Thursday, September 6, 2012


When it comes to animals, people have expectations. To most people in the horse industry the words 'off the track Thoroughbred' have strong connotations.

One expects an 'off the track Thoroughbred' to be somewhat flighty, not overly bright and more likely to spook than the average horse. Many people believe that only an expert should retrain them. I've certainly met more than my share of ex racehorses who fit all of the stereotypes, including a horse who would spook at everything in the indoor arena. That he was ridden in every day. Put them up next to another horse and they're likely to forget they aren't racing any more and try to get ahead of them. They definitely like a good run on a regular basis and they are often not the easiest horses to handle. Even at 20+, they can be a handful.

That's the expectation.

Meet 'Wills'. He's 18 years old, about 15.3 or 16 hands (I didn't have a measuring stick handy), and a nice chestnut color. He's a little stockier than most American Thoroughbreds, but Thoroughbred he certainly is. Racehorses are identified with tattoos inside their lower lip in the United States, a traditional device used to prevent the use of a 'ringer' (these days they are also micro chipped, but Wills is too old to have been chipped). So, yes, Wills is an off the track Thoroughbred.

So, let's see...more spooky than most horses? Nope, he's close to bombproof. Fast? Not if he can help it. Not overly bright? That one's probably true.

In fact, Wills is moseying around at a lesson barn, being ridden by people who barely even know how to ride and pretty soon will be used to take people out on trail rides. People who *don't* know how to ride.

With a better rider up, he is completely push button...although you sometimes have to push the buttons slightly harder than with most horses.

He's what, in the horse industry, is known as a 'packer'...a horse that will carry anyone and do whatever they ask. I'd trust him with my husband's 92 year old grandmother.

And I never thought I'd think *that* about an off the track Thoroughbred.

Which just goes to show that you can't always go by your expectations with animals, who are bred to have specific traits (Thoroughbreds are the way they are because they are bred to do one thing - run fast). Then why do people think they can go by expectations with human beings?

Or anything else in life.