Cosequin Presents OTTB Showcase: An Ice Man With A ‘Heart Of Gold’ by Jen Roytz|07.24.201507.25.2015|2:52pm10:09am Robert with Best and First, aka Ice Man Robert Davis didn't always like horses. In fact, he hated them. His mom liked them though, and she made sure he got his hands dirty. “Our first horse's name was Penny,” said Robert. “I could not stand horses, but my mom made me get up on that horse, and Penny went on to run me into trees and through the valley while I literally screamed at my mom to get me off of that horse.” Thankfully, Robert's life with horses improved from there. Penny helped him to learn how to ride and how even the subtlest of cues from a rider can elicit a big reaction from a horse. Interested in barrel racing, Robert attended a clinic taught by professional barrel racer Martha Josey and gained more from the experience than he'd ever imagined. “It was an awesome, awesome experience. I learned the basics behind training a barrel horse and applied what I'd learned to Penny.” While Penny was a quick learner when it came to barrel racing, she wasn't nearly as quick actually running the barrels. Robert decided Penny would best be served being a kids' horse and found her the perfect home. After honing his skills on his next horse, a wicked-fast Quarter Horse mare by the name of Kit Kat, Robert began exploring the option of getting a Thoroughbred on which to compete. “My friend, Amaris, had a Thoroughbred off the track that he was competing with on the circuit and doing awesome,” said Robert. “So, I started looking around and learning and found a racehorse that needed a good home.” Working at a North Carolina CBS affiliate didn't afford Robert the luxury of much free time, but he decided to take a road trip to Charles Town Race Track in West Virginia. There, he found a horse that would become a true partner and friend. He went to the racetrack and came across a horse named Best and First. The horse immediately caught his eye and whinnied to him. Robert said he knew from the moment he saw him that this was his horse. “The owners didn't want to sell him to me at first. They wanted me to prove that I could afford him, along with everything that comes with owning a horse. I called them day after day and wouldn't give up.” After much consideration, Dale and Patricia Shockey, the trainer and owner of Best and First, called Robert and told him that if he truly wanted the gelding, he could pay a bit less than his claiming tag from his past few races. Robert calls him Ice Man these days and describes him as a hero with a heart of gold. He is his first off-track Thoroughbred and the process of teaching him to run barrels has been challenging, but rewarding. “I went broke to get my dream horse, but he was so worth it,” said Robert. “Training Ice Man was so much different than any other horse I've been around. When he first came off of the track he used to fight with me on everything and didn't want anything to do with barrels or poles. I gave him three months off and then started with him again, which really helped.” After his let down time, Ice Man was like a different horse, eager to work and learn. Though his last race was just two summers ago, Ice Man now runs poles and barrels regularly at rodeos and events in and around the Carolinas. Aside from initially not being keen to stay tied to the trailer, Ice Man has become known for his turn of foot among their competitors and has earned a spot in Robert's heart forever. “This horse has shown me what love really is. He made me love him instantly and being around him really helped me when I was going through a break-up. When he knew I needed it, he would just put his head on my shoulder, just being there for me. He always gives me 100 percent and has truly become my best friend.” THE DEETS: Name: Best and Final (a.k.a. “Ice Man”) Born: April 26, 2009 Color: Dark Bay Sire: Pleasantly Perfect Dam: Happily Employed Sale History: None Race Record: 14-2-0-0 Race Earnings: $16,220 If you have or know of a retired Thoroughbred with an interesting story to tell, we'd love to hear about it! Just email Jen Roytz ([email protected]) with the horse's Jockey Club name, background story, and a few photos. Jen Roytz is a freelance writer and marketing and public relations consultant for various entities, both equine and non-equine. She can also still be found on the back of an OTTB most days. Contact Jen on Facebook and Twitter.