Thoroughbred Makeover Diary: Back for 2023 with ‘Bold, Brave, and Professional’ Bronn

I’m so thrilled to be back on this journey with America’s Best Racing, striving for this year’s Thoroughbred Makeover with my gelding Bronn. I last blogged for ABR in 2021, as I was bringing along my mare Pied N True for the Makeover, living down in Texas. There is an internal understanding amongst RRP alumni that the Makeover can and will change your life… I had no idea how true this was and how my life would change forever. 

To summarize: We made it to the Makeover in 2021. Pied took me farther than I would have ever imagined. I met some incredible ladies, two of whom are members of the Arapahoe Hunt Club outside of Denver. I watched Autumn Sorenson compete her mare, Ms. Battlefield (aka Thistle, who ended up second), in the Field Hunter’s mock hunt on a gorgeous, foggy Kentucky morning. Fast forward to later that year, I joined on a hunt (riding Thistle), causing me to fall in love with the sport and move to Colorado for a sabbatical from Texas. We then created a team, the Green Thumb Thoroughbreds, and brought two geldings to the 2022 Makeover. Not to mention, because of my experience at the Makeover with Pied, I was hooked and wanted to try again with an individual horse, with the intention of said horse to be a sales project (Yes, all who know me can laugh. Why I thought I would ever be able to sell a horse…) 

Enter Bronn.

Because of my journey with Pied, I became friends with her assistant track trainer. There’s no simple way to describe that incredible mare… maybe that she has as many personalities as she has colors (she has very unique coloring for a Thoroughbred). So having a human ally knowledgeable about her personality was a HUGE help and lots of fun as her training progressed. She works at the tracks in Southern California, and when I received a message from her with information about this tall (I mean 17 hands TALL), dark and handsome gelding named Bronn who was ready for a new career, it was love at first sight. She put me in touch with his connections and he became a Valentine’s Day gift to myself and originally a 2022 Makeover hopeful. I couldn’t have imagined a better (and gelded) man to enter my life!

Bronn belonged to, and still is deeply loved by, Jill Baffert. She was, and still is, extremely involved in his rehoming and journey. I was told that he was named after a favorite “Game of Thrones” character, and I can see why.

A couple weeks after his arrival, while brushing his tail (like I had many times prior), I felt a new lump. It’s in my nature to panic about anything that could be wrong with my horses, so I called the vet and she came that week to remove and send the mass for biopsy. At that point, he was just five and as strong and healthy as healthy as could be. Well…I’ll never forget the phone call, “Meghan. It’s cancer and it’s bad.” It was malignant melanoma, highly lethal in young bays. 

This melanoma is such a freak thing, growing and spreading overnight – there is NO WAY this was an oversight from his prior connections. When Bronn arrived, he was in perfect condition and so sound. He had just recently won and was ready for his next chapter. I have never in my life been around such a magnificent animal and to think that I would be his new rider… it’s still a dream come true. 

My vet, Dr. Piper Norton, a top equine internist, came up with a plan, landing on Co2 lasering the margins of the tumor and putting him on an aggressive Oncept Melanoma Vaccine treatment with radiation being next if and when needed. I lost so much sleep deciding if I should tell his previous owner, but because he was and is still so loved, I ultimately chose to share the news once our treatment plan was underway. It’s no surprise that Jill has been so graciously supportive and continues to check in on both of us. I couldn’t imagine a better track owner –  she truly cares more than I can relay in words. I’ve been around the tracks the majority of my life, and I have yet to meet an owner and a barn that cares for their horses at such a high level.

Because his recovery came first, I decided to scratch Bronn from the 2022 Makeover and decided that should everything go well, we would look to enter 2023’s competition. His last race would make him eligible for ‘23, so I figured there was no rush! Well here we are, a year later, and he continues to beat the odds. I don’t currently have a plan on which discipline like I did with Pied. I plan to let him tell me what he enjoys doing in the next few months. It has been a BRUTAL winter here in Colorado, which has allowed for a slow restart. So far, I have a handful of rides on him and we have done a couple outings: a couple trail rides including a unicorn-themed ride on his birthday (so if he can put up with me through that, we may have a chance!), an excursion to the hunt, and a little cross rail clinic. He is bold, brave and professional. 

Though I haven’t watched an episode of “Game of Thrones,” I’m told that Bronn is a jovial fighter not to be messed with. Well, there sure isn’t a better way to describe him, and I know he will keep fighting! Up here in Colorado, he is under the watchful eye of Dr. Melissa Fenn. We are so lucky to know such marvelous equine internists! Pictures certainly don’t do this horse justice. He has the most amazing personality, an absolute gentle giant. Nothing seems to phase him. He is the type of horse that, when you are riding, you feel like you can conquer the world. I am beyond excited and grateful for the opportunity to bring such a horse along and I will do everything in my power to do right by him. There is not a chance I would be able to part with him, and knowing that he is going to be in my herd forever makes this journey even more special. I’m excited to share this journey with you all, as I am also looking to bring Pied along for the TIP Championships during Makeover week!