The Journey Begins / by Marian Michalson


     After spending all afternoon and night worrying about my new horse on his journey away from the race track, a trailer finally pulled up to the barn right as the sun cleared the horizon. Bartletts stepped off the back unscathed and unperturbed. He took a few minutes to greet the herd of mares vying for his attention, then calmly walked to his stall for a little roll and some hay. 


     The idea of the Retired Racehorse Project has always lit a little excitement in me. I've reschooled my family's thoroughbreds since I was 11 starting with City Lights. Unfortunately my last two racehorses had too many rides on them to qualify. I've never had a horse or the time for the RRP.  This year I made time, and I found a horse. Fingers crossed I get accepted. 

     In my search for a candidate, I was obviously looking for a resale prospect as I already have far too many horses (babies and broodmares).  I wanted something 16.2 or bigger, solid build, between 3-6 years old with clean X-rays. I've always steered away from anything older as I found their body and balance are set in their ways. We contacted all of our racing connections and I scoured the Internet. That's when Bartletts' photo popped up on my newsfeed. After looking up his name on equibase I sighed and said "he's too old."  I asked for a video anyway and was completely blown away! This horse still had plenty of presence and heart left.  I delved deeper into his race record and was impressed with how consistently he performed on the track.  He raced steadily for 10 years with no long breaks totaling 23 wins in 111 starts and earning just under half a million.  That means he is not only sound, but professional.  I quickly sent the money, no longer concerned with a resale. 


While Bartletts was relaxing in his stall for the morning, I threw the Back On Track sheet on him, grinning at the irony. After 17 hours on the trailer, he deserves a little muscle therapy. After awhile I decided to turn him out next to his future buddy, a TB gelding we bred, raced, and restarted named Kansas City Slew. I fully expected this horse, who has spent his life on the track, to go galloping around and squealing at the fence line. Nope. Bartletts walked around, rolled, said hi to KC, then went on his way grazing, totally chill.  


     I think Bartletts will fit right in here.  I'm excited to get the opportunity to see what this special horse wants to do next!