Monthly Archives: September 2010

Changing shape

I have noticed Monster is really changing his shape and general outline. He was fairly level when he arrived but is now growing again. He has put on weight, muscle and just has a general healthier look about him.

August 15th


His balance is a bit funky right now as his growth has changed but that will all catch up. He continues to improve each and every ride which is all you can ask for from a 3yr.

I had a lot of shots like this as he kept walking right towards Kurt to see he was doing. He didn’t the whole stand and pose by yourself concept.

Excellent first show!

 If I ever decide that it will be just fine to take two 3yr’s to their first shows without any ground help please lock me in a dark room until I come to my senses. Kurt was helping our electrician with the lights on Saturday and they didn’t get finished. He made plans to start work again on the lights bright and early Sunday morning leaving me without help. I knew it wasn’t such a great plan but sometimes you just have to suck it up.

I’m riding a lovely lovely 3yr filly (non-tb) who was broke as a 2yr and then turned back out and I have had her for under 2 months. She has had several off the farm outings to trail ride and visit other rings but this would be her first show. She was up first and was a bit in awe of the atmosphere even though it was a small show. I did get on and quickly got off 🙂 The lunge line was my friend for the next half hour as I lunged, walked her around and then lunged some more. Then I went back and put on my vest for my 2nd try at attempting to ride. She was still a bit silly but I reminded myself the difference between tb’s and non-tb’s is that the Tb’s have seen so much at the track while the non-tb’s have not. She was much more rideable and I did get in the dressage ring.

When I got in there she was balking and displaying other antics going down the centreline and then I was concentrating on getting her forward that I totally forgot where I was going. My trainer was the judge and just leaned out and said I didn’t ring the bell because you were finally getting her forward 🙂 I just picked up the circle and got on the right track. Reminded myself to keep breathing and kick her forward. Whew that was the most interesting test that I had done in a while.

I took her over to the jumping ring and by this time she was starting to relax and we had a lovely w/t/c around the ring past all the spooky jumps and I called it a day. I had achieved some success and didn’t want to add jumps into the mix. She was quite relaxed at the end, loaded up nicely, drank a bucket of water and stood quietly on the trailer.

Monster had been waiting a long time on the trailer so he was ready to get off. While the 3yr filly isn’t much of a talker he likes to holler in a shrill voice. He was good to be tacked up and didn’t seem to be that affected by the show atmosphere. I decided I would throw him on the lunge as well..really at this point I was quite lucky to have not hit the dirt so I didn’t want to tempt fate. He was pretty relaxed about it all so after a short lunge I took him back to the trailer for my mounting block and got on him.

He was really relaxed about the warmup and didn’t care about horses around him or the scary stuff near the warmup. He was really rideable and quite soft in the bridle which was interesting because normally they are OMG and you can’t touch their faces at the first few shows. He actually does better when you give him something to do (as do most tb’s) so I kept him moving and did lots of circles and some baby lateral work. He did have some antics but they have gotten milder each ride. He makes me laugh because every time he would holler he would do a head shake/neck flip thing. I started to move him laterally each time he started to holler to prevent it from happening and that really helped. He has really grown up over the past several rides and started to realize his silly behavior isn’t getting him to far. He is a quiet horse but 3yr’s are 3yr’s and you have to expect a bit of drama.

I was nowhere near my original times so I figured I wasn’t going to get judged which was okay with me. Instead, I got to take him into the ring and ride my test several times which was even better.

He didn’t care that he had to go alone down to the ring and he wasn’t bothered by the judges car or all the potted plants. I practiced teaching him how to get into the corners and just making some baby straight lines. He was doing a really good job of being a grown up horse. I was super proud of him!

I will be out again this weekend with all the horses to a local h/j show. Maybe we will jump but we might not. It all depends on how the day goes and with the greenies you have to be flexible.

I do think I am going to buy myself one of those air vests sometime soon. How much you wanna bet that I will forget to detach myself and end up scaring the horses worse when the vest goes off 🙂

I now have lights up in my ring which is super exciting. Our farm has come so far in 2yrs and is really looking good. Our footing is fantastic and we have a really nice jump course. I finished painting a lot of the flower boxes and gates this weekend. I ordered a lot of fillers but they aren’t finished yet. Need to check in on that.

Who wants to jump the pin wheel flower box 🙂

Everybody needs a Mort in their life

Did I ever tell you that I really don’t like chestnuts? Yet somehow the majority of CANTER horses and resale horses I buy are chestnuts.

I admired this horse at Delaware Park known as Mort Robbins. His trainer was frustrated that nobody would even come and see him so he is now coming to CANTER as a donation. I’m picking him up tomorrow morning (ha, I promised I would take at least a week off from picking up horses).

We also picked up a lovely cute mare named Wonderful Wise and I somehow missed taking pictures of her. She was even at my farm for a few days before she went to the layup farm and I still missed getting pics. Oh well I shall be over there this weekend and the mare field is on my list of things to do. I spent a few hours this week in the gelding fields checking out the horses. I brought everyone out and lunged them, took a recent pic and even got on two of them.

Lunging eight horses was quite a workout especially since most of them had NOT a clue about how to lunge and thought I was a crazy person waving a whip at them. Some (well mainly Houndy and Diamond H) thought going faster than a walk was totally unnecessary so then I really was the crazy person waving the whip.

In order: Shine my Shoes, Dance with Bill, Houndy, Ray, Diamond H, AllaboutMack, Esstoga Tune and Track’s Protege.

I also rode AllaboutMack and Track’s Protege

Keep in mind these horses are in various stages of let down some not handling it as well as others, barefoot, uneven ground and being asked to do something they are totally unfamiliar with. They were all super good. The only gelding I missed was Letterman’s Humor who didn’t want to be caught yet 🙂 He is a recent arrival and said no way are you taking me out of this lovely field full of grass.

Ray is a new arrival and we are thinking he is probably just dealing with an abscess. Diamond H is still a little bit off but he had the ligament surgery done and his feet were quite ouchy. Houndy was much sounder than when he was at my barn which was exciting to see. Time has a way of healing all their body aches and poor Houndy was just so body sore. He has gained a lot of weight and just had a much happier look in his eyes.

Shine my Shoes did crash quite a bit after he came off the track. Sometimes the transition to a new lifestyle is harder on some that others. He had lost a ton of weight. I think part was pain from the injury,  his feet hurt and also the really excessive heat and bugs. Those factors combined can cause them to lose a lot of weight. He was really depressed but boy did he feel good this week. I expect him to only look better from here on out. Sometimes you have to just understand that some of them are going to look worse before they look better and don’t panic about it.

Allaboutmack is very recent off the track but looked quiet so I did get on him. I only got on those who looked absolutely ready to ride. Mack was one cool dude and spent the whole time I was tacking him up sleeping 🙂 Esstoga and Bill are 2yr’s so they will be hanging out with CANTER until they turn 3 and are ready to move into a riding career. They are really big 2yr’s! Both had very minor tendon injuries and caring owners who stopped them right away and donated them to CANTER.

I have been having great rides on Kiss a Monster. He is really doing great at home starting to understand forward and working into the contact. I have people asking about him and I have a hard time describing him. He is a quiet horse but he is still a 3yr. I read a fantastic post here called Three Good Whacks and thought about how true it was 🙂

Monster is a fantastic horse and super athletic but he is in that 3yr mode of everything comes with attitude. Someone asked me if this is going to go away and my gut says of course it is but I can’t promise him that. I would hate for someone to buy a horse from me and be unhappy with it down the road. I have ridden a lot of 3yr’s and they just happen to be a bit defiant. He is really not that bad because he doesn’t do anything scary but he is still testing me. I’m not making his life easy and I am requiring him to do more than just trot around on a loose rein..well trotting him on a loose rein would be totally stupid and a great way to invite him to be bad. I ask him to come forward and march up into a contact and relax that back. He is still saying MAN come on this is hard…yep deal with it buddy.

I had to go school a horse x-c on Wednesday so I loaded him up and took him along just to ride him around. He was good on the trailer although he was a little bit nervous. Once he got off the trailer he was super relaxed. X-c schoolings are a really tough environment as there are big open fields, horses going everywhere and just so much to process. I got on and just started trotting right away. Don’t force a nervous horse to walk as that also invites trouble (my opinion anyway). I trotted up the hill (gotta love hills for keeping them focuses and working) and found my trainer’s group. He started out a bit silly but just doing his typical head toss and neck wring. Then he settled down nicely and actually produced some relaxed work. You have to remember to ride them forward when they are being disobedient and I also used my stick to send him forward a few times if he got nappy.

He was really relaxed at the end and walked back to the trailers on a loose rein and drank a whole bucket of water 🙂 These outings are what put a great foundation on a horse. I rode for 15 min and just kept it short and simple. Each time you do a little bit more but don’t ask for to much. Reward them and then next time they go out will be even better.

He is going to do a combined test this weekend which should be a bit interesting as I haven’t jumped much. I have been super busy and he hasn’t had as much in the ring work as I would have liked but no worries it will all be fine 🙂

I have had tons of people emailing about horses we have. Unless they are on the CANTER available now site then they aren’t quite ready for one reason or another. Cool Casey is looking like a million bucks but he needs some work on his feet before he is comfortable enough for me to ride. I’m hoping that will be soon but not worth rushing into. I want him to feel good before asking him to do any serious work. He is such a lovely horse and so kind. We will get his feet fixed up so he can start into work. I think he wants a job but his feet are not comfortable enough yet.

Trying to catch up

Boy, life seems to be flying by right now and I decided it was time to take a week off work and just take it all in. I had to be away most of the week last week for work and then immediately came home picked up a horse, fit in a lesson and went off to a horse trial yesterday.

Hubby and I are determined to take some time for ourselves this week and not cram to much horse stuff in but I can already see that will be a challenge. I have someone who wants to see fortheloveofrita, I have plans to go the farm and ride/video/photograph as many horses as we can and fit in a horse show for Monster on Sunday.

Monster continues to come along nicely. He is a lovely horse and I am really excited about what how lovely he is becoming. He just needed to figure out that he still has to work and life after racing isn’t all about hanging out in the field eating 🙂 My trainer is hosting a combined test at her farm on Sunday which will be a nice outing for the two 3 yrs that I have here (Monster and Gracie).

We picked up a really cute mare named Wonderful Wise. She was with the same trainer as Wise Gold and Malabar Daisy. It was interesting to hear the trainers say they wanted to make sure that CANTER took their horses because they trust us to do the right thing and also that they don’t have a service like CANTER at Tampa Bay so this was a good time to move their horses into a permanent situation. We brought her home to our farm for a few days before taking her to the lay up farm and she is a really nice mare. Great to work around and so cute. I will get pictures of her when I am at the farm.

We are starting to get a lot of requests about horses in the program when they come available for sale. I think there will be a bunch that should be ready in the next few weeks. I hope to evaluate most of them undersaddle if possible as I just feel better about matching horses with people if I have had a chance to get on them and see what they are all about.

Cool Casey and Kiss a Monster are the two horses that I have here. We are still working to get Casey comfortable and he is a bit ouchy on his feet. It will take some time but he is a lovely horse so I am sure it will all work itself out.

If anyone is looking for a horse feel free to email me and let me know what you are looking for. We have a lot of very nice sound horses or horses that had such minor injuries they should never present any more issues.

Owner’s Day and more new horses

Owner’s Day was a huge success. Lots of people stopping by our booth to talk about our program or just to say thank you for being here at Delaware Park which is always nice to hear. Our posters, pamphlets and brochure looked great and featured all of the work we have done at Delaware Park thus far.

I only stayed until around 4pm and then headed to the parking lot to get the truck and pick up several horses. We are experts at maneuvering our big trailer (well Kurt is the expert ) inside the tight spaces between the barns. First we stopped to pick up Letterman’s Humor. He is a big 16.1 h 8 yr that has run 50+ races making well over $100k. He won a few stakes races in his day and is ready to have an easier lifestyle.

His connections couldn’t be any nicer and all the horses are well cared for. He has also donated Sonrea, Track’s Protege and King Remda this year.

With Letterman on the trailer we headed to our next stop to pick up Bushy’s Yield. Bushy is a 5 yr 15.3 h gelding who has also ran 50+ races making over $100k. He has a very minor bowed tendon which had been rested for the past 2 months. He was quite behaved considering he hasn’t been working to hard.

His trainer had also donated Shine my Shoes and Diamond H. Bushy is a very mannerly horse and lord is he chunky! All the horses that come out of this barn are as fat as the working hunters 🙂

Our final stop was to pick up Fabulous Jada. She was not a planned pick up but she really needed a place to go. She is a very pretty 16 h 4yr mare with a bowed tendon. Bowed tendons can be rehabbed fairly successfully so I believe she will be just fine with some rest.

Everyone settled in really nicely at the farm. Bushy and Jada are in a small paddock together and Letterman went out to the big field. He made us all laugh with his braveness. He went way out in the 20+ acre field just taking a leisurely cruise around. He made a few laps at a nice canter and then came back to check everything out. Seems to be sound and a really nice mover. He was just so happy!

I didn’t take any pictures as we were just to tired but I’m sure I will be back over there and will get some pictures of them all enjoying their downtime.

Owner’s Day at Delaware Park

We have a great group of volunteers at Delaware Park that make the CANTER program as successful as it is. We have all been prepping for Owner’s Day to dazzle everyone with how awesome we are at what we do 🙂

We took a Delaware Park specific approach this year and have made posters, brochures and fact sheets to show what we have done since we started operating out of Delaware Park.

We have listed around 260 horses in 2 years and almost 200 have found homes. We have taken in 19 horses on donation and all the horses we took in 2009 on donation have been adopted out.

We featured Top Punch, Sea Flip and Archie Boy as donated horses that have found great new homes with people who love them. I enjoy being able to show their former trainers and owners what we have done with the horses and how we are using the funds that are being given to us by Delaware Park.

We also illustrated how the process works from their time at the turnout farm, their retraining and being adopted/sold into forever homes. I believe that people are willing to ensure the future of their horses when you show them what your organization can do and how we can help the horses. They can see the horses are happy and well cared for and that we aren’t just selling them to anybody. We take the time to find the right homes and make sure we always do right by the horses.

It has been hard to say no to a lot of the horses that have injuries that won’t allow them the chance at future homes. I feel that it is our responsiblity to use the funding to re-home as many horses as possible and it is much easier to re-home those who are sound or just need minor rest. We currently have fields full of gorgeous sound horses who are just resting before they are ready to get adopted out. Some have very minor injuries but so minor they won’t inhibit their ability to find homes. I am looking forward to seeing our hard work pay off when these horses find new homes.

While I have gotten better at saying no to people, I have also gotten better at talking up our program and convincing people they DO want to donate horses to CANTER. They really want to donate the big sound geldings 🙂 Ha, if only that was the case! Let’s face it when it is all said and done, all organizations even non-profit organizations should have a business plan. I do NOT run CANTER but I know that if we can get in horses that are sought after in today’s market than they will help to fund our program for the horses who do have minor injuries and will need rest and some of the lifetime horses that CANTER supports. I’m like a sales person for CANTER and I market the heck out of the program. I follow-up with trainers who have horses that are nice and let them know that we will make it easy for them if they have horses that are sound and don’t crib that they want to donate. I would love for them to sell the horses and many do sell them off of our track listings but I let them know that if they don’t sell the horse and the horse needs a place to go then consider donation as an option. They get to write the horse off on their taxes and they don’t have to worry about what kind of home the horse ends up with. Heck, they don’t even have to deal with the public. Make it easy for them.

I have promised myself that I will not work with those who lie to us and tell us the horses are sound and then we get them home and they are so damaged they have no future. We can not be a dumping ground for trainers taking the easy way out. I would love to help every horse but that is just not feasible and not our responsibility.

I am very proud to volunteer for such a great organization. I really enjoy being track lead at Delaware Park and am grateful to the great group of dedicated volunteers that help me keep it all organized. I know we will all be proud to show what we have done in our short time at Delaware Park. I can’t wait to catch up with some of the owners and trainers of donated horses and let them know how they are doing. That is my favorite part!

I believe I may even bring some horses home from the track tomorrow. We shall have to wait and see 🙂

Wow, Monster is growing up!

The worse part of writing this blog for CANTER is having to show pics and video of myself riding. Riding green horses keeps you humble and watching yourself on video is one way to always keep yourself motivated to keep improving 🙂 I have watched his video several times now and it is hard to believe it is even the same horse that I started riding several weeks ago. He couldn’t steer, traveled with his head straight in the air, wouldn’t go forward and spent more time giving me attitude than he did anything else. He was just a 3yr with a big attitude about having to work.

With 3yr’s I keep the schedule fairly easy. They do light 20 min sessions 4-5 days a week but I try to get them off the farm as much as possible for those rides. We go trail riding, go to other farms, we will go hang out at shows and just teach them about their new jobs. I find that keeping the work interesting and fresh keeps them happy.

I was using that little x-rail to help me get the right lead which worked pretty well. You can see his bit of attitude cantering left but that is very minor compared to what it has how he not only kicked out but then did some sort of whirly bird motion with his head and neck. Ha, doesn’t work buddy so perhaps you might want to give up on those moves sometime soon. Wishful thinking on my part 🙂

I love how he is looking right now and how much progress he has made. It really makes me look forward to each ride on him.

Monster takes a field trip and some video of Rita

I’ve decided Rita is too cute for words. I had to look to see when she got to the farm and she has been off the track for less than a month. She was excellent for this random ride out in the middle of a field away from the sight of her buddies.

I had a lesson with Mogie yesterday on Meadow Mobster. Wow, what an excellent lesson. Whenever I think I am really making progress Mogie has a way of showing me there is so much more that I can be asking for. I have a habit of being way to soft and easy and not asking for good enough work. She had Mobster looking absolutely amazing!

I had brought Monster (yes, same sire as Mobster :)) along to ride afterwards. He stood quietly on the trailer, was great to tack up and walked in the ring like he had been doing it forever. I had been saying that Mobster was so easy and so far Monster was showing that he had a lot more attitude. I realized he may have more attitude but he does have the same brain. Nothing bothers him which is great for a 3yr! Attitude is something easy to deal with but the ability to go new places quietly and without fuss is quite a feat for a youngster and he is great.

He is really starting to soften into the contact and go forward. Mogie was watching him a bit and thought he was a good mover who was going to be even better with some time. Again she told me to ask for more out of him as he was capable. We laughed that his steering is a bit off because he is still very butt high at the moment. He only had one big buck during the ride and he was really good about the tiny little x-rail that we did. I was thrilled with his outing.

Rita has her first ride

Allie was in Annapolis for the holiday weekend and came to visit the farm in Centreville. We headed over that way to meet up and since the weather was so nice I thought I would get Rita out and see what she was all about.

The farm is not set up as a riding facility at all so I was not quite sure where to ride but I’m always happy to ride in a field. We go hike out and pull Rita (fortheloveofrita) in from her group of buddies. She stands nicely to get tacked up in the driveway and we walk across the farm to an empty field.

She is very relaxed and happy which is a bit shocking just having left her buddies and going to a new place. She stands quietly for me to get on and just had a great feel so Kurt let me loose and off we went. She was such a good girl! I was riding in a random field with lots to look at and she wasn’t spooky or even the least bit nervous. We did a bit of w/t/c both directions which went well. Big pats and back out into the field she went. She is going to be one of those super easy quiet horses. Her trainers told us she was just that easy and that they though she would want to be a kids horse. Seems to be the case which is always nice to see.

3yr with attitude

Everytime I ride Monster I find myself muttering d**n 3yr’s 🙂 I have had a lot of 3yr’s and they all have that baby attitude and I swear the 3yr Tb’s just like to show off their athletic ability whenever they want to get out of work.

The good news is that his flatwork is really coming along and his steering is much improved. He has no more issues on the flat in terms of popping his shoulders and spinning around the other way or getting mad when I correct him and doing little rears. We seemed to have gotten that under control and he knows to behave himself.

I’m really working to get him to come forward and stretch over his back. I think that anyone who watches the video’s I have been making probably wonders why I’m rushing him around but when you sit on him you can feel he wants to suck back behind the leg so part of the whole steering issues and stretching issue is keeping him forward.

I very much used to be in the whole low and long and looser reins camp because I had been taught that way for years. I have had a change in thinking in the past several years and now I ride the babies with more contact. Not to say that I’m holding them up but I have come to realize they have to understand contact before the rest of the work improves. You don’t want to pull them into a frame but you do have to teach them what it means to soften the topline and work from behind into a receiving hand.

When you start teaching them about contact it often looks way ugly before it looks better. You shorten the reins and begin to push them up to it asking them to step into the contact and the go OMG why the heck are you holding me back and you have to keep saying nope please walk forward and when you soften you topline then I will relax.

I found this series of pictures pretty interesting from our ride last night.

The back is tight and neck braced

I push him out to the contact with the legs and increase the rein pressure a bit to take up the slack in the reins (they shouldn’t be that long…ongoing rider issues :))

He started to stretch toward it

This is another little series

Here he is sort of leaning a bit and I have maintained the feel and kept the leg on not softening my contact but saying come on soften a bit more.

Starting to get softer

Good boy! He softened and look at the step that developed. You can see him engage and reach toward the bit which added another foot to his stride.

I don’t mind if they come behind the bit a bit because their muscles aren’t strong but he is behind the leg and on the forehand. I am pushing him forward a bit and asking him to come up.

He was trying so hard but when they start to get leaning like this then I do a transition down to walk to give a break and get them balanced back up. It looks like he is stretching but he was leaning.

It was getting dark fast so after some walk/trot flatwork we moved on to a little jump. He wanted nothing to do with the x-rails so we made a pile of poles. Well…the attitude emerged and we had walk over the pile of poles and then get pissed and canter away bucking. Not just one buck but several good bucks. Ha, it was pretty hilarious but he is quite athletic so I was concentrating pretty hard on keeping my eyes up, heels down, staying centered and having a plan.

The plan was to let him land and then turn him in a nice big circle to diffuse the ability to buck. We just kept working slowly making one side bigger and ignoring the bucking. He was so pissed at one point that he was bucking at the walk. I let him walk around and think about how that wasn’t going to help him get out of work and then walked over the jump a few times until he was behaved and then trotted it once and ended on that.

See the pissy face?

I swear he was saying I don’t wanna, this is stupid, I wanna be done, the flies are biting me, your a tyrant, my buddies are eating and your making me work and screw you. Kurt was laughing at his antics but I really wasn’t he is quite a litte turd when he wants to be and silly me forgot to put the neck strap on. Yeah, that is what I get for thinking we had worked passed pissy attitude!

I remember Sea Flip being this same way when he was a 3yr but he was even more athletic than Monster. They get better with time and just ignoring the behavior. I literally just kept his feet moving and didn’t act like I even notice. Having a good plan of turning after the jump, doing a transition and just keeping him mentally focused works as well.

He is a smart boy and I bet he will soon figure out he is just making everything hard on himself 🙂 I kinda think he is funny and he keeps me on my toes. He did a lot of kissing up to me after we were done so he could still get is treats. He loves attention and is such a busy body when he is in the barn. Always getting into everything and trying to find things to eat. I’m eager to have another ride on him and challenge him to round 2 of the trotting jumps throwdown!