Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Blown Away by Bronn’s Professionalism and Confidence

Meghan McNamara Bronn Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover
Meghan McNamara with her OTTB Bronn as they prepare for the Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover. (Courtesy of Meghan McNamara)

The journey of getting to the Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover this year has been as unpredictable as the Colorado weather has apparently decided to be. As it was set, May was on par to be a productive month of getting out to clinics and schooling shows as the weather finally seemed like it might cooperate!

Meghan McNamara Bronn Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover
Meghan McNamara with her OTTB Bronn (Courtesy of Meghan McNamara)

We started with the plan to go to an eventing clinic at Archer, following by a schooling show directly after, and then point toward The Event at Archer later in the month. Well, you know how it goes with having a plan with horses! Colorado has seen an apparently unprecedented amount of rain this past month. And though we made it to the clinic, Bronn developed a really nasty hoof abscess upon coming home which made for a very relaxing, work free month for him!

I will say, however, the clinic was amazing! I entered Bronn at Tadpole because, even though he jumps everything without question, my confidence needed some work. If anyone out there competes as a part of Area IX, you’ll know how incredible the event organizers are. The clinic was Friday and Saturday with the schooling show planned for Sunday. Well, I have NEVER experienced such wind. They were able to regroup and find an indoor arena where we were all able to school show jumping with our respective clinicians.

Because of the change in schedule, we were slated to go around 7 p.m., which was a long wait for Bronn! We ended up waiting in the indoor for about five hours — of course, he had hay and water — but with gale-force winds hitting the side of the area, hot horses getting rowdy, and the total amount of time he had to be patient, Bronn was a perfect gentlemen.

The benefit of going last was that my group had the arena to ourselves. By that point in the evening, all of us were a bit delirious, maybe a bit nervous, and unsure how it would go. Our delirium resulted in lots of cheers and support for another, pushing each other out of our comfort zones, and just having an all-around productive lesson. Our last course ended with a relatively tight turn to an oxer. I truthfully set him up horribly to the fence, but he questioned nothing and sailed right on over.

Saturday was cross country day! Weather was cold, misty, and rainy. We had a long walk from where we were stalled over to the course to warm up. Bronn was lovely and professional, which he maintained throughout the lesson. The only time he became worked up was when a loose horse galloped up the hill past him. He didn’t quite understand why he couldn’t take off and race him, but once he understood we were working, he came right back.

Meghan McNamara Bronn Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover
Meghan McNamara with her OTTB Bronn (Courtesy of Meghan McNamara)

Perhaps his biggest success of the weekend was going through the water and out over a starter jump. He went right in and pranced through like he’d done it for years. What I really love about his personality is the curiosity and fearlessness. He goes about new questions along the lines of, “what is this and how can I conquer it?” which has just absolutely changed my confidence.

Unfortunately, because of the weather, the schooling show the following day was canceled. That weekend I learned how supportive eventers are as a group, and I am thrilled to be a part of that group.

I should mention another important milestone for him that happened earlier this month: another clear cancer screening. A few blogs ago, I shared about his melanoma diagnosis and that once it decides to spread, it spreads like wildfire. His team of veterinarians monitor him from head to tail, looking at every little bump and skin irritation to ensure it has not spread. So far, Bronn is still ahead of it and feeling healthy and strong!

Looking forward to June, we have a horse camping trip planned and a few schooling shows with maybe a recognized event at Starter. I am still unsure of which disciplines we will tackle at the Thoroughbred Makeover. Taking my time with him and understanding what he will enjoy and thrive in is my number one priority.

Bronn continues to blow me away with his professionalism and confidence at just 6 years old.  I am so attached to him, I could never imagine him as a resale project. Let’s all cross our fingers for good weather and healthy horses going into summer, and I hope to have a few adventures to report on next month!

The Jockey Club supports many aftercare initiatives including the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, the only accrediting body in aftercare, and Thoroughbred Incentive Program (T.I.P.), which encourages the retraining of Thoroughbreds into other disciplines upon completion of careers. View all of the initiatives supported by The Jockey Club.

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