runs had a lower horsemanship score, which brought them down a few spots in the rankings. A lot of barrel racers WERE NOT HAPPY about that. They argued that barrels was a timed event, plain and simple, and the fastest horse should be the winner. Period. They shouted that it was rigged, and that horsemanship and judged flatwork had no place in barrel racing.
Which… wow… there’s a comment to stop you in your tracks. I think if ever you find yourself arguing that horsemanship and a solid foundation have no place in your sport, whatever that sport may be, you might want to re-evaluate what you’re doing here. Effing yikes.
A lot of people seemed to have a hard time understanding that nothing about the Makeover judging is typical of standard showing. The cross country is scored, the showjumpers do flatwork and gymnastics and optimum time rounds, etc etc. Because, again, it’s a training competition, not a regular show. It’s pretty abundantly clear in the rules, which outline all of this and are available online to anyone. Even I knew the format and I’ve never done the Makeover. Reading remains a difficult task for some, I suppose.
But anyway, Fallon Taylor won the barrel racing, which seemed to just add fuel to the “IT’S RIGGED” fire, and then Fallon also won the grand 10k prize for Most Wanted Thoroughbred, and lord I thought some folks’ heads were gonna explode. Which, to be fair, I was kinda sad about her winning the overall too (I voted for Rosie!) but it’s good publicity for the OTTB in western events, so whatever. Either way… woooow the drama. It’s a damn shame, IMO, because the Makeover is just so freaking cool. If you can watch those freestyles without a tear coming to your eye, you’re not human. The Makeover isn’t perfect, they’ve got kinks to work out for sure, but still… it’s insanely cool. OTTB’s are awesome.
One of the big highlights of the Makeover was of course the winner of the Little Orphan Annex Memorial award, funded by fellow bloggers in honor of Hillary’s mare Annie. This award went to the highest placed chestnut mare, which ended up being a super badass little creature named Great Reward – winner of the polo division!
Hillary and I were both thrilled to see her win it, she was really fun to watch and definitely embodied that spicy chestnut mare spirit that Annie had. Thanks to everyone who contributed and helped make this happen, it was a truly special way to remember such an awesome mare.