The Retired Racehorse Training Project has run successful challenge and makeover projects since 2009, pushing for more Thoroughbred competitions beyond racing and shining a light on the need for more efforts to help horses find careers beyond the racetrack.
It all moves another step forward next month with the first Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium at Pimlico Race Course Oct. 5-6. The event will provide the public appearance of the latest crop of Thoroughbreds to dive into the RRTP, 26 horses chosen by 26 trainers to teach, convert and showcase in a variety of disciplines from polo to eventing to steer roping. We will be highlighting the Makeover's Mid-Atlantic connections (bothhuman and equine) in the weeks leading up to October 5 and 6.
Makeover Trainer: Patricia Hechter-Bosley of St. Michaels, Maryland.
Patricia Hecther-Bosley grew up in the hunter/jumper world under the tutelage of her mother Sylvia Hechter, a prominent horsewoman who provided the early education of a number of top show horses and riders at her farm in Fallston, Md. As a young adult, Patricia worked for Maryland Steeplechasing legend Mikey Smithwick, who won the Maryland Hunt Cup a record 6 times and trained several Hall of Fame steeplechase horses. Patricia introduced the 2-year-olds to life as a racehorse on Smithwick's farm in Hydes, Md. and then at Timonium Race Track. "I was in charge of 6 for the weeks they were at the track learning how to gallop." She also exercised the older steeplechase horses and fox hunters, learning from Smithwick how to help a horse find its balance. "I loved, and still do, teaching horses how to carry themselves properly- moving from behind and staying light on their front."
In the afternoons she worked for her mother, helping horses make the transition from the racetrack to show ring, and then selling them to the elites of the show world including Rodney Jenkins, Joe Fargis, and George Morris. "Rodney often bought young horses from Mother," remembers Patricia. "After a few years, I would get mini lessons from him as I was showing him a horse."
At the time, Show Jumping Hall of Famer Kathy Kusner had many of her horses stabled at the Hecther barn including Olympic Gold Medal winner Touch of Class, although Patricia remembers her by her registered name Stillaspill. "She jumped her first ridden jumps in Mother's indoor ring," Patricia recalls fondly. "I had the privilege of owning her for 2 years, teaching her how to become a show horse."
Thoroughbred in Training: Baron Slew ("Baron")
2007 b., g., Aldebaran-Borodislew, by Seattle Slew
Bred in Kentucky by Live Oak Stud
Last Raced: 5/3/13 at Fonner Park
In recent years Patricia has helped Graham Motion's Herringswell Stables place several retired racehorses, and so turned to Motion and his assistant Sue Kenney when she sought a Thoroughbred Makeover prospect. Kenney tracked down Motion's former trainee Baron Slew in South Dakota, and Motion repurchased Baron and shipped him East. "One of the wonderful things about Graham is he strives to keep track of a large portion of the horses that move through his training stable as they progress through their lives. When Sue notices the horses are not running to their full potential for whatever reason, they go to work to get the horse back and rehomed."
Despite needing a few groceries and a little farrier work, Patricia could not be more pleased with her Makeover horse. "He is very sweet, smart and a quick processor. He loves attention and wants to be a pocket pet." Baron also enjoys when the small human, Liza, 3 years old, comes to visit. He is happy to munch his hay while she sits on his back in the stall. Baron will be exposed to all kinds of new situations under Patricia's care, and she hopes to find someone that will make him a cherished part of their family. "If he does not remain with me," she adds.
Watch: Baron's Third Ride with Patricia
Buy tickets to the Thoroughbred Makeover and National Symposium and receive free general admission to Jim McKay Maryland Million Day, October 19, 2013 at Laurel Park!