So on the 3rd April 2020, I finally called time on Ravitude’s racing career (for those of you who have not read the last post) after a number of factors pointed to that it was time, however one that I am happy with (nothing worse than having the decision taken out of my control).
So on this day he also left his paddock in Mangrove Mountain and moved to a new location that he would now call home. This new home located in Mulgoa (near Penrith) which the biggest benefit of all is of course closer to home and means I get to see him more frequently. However, the bigger differences is that he now has a massive paddock that has an extremely large supply of grass for him to mow down, hills to run up and down to kick up his heels and some friends to join as a part of a herd (rather than being isolated in his own paddock and forced to run up the fence line).
While I have been fortunate enough to see him weekly, I have decided that I will give updates on his progress every two weeks. So in the first two weeks of his retirement, he has had a big change in his diet – no more race feed and supplements that he needs as an active Thoroughbred. The noticeable big change here has been in his attitude and behaviour, he is no longer a highly strung thoroughbred race horse – he now is very mellow in his behaviour and the only time he seems to crack the shits is when the flies pester him (something he is still getting used to) however he has quickly worked out the tail to head position (for those not familiar when the horses basically stand opposite ends and utilise the swishing of tails to keep the flies at bay).
The other thing he has had to get used to is the fact that feed time is now whenever he likes and that there are no famous white buckets (that all horses seem to recognise) however, being the dude he is has also fast picked this up.
From the last time I saw him as an active race horse, he has also started to drop the belly meaning that as the race feed leaves his system he is getting what we like to call “paddock condition” and as we come into the cooler months someone is beginning to look like a woolly bear (the winter coat is coming out). As the nights get colder he will be rugged to prevent his coat losing condition and keeping him warmer.
The biggest thing I was worried about would be how he would go with other horses, well no need to worry about that as he has settled in really well and even when moved always manages to suss out his paddock and his new friends, even if it also means discovering that little fillies can be heartbreakers (he met a little pony filly who flaunted herself around him and then took off and left him on one side of the fence – another lesson he has had to learn, electric fences are there for a reason- to keep you in your paddock!).
So the reports so far of his progress in the “let down” phase is that he has settled well and taken to his new life extremely well. He will remain in this phase for a some time to give him that time to become just a horse again and as I like to say have the RACE taken out of the race horse. I personally am excited to see how he continues to let down into just a normal horse, no longer an athlete.
Surprisingly enough from the time I have spent with him on a weekly basis, I have found that not only has it strengthened the bond we have between each other but it has helped me in a mental capacity. In this time I have found that yes while I am excited heading out to see him, when I am on the drive home I have noticed I am much more grounded and feel that I am reset for the week ahead and ready for whatever it may throw at me. So the benefit of not only getting to see him every week is that it has become a form of therapy for me and helps keep me sane in this crazy time we are having (thanks corona virus). There is still so much uncertainty in society and the time I spend with Ravitude allows me to step out of reality for a while and be in a world where I can just relax and its just me and him before I come back to reality a completely settled person and as stated ready to take on the next week.
Many people have wondered how horses are used in therapy for various people, well part of this journey will also include how it perhaps helps and changes me mentally as well as how Ravitude becomes a new horse. I always was fascinated by the service men and women that I have seen interact with horses and how it changed them mentally, now I can say that although around horses at work I am now beginning to really understand how horses can really help a person on a much deeper level.
Stay tuned for updates on both!! Below are some pics of him 2 weeks as an official Off The Track Thoroughbred