Monthly Archives: September 2008

Another update- City by the Sea aka Dewey

Dewey was only with me for a short time. He was a 3yr tb who had not been raced because he paddled enough that it made him interfere when racing. From the first day on my farm I could tell this horse fell into the special category that not all ottb’s ever make and that is packer. Yes, I said packer and the horse was only 3yrs old but you had to ride him to believe it. I felt like you could set a bomb off under him and he would just keep on truckin cause that was his nature. We put everybody on him and headed out on the trails and around the farm. Nothing phased him. He sure was a cutie but still a bit of an awkward 3yr. I bet in another year he is going to be gorgeous!

Tracy came down shopping for a client and wanted to look at Dixie. She loved Dixie but thought his big stride would make him to much horse for her client who was a beginner rider starting his own farm and looking for a family horse. I told her about Dewey and I could tell you right then she was looking at me like I was nuts…no way she wanted to see a 3yr tb. Did I mention I am convincing..after all I wore my mom down and made her buy a cribber and she hates cribbers.

Tracy headed out to the ring and put Dewey through w/t/c and jumped him over some fences. She flapped around and rode like a beginner just trying to get him to nope he just thought she was being crazy. Then she headed around the farm for a solo trail ride. She came back smiling and told me she wanted him he was just right.

Here is our update:

Here is a quick update on “Dewey”.  I  have been working with Marcus ( Dewey).   I really love him. Bill and his family really like him, but they prefer for ride western and Marcus wasn’t really happy when we tried a Western saddle on him. (I don’t blame him).  He has been great!!!!!!   He is everything you said he is.  He has not done anything wrong except pin his ears  when they tried to ride him in a western saddle.  I took him out with hounds 2 times  a few weeks ago and he was so laid back about it.  I got lots of comments about how calm he was for his first and second time out.  I ride him out cross country and every time he is perfect. He doesn’t spook at anything.  I am  having lots of fun with him.

I am sure he is going to make a fantastic fox hunter and I know Tracy will spread the word about how nice our horses are and hopefully a nice fox hunter will come and buy Dixie. I have this all worked out in my head 🙂

Need an uplifting blog post- General Forrest Update

I have posted some pictures about General Forrest in past blog entries. General Forrest and Flint Hills were the first horses I had for CANTER MA. General was a very pretty 4yr tb who had zero self confidence. He was scared of everything and anything but he wanted to be a good boy. It took me 3 months to get him to go around a course of ground poles and everytime I changed something in the ring he was scared to death. It is funny now that I look back on it but I can tell you there were many days I would have sold him for a $1 🙂 Trail rides..ha I ended up walking back home once because he was just so scared.

I kept working and he gained confidence in his ability to figure things out on his own. He was no longer terrified of jumps and I began to take him to some local hunter shows. I always knew he could jump but boy did he really prove that with the right type of ride he could be the horse to beat.

This is General before he was sold to Olivia. He was being tried by another teenage rider in this picture.

I am normally a bit skeptial about selling my ottb’s to children or teens but I never rule it out simply because of my experience riding Tb’s when I was younger. I believe a confident teen can often do wonders with a horse that has a good mind but just needs more confidence or mileage. When Olivia showed up to try General I knew she was a great match. She came back several times and I trailered him different places so she could get a good feel for him. She has been showing him on the local hunter circuit and I got this wonderful email.

Hi Jessica! It’s Olivia. I am just emailing you to tell you how wonderful General is. Today was Generals first show in a couple months. We jumped four 2’6″ courses and placed very well. Competion was a little stiff but we still got all seconds thirds and fourths. My Little sister, she’s 11, has also been slowly learning ride General.  She took him in the green hunter division. She did WONDERFUL! General was excillent! She had four classes, walk trot, she got 5th out of 7. Her third one was walk trot advanced she placed 2nd out of 7. Her third class was walk/trot/canter and she pulled a 1st! Then she did a four cross rail canter course and got 3rd!  She ended up taking grand champion! She was the youngest kid with the biggest and youngest horse! I was so proud of my baby and Liz! Im so happy! He did so well! l love him so much! Here is a picture of me, Liz, and General!
I got this picture which really makes me smile. Remember the days of decorating your horses with all their ribbons. Doesn’t general look like he is so used to be fussed over by teenage girls. Love it!
Thanks for the email girls it is nice to know General is spoiled rotten and still kicking butt in the show ring!

Dixie goes to the hunter show

Well this day didn’t turn out as planned but I am sure I made the best decision for my horses. The day started off early around 5am for us head over to the barn and pull the horses in. They were all riled up (well Mick was) so we lunged him and Dixie was all flustered wondering why Mick was being so silly. I lunged Dixie for 5 min but he really never does anything so I quickly scraped that idea. Polish them up, comb out their tails and put on their nice halters and boots.

The show as 20 min away and we got there about 6:30 am. It was cold and still dark. This place is gorgeous and has built a new ring with all new jumps. The show was a circuit that is local to our eastern shore area and much different than the local show that Indy had done the day before. Everybody has their horses braided and they had their neck/body slinkies on to keep the braids in and stay clean.

I took Dixie off the trailer first because my plan was to show Mick but school Dixie. Dixie was pretty shocked by the ponies and horses wearing all these funny clothes. He kept snorting and staring but he was standing nicely just confused by it all. I got on and rode down to the ring he was very looky but no spooking just looking. He felt much bigger than his 16.2h and I knew he was scared but what is great about Dixie is no matter how scared he is he keeps it all together.

We walked around the ring and he was in awe of all that was going on. Lots of people going every which way, speakers that were crackling and trainers yelling. As I rode around I discovered the footing was deep..really deep as in the ring looked like it had not been compacted and the base was churning up with the sand making it so deep you felt like you hit quicksand. I avoided the bad areas as much as possible and trotted and cantered around. It would not be fair to expect a green horse to jump in such deep footing. Not only could they get injuried but it was like jumping a foot higher by the time they climbed out of that deep footing.

Surviving warm up rings is always tricky especially at hunter shows when you are allowed to jump the full course. You might be on the rail and somebody is jumping straight at you because they are coming down a diagonal. For this reason I love taking the horses to hunter shows because it really gets them comfortable with handling a crazy environment. Dixie was super with horses coming at him, behind him and going faster around him. Those things do not get him to upset. My other horse gets a bit more reactive but he is also a bit younger with less overall mileage. Once he settled in he did not mind as much but the trick is to keep them moving and always be aware of what is going on around you so you can move quickly to put yourself in a safer area.

So Dixie got a w/t/c and walk around the show grounds. It was great mileage for him and he handled himself with class as always. He happily stood on the trailer while I warmed up my next horse who was also amazing.

The hunter world is a bit different for me. I have ultimate respect for how difficult it is to find eight perfect fences but I don’t always agree with the methods used to get your horses that rideable. Lots of lunging going on and the horses were jumped and jumped and jumped in that deep footing even when trainers were remarking how dangerous the footing was and coaching riders how to stay safe.

Here are some pictures from my early morning ride on Dixie. Isn’t he handsome!

The worst he did was look around which you can see here.

Indy heads to a show

A busy weekend of horse shows. One down and one left tomorrow. Today I took my baby who is a 4yr old/tb along with Indy to a little local hunter show. I wish I had a 4 horse trailer so I could take them all to the rated hunter show tomorrow but I only have so much time and space.

Indy is a total pro at the horse shows. My horse did the baby green stuff so he had to wait on the trailer by himself so he just munched his hay until we got back. He loves looking out the door and watching the action.

He looked at some of the jump rails lying on the side of the ring and I had to tell him he was too old to be looking at such silly things and he got it together. We first went into the indoor to warm-up. That was a small indoor and it was packed so I didn’t feel like doing much in there. Then we headed outside to wait and wait some more. We went in to do a warm up and he was excellent and jumped all the scary jumps even the jumps the older horses were refusing (scary coop and rolltop). He did his typical make sure I clear everything by at least a foot but he was relaxed and soft about it.

We did the hunter horse division and I chose to do the 2’6″ and some others jumped the 2’9″. I am sure he is ready for the 2’9″ but we had a questionable ride the other day where we took to many long spots for my liking so I wanted to make sure I made it positive for him.

If you are reading this tell people about this cutie. He has 8 months of training on him and has been everywhere you can think of trail riding, x-country schooling and showing. He is so cute!

He likes to jump the early ones a bit big 🙂

Learning how to ride an OTTB

What is your perception of a horse who has raced? Would you buy one? Do you think all Tb’s are crazy? Have you ever ridden a horse right off the track? If you have ridden Tb’s who are within the first year of retraining off the track what do you find the biggest struggles to deal with as a rider?

I think of these questions because as a seller I struggle to explain my horses to buyers and I sometimes think buyers are surprisedhow difficult it may be to ride a horse I describe as being really quiet. Who is right and who is wrong or is it just a difference in experience levels? I am going to write about my journey into the world of Tb’s 🙂

I started riding as a 3yr and had a pony named Quicksilver. She didn’t canter but she sure could trot really fast. I did barrel racings and all the western events.

 We always either had our own farm or managed farms full of racehorses. My mom ran the barn at home where we did the layups and raised the babies. I got to help break the young horses and transitions the horses who weren’t making $$ at the track into new homes. I started out riding a really tough pony that my mom had picked up cheap somewhere in Maryland. He was barely broke and all he knew how to do well was buck.   Needless to say I learned to ride the tough one’s early on.

I thought I was ready for my first TB once I outgrew Beau Dandy.  I begged and begged for a horse named, Lost Crop. He was a 15.1 h 4yr who just wasn’t making money and I had to have him. Finally, my parents gave in and he was mine. I have a horrible memory but the intial rides were going pretty well. I had really solid basics and had been riding some tougher types of horses. We headed off the farm to ride at the local pony club grounds around the corner. I was 10yrs old at the time and this was a big deal. We were warming up in the ring and then headed out around the ring. We believe he got stung by bees that were underneath a water trough but let me just say our pony club was wide open with two rings in the middle but then all open land around the rings. We went from zero to sixty in 2 seconds. I could vaguely remember everybody screaming. He was running so fast around and around and around again. I was stuck up there tight but I kept shortening my reins and taking another hold and another hold and each time he would go faster. Basically I was riding him like a jockey and he was reacting like a racehorse. I was running out of air and looking for a place to bail. I turned him b/w two rings and we headed towards the chain dressage ring which he jumped and I went off. He then ran across the road and got tangled up in somebody’s clothesline. I was scared to death and my parents knew I wasn’t going to be riding him anytime soon.

Funny story but he was shipped to Charlestown, WV race track that week and won his next two races based off that work I had given him. I have a picture somewhere but I can not find it.

After that experience I did not want to go fast. We found a lovely morgan in somebody’s backyard who I competed in straight dressage. Sirus was a really cool older horse who knew way more than his owner realized. We got a super deal and I competed him in dressage for a year or two before his ringbone/sidebone made him to uncomfortable for the straight dressage work. He was way to much horse for me over fences..quick and had one of the roundest jumps.

Sirus was not a jumper I could handle so I borrowed my mom’s Appendix TB named Brandy. He was a bit bigger and oh boy was he strong as could be. I I remember a clinic with Jane Sleeper at our pony club when he ran through this swamp area and she was yelling at me to pull him up. Yes, really I was trying. I might have been 11 or 12yrs old.

I had a few years in between my experience with Lost Crop and had gained confidence and more skills both on the flat and over fences. The story basically repeats itself when my mom gets another pony clubber’s horse in for training. His named was Jonesy and he was a 4yr ottb who had steeplechased and was deemed unrideable. He went every which way expect forward. His mind had been blown and he clearly was not going to work for his inexperienced teenage owner.

My mom hated him..wanted him gone but said I could give him a shot because he was there for training and she thought he was an idiot. I loved him because he did go any which way but forward. I was scared to ride a forward horse and he either ran backwards or sideways so I could deal with that. I got him when I was 12yrs old and I still have him. I have had many horses in between but I will say I really learned how to ride horses off the track from my experience with Joe.

I think this was our first event ever. A friend of the family actually had to give him a bit of Ace b/c we could not even handle him on the ground. Yes, I have always been a litle nuts.

I started riding ottb’s early on so I never turn down anybody to come look at the horses I have for sale. Several of the people who have bought horses from me are gutsy teenagers who love riding the Tb’s and get along wonderful with them. I actually believe teenagers do better with Tb’s than some adults do simply because they do not have as many fears which allows them to relax and the horse relaxes with them.

What types of things do you need to know to ride an ottb:

How to set a posting rhythm. This is #1 in my book because most of these horses are green and you have to be able to relax and dictate the tempo of the trot with your seat and not rely on the reins. This sounds really simple but even I can struggle with this at times. These horses come off the track knowing fast trot and gallop. You have to teach them how to maintain a steady trot. Allie nicknamed Indy sirtrotalot because he was like a nascar horse. 100mph trot full speed ahead. He didn’t know any better.

No reliance on the reins for your balance. Tb’s typically hate people in their mouth. It gets them anxious and they often go faster. You need to know how to use the reins combined with half halts to balance them. At the same time you can’t have loopy reins either. They need some sort of direction.

No temper. I learned early on that having a temper on a Tb is one of the worst possible things you can do. Tb’s are sensitive and I swear they remember and will pay you back 🙂 Some Tb’s are very tolerant but most can’t handle somebody yelling at them or getting really tough. A kind hand will get you a long way in gaining the trust and working with ottb’s.

Confidence- I suppose this is any horse but I believe that if you can project yourself as a confident rider a Tb would do anything for you. They are very trusting animals so if you are the leader and show them it is okay they will believe you. I believe this is the area where those riders who have had bad experiences struggle to ride the Tb’s. Tb’s are almost like mind readers. They know when you are thinking oh crap this is scary and then they start thinking there is something to be scared of. It is a downward spiral in some cases.

A relaxed seat- some people have what I call the electric seat. Electric seats and Tb’s typically don’t mix. The softer you can sit and the softer you can be with your aids the better. This can take a long time for a rider to become this soft. It is one of the biggest issues I see with people who are not used to riding Tb’s. Often I think about just whispering with my leg or just sponging with my hand. Anything more and they are ready to go.

A sense of humor- Tb’s have big personalities but they can be silly at times. If you can just laugh it off and take a deep breathe and relax they relax.

Ability to think ahead- This is a hard one as well and requires a good sense of feel. I know what situations are likely to set my horses off and I try to make sure I have a plan to keep their attention. Can you feel something before it happens? This is so tough to teach but the ability to feel and think on your feet will allow you to have success riding horses that can be sensitive.

I once was terrified to ride Tb’s because of one bad experience but that experience pushed me to further my education and gain the skills needed to specialize in helping these horses transition from racehorses to show horses.

Short video

A short video of some flat work from this past weekend.

Adventures in Chicken Poop

Dixie had two days off and today we did a trail ride. I like to give them a few days of rest here and there as I think the muscles need time to recover. If you met Dixie in the beginning it would almost be like he is a changed horse but it is so subtle you might not notice.

When Dixie arrived he was always behaved when you were on him but in the barn he was a bit keyed up. His eyes were constantly bugging out at every little noise or anything that might have been out of place. He wouldn’t relax at all. He broke the x-ties quite frequently for no real reason. It was like he was standing there and then he just freaked. He would be upset but I never knew why. He didn’t have much personality and he liked me but just wasn’t a people horse. When I would go in the stall with him he would run right out of his stall.

Dixie is a changed man. He now falls asleep in the x-ties. I go out and snuggle with him in the field all the time wrapping myself around his neck and giving him love and I can tell he actually enjoys it. He loves his grooming sessions especially good curries right near the withers and on top of his butt. He is constantly looking to see what I am doing and expects some treats when I come out of the tack room. Some people don’t believe in treats but I believe treats do wonders for creating a bit more personality in my Tb’s. I don’t overdo it but they get one treat before the bridle and a treat when we come back.

It is hard to explain how different he is but I guess overall he is just more chill. He knows the program and I think he enjoys his new job and has stopped worrying about everything.

How does this tie into my ride on him today..well it’s the big picture. I go out by myself with my cell phone in a holder on my arm. Dixie used to be so alert every single thing caught his attention. Today we just plodded along until we got to the bridge. Now the bridge is scary b/c you have to cross into the road and go from the black top to the white bridge. Dixie stood quietly while I waited for a clearing in traffic and although he was looky he kept right on marching along.

We trotted for ten minutes straight until I came to a nice clearing and then we cantered along. Man…seriously nothing better than a canter across some open fields on a beautiful day. I was thinking how much I love this horse and how everybody should have a horse like this. Why…because he is so comfortable, light mouth, never takes a pull or offers to do anything stupid and the way he goes makes for an easy ride. I just watch the tempo so we don’t trot right out of our shoes (um, yeah he has a tendency to do that).

We canter up the hill and take a little walk before picking up the trot. All of a sudden we come to the freshly plowed field and holy crap this field stick like crap..chicken crap that is. Both Dixie and I are snorting and trying to hold our breathe but realizing it won’t work and we have to smell this. I really do not know if there is anything worse than a field covered in chicken manure. Rank!!!!!!!!

I guess the field must have had some dead carcasses too as there were lots of buzzards flying around and out of the trees. Dixie didn’t mind that but then again he lives in a field where geese are constantly flying in and out. Dixie decided he really was stressed by this horrible smell and it was all I could do to get him back to the canter. He kept looking around like he was expecting something to jump out and get him. Luckily, this horse has such a big brain he keeps it all together even when stressed.

We cross another bridge and go back into the woods heading down to the farm when we encounter our next issue. I am so thankful for nice sane horses. The place on the back of the farm has a plethara of junk and they tie their dogs up to trees. Well they have moved the dogs closer to the path I have to ride down.

I will paint a little picture for you. Trees with dogs tied on the left. Metal chains. Lots and lots of leaves. On the right is the tax ditch (sorta like a little river) and there is a mattress and a boat and all sorts of really scary stuff. I get to the dogs and they are quiet. I have my heels down b/c I know this is going to get ugly really fast. The dog jumps up and hits the end of the chain making the leaves rustle. Dixie does a splay legged what the heck spook but never really moves. The dog is going crazy barking and running around making tons of noise with the leaves and his metal chain but dixie is only snorting but not doing anything.

Did I mention I really like riding this horse??? Yep, you can’t find horses like him everywhere. In the next minute he is back to his normal relaxed self and we trot and canter down to the barn. He gets two treats for his braveness today.

Timing is everything

On the Internet forums everybody is always asking about horses off the track and time lines. How do you know how long to turn them out, what is the process of retraining them and how quick can you move up. Each horse is different that is all I can ever tell anybody. Some are ready to jump around a 3ft course a week off the track they are just so balanced and confident. Others take longer and seem to let you know when they are ready to move up.

I am a believe that part of being a good trainer is knowing when the “right” time is. With Dixie I have always known he has the ability to jump bigger fences but he lacked the things I look for which are confidence and balance. Confidence is always in the front of my mind because you blow their trust by over-facing them and you go back to square one. Horses rely on the riders to make good decisions. Some horses can handle rider mistakes while others are just not far enough along to handle a rider who might themselves have confidence issues.

Balance also plays a big role in when a horse is ready to move up and most of that is balance in the canter but the trot is also important to. If you come up to a 3ft jump all wrong can your horse get out of the situation or are they going to scare themselves so bad you will spend months rebuilding their confidence. Dixie is a balance horse but his parts are strung out. Just now we are getting them all together to the point you can actually find a place to sit on him and ride down to a big jump.

He came out for today’s session ready to go. He is gaining confidence each and every ride and is now taking me to the jumps instead of me having to reassure him that he can do it. This is when I begin to know we are ready to step it up. The horse knows the job at hand and is hunting down the jumps. I could sit and ride the canter and we cantered both off the right and left lead in a nice balance. Go Dixie!

I will use embarrassing pictures of myself to show why I know Dixie has progressed. New jump with lots of rails and fillers. It has flowers under it but also ground lines rolled out on each side and is sort airy. The type of jump that Dixie hates the most. I came into it riding like an idiot expecting him to back off so I was sitting behind him when all of a sudden he surged forward and I caught him in the mouth because I was not expecting him to just go like he did.

Then I overcompensated and just dropped him all together in front of and over the fence. Really..who knows what the heck I was thinking

I kept going until I got it right but all this time Dixie was just doing his job with really no help from me at all because I was riding like a beginner. Hit you in the mouth, jump up your neck, get left behind and various other sins.

I like his expression..he is concentrating hard!

We made the oxer 2’9″ and he handled it well. I think he is a bit loose with the lower legs (well obviously) but I am not too worried that will all come together. He isn’t a hunter he is an event horse and he gives it plenty of clearance.

Why can’t he find a new home???

This is the question I ask myself everyday when I get on Indy. I don’t blog a lot about Indy because I don’t ride him as much as some of the others. He is basically good at his job and knows the drill so gets less schooling which isn’t always fair to him. He has been for sale for a long time under $5k and I have had two people look at him. I just don’t get it. Here is a lovely 15.2 h 5yr tb that can jump anything and loves to jump. Brave as can be, does his changes, adjustable and just a neat horse. He loves to trail ride. Is not spooky and never acts up. He isn’t a dead head but not hot either. His flatwork..well it is not his favorite thing to do but I did mention he can really jump didn’t I. I just want him to get a new home where he will be spoiled rotten. It is hard for me to give each horse as much individual attention and he tends to get the shorted and it makes me sad.

I don’t crank up the fences to big but he routinely jumps to the tops of the standards. I guess not everybody wants to ride that jump but I love it. I love a horse who uses itself so well and you never feel like a jump is too big. A horse that leaves the group and you feel like you are flying even when the jump is 3ft you are over it by another 2ft to spare. If you haven’t tried it you should cause it is awesome!!!!!!!!!!!!

I had the best ride on him b/c he is Indy and he is just cool like that. He went out and jumped all the new jumps like whatever I am Indy and I am brave so let me at these jumps. I had so much fun with him. He is way cool. I think he should do the jumpers so I am making new ads and taking him to some more jumper shows. He has show mileage in the h/j and also lots of schooling cross country which he also does well.

Check him out:


Flying position?

Dixie and I jump

We got another inch of rain last night so the ground is finally starting to soften up. I love the weekends because I actually have time to get all six horses ridden. Well I try to anyway 🙂 Yes, six horses to be ridden it is crazy for somebody with a full-time job. I make it work for the most part but the daylight is starting to work against me. I really thought I would have Dixie and Indy sold by now but nobody is really looking so I am planning a new attack on advertising.

I went out and changed up the jump course today adding in two new jumps and adding fillers to others. I have so many barrels it is silly so I tend to use them for everything. The plan is to get some more traditional fillers (boxes, coops, walls and rolltops) when I can afford them. For now we just make it as interesting as possible.

There has been a lack of picture taking lately as my hubby is working at our farm getting all of our cross fencing installed. I asked him to come out and get some pictures for me so I can find one I like for an ad for Dixie. I am very particular with pictures and we really didn’t get anything ad worthy today but I will share anyway.

All the horses were freaked out by the new jumps especially the plank jump (wooden pallets). Dixie was giving it the evil eye and tip toeing around it. We had some looks at the barrels and things but Dixie is a horse who looks but really doesn’t do any hard spooking. A nice change from those who leap 10ft sideways so fast you dont even know what happened.

I did a quick warmup working on suppling the trot and upward and downward transitions. I got some flatwork video so I will post that later.

We warmed up with our x-rail.

I can not explain what I do when I ride this horse. I really don’t look like this on other horses but he jumps in a way that makes me end up the neck. I think it has to do with the way he pushes off from behind it thrust you forward. Not to mention I had already rode four horses and was so so tired.

Next the barrels under the vertical

We moved on to the barrels rolled out in front of the vertical. He really gave this a nice round jump. Notice the splayed legs.

We still struggle on cantering to jumps so the take off is awkward. It is improving. We got a bit close here.


He went right over the scary jump

There was a lot to be happy about in today’s session. First off he is confident. He is not backing off at the scary stuff or jumping really low. I feel that he is rounding his back and using himself. He is no longer scared of the height and matter of the fact I think he could use a bit more height. The canter is coming along and we cantered a few fences in a really nice balance.

I know I always say this but I love this horse. He tries so hard and when I look for qualities in a horse I look for brain and work ethic. He is a horse I really enjoy riding with because he is always willing to give it 100%.

I am going to try to convince the hubby to come out for a few hours tomorrow for some pics of Indy and more pics of Dixie. I might increase the height and see if I can really get a few good pics for an ad.