I am going to tell you a story. This is the tale of a thoroughbred racehorse. A magnificent, sentient being that I'm going to offer the promise of a happy future.
On a sunny spring morning I was leaning against the rail at Golden Gate Fields watching the thoroughbreds exercise. A small grey colt caught my eye because he trotted around the track like he owned it. I remarked on his amazing presence to a woman sitting near me, to find she was his owner. Armed with his name, I was able to follow his racing career. He started strong, always trying hard in high-class races, but over time, declined in both his performance and type of races run. During this time I also visited him in his barn. He is truly gorgeous, also sweet, calm and affectionate.
In November, I noticed he had a publish workout at an Arizona track. I asked a friend at that track if she could find him. She did and sent his photo. She also let me know that he was to be run in a claiming (sales) race this next weekend and a lot of people would be trying to buy him. Not all are good people. Once claimed he would be gone. He was somebody's baby if he went into that race he would just be a cheap claiming horse. I weep knowing the difference.
I am a professional trainer/instructor with three decades of experience mostly with off-track thoroughbreds. I have followed this horse for nearly four years. He is truly special. Since learning of the impending race, I thought of nothing other than saving him.
I made it happen. With a lot of help from friends and supporters, the Falcon is secure and living a very happy life.
Upon completion of the sale, exchange of funds and papers,
I went to say hello to my new partner. There were no words.
The decision has been made! I have chosen to enter the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover with White Falcon for 2020.
I have received tons of encouragement from friends and clients. I feel I have the perfect horse and if not now, when. This will be the reason that I need to push myself to get out into the world, no matter how much I love it up on my hill!
The application has been submitted and all supporting documentation is in the hands of the decision makers. They have until Feb 15, 2020 to let me know if I am in.
This is the wonderful story I received from The Falcon's former owner. I found it so touching and perfect that I want to share.
I was privileged to work with a zoo vet ... started working for him when 12
The zoo had lots of birds of prey they rehabilitated and had on display
A very rare young male Gyrfalcon
(Commonly known as White Falcons) stole my heart.
We put his broken wing back together and used feathers molted from other falcons to build a useful wing for him
He was a bit small but perfectly beautiful creature and very affectionate
After two years his wing had healed well, new feathers and all ... he had the heart of a champion , was an excellent hunter. The falconer at the zoo took him home at night .. we were all worried he had become to acclimated to people , life in the wild would be unsuitable .....so he lived out his life educating zoo visitors about the intelligence and loyalty of falcons... he even accepted a mate , all their offspring were released into the wild.
They are amazing athletes, like an owl you can't hear their wings.
Falcon immediately reminded me of my old friend.
Because I can't seem to do things like everyone else...
I have no idea if I will be accepted into the Retired Racehorse Project Makeover. They asked for a Show Record, I don't have one. They asked for references from judges, trainers, instructors, peers, etc. I gave them what I thought was more valuable, statements from people who know my work, because they ride them, the horses that I have trained. Below are the statement that I submitted with my entry and the kind letters that a couple of people that have either bought horses from me or trained with me wrote on my behalf.
My professional career, spanning over three decades, has been spent, primarily, working with young horses. Thoroughbreds are my breed of choice for many reasons. Anyone who loves the breed, knows their many wonderful and endearing qualities. I don’t need to wax poetic to the faithful. I have not pursued competition to a great extent myself, as my main goal has been to transition the horses from racing to solid citizens. Teaching those who acquire the horses from me to ride and care for them well is my sacred trust. Showing is secondary to making sure they have a good life.
I did do some eventing prior to riding a few races. I participated in the British Horse Society Instructors Program. Trained in Dressage with Jane Bartle-Wilson Coach of the British Dressage Team. I have schooled cross-country, over-fences, and done a few dressage shows with my young horses. I do dressage for pragmatic reasons. To make the horses more responsive, more comfortable and easier to ride. It is amazing how much one is able to feel by being relaxed and communicate with a quick twitch of a leg muscle or pulse of a finger. As much as I love dressage, shortening my stirrups is the most natural, comfortable and fun way to ride. My greatest love is still hanging out at the track in the mornings, watching the horses gallop. It is how I spotted the magnificent creature whom I hope to be able to bring to the Makeover this year.
This was the look I received when I looked into the Falcon's stall when we reached Turf Paradise "What took you sooo long?"
To Whom It May Concern at RRP:
I am writing this letter as a testimonial for Laurie Scott. I bought Royal Ray Al, affectionately known as Raysin now, from Laurie at the end of 2018. Raysin was coming 6 years old at the time. It was clear when I first rode him that he had been carefully brought along after his time at the track. I owned OTTB geldings when I was in my teens and twenties, and so I had a very particular set of criteria that I was looking for that I’ve considered unique to Thoroughbreds. Their work ethic, honesty, and sheer athleticism have always made them my top choice. I competed on the equestrian team in college and was an avid cross country rider when I was younger. I am 40 now though, and with so many years away from the sport, it was a challenge to find the kind of horse that would satisfy my requirements and still be safe enough for my older self to get back into riding with. Raysin is all of that and more. He was clearly encouraged to have a mutually trusting relationship with his rider.
The last year that I’ve been riding again has been an absolute joy and incredibly fulfilling. I’ve reflected often about the training that Laurie invested in my horse and have a true sense of gratitude to her. Raysin’s job now requires hours of focused flat work and cavaletti, along with trail rides full of the stimulation of new sights, sounds and smells. He is calm, open minded, and willing. He goes in a simple Myler D ring snaffle, I don’t use draw reins or spurs, and he is bringing me along more than I am him. He is sensitive to aids and honors them. None of this would be possible without the careful foundation that Laurie gave to him.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any follow up questions.
My name is Tatiana Kitchens, and I have known Laurie Scott for the last 3 years. Laurie is by far more experienced with OTTBs than any other horse person I know. I’ve been in the horse industry in California and the east coast for 24 years, but I started taking lessons with Laurie 3 years ago. At the time, she had almost exclusively OTTBs on her property in various stages of their rehabilitation to new careers. Her experience on the back side of the track as an exercise rider means that Laurie knows these horses much more than most people. She’s seen what a day, a week, and a month looks like from a racing horse’s perspective, and takes that into consideration when she works with this population. I think that gives her invaluable insight into how best to transition these horses from one job to another. Many people have worked with OTTBs that have been off the track for a while, but not many people have the skills to be the one to take them straight from that environment and safely handle a racing fit horse as it learns a new job. When I was horse shopping, Laurie was my guide on conformation, track etiquette, breeding lines, statistics, and soundness. She is a consummate professional and knows the business of the Thoroughbred horse and I have and will continue to recommend her services to people looking to support giving Thoroughbreds careers after their time on the track.