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Nov 01, 2011 - NTRA
Chestnut gelding by Sea Hero out of Alytude by Alysheba
Born: January 22, 1999 in Kentucky
Race Record: 41 starts, 6 wins, 5 seconds, 4 thirds, $53,078
Blue Blue Sea is regally bred with two Kentucky Derby winners for a sire and dammsire. He had modest, but diminishing success while racing at Charles Town, Suffolk and Rockingham.
In 2004, Blue was sent to CANTER West Virginia (Now Mid-Atlantic) by his then owner to find a new life, and Miranda Prather purchased Blue after seeing him on CANTER's website. Since that time, Miranda has met with two of Blue's former trainers and one of his early owners, who were all genuinely happy that Blue has found such a wonderful home. Two of them, Mr. Jaffe and Mr. Walker, leave comments on Blue's Facebook page and “obviously have very fond memories of him”.
As Miranda describes herself, “I was born being interested in horses, from the tales my family tells. I clearly recall watching horse racing on TV from a very young age. Seattle Slew is the first horse I recall by name, born the same year as I was, I was elated when he won. The next year, I was not so thrilled. My heart belonged (and still in many ways does) to Alydar. I lost many tears during that year's Triple Crown races. My first equine a black Shetland pony stud when I was four.
When we moved from New Orleans to Kentucky, I started riding lessons. Secretly, I always wanted to be a jockey, but felt certain my parents would not be likely to let me have anything to do with horses if I said that. Instead, I took lessons in dressage and jumping, which I really loved. The first barn I took lessons at was an Arabian barn, but they made use of many OTTB's for their lesson horses. When I turned 14, I had the opportunity to get a horse of my own again. He was an OTTB known to me then only as JoJo, his nickname. He hadn't been off the track long, but the people who had him were not kind to him and were delinquent on their board. JoJo became mine and with the help of the Jockey Club, we were able to track down his registered name and race record. He was Beble a chestnut gelding born in Argentina who had run on the grass. He had a bowed tendon, so we couldn't do much jumping, but he was a good, solid and steady mount for dressage.”
Miranda was surprised at how different Blue was from the other OTTB's she had ridden as a youngster. “Most of the OTTB's I see or work with now are much more sensitive than Beble and those I worked with earlier. My first ride on Blue was Kentucky Derby Day 2004, and it got off to a bad start when I accidentally toed him while mounting up. Beble wouldn't have appreciated it, but he wouldn't have had Blue's reaction. Blue went from standstill to full gallop in about two strides. Since I only had my left foot in the stirrup, I guess you can imagine I didn't last too long. To his credit, he did stop and came back to check me out. He's a super intelligent horse, but just a lot more scatterbrained and sensitive than those that I recall working with in the past.”
When I originally purchased Blue, I was planning on taking him to shows, some dressage and maybe some jumping if he took to it. I believe very much that all horses will benefit from some dressage, but that to excel, they really have to enjoy their work, so if jumping wasn't his thing, I wouldn't have pursued it. Blue seemed to enjoy jumping and had some knack for it. Dressage, was more difficult for him, but it always has been for me, too, so I don't hold that against him.”
Miranda likens Blue to a cat with nine lives, saying that his biggest accomplishment has been just surviving. The most serious issues that Blue has overcome include a cancerous growth on his third eyelid and being diagnosed with a malabsorption disorder in 2006.
At that time, Miranda says, “It was strongly suggested that I put him down as he would probably only live another 1-2 years. With the help of Dr. Brown at Valley Equine in Ranson, WV, and Dr. Stratton-Phelps, we worked to get Blue on a new diet. The new diet's main feature is that he does not receive hay but rather hay pellets. Blue will still have colic episodes, but nothing like he did prior to the diet change. That first month before diagnosis he had five episodes in four weeks and lost about 300 pounds. The pictures of him today are of a happy horse that no one ever guesses has such an issue, and he's outlived the original prognosis by more than three years.”
With Blue's illness, Miranda and Blue haven't been able to get back to competing. Instead they've been doing ground work to avoid stress, and working on some tricks to keep Blue occupied. Blue has growing repertoire, including kiss me, hug me, nod head yes, shake head no and act embarrassed. Blue is currently learning to shake hands, which he seems to be picking up quickly.
Miranda encourages those considering an OTTB to be realistic about their level of experience and financial situation. “The latter is, of course, important for any horse that someone might purchase, but I think it's especially important with a former track horse. If you don't feel comfortable retraining a horse for what you want, you are going to need a trainer and that can be costly. You should also understand that the horse may act different after you've had him home for a while. A few years ago I encountered a family who had acquired a free OTTB. The horse was sweet and calm. A month or two later though, after proper feeding, hoof and medical care, she was a strapping bundle of exuberance. She was still sweet, but she was too much for that family.
Miranda advises that someone with no OTTB experience not go to the track without an advisor who has experience with OTTB's. And, most importantly, get a pre-purchase exam. The money spent will be well worth it to make sure the horse is the right one for you.
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