Allie brought Dixie and his girlfriend (lovely CANTER owned mare named Cryinginthechapel) down on Sunday. He has been hanging out just being a horse for the past seven months. Dixie is the fifth horse from CANTER that I have had the opportunity to retrain and it’s always exciting to watch them journey into new careers.
Despite the strong winds that were blowing us sideways we decided we should go on a trail ride. I rode Indy’s Wolf (another CANTER horse I am retraining) and Allie rode Dixie. Now Dixie had not been ridden in seven months but Allie was sure he was going to be just fine. She was right of course. Indy and Dixie took turns leading the trail ride and we headed through the woods out to the fields. We went through big puddles, natural ditches filled with water and encountered all sorts of spooky stuff. Both horses trotted along just as quiet as can be despite wind blowing right up their tails. We came back and rode around the ring a bit. Allie could not stop gushing over how great Dixie felt. She trotted him over some poles and a little jump and he could have cared less. You never know what kind of training a racehorse has received so when you get one that is soft in the mouth, supple through the body and understands the leg and hand you want to do cartwheels because your job is going to be easy. We switched horses and boy was it fun to sit on Dixie. He’s a big boy at 16.2 h and quite stocky. He lacks muscle right now but he just has that feel that I look for. Forward moving, good off the leg, nice in the mouth and the brain we all want. He is very weak in the hind end right now and not all that attractive to look at so you might think we are both a bit crazy gushing about this horse if you happened to see him standing out in the field. I like to call it the “vision.”
The ability to see and feel what a horse will be like several months down the road with weight, proper muscling and training is a skill you develop after looking at and retraining many horses. We all look at the pictures on the various CANTER websites and pick out our favorite horses but can you find that diamond in the rough?
Since his arrival at my farm Dixie has been allowed to settle in. Yesterday, I brought him in and finished pulling his mane. He will get a bath and a clip job this week. It’s hard to do much with all that hair! I took him out for a 15 min ride. In the beginning, I keep it short and simple. He has no muscle so we just did some basic walk and trotting. At this point in the training I am not asking them to do anything besides go forward and little baby lateral work. We walked and trotted across some poles laying around the ring. I like to start this from the first ride so that it becomes part of the routine.
I have discovered Dixie really likes to eat 🙂 His girlfriend is only a week off the track and she likes to wander off to stare out into the field and he tries to go and steal her grain. At my farm, the stalls turn right out into the fields so they horses can just come and go as they please. He was not eating any grain but now that he will be in work he is getting some grain and beet pulp. I also feed them as much timothy/grass hay as they want to eat.
Photo Above: Dixie upon arriving at CANTER