My name is Jenn Jensen. I didn’t come from a horsey family, but somehow it was in my blood. At the young age of 5, I literally woke up and started collecting money from underneath the sofa cushions (really anywhere I could find change) and put it in coffee tin can. My grandparents raised me and I remember my grandmother asking, “What on earth are you doing?” I said, “I am collecting money to buy a horse!” With a bewildered look on her face she replied, “Jenny, horses cost a lot of money.” And then I reminded her that pennies make dollars, and one day I would buy a horse. They finally gave in and let me take riding lessons, and then the horse girl was born.
Being that I was from a middle class, non horsey family meant that I didn’t ride fancy horses. Back in the 90’s OTTB’s were a dime a dozen. I was in 4-H at that time and had the chance to lease an OTTB mare that was basically left at the barn. She was skinny and hot, but was all heart. That’s when I fell in love with the Thoroughbred.
Fast forward 20 years, and I still prefer a Thoroughbred. I’ve been watching the Retired Racehorse Project evolve from the very beginning, but I have been too busy with my career to participate. Finally one 2018, I bit the bullet and was an accepted trainer for the Thoroughbred Makeover! It was an amazing experience, so I decided to enter again this year!
My horse this year is named Painted Patchen. He is a rare registered white Thoroughbred born in Kentucky at Patchen Wilkes Farm. What makes him even more unique is he has chestnut patches all over his body, hence his barn name, Patch. He was a decent runner, but retired in July of 2018. After retiring from the flat track, he was being trained to be a hurdle horse, but he didn’t seem to be fast enough.
I choose Painted Patchen to do the Makeover because I thought he would be a great resale project. Of course his white color plays a factor, but he loves getting attention and is the perfect size for a junior to step up to from a large pony. He has been so easy to train, I’m honestly not sure if I’ll sell him. He is smaller for my taste, but he is all heart, super willing, and a brave jumper.
Early on in his training I had him boarded at a barn with an indoor so I could get him started in December. He immediately showed me that he hated the ring. HATED IT. I really thought something was wrong with him. He was checked for lameness issues, ulcers, back issues, teeth issues….you name it…I checked for it. I brought him home in February then shipped down to Camden, South Carolina to escape the mud and to be with my trainer and fellow Makeover competitor, Sara Katz, for a week. The morning after we got there we tacked up and went out hunting with The Camden Hunt. There, a new hunt horse was born. Patch found his calling!
Since then Patch and I have hunted with Elkridge-Harford. We also enjoy long solo trail rides. I plan on taking him on many field trips including hunter paces, group trail rides, hound walking, and some fall cub hunting. Getting these green horses out and about really helps them prepare for the Kentucky Horse Park. The more they experience the better!
As an adult amateur who isn’t normally at a boarding facility, it’s easy to get in a riding rut. Signing up to do the Makeover not only gives me a goal to work towards, but I get to meet some amazing people with similar interests. The Makeover is unlike any show I have ever been to. The competitors are so friendly and helpful to one another. After all, we’re here for the same thing, to promote our favorite breed.