Thursday, September 7, 2017

Meet Baybuilt

2012 Bay Thoroughbred Gelding
Photo by Liz Stout
From the moment I began considering Pig's retirement, I knew I would be on the immediate hunt for a new dressage prospect. My work with Pig has given me an intense love for the sport of dressage, and for doing it with thoroughbreds. I knew I'd need a new horse to help keep me going after stepping Guinness down.

The day the therapy program called to set up an appointment to see Pig, I started reaching out to thoroughbred placement programs like New Vocations and After the Races, two programs where friends have sourced excellent horses. I traveled to check out some horses, but overall found nothing that hit my list of needs.
Must love dogs.
Photo by Liz Stout
My requirements weren't too intense, but my strict adherence to them plus my low budget made me seem very picky. What restrictions/requirements was I working with?
1. Must be an OTTB. I wanted a horse that had race training and had raced. I'm kind of a chicken when it comes to riding horses that are barely saddle broken. I wanted something with a bit of experience.
2. Relatively clean legs. Some windpuffs or old soft tissue injuries were fine, but I didn't want a horse with screws in joints or obvious arthritic changes.
3. Between the ages of 4 and 7. The road to FEI levels in dressage is long. I don't want to start with an older horse again.
4. Confirmation and movement suggesting an ability in the dressage ring.
5. A SHORT back. Long backed horses need not apply; I don't like and am not good at riding them.

Things I didn't care about?
1. Gender. Mares or geldings were welcome. If a stallion had knocked my socks off and the castration could be included in the price, I'd have jumped.
2. Color. I adore chestnuts, but color doesn't help a collected canter develop.
3. Height. Anything between 15.1 and 17 was  on the table, though I preferred close to or just over 16 hands.

Enter Baybuilt...
15.3 hands with a back so short it barely exists. Perfect.
Photo by Liz Stout
I found him at his breeders, with the help of Niamh. He'd last raced two weeks prior to my seeing him, and he'd just come home. I didn't even get to see him move, but knew he was the right fit. All the pieces were in the right places, and his history was perfect. His cuddly nature probably didn't hurt. I left his breeder, telling her I wanted to see him move before making my final decision.
"I have pretty eyes and give good snuggles. This will make me a good dressage horse, yes?"
Photo by Liz Stout
A few days a video popped up on my phone, and I was sold.
Freedom of movement? Yes please!
Four weeks after his last race, Baybuilt was set to come home to me to embark on his second career. I waited, filled with excitement and apprehension. Who knew what this little fireball would be like when he arrived.
Stay tuned...

Friday, September 1, 2017