Thoroughbred Blackfoot Mystery and Boyd Martin finished sixth at the 2016 Rolex Three-Day Event in Lexington
As the market for Thoroughbreds after the track continues to grow, Olympic rider Boyd Martin believes riders at the top levels of other equine disciplines should give an off-track Thoroughbred (OTTB) a try. Martin, who has long been a champion of the breed at the upper echelon of eventing, believes bringing more ex-racehorses into the top levels of the sport would benefit both the aftercare movement and the riders themselves.
“In my opinion, the off-track Thoroughbred is the ultimate event horse,” said Martin. “Not every OTTB is the ultimate event horse, but I would take a nice-moving, quiet-thinking, bold, brave, good-jumping Thoroughbred over any other horse breed in the world. There’s no better breed to be a four-star event horse.”
The thing that has stymied the Thoroughbred in his sport, according to Martin, is a preference in recent decades for European Warmbloods as riders believe those breeds will be better movers. Whether or not they’re better in the dressage phase of the sport, they have neither the speed nor the stamina of the Thoroughbred on the long, intense cross country course, which can get them eliminated before they even participate in the stadium jumping phase.
“It’s almost a bit trendy to go to Europe to buy a European horse. It’s madness,” said Martin. “It’s a little bit like when my wife buys wine or perfume; if it’s affordable and locally made, she’s not interested in it.
“It’s a cultural thing, but I shake my head sometimes, especially with young riders with the ambition to be a four-star rider. What’s going to stop you from being a four-star rider? A horse that can’t gallop. It’s pointless buying a horse and putting years into it, and all of a sudden at the two-star level, you’re galloping around with its tongue hanging out. Buy a horse with the criteria to get the job…