It’s been a while since I have blogged for #teamCROSSFIRE. So many new and exciting changes have been in the works, mainly our move to our new home at Crossfire Farm (named after my big OTTB eventing partner Eddie). But for this post I want to introduce our newest equine member, Jimi (JC: Belly Laugh). Jimi is a 2015 bay gelding by ‘Union Rags’ out of a ‘War Chant’ mare (Jessi Take Charge). He had 13 starts and $24,574 in earnings. We purchased Jimi with the intention to compete in the 2019 Retired Racehorse Project’s Thoroughbred Makeover. Most recently, our application has been accepted to the entry list! It was a journey just to find this rare unicorn of a horse. I am very thankful for the turn of events that lead us on the path to him.
My mom and I started looking for horses over the summer. We found several nice leads, even scheduled a few pre-purchase exams. Unfortunately, there were a few failed vettings and the stars did not align for those horses. But I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. And that was because Jimi was waiting for us on another path.
My mom had been perusing the internet and saw his album on Louise Ahsman Atkin’s facebook page, but he was not for sale yet. She came upon Jimi’s album, just out of sheer luck. Louise had been nursing an abscess he had before officially marketing him. We could not believe such a striking horse had not been snatched up yet! Luckily for us, we were able to acquire him before he really gained attention. He was the most beautiful, conformationally correct, and sound horse of all the ones on our radar. We picked him up from PA September 28, 2018 and brought him home to Crossfire Farm.
Jimi was introduced to my nine-year-old OTTB Crossfire (barn name Eddie) and they instantly clicked. They became fast friends and pasture mates, sharing the same blade of grass. This is always a good sign, because Eddie is a great judge of character. He is my first experience owning and producing an OTTB from the very start. Eddie already has a great list of accomplishments at the CCI* level and competing Intermediate. I’m hoping he shares some of his stories with Jimi in the field. He is also very protective of Jimi.
Love at first sight
From there, I was able to introduce Jimi to the property and surrounding trails by ponying him alongside Eddie on hacks. RRP requires you to have less than 15 training rides before the official start date of Dec 1, 2018. So, I used these first months to give Jimi additional let down and relaxation time. I rode him on a few trail rides while my friend Paulina rode along with Eddie. It really helped him to settle and adjust to his new home. This was a great time for me to build a connection with him by grooming and spending time. To me, this is the most important foundation in training.
Paulina and the boys (left) Jim kissing Ed (right)
Since the start date for training, Jimi has been slowly adjusting to a more consistent training program. We have been working very hard with my farrier to create a shoeing program that works for him. His feet are asymmetrical and require a bit more attention. So, for now we have him in rubber padded aluminum glue-ons, until his feet get harder and sturdier. He feels much more comfortable in these and is losing his shoes less often. We are also working on a nutrition program best suited to him. Overall, he is extremely happy and has the best personality on the farm.
I always tell my mom that our first OTTB was truly a Cinderella story. That we found the most kind, athletic, and easy going Thoroughbred. But Jimi is proving to have just as wonderful of a personality and trainability as his pasture mate. It really goes to show how much work is put into these Thoroughbreds before they retire from racing. Jimi is well socialized, and very quiet and safe to ride so far. He has baby moments, but they are all very reasonable with his age.
Most exciting, is that Jimi is a fast learner! He has had several training rides on the flat as well as jumping. He is a very confident horse once you teach him a skill. He easily marches right into the connection and isn’t hesitant or dull to my aids. Which is great for me, because I am rather small so I love a reactive and attentive horse like him. I introduce everything in a very black and white way, so a young horse clearly understands. That has worked well for him.
Jimi practicing his dressage skillz (left) Jimi at MDHT (right)
Jimi most recently did a little XC derby at Maryland Horse Trials. He placed 4th with a double clear round in the Elementary division. My student Carly was riding his stable neighbor Tuck, who placed 2nd. Tuck is an 18 yo. Morgan horse we have had since he was a 2 yo. They are good travel buds together, as Tuck likes to show Jimi the ropes of XC by being his lead. My expectation was just to give Jimi a positive experience, but he wanted to show off. He was a little concerned about his surroundings in the beginning, but handled the atmosphere like a champ. I think he really enjoyed his round, and I was certainly very proud! I will continue to include adventures off the farm to give him more varied experience in his training.
On a more sentimental note I want to express gratitude to my mom for embarking on this adventure with me and Jimi. She found my first OTTB, and now my second. And of course, to both her and my grandma for enabling us to have such a wonderful farm and training facility. My previous OTTB Eddie, came to me at a very difficult time in my life. He was what helped bring me back to myself and gave me something to look forward to everyday. If it weren’t for him, I know I would not be where I am now. Similarly, 2018 was a trying year for me and my family. We endured many changes and suffered many personal losses. Namely the loss of my grandfather before our move to the farm last February. It has been hard for me to regain my happiness and sense of self back. There is nothing more rewarding than the journey with a young horse. It teaches you to look at life in a different way. To accept challenges as growth and not failures. To be inspired by tiny moments of success. It heals you. I hope to produce Jimi to the best of my ability because I am extremely grateful for this opportunity again.
Jimi and my late grandpa 'Chuckie' actually share the same birthday, February 20th. I didn't realize that until after we bought Jimi. Maybe it's a sign. Or maybe it's just coincidence. But I like to believe it's a sign that we were meant to find each other.
A French Bulldog challenging Jimi to a brawl
I have started a social media campaign to follow along with our journey with the hashtag #JIMIforRRP2019. Please share, follow along, and use this hashtag. Below is our GoPro video from his XC debut at MDHT. I know he already has a growing list of fans, and I can’t wait to take you all along for the ride!