Jo McKinnon Column

A Life Less Ordinary

Life Less Ordinary (Thewayyouare) has lived a far from ordinary life.

Born in Ireland and sold at the Tattersalls sales for 100,000gns, the big brown gelding made his way to Australia and the stables of champion trainer Chris Waller.

Raced by a syndicate headed up by Richard Pegum, the now ten-year-old enjoyed what you could say was an above-average career on the track. In 55 starts, he won three stakes races including the Hollindale Stakes (Gr 2, 1800m), and amassed more than $1.3 million in prizemoney. 

Tough and reliable, he raced on until he was nine years old. When retirement beckoned, the Waller team and his ownership group committed to finding him a good home and they found one with highly respected Victorian-based  thoroughbred retrainer Fi McIntrye.

“At the time I had another Chris Waller horse. Sophie [from his office] contacted me and said they had a horse who had just been retired due to a suspensory injury and he could be rehabbed and return to racing but Chris and his owners felt he’d done enough in his career,” said McIntyre.

Soon after, Life Less Ordinary arrived at McIntyre’s property near Geelong in November 2020, and the journey to becoming an equestrian mount began.

“He underwent some rehab on arrival followed by a six-month spell. I started groundwork and lunging/long-reining him before I rode him. He had two months of flat work education followed by another short spell. His initial retraining went super, when he came back into work following the second spell we had a few issues with him wanting to go forward and straight. I adapted my retraining with him, once I got him going forward he hasn’t looked back.”

From the outset, Irish as he’s known around the stable, displayed qualities of a horse that had a bright future in life after racing.

“He has a super temperament. When he first arrived I popped him in a stable, he would have been easy to forget he was in there. He didn’t make a noise and was just a happy horse. Very chilled and relaxed. The most excited he gets is at feed time when he calls out and talks to you until his feed hits his bin. He has a bit of a cheeky character at times when he gives you a little nip.”

Life Less Ordinary’s exceptional temperament put him in good stead to overcome his physical issues and enabled McIntyre to exercise the level of patience required to nurse a horse back to better health.

“In my opinion just because a horse has an injury it doesn’t mean they can’t make a full recovery and lead a normal and successful post-racing career. Time is all you need sometimes.”

While he might not possess Sydney Royal show-winning looks, Life Less Ordinary has since carved out a very successful post-racing career for himself.

“A horse doesn’t need to be the best looking horse to have a super life and provide you with a huge amount of joy. In December 2020 I took him to Equestrian Victoria’s “Off The Track” where he competed in a class for the horse Most Suitable For Eventing which he won. 

“Over winter I took him to a hunter training day, he was a pleasure to take out, happily stood at the truck and cruised over the hunting panels. He attended five hunts this season and proved to be an absolute delight to ride in the field, he was happy to gallop across the field at whichever speed I asked him to go and then come back and walk on a loose rein.”

On Saturday at the Royal Melbourne Show, he starred.

“He competed in the Hunter on The Flat section at Melbourne Show. He had to qualify by attending five hunts across winter and one hunter show. The classes are judged on the flat, like most showing classes all the horses are on the circle together, followed by an individual workout which he completely nailed. In fact, he blew me away with how well he handled the atmosphere in the main arena and produced a lovely flowing workout. When he was called forward I was so thrilled, it was such a reward for all the work we have put in together to get him to that point.”

McIntrye, who now works full-time as a retrainer, doesn’t plan to part with Irish anytime soon.

“When Irish first arrived Chris said he would make a great eventer. I spoke to a couple of people who were looking for eventers but due to his injury, they weren’t interested in him. He is a lovely put-together horse, not a pretty horse or a show horse by any means. I said to my partner Jonathon he would make a great horse for him, He said no you can’t keep them all. I think Jonathon changed his mind after riding Irish in the hunting field. It looks like Irish is stuck with us for life and I really look forward to continuing to try new things with him.”  

Now the dilemma is who gets to ride him?

“I get to ride him most of the time – to continue his education, well that’s what I tell Jonathon. I imagine that will only last so long,” she said.