Jumping to new heights: a retired racehorse's second chance
Backstretch babe jumping to new heights
Watching Backstretch Babe trot around the ring you would never know she used to call the racetrack home.
The six-year-old chestnut thoroughbred was a racehorse in the United States until injuries cut her career short. In 2012, the mare suffered a horrible fall on the track and broke her bottom jaw. Then, one year later, she crushed several vertebrae in her withers.
"She is very lucky. We love her and she's been a great little mare and we are ready for the future," said Backstretch Babe’s owner Katie DeWolf.
DeWolf bought BackStretch Babe, also known as BB, in January 2015, just a few months after the thoroughbred officially retired from racing. The mare was slightly out of shape, but fully recovered from her injuries and ready for a second chance at life.
"A lot of them end up in the meat industry, in the slaughter hose, at auctions or with people who don't know what they are doing," said DeWolf.
"She is super social and has a great character and she's just a lot of fun."
DeWolf and her friend Korah Broderick saw a lot of potential in BB and decided she was the perfect horse to enter in the annual Retired Racehorse Project in Lexington, Kentucky. The unique competition brings thoroughbreds, trainers and riders from all over North America together to show off what ex-racehorses can do.
"We're really, really excited to be a part of the retired racehorse project and we can't wait to see where we stack up against the rest of the thoroughbreds," said Korah Broderick, DeWolf's trainer, coach and friend.
Thoroughbreds are known for their speed and are promoted primarily as racehorses. At this event, horses are given a second chance to chase big prizes in 10 disciplines, including show jumping and polo.
"I think it's going to be amazing to be a part of something like that," said Broderick.
Getting BB ready for the competition has taken a lot of dedication and many sleepless nights. The riders spent the first three months of this year teaching BB the basics and breaking her bad habits. Despite what they described as a difficult beginning, the riders are adamant every minute was worth it.
"She loves to jump. She walks into the ring and it's like she puffs up and she really wants to show everyone how awesome she is," said DeWolf.
"The process was really fun and very rewarding," added Broderick.
Backstretch Babe and her team leave for Lexington, Kentucky on October 21st. They will compete against about 200 horses with the goal of becoming America's Most Wanted Thoroughbred.
For DeWolf and Broderick, this competition is not about winning and losing; it's about the journey and showing off how hard work, dedication and a lot of love can change the lives of ex-racehorses.
You can follow BB's journey on her website: