Two-time Olympian Boyd Martin is to host 'retraining the racehorse' clinics in Japan this December, in partnership with the National Riding Club Association of Japan (NRCAJ), the Japan Racing Association (JRA) and Godolphin.
The partnership, which is the first if its kind in the region, will promote the versatility of racehorses and their ability to adapt to alternative careers after racing. It represents a significant move by those invested in the industry in Japan to promote the retraining of racehorses and second careers for Thoroughbreds.
U.S. eventing team member Boyd Martin has represented the USA at two Olympic Games and two World Championships and has finished in the top ten at every four-star event in the world except Badminton (England). He is a renowned expert in the retraining of Thoroughbreds. One of his best-known horses is Blackfoot Mystery, an off-track Thoroughbred (OTTB).
A spokesperson for the NRCAJ said: “Many Thoroughbreds retire from racing in Japan every year, and we believe the large majority of them still have much to offer after they finish life on the track. With this in mind, we are excited to host Boyd Martin with his high level of knowledge and experience so that Japanese horse people can learn how to bring out the best in Thoroughbreds as riding horses.”
Takahiro Nishio, Equestrian Affairs Section Councillor at the JRA, said: “The Japan Racing Association is committed to helping owners and industry members move retiring racehorses into successful second careers. The JRA delegation which attended the IFAR conference in Washington this year found Boyd Martin’s presentation extremely impressive and informative, and we were therefore eager to help bring Boyd to Japan to lend his expertise to these clinics.
"We hope this event will not only increase the knowledge and skills of horse people in retraining racehorses, but also build awareness within the general public of the suitability of Thoroughbreds as riding horses.”
Not every Thoroughbred, no matter how strong its bloodlines, is destined to become a top-class racehorse. Even for successful horses, racing careers can be short and, as awareness about the use of Thoroughbreds post-racing continues to grow, Martin believes riders at the top levels of other equine disciplines should be open to the idea of riding Thoroughbreds.
“In my opinion, the off-the-track Thoroughbred is the ultimate event horse," he said. "Not every OTTB is destined for greatness, but I would take a nice-moving, quiet-thinking, bold, brave, good-jumping Thoroughbred over any other horse breed in the world. There's no better breed to be a four-star event horse.”