In this series, the United States Eventing Association (USEA) is partnering with Athletux to critique your off-the-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) eventing prospects. Professional riders and trainers will share their insights into each OTTB's pedigree, racing history, and conformation. Would you like to have your off-the-track Thoroughbred featured in the next edition of OTTB Critique presented by Athletux? We are looking for our next horse! Email your tips to [email protected].
There is one type of horse that has stood against the test of time in the eventing discipline; the off-the-track Thoroughbred. As other breeds have become popular or fallen out of touch with eventers, the OTTBs are horses that you will find at almost every event from the Starter level up to the four-star level. These horses have the stamina, the endurance, and the movement that fit perfectly in the sport. With the FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG) right around the corner, OTTBs are being seen in the headlines and even more so with the famous Donner being named to represent the United States with Lynn Symansky and thus carrying the torch for the breed. Who knows, maybe one of these special horses in this column could go on to compete in Donner’s hoof prints! WEG 2022 or 2026 anyone?
For this month’s OTTB critique we will look at one such OTTB who left the track for a different life last year with a talented young rider, Mia Braundel. Together, Braundel developed her then named 5-year-old Boss Lori, or “Lena” as she is known in the barn, into a fit and fighting event horse. A change of name came shortly after Braundel realized her horse’s potential and was fittingly changed to Something Special, who is now six years old. We enlisted the help of Sharon White of Last Frontier Farm to better help us critique and gauge this talented horse’s conformation and potential.
Photo courtesy of Mia Braundel.
White is no stranger to OTTBs. She routinely sources some very special horses from multiple tracks throughout the country and brings quite a few home to Last Frontier Farm to produce in their new careers. The first thing White tends to look at is their overall expression and look in their eye. She explained, “It looks like this horse has a soft and gentle nature about her from the look in her eye with a kind yet inquisitive expression.” White also added, “I love how this carries over in the competition photos as the horse looks like she is really enjoying herself in all three phases as well!”
Moving on from her initial impressions and on to the horse’s conformation, White noted, “I really like how the horse is built as she appears to have a great hind end and a well-proportioned neck to match. This bodes well for her ability to come under herself and create the nice shape needed in both the Jumping and Dressage phases.”
White also appreciated that, “The horse also appears to have good, solid feet which are important as poor feet can sometimes be the downfall of a very good horse. Strong, solid feet are a huge bonus.” Finally, White explained, “While maybe built a touch downhill, although photos can sometimes be deceiving, I like the angles this horse creates in her body and judging by her overall build, she would look to be a horse that has all the makings to be successful in her new career.”
Photo courtesy of Mia Braundel.
When White turned to the horse’s photos from all three phases, she was impressed by how well it looked like Lena took to eventing. White added, “She shows great form in both jumping phases and looks to be both bold and careful. The horse’s expression doesn’t seem to change from one phase to another showing me she is interested in the task at hand and enjoying her job.” White also noted that, “In the dressage photo, the horse looks to be moving well and she displays an excellent frame for only being off the track for a short time.” White feels these characteristics also point towards Something Special having a special future in her new career.
Overall, White concluded that while you can only tell so much by photos, this horse looks to have the makings to be successful in her new career and by judging from the photos, she has taken to it nicely. White is always excited to see young riders partner with OTTBs. She feels there is nothing better than a talented OTTB matched with an ambitious young rider and she wishes both Braundel and her special partner all the best in the future.
On this episode of the Equiratings Eventing Podcast, show host Nicole Brown talks to Pan American Games gold medalist and U.S. team stalwart Boyd Martin about his career to date, highs and lows, and coming back from injury.
On Monday, March 8 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern, USEF will host a member webinar providing updates on the impacts of the case of EHV-1 (neurological) reported in Ocala, Florida. This case is similar in nature, but unrelated to the neurological strain of EHV-1 impacting Valencia (ESP) and other European countries.
As competitors rise through the levels, they often see the costs associated with competition rise and, unfortunately for most organizers, this can’t be avoided. With fewer competitors requiring more jumps, officials, footing management, etc., the expenses for running higher levels – especially FEI – are greater than lower levels.
Our sport is going to present you with many amazing opportunities, and some equally amazing challenges. While you’re sure to enjoy the opportunities, it sometimes takes a little more effort to enjoy the challenges. Contrary to the common misconception (from non-equestrians) that our sport is easy, it’s actually one of the hardest and most demanding sports of all!