Maybe I'm the only person on the ENTIRE PLANET who feels like she's constantly behind the OTTB curve. Seems like every other OTTB owner is like "HELLZ YEAH DOING STUFF" when I'm just over here working away at training level. Maybe I really am that far behind the curve.
But in case I'm not, I want to show you something. (Or maybe prove something to myself.) Regardless. Here we go.
You all know this picture. It's Courage, the night before he left the track and maybe two weeks after his last race. He's 8 years old and very, very fit. Conformationally, he is a lovely thing (which we can see because there's no fat getting in our way.) You can also see his upside down neck which is a part of his uber-short topline and the way his front legs are a bit inclined under his body. That can be just how a horse is posed (good conformation shots are an art form, yo), but in this case, I think it also speaks to his general body soreness and the type of fitness he has.
90 days later is a lot less attractive. Let's be real. Courage's fall coat is coming in, which explains the coat color difference. His handquarters look so sexy and symmetrical and he's put on a lot of weight through his underline, but his whole topline still just looks tight and uncomfortable. You can still see how his front legs are set a bit under his body. He's lost most of the racing muscle, but he hasn't gotten to the pretty phase yet.
This is a gorgeous photo, but it's not my favorite shot ever of Courage. Again, he looks comfortable in his own skin and much more relaxed. He has put some muscle on after a summer of work. I like that his lines are all kind of longer and more filled in. I basically haven't changed his neck at all, but it's not worse, so that's good. There is more muscle in his hindquarters and abs (do people talk about horse abs?). There is definite improvement, but it doesn't have that "WOW" factor of his racetrack shot.
And then today. We're closing right in on two years off the track, and to me, Courage is starting to look really good. (Noted: conformation shots should be taken without wraps, but we're not dealing with a PPE or lower leg blemishes, so whatever.) (Also noted: I should have asked Courage to drop his head some, but eh. He's beautiful.)
Here I'm finally seeing what Courage can look like after months of correct work. There is some lovely definition in his shoulder and his neck is starting to fill in. Honestly, this picture shows his neck the least well, but trust me when I say it's deeper and thicker and getting more attractive. I'm already coveting more hind end development and a bigger, thicker neck, but if this sequence shows anything, it's that progress comes with slow, correct work and lots of time.
PS Note how he's in a different head collar for every single shot.
PPS Check out that kick ass tail development!