Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Putting It All Together!

With about 3 1/2 months left before the Thoroughbred Makeover, Halo Carlos, above, is starting to put things together. (Courtesy of Lynn Sullivan)

July marks the fifth month of Carlos’ re-training. A lot has happened in these few months, and we have both learned so much! Our challenges have been many and, although we have worked out most issues, we still have a very long way to go!

With about 3 ½ months to go, I can’t help but feel a little bit of a panic when I think about how Carlos can still act away from the farm. Although he is better … he is not great! Most of our time has been spent working on creating a happier and more confident horse, and he is now one of those, just as long as I don’t change up the routine very much. But growth is painful, so Carlos still gets exposed to things he really didn’t want to know about.

I appreciate all the people who have helped me get him to this point, because during these past five months I have been sick, I’ve been injured (twice), and I still work two jobs aside from managing the farm, so I have to make my time with him as productive as possible. It truly does take a village when it comes to re-training Thoroughbreds, and I feel our home team at Thoroughbred Athletes, Inc. is the very best village for Carlos to be in right now!

Halo Carlos (Courtesy of Lynn Sullivan)

The physical issues Carlos was dealing with in the beginning of this journey have all been resolved as well, thanks to our awesome vet team at Oakridge Equine — Dr. Brackenoff left no stone unturned — and also thanks to our equine chiropractor Brianna Erdmire for keeping Carlos adjusted and pain free. I feel this may be the first time in his life that all of his needs, mental and physical, are being met! He shows us his contentment by not having to be defensive and no longer kicking or biting. He is actually really pleasant to handle now, and I am so very grateful for this turnaround alone.

Most of our early problems stemmed from some physical things he was dealing with such as ulcers and weight, which also played a big part of his earlier attitude, but he has always been sound with really great feet. All of our adventures together have been barefoot, and we hope to keep it this way!

As I read and watch some of the stories and videos from the other competitors, I can’t help but wonder where Carlos could be if we had not had such a rocky start. He is definitely not the kind of horse most people would choose for this very big competition! But the way I see it, we are giving him a great chance to find his forever home with someone who will continue building on the foundation we have helped him obtain. Will it be hard to see him go to a new home? YES! As a matter of fact, there are many horses that touch my life every year that make it difficult for me to let go, but this one will be really, really hard! As a rule, I’m not allowed to become attached to the horses in my program, or I would never let any of them go! This rule is difficult to follow because if you work day in and day out with a horse and are able to see improvement, how do you NOT get attached after you form a bond with them? I’m still working on the answer to that.

All of our volunteers and supporters have been so kind during this time of Carlos’ training. I have to admit … he was not everyone’s favorite to handle with his scowl and bad attitude! Since I have jobs that take me off the farm, I have to depend on others to get the chores done and at first Carlos was not pleasant for most of this. Even my farrier had some problems with him not being very cooperative, but most of this has resolved itself and I can now call him a good citizen! Although sometimes he tries not to let it show, Carlos enjoys the attention and care he gets. He now expects (and enjoys) the Magnawave and the chiropractic therapy treatments as well as the grooming sessions … and let’s not forget the horse cookies.

Going forward we will be continuing to work on his social skills off of the farm. They are not great at this point and I never know what to expect, but I do plan to be doing something totally different when we travel now. I will be leaving all my expectations at home.

I will let you know next month how this works out! He gets totally out of control and loses himself when we arrive at a new place. (And we have been to many new places!) His behavior always draws attention … but not in a good way. We will get it together though, just as all the other issues have been resolved so far! 

Carlos does things in his very own time, and there’s nothing I can do to rush him into it. He will figure it out eventually because I won’t give up on him. His future as a dependable mount totally depends on me! What other chance does he have? Before we entered into the Thoroughbred Makeover, he had a questionable future. Now, he is nice and soft to ride all by himself … whereas before he would not go in a straight line or even go forward without following another horse! He did not know how to turn and stop, only go fast. Now he has a nice handle and willingly moves forward on his own! I’m really proud of what we have accomplished with Halo Carlos — even if “staying in our own lane” becomes harder the closer we get to October!

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