Morgan Boyer is a 23-year-old Area II event rider and trainer. Together with her mom, Jammie Hand, she operates Blue Line Farm in Reidsville, NC, specializing in restarting OTTBs.
Real people. Real results.
Name: Morgan Boyer
Location: Reidsville, NC
Featured horse: Interactif Spy ("Saint")
In October of 2017, my mom and I purchased an off-the-track-thoroughbred we saw listed on facebook -- a healthy looking 16.2h, 5-year-old bay gelding located in Ohio, named Saint No More. Other than that brief description and a single photo, that’s all we knew about him. So We hitched up the trailer and made the drive from North Carolina to pick him up.
The horse we picked up that day, however, was maybe 15.2h on a tall day, skinny and beat-up with four swollen legs. We didn’t really have time to debate the accuracy of the listing as he literally jumped onto our trailer, eager to see what adventures lay ahead. And what an adventure it would be--for all of us.
It took about a month to realize that this “Saint” was not Saint No More. The markings were very similar and I just assumed his height had been incorrect since many sellers like to say a horse is 16h when they are actually shorter. The situation we found him in didn’t give us much time to study the details, and either way, leaving him there was not an option. We ran his tattoo and sure enough, this 5-year-old named Saint No More was actually a 4-year-old named Interactif Spy.
He was high strung, upside down and had old bowed tendons in both front legs. A little TLC did not improve things much. Yet, despite everything seemingly working against him, you couldn’t help but love his slightly arrogant attitude, which he more than backed up with natural talent over fences.
When the Louisiana Breeders Association offered a $2500 incentive for the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover, I decided we’d make that our goal for the year.
I have restarted/rehabbed quite a few off-track-thoroughbreds and every restart is very different. Saint (yes, the original barn name stuck) has been one of the more challenging restarts on the flat. Normally, horses stretch out and settle into a comfortable frame fairly quickly when worked correctly. Saint’s carriage is certainly unique and not exactly what we would call “correct” and his attention span is minuscule, making dressage a test of patience.
However, his innate talent and love for jumping more than makes up for it. I have had many OTTBs that were more correct and better movers. Those are often easier to bring along, but the talented, difficult ones are more rewarding.
Fast forward to the 2018 Thoroughbred Makeover where Saint finished a bit of a disappointing 29th in his primary discipline of eventing. However, over the next few days he showed his true talent by wowing the judges and winning the show jumping competition.
Today, Saint is continuing to climb the levels of eventing with several successful prelim finishes under his belt. Look for him to finish the year with a two star run!
My approach to transitioning an OTTB starts the same with each one. They stay for a few days in a stall with paddock at the farm until I can get their racing shoes pulled. Once those are off I toss them out in the field with a herd of typically 5-6 and let them have some time to “unwind” and be a horse.
Normally, after a few days in the field, I will hop on to do an initial assessment. After a few rides I start to decide what the horse wants to do and which discipline I feel they would excel. If that is eventing I'll take them and compete them for a little while before they go on the sales market, or in special cases, they stay with me and climb the levels! If I feel they would be better off in a different discipline then I'll try and match them with the best home possible (I would probably keep them all if I could!).
One of the first OTTBs I showed turned out to be my first upper level horse. He taught me the rewards of consistency and patience while we successfully climbed through prelim together and finished with many top placings. Once I semi-retired him I was between horses for many years until Saint came along; after nearly 5 years I'm back at the upper levels with big goals!
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