Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Being Overprepared Never Hurts

Wex impressed with his dressage skills at Waterloo USDF show (Photos courtesy of Jessica Sheidy)

This year, America’s Best Racing and the Retired Racehorse Project will be sharing diaries from several trainers preparing for the 2019 Thoroughbred Makeover competition, scheduled for Oct. 2-5 at the Kentucky Horse Park. This week we check back in with Michigan resident and lifelong Thoroughbred lover Jessica Sheidy, who shares an update on Wex's progress. You can read her intro piece here.

I have a reputation for being overly prepared, overly organized, and overly equipped. I am often ridiculed for this trait, but we always have everything we need, whether I’m packing up the kids for a family vacation or packing for a horse show. The tack room of my horse trailer has a hook and a holder and a rack for everything. Lots of things can go wrong when traveling with horses (or children, for that matter), but I try to head off any potential issue with being as prepared as possible.

Now that we’re in the home stretch, and the Thoroughbred Makeover is just over a month away, I’ve moved into wrapping up the loose ends of preparedness, organization, and equipment.

Most of my commentary thus far has discussed Wex’s preparedness. We have another dressage show under our belts, and I’m now shifting my focus largely to jumping. Unfortunately, Wex heard this was happening, and sprung a shoe before my last lesson. Our progress over fences is still going slowly, but everything we’ve done up until this point has set us up well for jumping. We still have a month left, and we can get a lot done in that period of time.

I have a deep-rooted need to be organized. I have a color-coded planner, and sync multiple calendars on my phone and laptop. With a full time job, an hour-long commute, two kids in different schools and in multiple sports, a horse, a dog, and a new position on the Board of Directors of CANTER Michigan (for whom I manage social media accounts), organization is the only thing that keeps my sanity. I’ve read every word of the Thoroughbred Makeover rule book more times that I should admit. I have an ever-evolving Google Sheet with multiple packing lists. Back when acceptance letters were sent out in February, I designated a new marker color in my planner for RRP tasks, and scheduled every last appointment, every vaccine, even when I needed to place my shavings and paddock order for the Kentucky Horse Park. There will be no last-minute panicked order of a microchip or an incomplete health certificate here!

I have been accused of being over-equipped. It takes a lot of equipment to take care of a horse at a show for an entire week. You basically have to pack up your entire barn and take it with you. Some pieces of equipment may not be absolutely necessary, but they certainly make your life easier. I learned very quickly at our first overnight show that I would benefit tremendously from having a tack trunk on wheels, for example. At the Makeover, I will be competing in two disciplines (dressage and show hunters), each requiring their own set of equipment and attire. My Google Sheet referenced above also has a tab for my shopping list. I had never shown in dressage until this year and my show clothes for hunters were purchased back in high school. Needless to say, I was in need of an update.

Ultimately, it’s hard to know if we’re ready. I know that Wex has settled in well at every show I’ve taken him to, but the Kentucky Horse Park is different. Even the most seasoned horse could lose it when faced with trotting down the centerline in Rolex Stadium. Despite the obstacles of lost shoes, abscesses, and behavioral challenges, I feel confident I’ve done the best I can to set Wex up for success in Kentucky. If you make the trip to the Makeover, be sure to stop in and visit Wex and Cardboard Clara — she’ll have her own photo booth right next to Wex’s stall.

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