Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Life After YouTube: the Next Chapter for Thewifedoesntknow

“Into the final furlong… Mywifenosevrything! Thewifedoesntknow! They're 1-2! Of course they are! Mywifenosevrything in front, to the outside, Thewifedoesntknow! Mywifenosevrything! Thewifedoesntknow! Mywifenosevrything! More than Thewifedoesntknow!”

Monmouth Park track announcer Larry Collmus’ famed call of the August 2010 battle of “the wives” was viewed hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube, shared on Facebook, tweeted, and picked up by countless online news sources.

Almost two years later, I heard the race call re-broadcast several times in commercials on the radio on Father’s Day weekend. That same week, the runner-up of the race, Thewifedoesntknow officially retired from racing, sound, and is ready to start her second career.

Carole Davison, owner/operator of Fleetwood Equestrian Services brought the chestnut mare to San Sue Acres in Howell, NJ and will train her as a show hunter. The mare’s natural balance and beautiful walk are indicators of her future talent in the show ring. Thewifedoesntknow will feel right at home, since she is the third chestnut mare in the care of Carole. Carole also owns O-Gee and Suzie. Suzie is another Thoroughbred off the track (Jockey Club name Dance All Nite Jes). Carole got Suzie as a 4-year-old, trained her, and she is now a show jumper with Carole’s daughter Elizabeth (Liz). Liz and Suzie are the current leaders in the Pre-Preliminary Jumper division at the Monmouth County horse shows. 

Last week, I met up with Carole, did a quick photo shoot with her new trainee, and asked her some questions about the process of working with horses off the track.

1) Have you always enjoyed working with Thoroughbreds? What are your impressions of programs like the Retired Racehorse TrainingProject and their impact on the breed?

I always enjoyed Thoroughbreds over all other breeds, owning my first one when I was 12. My grandparents gave me Hautbois (who we called O-Boy) for my birthday. He was originally my mother’s horse, but she didn't have the time to work with him.  He was “misunderstood” and I took that as a challenge. With Thoroughbreds, the breedier the better (like Irish Setters)- sleek with those long legs. I'm happy there are programs out there giving these animals a second chance. The Retired Racehorse Trainer Challenge at the PA Horse Expo was a wonderful way to get the word out.

2) What qualities did you see in Thewifedoesntknow that made you select her as a hunter prospect?

I really liked her attitude. She seemed curious as to what I was doing, but not nervous or anxious.  Of course, her confirmation had a lot to do with my decision but her attitude/personality was the deciding factor.  She is a very sweet mare with a kind eye.

3)  Over the next two weeks, what are your short-term training plans for Thewifedoesntknow?

I plan on working her under saddle, initially 15 to 20 minutes a day, building up to 1/2 hour. We will walk, trot and do a little canter work. We will work around the jumps and other items in the ring. She already walked over some poles, and we will continue with that. We will continue with some light lunging work as well.  I expect every day to be a new adventure as I get to know how long she can stay focused and just how much she already knows.

4) What is your basic turnout and feeding plan for Thewifedoesntknow as she adjusts to her new career?

She was turned out about 30 minutes the second day she arrived, and we have moved up to several hours. Initially, she went out in a smaller paddock with little grass, but now, for a few hours a day, she is in a larger paddock with grass. I plan on having her out 8 to 10 hours a day. As to grain and hay, I kept her on the same portion of both, but have already had to cut her hay back as she is more interested in the grass. I plan on introducing her to a lower protein grain, eventually switching her over completely to either 10% or 12%. I will, however, be keeping a very close eye on her weight and general condition and make any adjustments necessary as we proceed with turnout and work.

Front feet- 4 days off the track
Hind feet- 4 days off the track
 5) Do you have any advice for trainers who are working with off-the-track Thoroughbreds for the first time?

You need to have a lot of time to dedicate to the animal. Come with patience.  Learn as much as you can from others who have worked with OTTB's. If you are lucky, the trainer as well as exercise riders will give you insight on the horse you are getting.  Thoroughbreds are big-time athletes. Appreciate the condition they are in and the life they are used to. They are not the home-grown horse; they come with energy, with a past. They are true athletes, not weekend warriors. Patience, patience, patience. Every horse has its own personality, its own set of strengths, level of confidence, and insecurities. Treat them as individuals and don't pigeon-hole them.

Please stay tuned for regular photos and updates on the progress Carole is making with Thewifedoesntknow here on the TDN Blog.

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