Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Making Progress with OTTB Wex

OTTB Wex is making steady progress under the tutelage of Jessica Sheidy. (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 her fifth update on Wex's progress. You can read her intro piece here.

Like much of the country, southeast Michigan has experienced an exceptionally wet spring and early summer. More than just lost shoes in the mud, wet weather comes with canceled horse shows and outings and a string of potential afflictions (abscesses, “rain rot,” pastern dermatitis, to name a few). Unfortunately, Wex developed an abscess the day before we were to make our horse show debut.

Wex (Courtesy of Jessica Sheidy)

With October closing in on us, I’m anxious to get out and show. It’s looking more and more like we’ll compete in dressage at the Makeover, though we have yet to ride a dressage test. Wex’s dressage training is going really well, and if we can avoid abscesses for a bit, I think we can put in a respectable test in October. My plan was to do show hunters, which requires a minimum of a course of 2-foot jumps. While I’ve introduced poles and cross rails on the lunge line, we haven’t had enough consistent riding to try a real-life jump yet. I still think we may be able to make this happen, but we’re going to need some stars to align on our behalf.

I’ve often lamented that life with Wex is a roller-coaster. The thing about a roller-coaster is that even in the low spots, you’re still moving forward. While it’s sometimes difficult in the moments that I’ve spent cleaning, soaking, and wrapping Wex’s abscessed foot, I do see that he’s still moving forward. Every day, he learns more about being a good barn citizen, socializing with other horses, and building relationships with the people around him.

When Wex first arrived in October, he wouldn’t walk through a gate. I got calls and texts from barn staff wondering how to get him in his pasture. (Pro tip: If all else fails, back them in!)  Nine months later, he happily walks into any pasture. When we first started lunging Wex, he would rear rather than move forward. Now, he’s willingly moving forward and working when asked. He stands quietly in the cross ties. He allows me (begrudgingly) to groom and bathe him. We have a long way to go in the saddle, but he’s making progress there, too. I’m hopeful that when he’s back in work next week after two weeks off that he will pick up where he left off.

I’m planning several more shows for July, including Wex making his leadline debut with my 6-year-old, and finally making my dressage debut. Nobody tell Wex though—he might come up with a mystery affliction when he sees me packing the trailer!

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