Mosaic Racing Stable, a small racing syndicate based in New York, has taken a somewhat unconventional approach to preparing Thoroughbreds for careers after the racetrack: they've begun using cross-training with their runners to make sport horse training methods seem less foreign to them upon retirement.
The horses take the winters off from racing, and after several weeks of turn-out, spend time learning to lengthen and shorten their strides, bending in both directions, work over cavalettis, and do some light jumping at a local hunter-jumper farm. They also learn basic concepts that can sometimes be a struggle for OTTBs, such as working on a loose rein, and feeling a rider's legs lower on their sides.
Mosaic founding partner Monica Driver sees the approach not only as an investment in the horses' future, but a good way to mentally freshen them after a long period on the racetrack. Not only that, “It makes it a lot easier to retrain them and make them into something else and sell them,” said trainer Suzy Haslup, who works with Driver's horses.
Driver isn't the first to come up with the ideaof cross-trainig racehorses: Seattle Slew learned basic dressage work to help him balance on the track. Allen Jerkens regularly had horses turned out, ridden in the afternoon, and ridden bareback. Michael Matz, former Olympic show jumper, is fond of using cavaletti “to get their attention” and give his trainees a mental challenge.
Read more at The Chronicle of the Horse
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