One of the most thoughtfully written blogs I read is Bakersfield Dressage. Karen is an amazingly diligent amateur dressage rider, but her introspection and dedication to dressage rivals some professionals I know. She also competes (and successfully!) with non-traditional dressage breeds, an adorable Arabian the star of today’s post… Sydney the OTTB!
What is his registered name? The short answer is Pick a Card, but he’s not registered with the Jockey Club. Sydney is a New Zealand Thoroughbred which means he is registered with their Stud Book, here. When I bought him from Debbie Davis of Sport Equine, she didn’t know much about him other than his approximate age and the fact that he was from New Zealand. I found the New Zealand racing site and discovered that they could give me his information if I filled out a form, sent them a fee, and sent photos of his shoulder brands. Within one day, I knew all about his parents, his race record, and his actual birthdate. Since he was born in the southern hemisphere, he has a fall birthday, which is spring time in New Zealand! He was born on October 4, 2002.
Lineage? You can see his pedigree here. I don’t know anything about Thoroughbred pedigrees, but he is a Danehill grandson (a Northern Dancer grandson). Danehill is considered one of the most successful sires of all time with 349 stakes winners. He was the leading sire in Australia nine times, the leading sire in both Great Britain and Ireland three times, and the leading sire in France twice. None of that really means much to me though. :0)
Did your OTTB race? Yes, but not very successfully. He never won, which is good for me because had he been fast, he never would have made it to the USA. He raced 4 times in “real” races and nine times in heat races. The New Zealand Racing web site is really fun to use. I can look up each race by looking at Sydney’s Horse Performance Profile.
What do you do with him now? It’s taken us two years of steady work, but Sydney is now showing at low level dressage. He’s been scoring in the very low 50s (seriously????) and even in the 40s (!), but we just had a major breakthrough in June where he scored a 63.3% at Training Level Test 1 (at a schooling show). He is helping me to become a better rider which in turn helps him be more comfortable. We’ve done 5 shows in the past 10 months, and each time he’s done better than the time before. I have 3 more shows scheduled for him in 2013. For next year, I hope to get him qualified for the California Dressage Society’s Regional Adult Amateur Competition at Training Level test three.
If your OTTB was a musician, who would he be? My best guess would be Kenny G – smooth and soulful.
Your OTTB is on a desert horsey island. He can bring three items – what are they? With no hesitation, I know that Sydney would bring his fly sheet, fly mask, and fly spray. He hates flies more than any horse I’ve ever known.
Your OTTB is deathly afraid of … You know, I can’t think of anything that really bothers him. He doesn’t like to be alone; that stresses him out. Asking him to work in new places is scary for him. Being in the show ring, alone, at a new venue is quite stressful. His fears are more of the what ifs?, rather than any particular thing.
Your OTTB is really brave about … The tractor can pass right in front of his nose and he doesn’t even flick an ear. Little Red Hen can perch next to the bucket while he eats and he doesn’t bat an eye. If he is in his comfort zone, nothing phases him. He is so easy to work with around the barn. None of the barn noises disturb him in the least. Shovels can clatter to the ground, carts can trundle by, tarps can snap in the wind … he’s great about it all. He’s actually quite the brave fellow.
If your OTTB could change one thing about his environment or training, what would it be? Sydney would love to be on pasture in a small herd. Instead, he’s in a very large, open air stall with an ample outside run. Three other horses are across the aisle, but he can’t touch any of them due to the way our barn is configured (no kicking or biting since there are no shared fences). When we have time, he gets turned out in the neighbor’s small pasture and he absolutely LOVES it. He loves being able to visit nose to nose, and grazing is his favorite pass time. I use the Freedom Feeder hay net so that he can artificially graze throughout the day, but the real deal would make him very, very happy!
How would your OTTB introduce himself to a new herd of horses? First, he would straighten his silk tie, smooth down his custom suit jacket, and check the shine on his laced oxfords. Then he would stride confidently over to the current CEO (herd boss), shake his hand, and thank him for his service. There would be no need for a hostile take over. Sydney always seems so surprised when a new horses squeals and makes a display at him. He finds such behavior undignified. :0)
And finally, my OTTB makes me proud everyday because … he tries his heart out every time I get on him. Even if the work is stressful, he tries to find the right answer. And if he finds the thing that makes me happy, he’s happy to do it all day long for me. I’ve said this many times … his racing name is Pick a Card … I chose the King of Hearts!
Want to submit your OTTB to be featured on this blog? e-mail me answers to this set of interview questions and some pictures to be featured, and maybe next time you check She Moved to Texas your horse will be featured as the OTTB Spotlight of the week!