Today, I had a new guy out to float my horse's teeth. He is an older man, 35+ years of experience in the horse world, used to race horses and has worked at the track for most of his life. I trust his judgement and his opinion, but I still need to make myself believe what happened today.
Right off the bat, he open's up Riley's mouth and says "Oh! A young fella!" I didn't think much of it, I said "Yeah, he's 12." and he continued to say how well his teeth looked for his age. A few minutes later, we started talking about his days at the track and all the horses he has worked with. This guy was really smart, he's seen at lot of things and has a bunch of cool stories.
Anyway, I started telling him about how I tried to make sense of Riley's lip tattoo earlier in the summer, but I couldn't get a good look at it with him tossing his head around. His racing career wasn't that important to me, so I just gave up on it. Immediately, he lifts Riley's lip up and starts reading the tattoo off to me. He said it was pretty legible, then I looked at it and sure enough, I saw the exact same numbers. He said he hasn't looked up a tattoo in years, so he couldn't tell me a lot about it right then and there.
So I come home, get online and go to the Jockey Club website, look up the tattoo, and my jaw hit the table. The letter in Riley's tattoo is a J. Clear as a bell. I thought it was a D this summer, which would make him a 2000 foal. When we were looking at it today, it's obviously a J. Straight line on the right, loop to the left. The tattoo isn't muddy looking or anything, it's solid.
So my 12 year old horse is really 6? For as much as I know, he could be.
Let me tell you how much I know about his history. I got him from an eventing barn last summer. I was told that his previous owner had skipped town and left him for the BO to deal with. She didn't know much about him either, just what the previous owner had told her. She said he was purchased in Kentucky from a race track and that she retrained him to do 3 day evening and had been riding him in shows for 5 years. The BO said she never looked up his tattoo, she didn't have his papers, and she had no sale papers or anything. She wasn't even sure if it was a legal sale.
After the previous owner abandoned him, the BO let one of her advanced students work with him and show him. Eventually he became a lesson horse, but the BO wanted to find a new owner for him because he was such a sweet horse, he deserved a new loving home. That's where I came in. I had no reason to question what she told me about him, I just went with it.
So. Was I lied to on purpose? Is a 12 year old horse easier to sell than a 6 year old? Was the BO lied to by the previous owner? Did the previous owner like the idea of getting an OTTB, but perhaps she got more horse than she wanted? What really happened here?
It makes a lot of sense to me, though. He could totally be 6 years old. He has a lot of the same characteristics of a younger OTTB. I read a lot about retraining them because it has helped me overcome some obstacles with him in the past. He still has a lot of those little racing quirks. I thought he was just stuck in his ways. Maybe he was never properly transitioned in the first place.
So has this ever happened to anyone else? Is it typical for OTTBs? I've heard of people saying horses are younger than they are, but older? I have never experienced this kind of thing. I'm kind of shocked to be honest. I mean, I'm glad he is young, he has a lot of life ahead of him. I'm also feeling more comfortable about starting up dressage lessons with him now. I just wish I could talk to the previous owner and find out the whole truth. Maybe I don't want to know!