“Coastal Reign,” affectionately known as “Mariah,” was delivered to our farm on October 22nd, 2020. She is an “Off the Track Thoroughbred” (abbreviated as OTTB) having raced her last race only 2 weeks before we got her. She retired from the track as being “crabby” and Marissa set to work figuring her out. She was in racing shape so was very, very fit, having massive amounts of energy, as well as, being very opinionated and sassy. Anyone taking liberties with her was met with either teeth or hooves. She is very light on both her front and back end and loves to demonstrate it. You could pet her face and neck happily but once your hand got past her withers, she made it very clear that was not allowed. She would try to bite and kick anyone putting on or taking off her blanket (she had zero fur, zero body fat and the temps were dropping below freezing at night- the blanket was required) and wanted absolutely nothing to do with us picking up her hooves. These difficulties were baffling because surely as a racehorse she had lots of handling and plenty of shoes set, but for what ever reason she was convinced they were bad experiences. We also pondered the possibility that her hostility was more than just sass and could be pain related reactions. Every good horseman must be a world class investigator and explore all possibilities. With research, we found out 90% of racehorses suffer from ulcers so we put her on high quality ulcer meds, 24/7 grass hay and a 5 acre grassy field to run and buck and be a horse (with a 3 yr old mustang filly for company). We also gave her some pain relief particularly from sore muscles. This combined with Marissa’s many hours of simple handling and ground training helped Mariah set her sassiness aside and come around to enjoy being brushed, tolerate her blanket being put on or off even without a halter and lead and so good for the farrier.
Marissa, looking forward at retraining Mariah as a riding horse, knew she needed to start at the beginning with this one. She has been working on verbal cues for walk, trot, and canter while lunging, basic ground manners (leading, halting, side passing), and walking over obstacles (poles, bridges, tarps) which Mariah took in stride with only an occasional spicy moment. With how unhappy she was with being blanketed, we were sure Mariah was going to throw some attitude at us when being saddled… but to our surprise, she was extremely well behaved when we put the saddle on… and didn’t even scowl when Marissa tightened the girth!! Since she was such a good girl with that, Marissa decided to go ahead and hop on her (this was in earlier November). Mariah was ready to move once Marissa was in the saddle but that was to be expected from a race horse. The biggest thing was Mariah would pin her ears and scowl every time Marissa dismounted …so they did a lot of on and off until Mariah changed her attitude. All in all, she was very well behaved and we are excited about the potential we see in this feisty little mare!
Marissa put riding aside, deciding to focus on putting some really solid ground manners on Mariah before moving into training under saddle, so Mariah only has had a handful of rides since we have had her. Marissa is excited to start seriously riding her in the coming months and turning her into a well behaved citizen.