Hot Blooded: How Lindsey Partridge Retrains OTTBs To Excel In Everything

Welcome to a new series on NF Style called “Hot Blooded,” which celebrates and highlights the Thoroughbred athlete in all equestrian disciplines, from racing to jumping.

Lindsey Partridge is no stranger to the Thoroughbred Makeover Symposium. Last year, she made waves in the off-the-track Thoroughbred world by winning the 2015 America’s Most Wanted Thoroughbred title with 9-year old, Canadian-bred mare, Soar (by Trajectory).

This year, not only did she become the first rider ever to make the Finals with both of her horses, but she also became the first rider to win in two disciplines, trail and freestyle, with the same horse, 5-year-old mare Trivia Time (by Like the Prospects).

Lindsey is based out of Ontario, Canada, at Partridge Horse Hill where she trains and teaches.

To get to know Trivia Time and a few of her other OTTBs, we caught up with Lindsey to ask about her training philosophy, her methods, and what it was like retraining Trivia Time to become the phenomenal horse she is today:

NF Style: How did you acquire Trivia Time?

Lindsey Partridge: I put it out to the Facebook gods and posted, “Hey, I am looking for a horse for this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover. I am thinking a chestnut gelding. Let me know.” So naturally I bought a grey mare and two bay geldings that people had messaged me.

I did the same thing the year before; I bought them off of Facebook photos. One from a horse for sale [ad] and another from a farm that acts like a broker to take horses off the track and sells them.

I buy them sight unseen. I just make sure they are sound and then I go pick them up. I do that because I want people to know that my training method will work with any horse. My horses aren’t good because I know how to pick a good one.

Do the horses you bought this year have any racing accolades?

Trivia Time, the horse I won trail and freestyle on, had three starts and won just over $1,000. She ran at Woodbine and Fort Erie.

Pentland was sold for over $200,000 as a yearling and had 38 starts earning over $70,000. He is the horse I was third on in field hunter—a sport I had never done—and trail.

You Gotta Be Kidding raced at Woodbine but didn’t win anything. He placed 5th in trail with my 14-year-old student.

What was the retraining process like?

I love retraining. For me the first few sessions are groundwork. I go through my Harmony Horsemanship Training Continuum which has four parts:
1. Respect and Safety
2. Calm Connection
3. Create a Yes Horse
4. Refinement

I spend a lot of time in the Calm Connection phase, where I am asking the horses to connect to me mentally, have a positive bend in their body, and begin to let go of any opposition.

My first few shows are sacrificed for the long term good. I don’t care how they place and we aren’t trying to win. It’s about getting them in the ring and keeping them relaxed and calm.

Before the Makeover I did two different Extreme Cowboy Races, bridle-less. I came last place both times because we were in the Pro division and because I had no bridle, we were pretty slow. But that was the price I needed to pay to give exposure to my horse so when we went bridle-less at the makeover competition, it would be easy.

Does Trivia Time have any interesting quirks?

Trivia Time is a cookie monster. She will sometimes start to do random tricks she knows I like to try and earn a cookie. She will also be sneaky smart and look for the cookie bucket if I’m not paying attention.

Were there any challenges you and your horse had to overcome while retraining?

The biggest challenge I had to overcome was back soreness. Their backs change and are weak off the track. We had to do many saddle fittings, massages, and chiropractic treatments. I also worked closely with the vet to make sure the horses were treated for ulcers and that they didn’t have other issues going on.

At one point, I was struggling getting my left lead canter but I knew it was soreness. What saved the day was my Accuhorsemat that I had won in 2015 for winning The Thoroughbred Makeover. It really helped their backs be comfortable. And paired with the Anti-Inflam from Omega Alpha, they seemed to be good to go. For jumping I tried out the new S Curve saddle pad from Vitafloor and that really seemed to work. Anything to keep my horses happy!

For Pentland, another issue we had was his hooves. Shoes wouldn’t last more than two weeks, and his hooves were way too weak. I was lucky to win a pair of Scoot Boots, which are a really neat type of hoof boot that actually worked. If it weren’t for the Scoots I don’t know whether his hooves would have been able to hold up to the cross-country jumping in field hunter.

What is your proudest and most memorable moment with your horses so far?

Definitely winning Freestyle with Trivia Time. Wow, what a dream come true!

What is your most helpful tip for retraining OTTBs?

Forget about what you want to do. Let the horse tell you what they are ready to do. Put the focus on relaxation through each task. If the horse’s mind is with you as well as his feet then you will accomplish anything.

Do you see a place in the upper levels of any disciplines, not just racing, for Thoroughbreds in the future?

I think Thoroughbreds are very versatile and athletic. We know they can rock the Eventing discipline but I think the Makeover is showing us that Thoroughbreds can also really excel in other disciplines.

I plan on training Trivia Time for Extreme Cowboy Racing, which is like an obstacle course on steroids, with the hopes that she will qualify for Worlds.