“When Blueberry and I were accepted to the Makeover, I decided it would be a goal, but not a must-do. It seemed like a lot to go from the first ride to a Training level test in such a short time, because Blueberry and I didn't begin under saddle work together until April. I didn't want to rush his development. In the end, I spent the year constantly impressed at how quickly he grasped new concepts and how easily he added fitness, both of which are I think hallmarks of the Thoroughbred. It seems daunting in Spring and even Summer, but I think many people end up being surprised at what their horses are able to do.
I will say though that I think the best thing you can do for your Makeover horse (or any horse, really) is to go to as many shows or events as you can before shipping to the Kentucky Horse Park. Go schooling at neighboring farms, do trail rides, whatever you can to create the routine of “we may be in a new place, but we're still doing familiar things”. The Park is a big environment, and while I think it probably reminds OTTBs of the racetrack in many ways with the hustle and bustle, it is a contrast when compared to home. Blueberry and I are fortunate because we were able to school at the KHP at a non-compete entry at a spring show and had lots of schooling show opportunities nearby us in Central Kentucky. In the end, he didn't think twice about stabling there or working in an unfamiliar arena, but it may have been a different story if he'd spent his whole Spring and Summer on our quiet little farm. I'm also a believer in dabbling in different disciplines, which kind of creates different opportunities for a young horse. With my first horse, we didn't go above the baby levels of any one sport, but she got to experience the bustle of the Park at recognized events, the challenge of technical courses at a Hunter/Jumper show, and the scenery of trail rides and Hunter Paces, and I think all of that set up for her to be very well-rounded and reliable. (She's a therapy horse now, and I think all of that helped set her up for her new job).
Post-Makeover, Blueberry and I have been busy! We're trying to get to as many Dressage shows as we can to prepare for our season-end goal, which is competing in the TIP Central Region Dressage Championships. He has also begun working with our coach, Stephanie Calendrillo, to learn how to jump. I'm not sure if I want to return to Eventing or not, but I think it's good for him to have those skills and wanted him to learn with a more confident and competent teacher. We went on our first trail ride this spring and hope to add more of those into the mix.
Fun Fact: Blueberry's greatest enemies are flies and water droplets that hit his legs after a bath and feel like flies. He is also the pickiest horse I've encountered when it comes to treats -- he likes mints and certain types of cookies. Carrots are sometimes a great treat and other times we have no idea what they're for and we hate them. Apples, bananas, french fries and crackers are all a no-go. He is Bay but has quite a few red hairs in his coat and tail, which we think are courtesy of his mother.
When we saw him at the track well into his 2-year-old season, he was still wearing his yearling sales halter because it still fit his head. Although he was well-sized and well-proportioned when he sold as a yearling in August 2018, we're not sure he did a ton of growing after that. My husband is our bloodstock editor and says he's the smallest Uncle Mo colt he's ever seen. He's 15.3 with shoes, and is the perfect size for me. My husband adores him but does not ride, so we're hoping they may make their show debut together at one of the halter classes at TIP championships this year. He's not really 'my' horse so much as 'ours' and it's great fun”.