I'm not going to lie, I wasn't expecting to find a horse so fast. I quickly gave up hope on finding one at one of the Pacific Northwest tracks after realizing that the likelihood of getting the info I *needed* prior to scheduling a PPE was incredibly slim (please, please, please can someone send me a canter video!) so I expanded my search to the non-profits on the East Coast and in SoCal since those tracks seem to be rich with babies needing second careers. With COVID preventing me from meeting any of the prospects I liked in person, I decided that there was no real reason to limit my search geographically as long as I could keep price + shipping under my very small budget. My search wasn't too limiting but the biggest factor was I wanted a project that I would be 100% restarting on my own—I wanted a horse with no off-the-track rides so I wouldn't have to undo another level of training before I could start working toward my goals. My criteria was simple: filly, 3-5yo, expected to finish 16-16.2, without vices, and with mid-level potential. I got sent a LOT of geldings and a LOT of horses already jumping under saddle. There was a lot of "thanks but no thanks"-ing. It was fine.
The OTTB market is hot right now... maybe it's always been hot but it still came as a shock. I'd been casually shopping in secret for about 6 months before I made my search public and I'd seen countless horses sold within hours (that's not a typo or an exaggeration) of being posted on one of the many Facebook groups I'd joined. I had several horses I really liked sell while I was messaging with the selling agent. It was madness. And it made me a little sad because it likely meant that most of the horses weren't even undergoing a basic PPE before moving onto their next home.
And then, I found a filly in SoCal. She was cute, built like a little deer, and she moved well despite having run less than a month ago (8/23). I tried not to get excited as I called my fabulous trainer, scheduled the PPE, and let my barn owner know that my search was approaching completion. I didn't expect her to come through the PPE clean. And then she did. I didn't expect to find a shipper who'd bring her to me for at least a week. She shipped 2 days after I signed the sales contract. And then I was suddenly driving with my Mom to meet the shipper in the middle of the night so I could bring her to my barn.
We unloaded her from the trailer (she'd hauled like a champion), loaded her into our rig (stepped right in with a small amount of encouragement and didn't make a peep), and drove her "home." She was all legs, covered in bites from the couple of weeks she'd been turned out with a buddy, and in need of a lot of groceries. But, she was mine. Suddenly, I was a horse-mother-of-two and WTF did I do?
I wasn't a fan of her Jockey Club name so after spending some time agonizing over what to call the little sun-bleached bay that so closely resembled Bess, her older sister and my OG OTTB, I chose to rechristen her "Artemis," after my grandma Diana. She's going by "Mia" most days and I'm hopeful that she'll live up to the expectations set by her namesake. I've had a few people tell me that I should blog about the work I do with her over the coming months so I'm going to try to make an effort to do that here. I'm already almost two weeks behind but I think it's nice to have a history to reference as we grow our partnership so I'll work to update my blog regularly, not only for the entertainment of anyone who reads these posts but also so I can look back at laugh at all of the "OTTB Antics" we'll be working through :)