October 26, 2022
Three current students and two recent graduates from Asbury University participated in the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover at the Kentucky Horse Park on October 12-15 under the leadership of trainer and coach Jessica Hayes. They were joined by trainers, groomers, and coaches from around the nation.
The Retired Racehorse Project, a 501(c)3 charitable organization, created the Thoroughbred Makeover to showcase the trainability and talent of off-track Thoroughbreds. The competition is intended to inspire good trainers to become involved in transitioning these horses to second careers, and the National Symposium serves to educate the people involved in the care, training, and sale of these horses to responsible owners.
“Teaching and watching the students learn not just how to communicate with their horses, but the nuance of that communication is inspiring,” said Asbury hunter-jumper trainer and coach of the Thoroughbred Makeover, Jessica Hayes. “The process teaches us patience, perseverance, problem solving, communication skills, how to find joy in the smallest of victories and how to show grace in the greatest defeats.”
Both current students along with recent Asbury alums placed alongside Jessica Hayes. The students and graduates include Emma Whitis, Rebecca Hedman, Josie Wooldridge, Martha Bruckner and Autumn Seymour with their accompanying horses. Placements include:
This is the third year Asbury has had thoroughbreds entered in the competition. The event allows not only valuable experience for the participators, but a new, purposeful life for the otherwise ignored off-track thoroughbreds. The Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover produces an outlet for knowledgeable individuals in the field of equine work to aid the smart, sensible, and adaptive thoroughbreds into lasting second careers.
“The students are in the beginning phases of their training while developing their own style, and the thoroughbreds respond dramatically to their rider, good or bad, so our riders are given instant feedback from their horses,” said Hayes. “It can make the learning process a bit of a rollercoaster ride, but the journey is well worth it.”