The Transformation of a Nervous OTTB

May 17, 2010, was an ordinary day at Vancouver’s Hastings Racecourse until the eighth race when a chain-reaction accident brought three horses and their jockeys down hard. Two riders were shaken but otherwise okay; the other suffered multiple serious injuries. All three horses emerged physically unharmed, but the mishap shook the confidence of one of the young Thoroughbreds. Five-year-old Willie Katchem, described as a “hard-trying Thoroughbred,” and “an athletic type” by trainer Mike Heads, earned more than $50,000 in four racing seasons. But after that day in May, Willie wouldn’t break from the gate until the other horses were off. With the horse’s racing career clearly finished, owner Lorne MacDougall sent Willie to New Stride Thoroughbred Adoption Society in Surrey, BC, a registered charity dedicated to finding a dignified retirement for former racehorses. Here, Willie was given a year or so to ‘just be a horse’ before being restarted lightly under…

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