Monthly Archives: April 2011

Someone go and buy her already

I know many of my readers also read Kelly’s blog but if you aren’t reading it go and take a look She is currently working with an absolute lovely mare named Canes Palace. Cane’s Palace was a donation from Delaware Park and one of my favorite trainers. She simply was too slow and needed to be a show horse.

There are some trainers that are just a pleasure to work with and Canes Palace’s trainer, Christine Berkeley, is one of the nicest people you will meet. She treats her race horses like show horses and when I met Canes Palace she was racing off the farm and being turned out during the field in between races. They get chiropractic treatment and anything else needed. No wonder they are such nice horses to work with! I bought a horse from Christine for a client and he was the easiest horse to bring along because she had given him such nice basics. Canes Palace has turned out to be just as easy.

I brought Canes Palace aka Cadence into my farm and got on her several days after her last race and she just marched around like she had been doing it forever. She is a true amateur ride which is what most people truly need. Great personality, nice mover, good jumper, safe and fun. Yes, she does crib which I realize is a turn off but well worth over looking to get yourself a truly lovely horse. She is well started on the flat and over fences, hacks out, has traveled off the farm, rides in the indoor and outdoor and just has the brain we all look for. Very much a kick along type of ride but I think many people prefer the quieter version and she is that. She is located in Damascus, MD and you should go see her!

I am surprised I haven’t had people kicking down the door for Mort. He continues to improve with each ride and is now jumping some baby fences. He is also a bit of a kick along type ride but he can get a bit jazzed up but not in a scary way. The other day when I was riding him ,I had Shoes turned out in the paddock beside the ring. He was mad that everybody else was getting ridden and proceeded to snort, throw his tail up, buck, rear and do all sorts of hilarious antics in his small paddock. I think it was the snorting that got Mort jazzed up but Mort simply puffed himself up and became a 18 hand horse instead of his normal 16.1 h. I was thrilled with how good he was because Shoes carried on for the next 20 min that I rode and Mort learned to ignore him as we all do 🙂

The canter is getting much stronger and we have both leads the majority of the time. He is pretty slow so the mantra is forward all the time not just when he wants to go forward. He just has a great feel about him and very nice natural gaits.

Patty, a blog reader (owns former CANTER MA horse Yellow Tavern), was asking about where Shoes is heading. Shoes sold to Jill who is also a blog reader. She flew in from Chicago to see him and really liked him (what’s not to like) but of course he was not sound. I did call her to say oh by the way now that you booked your tickets he is off. Wasn’t sure what was going on but then he popped the splint so bingo that was the issue. Some horses never react to splints but Shoes was not one of those. It looks like he had whacked himself causing some remodeling. X-rays and ultrasound were good so it has just been a matter of resting and letting it heal. He is sound now and getting some small paddock turnout. I ice and do surpass wraps on him and we also injected with cortisone. He will leave at the end of May to be Jill’s event horse and I think he is going to rock. He is a very talented horse and eventing or jumpers seemed to fit him the best.

I have met so many fantastic people who read my blog. I end up selling a bunch of them horses which I suppose is the point but I have to say my blog readers are awesome people. I feel like we are friend’s and not just internet strangers.

I may have some news about Diamond but I don’t want to jinx myself just yet. Check back for a potential update.

I have all the cool stuff

Ha, I got an email from someone who was emailing me about horse boots and saddles because she said I have all the cool stuff 🙂 I suppose that I am a bit of a collector of expensive tack, horse boots, blankets and other stuff but I swear I buy most of it on ebay and don’t pay the full price.

I was just telling Shoes new owner that I love the premier air cooled boots and that I have both the brushing boot version and the eventing version with the strike plates. They fit the Tb’s well and the horses legs stay really cool. I can also hose them down and hit them with the scrub brush and they look brand new after using them all the time.

I own a variety of county saddles. They fit the tb’s well and they fit my body. It is important to have a good fit for both horse and rider. I have a narrow stabilizer xtr, medium wide conquest with a stabilizer seat, wide stabilizer, wide conquest and a medium wide connection dressage saddle. It’s a bit excessive but I actually ride in almost each one daily. Kurt’s saddle is the wide conquest in a 19″ with a low forward flap and he loves it. Super deal on it brand new via ebay for half the price with a logic girth. I’m a good wife for buying him a nice saddle right ??? I just had to buy the wide stabilizer xtr for my horse because I am actually going to event my own horse this season. Go figure!

I love mattes correction pads to help adjust saddles to horse. I have so many horses in and out that I can’t possibly custom fit the saddle to each one so it allows you to pad accordingly. I am due for a new pad to keep in the trailer for showing because mine is on it’s last leg. They get a good deal of abuse out here.

I was just telling someone about my love for blankets. I really like horse clothes which is wierd because I am not much for people clothes at all. I struggle to shop for myself. My horses are pretty much always covered in something. The main reason is because I am short on time so it keeps them semi clean but also because it keeps the skin from getting funky and from getting bite marks. I have them all in their baker fly sheets right now. Those keep the bugs off, prevent bite marks and keep them from getting bleached out. I have had really good luck with the baker brand of fly sheet. It holds up to the test of very silly young horses abusing their clothes and buddies who like to rip the clothes. I have had most of them for 6+ years which is impressive!

My newest addiction is Five Star Tack! The leather is just amazing and the stitching detail is really stunning. They donated a bunch of bridles to CANTER and I won one in the CANTER auction. Then I bought a bridle for my own horse…then I bought a breastplate on their sample sale. Ha, totally addicted. 

I’m on restriction from buying stuff right now if I want to afford some events this year. Do not show me any cool stuff 🙂

Diamond H free jumping

So interesting to watch horses free jump. This was Diamond’s first time ever free jumping and he was totally chill about it and quite relaxed.

Neck Straps = my best friend

Over this past year, I have learned to love my neck strap. I had never ridden with a neck strap and then in a lesson we were working on some jumping and my trainer had me put one on to help me keep my hands up in front of me. I realized how much better the neckstrap placement was then a breastplate.

I bought four neck straps at Bartville tack they are $9 and perfect width for me to hold in my hands. I keep two in the barn and two in the trailer for everyone to sue. I put them on every single ride and find that I have taught myself to use my neck strap instead of using my reins which is of course the goal but it is also the OH SHIT handle. I still love the breastplate for drop jumps because it is further back but in most cases the neck strap is better because it’s further forward.

You can see in the pictures of Mort cantering that I am holding the neck strap. Whenever I canter the greenies I like to put the neck strap in one hand as an anchor that way if they get silly I am locked in and I won’t use the mouth if they act up. You want them to go forward not punish them for going forward.

Kurt and I went to a super fun jumping clinic yesterday taught by Cindy Woods who is one of the MFH for Wicomico hunt and a good event rider. The clinic was basically the Lucinda Green clinic taught by Cindy. Lots of skinny fences, unrelated distances, arrow heads and more. It was all about using your legs and body to get it done and not relying on your hands. I was riding Gracie who had never seen anything like this before but was super good.

I can tell you that for the first 15 min my hand never left my neck strap. She is a baby so has baby moments and I want her to know that forward is the answer all the time and that no matter what she does I am going to stick right on and ride forward. The neck strap helps you to really lock into the saddle. She was spooking and going sideways but at times I would just hold the strap and sit down into a little sit trot and channel her forward.

I keep my hand in the strap going to the jumps which makes you use your legs to steer because your one hand is not steering. I have started her basically from scratch so she steers nicely with the leg and it helped me give her a good ride while she figured out the exercises. It was fun to see her figure out and by the end she was clocking right along jumping everything out of stride and even cantering the lines.

Now that I have gotten good at wearing my neckstrap perhaps I can channel my focus on wearing my safety vest on a regular basis.

Let’s take a look at the progress

Isn’t he so cute!

One of the reasons why I enjoy writing this blog is that it truly shows the progression of horses from the very first ride. I typically take video of the first ride because Kurt is around helping me out. For the most part, I show everything on this blog which includes the good, bad and really ugly. I realize that I haven’t posted video of Mort’s first ride. I believe I wrote a bit about it and said he had going back to the barn issues. This video is super edited because Kurt was putting down the camera a lot to come get me out of the corner of the ring 🙂 Mort would be going along and the boom drop his shoulder and back to the gate. I was using the other half of the ring because any sight of the corner going back to the barn and he was over there. This is where having a bit of knowledge can come in handy because I told Mort he was a 6yr who had ran a bunch of races and needed to suck it up. I had Kurt stand in the corner of the ring with a lunge whip and DO NOT let him stop or back up. I have not had another problem since then! This was the first ride!

For comparison, this is today’s ride in 40mph winds with the jumps out to the sides of the ring and he went around like a big boy!

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This is probably only is 6th ride in the ring! I took him trail riding twice this week but I have been super busy so I haven’t gotten on him as much as I need to. You can see how is muscling is starting to change and I am just trying to get him to stretch over his back. His body feels so different from where he started.

I can’t help but to smile everytime I ride him he is just such a cool horse. I really think he is going to go on and do big things. He is so brave and confident now so I hope we have that barn/gate issue behind us.

Mort lives up to expectations

Life feels like it is on fast forward right now but I can’t complain. I was supposed to teach a lesson but had to work later than expected. I recently got a nice promotion at work which is fantastic but brings a great amount of pressure to fit more into the day than I already have been doing.

I got home and quickly threw Junior and Gracie on the trail to go to the trails for a nice trot/canter set. Gracie is the absolute lovely now 4yr cleveland bay/tb filly that I have been bringing along for her owner. It is so fun to be responsible for their early upbringing and see how they grow. She has become such a reliable and fun horse to ride over time. Kurt and I did a nice walk to warm up and then mixed in trot and canter sets. Both horses felt great and were happy to be out and about.

Back home to give them a quick brush and some treats before we grabbed the next set. My board let Kurt borrow her horse so he could act as the steady trail leader for Mort who was doing his first trail ride. Mort is very mannerly and although he was a bit nervous you could tell he was focused. Slim Shady, my boarders horse is a TB but quite slow. Kurt hadn’t ridden him before so he hadn’t figured out the go button so Mort was leading the way and doing a great job of it.

I find it fascinating to see whether a horse is the same out of the ring as they are in the ring. Mort is an interesting horse because he is insecure about being left alone but he is not at all afraid of anything. I was curious how that would translate on the trails but was surprised to see he was happy to lead. He didn’t look at anything and was quite soft and relaxed in the bridle. We had a nice trot down and then played in a big puddle. I had to get some leads back and forth but for the first time I was super pleased. He stood quietly to be untacked and seemed to be pleased with himself.

Now I just have to figure out how to get him to be a better eater. He worries about his surroundings, buddies and any other little thing going on. He takes a bite and then wanders around his stall. Drives me crazy! I thought he had finished eating yesterday but he left all his rice bran at the bottom even though I had mixed it. I had already opened up his door and Diamond came in and cleaned it right up 🙂 Perhaps a feed bag so he can’t drop it all over as he wanders around his stall.

I will get some pictures of him soon. He is looking super and has shedded out and gained weight and muscle. He is a really cool horse and feels like all athlete when you ride him. I am going to free jump him here soon if it would ever STOP raining!

Put yourself in their shoes

One of the biggest mistakes that I see people make with ottb’s is asking for too much to soon and rushing their horses. I have gotten so many really nice comments lately (BTW I love reading all your comments and appreciate the support/feedback/suggestions) about the progression that I take to get the horses to where they are. I find that you can have success with even the toughest horse if you take your time.

I have been thinking about this a lot especially lately as I myself am starting a new gym routine. I am in shape in terms of being able to ride multiple horses a day, shovel a lot of poop, throw up hay and all that good stuff but I knew I needed a real program. I chose a program with coaches who very much believe in teaching the fundamentals. I have been learning how to properly squat, lunge, push up, sit up, pull up and so much more. He coaches me how to do all the lifting moves- power squats, push press and all these things I don’t even recall at the moment. Today, I did these jumps up and down onto a box, burpees  where you do a push up, stand up, jumping jack and then kick out back into the push up position (wow, hate them!) and this exercise where you squat down, throw a ball up on the wall and squat down while catching it.

He is showing me how to use my body and teaching me the fundamentals. I am sore but not so sore that I can’t move or am discouraged. I find the same thing is important when introducing the horses to the program. They do not have the muscles to support the work so my job is to teach them the fundamentals of what I want them to do but to keep it short and sweet.

That is where the lunging with side reins comes into play but I often start out with less than 10 min of lunging and I do that on one side at first. Keep it simple and then reward. Then you introduce lunging to the right which is always harder for the horses. My rides are the maximum of 20 min and often shorter the first few rides.

I got a bit of a laugh last night when I tacked up and rode two horses in the time that my boarder rode her one horse but I do believe in keeping it short and sweet. I have a plan on what the horse needs to work on and what I will teach them. If they come out and go right to work and everything feels great our session might be 10 min to start out. I slowly expand on the work being asked and the time that we ride.

I am also a believer in getting the horses out of the ring!!!!!!!! The benefits of riding out of the ring simply can not be replaced by anything else. I try to get mine out at least two days a week. When we start out we just do very short walk/trot up and back for about 20 min. Just letting them see the sights and take it all in. It’s a 5 min trailer ride home and then we do it again a few days later. Even those that start out a bit silly soon start to enjoy it. There is absolutely nothing better for gaining muscle and condition that trotting out on the trails. It also is a mental break from the hard work in the ring and then when you go back to the ring they are a refreshed.

I do ask the horses to work a little bit out on the trails but they don’t necessarily need to be working on the bit just not looking like giraffe’s. Some horses do need a bit of contact just to keep them focused but almost all of them start to relax once you get going. I don’t believe in letting them stargaze because you are trying to build muscle and I want them to remember that even when we are in new places they still have to be on the aids.

I also think the trails are the absolute best place to teach them to canter. We all just assume racehorses know how to canter but so many of them really have no clue. Some come with super canter’s like Diamond H but others act like they have never cantered in their life. I like to get up into the 2pt and start out at whatever pace works for them and then slowly I might settle into a 3pt position and ask them to collect it a little bit and then back to the 2pt in a more forward canter. You have to slowly build that hind end and teach them to use their hind end at the canter. It’s hard on them and they can get sore at first so I am careful not to drill it. I often don’t even canter much that first month of training and if I do canter it’s on the trails in straight lines. You have to make it fun for them and not too stressful.

I remember when Shoes first arrived and all he did was buck in the canter but he now has a lovely canter. The canter was always super balanced he just didn’t have the muscle to hold it. Canter/buck/canter can be the normal routine for some of them for the first few months. Just have faith that it all works itself out with time.

Speaking of Shine my Shoes,  he did give himself a pretty darn good hurtie when he whacked his splint bone. We have x-rayed and ultrasounded the suspensory. All looks good so now it’s just a matter of rest. He is on stall rest getting the whole bute, ice and now surpass wraps. He is a good patient and will be good to go with some rest. It looks like Jill has decided to take him so we are going to let him hang out for another month and then he will ship out to her. Due to his injuries, we are going to do a bit of a trial to make sure he is okay but we all think he will be just fine. She fell in love with him when she flew out to see him and I immediately knew he had found his person. Now if he would just stop hurting himself so he can actually get his forever home….damn horses 🙂 He has the absolute best personality and he makes me laugh every day. My stalls have doors that open up near the corner so they can stick their heads out. He likes to put his head out and then just stand there and shake his head up and down. He will pull anything that is in reach into his stall to play with. He loves people and is just a really fun horse. I hope that it all works out in the end. He can NOT stay with me forever 🙂

Kurt and I thought that perhaps we might be cursed? Seems like once we finally get a bit of break on stall rest horse then another one has to go on stall rest. Stall rest sucks for the horses and humans! I have been slowly rehabbing a client’s horse who tweaked a suspensory and he has been challenging. The world’s quietest Tb before the injury but he has forced me to try to figure out a good drug plan. We are now using sedivet which is a drug you use to tranquillize horses but like Ace you can ride on it in smaller doses. I had not been having much success with Ace but the Sedivet is amazing. You give just a tiny amount and the horse is awake so you can ride them forward but you don’t have any explosions. I can’t afford to get hurt so I am thrilled that a vet friend of mine suggested that I try this. Always learning something new!

Mort and Diamond are going to be hitting the trails today. When we get a bunch of rain and the ring is really wet we go on the sand trails.

What a difference

Wow, hard to believe this is ride #3 on Mort! I waited until I got some shoes on him and then I did a few lunging sessions to give him an idea of how to relax and stretch. He was already 100x improved from the upside down giraffe that I showed you pictures of a week ago. Look at the is going to be amazing. You should see how uphill he gallops.

He obviously lacks muscle and is weak behind but they all start out like this so that stuff doesn’t worry me. He will be doing some good old trot trail rides to build up his muscle.

I got on Bushy for the first time tonight and in the process of getting all hell broke loose and I got breeches full of sand. I always have Kurt hold and I touch them up and down and let them know what is going on. I also put the tip of my toe in and gently stand and then I lean over. I leaned over and he went lady are you nuts and spun around in a few circles and I was letting myself off when he backed up and I ended up pushing off the side. It was all very slow mo and he was not bothered a bit. I think he figured out what I wanted because the next time I stood up and then just lowered over him and he was like geez no more of that laying over me stuff crazy lady.

He is a war horse who ran 50+ races and made over $100k. He is sound but just weak and lacking muscle. This is what they tend to look like when you pull them out of the field. He was a very good boy with the super high winds and chilly temps. His first time in the ring with all the jumps and he didn’t even look at anything. Good boy!

Skip the beginning part..that is Mort.

Too big!

I often find myself wondering why everyone thinks they need such a big horse? I am 5’5 so I am not extremely short but I do have short legs and very short arms. I feel right at home on the shorter compact horses and when I get on these giant horses I struggle to really find a comfortable spot. I can ride them but I just don’t ride them as well as I do a smaller horse.

It does seem to me like people don’t even want to consider horses that are smaller than 16h. I showed horses to someone this week who was maybe 5’9″ but as skinny as can be and she said she needs a really tall horse because she is so tall and doesn’t like to ride anything that isn’t at least 16.1 and big bodied.

I suppose we all know our own likes and dislikes but I do think that narrowing your search criteria excludes a lot of neat horses. Maybe I should just be thankful that I like the shorter horses that nobody else wants 🙂

I was talking to Allie last night and told her that I think Diamond H is just too big for me. I like horses like Kiss a Monster, Shine my Shoes, Calabria Rose, Escape by Sea and even a taller but compact horse like Mort Robbins. Horses like Cool Casey and Diamond H makes me feel like I am always struggling to get my leg around them and not just sit up on top of them. Then again people get on my horse who is a 15.3 h conn/tb and think he feels so short every where. You better not jump up the neck on him because he just doesn’t have a long neck to hold you up 🙂 Riding him is like sitting in some sort of advanced sportscar where everything is at the touch of your finger. His turning radius is really cool and he is just easy to ride.

Anyway..totally rambling but this point was driven home this weekend when I took Diamond over to my mom’s farm to ride. Mort threw a shoe and Diamond needed to be reshod so we headed over to meet the farrier. What good boys they are to just get unloaded at a random barn, hang out in a stall, get feet done and then get ridden. I didn’t ride Mort because I had to get back to teach a lesson but we did have fun with Diamond.

Diamond is coming along and I have been doing a bit of lunging with him to start to introduce the concept of working over the back. He is smart and picks it up quickly and his nature is to try anything that I ask of him which I just love about him.

My mom is getting the base of her ring fixed up so there are random piles of sand all over and it’s a looky place in general. I knew Diamond wouldn’t care because he is just that type of horse that doesn’t really get bothered by much. I rode him first and then my mom came out and wanted to get on him. Then she just kept riding and riding 🙂 He really liked him and thought he was totally her kind of horse which I already knew. She likes the big horses and she rides them much better than I do.

Diamond was super good and did some really nice work. He is starting to muscle up and get stronger behind. I am having to ride him pretty forward to get him to stretch into the contact but that is just a temporary thing. Once he learns to soften then I will be able to slow it all down again. He just isn’t strong enough to push into the contact in a slower tempo.

See all his new muscles!

Here I am warming him up

We took a bunch of pictures and almost all of them look great (at least the horse does!) which is what I look for to see how they are progressing. I would like him to be a bit stretchier but that will come. Sometimes you have to teach them to connect first before you can get stretchy.

Mort is doing super well! I have been just doing some basic lunging with him to show him how to use his body and slowly work his muscles. I plan on riding him today if I can walk after the workout that I had at the gym this morning 🙂 I have been working out at a gym called Crossfit which is basically a very intensive workout using free range of movement. Squats, lunges, sit ups, pull ups, chin ups, presses, sprints and so much more. I am just getting started but the neat thing about this program is that it is instructor lead and all group sessions which makes you accountable to the group and pushed by the instructor each workout. There is also a lot of work with sand bags, keetle balls, tires and other things that I probably don’t want to think about yet. I need to get in better shape and lose a bunch of weight so I am making time for it. I really do have a crazy schedule where we take care of horses in the am, go to work and then come home and take care of horses and ride 3-4 horses a night. Kurt is taking care of the horses in the morning so I can hit the gym.

I got a chance to go to our C-Ville layup farm and see all the horses this weekend. They are looking great! We have some really lovely horses that I am so excited to get going. Now we just have to sell those currently in the retraining program so we can bring a new round of horses in.

I am getting lots of emails about the horses for sale now that spring is here so I anticipate some turnover soon. I brought Bushy’s Yield to my farm as someone is coming to see him on Saturday. I hope to ride him today but did spend the weekend giving him a bath, clipping him up and shedding him out. HATE shedding season 🙂