Monthly Archives: September 2011

The most beautiful views

All week I was super excited about the upcoming paper chase. It really is a treat to be able to ride across the gorgeous land up near Unionville, Pa. I had only been to one chase up in this area and that was back when I had Dixie. He was awesome and we had great fun that day so I eager to do it again.

I think Kurt was a little bit nervous. He had never been on a ride like this and didn’t know what to expect. He finds a lot of courage just because he trust his horse (actually my horse :)) so much. He knows Junior will take care of him and that right there is what makes it fun.

For those of you who haven’t been to a chase like this it can be quite a challenge for horse for one main reason. The views!

You get your horses off the trailer and they just stare at all the horses going up and down the hills. It can be quite nerve-wracking for them so that is always the biggest challenge. Letterman was nervous but doing nothing more than walking a lot of circles.

I really don’t at all get after them for this because forward is an okay answer to nerves. Keeping their feet moving is what you want so they don’t ball it up inside and then panic more. It was a very calm walk so not like he was frantic or anything just concerned. There was a loud-speaker so I am sure he was thinking races??

Kurt and I got on and headed up to the start area. We had to wait for about 5 min and the horses were anxious so we kept them on the move. Again, very important to channel the energy in a forward manner. I just sat quietly and let him walk/trot and he was really focused. I gave him a little job of some circles and bending exercises to keep his attention. He would look around at all the horses but he was so good!!!

We started out and let them get a good trot going to work off the nervous energy. I find it always helps to let them work it off rather than holding them. Junior was more keyed up and was cantering and snorting….his normal! We jumped a few little logs which were fun and went up a big hill. Hills = best way ever to let a horse work and tire itself without you having to do anything.

We got to the woods and encountered our first obstacle. I could hear a lot of rushing water and when we saw the water crossing Kurt and I sort of went oh lord this is tough. It was a narrow path to the water, super fast rushing water and a very deep crossing. Junior was convinced he didn’t have to go and did quite a bit of backwards running. Letterman just stood there but wasn’t sure what the question was being asked. Junior finally manned up and when he got in the water he got a bit scared because it was so deep and rushing.

I asked Kurt to wait which sure didn’t help Junior but he’s experienced and I wanted to have him give Letterman a lead and not get to far way from me. Letterman bravely walked right in!!!!!!!!!!!!! Superstar. I know he was scared but he trusted me which is huge.

This picture is after we went across

You can see the rushing water but you can’t see how deep it was or the rocky footing. It also had a narrow downhill path leading into the water so it was a tough approach.

Wow, Kurt and I thought that it was so cool to be able to do something like that. As we rode along we kept remarking how people must be seriously hard-core to hunt first flight up here. The jumps were good size and often on difficult approaches in trappy footing. We jumped a few of the smaller things but the footing was mucky so we were careful.

Another water crossing

We trotted and cantered along and the horses were amazing. Junior is very schooled but Letterman in some ways is less spooky and a bit quieter. He just goes along with a loop in the rein happy to lead or follow. We switch back and forth so he can gain experience riding in the front and the back.

We came to this gorgeous covered bridge

Junior was being a wuss and was balking and Letterman walked right past him and up into the scary covered bridge. What a brave horse!

I think we could have easily ridden for hours just enjoying the view but it was a short ride. Here is the view at the end looking back at the trailers.

We walked down a bit and stopped to take a few final pictures.

Kurt wanted to canter back in and because it was slightly downhill and headed toward the trailers the horses got a bit of a roll on and Letterman decided it should be a gallop. He was listening to me but enjoying himself so I let him but then eased him up toward the finish.

It was a great day and Letterman far exceeded my expectations. He’s a seriously nice horse. I honestly can tell you there is nothing better than riding an ottb who is athletic and brave across this beautiful territory. We hope to get out for a few more of the chases in this area.

He’s just that quiet

Yesterday, my friend Alison came to ride with me but I didn’t end up riding. Romeo threw a shoe, Letterman was getting a day off from the warrior trail ride, my horse is broken and big boy was getting his day off. That left the cute little Burgiss and I wanted to see him go so Alison got to ride and I watched. Wow, it’s nice watching.

Alison had a great ride and stopped several times to remark just how fun, easy and quiet he was and wouldn’t he be the perfect pony club horse or ammy horse. She said that perhaps it doesn’t mean as much when I say a horse is “quiet” because I ride ottb’s for a living but it’s interesting to sit on them and observe just how quiet they really can be.

I have had several people comment that you almost have to ride the horses to see for yourself. Karen Randall who owns Houndy and Diamond H (both bought from me) said that everyone comments on her two horses and how quiet they are for Tb’s. She even said that she never thought she could find two horses as quiet and nice as her two are. I would like to think that they are the typical model of ottb’s because seriously most of my horses/CANTER’S horses are just that quiet.

Brena, from http://www.teamflyingsolo.com/, talks about her new CANTER MA horse being so awesome that it scares her. I can relate to that because no matter how many horses I have come through my barn from the track each year, it simply never ceases to amaze me just how awesome they can be. You just want to hug them because they are that smart, athletic, willing and sensible that you feel lucky to be able to ride them.

I think that is how Alison felt after her first ride on Burgiss. She couldn’t get over how fun he was and commented that if she did this she would buy them all!  I hope I can convince her to come help me with the riding more often 🙂

I still need to work on that new blog highlighting our success stories and our people’s shopping experiences with CANTER. Looks like a rainy weekend so I may just have some time to get it started. Hoping the paper chase isn’t rained out. Looks like Junior may be injured so hopefully I can convince Kurt to ride Letterman and I will take Burgiss.

 

Lost and in Love

That about summed up our ride from last night. My boarder had been begging to get out on the trails so we all loaded up for a “short” ride. I took Letterman as I wanted keep building that fitness base on him and get him ready for our paper chase. Kurt was riding Junior and Amy was on her horse, Bear.

We were having an absolute blast riding along laughing at Junior spooking at things. Kurt has improved so much as a rider and just takes all the spooks in stride. Kurt and I had a nice canter which then turned into a race 🙂 Yes, I’m still a 10yr at heart and love it! Ha, so much fun! Letterman is so chill that he has forgotten his racehorse days and Junior had us beat. He can go quite fast for 3/4 TB. That 1/4 connemara just gives him some toughness but I swear he is more like a TB than all my Tb’s.

I love how Letterman can go from galloping on minute to just walking on a loose rein the next. He has become even more confident on the trails in just a short period of time. At first he was a tiny bit looky but now he just plugs along without a care in the world.

At some point, we took a turn that we thought would take us in a loop back to the trailer. We rode and rode and rode some more until we started to panic. I had my phone but it was just trying to take us to the road and we weren’t near the road. We found a road and we hacked down there for a bit before we took a trail which led back the way we wanted to go. However, there was no way to get into the woods from the field we were in. We were hacking through soybeans belly high, corn, bushes and all sorts of other trappy footing.

As you know, husbands and wives being lost together results in a lot of arguing. Poor Amy! I was so embarrassed to have gotten lost with somebody along with us. It’s one thing if it was just Kurt and I but I am sure she was not too happy. Her horse isn’t as fit either so he was tired and we knew we had a long way to get back.

I decided we were walking the edge of one of the many tax ditches because I know they often run parallel to the trail system. Kurt was arguing that it wasn’t the right way but I didn’t think we had a better plan so I put my foot down and told him to be quiet or else. I picked the direction that I thought we needed to go in and found a tax ditch that went that way. Our horses were super tired but let me just tell you how in love I am with Letterman. We had been out about 2hrs at that point and while he was tired and cranky he was soldering on. He led/followed and did anything I asked of him. I rode him along on the buckle letting him pick his path through the grown up footing/weeds/briars.

We all had a big shout of relief when we finally saw the path. The bad news was that it was almost dark and we were still about 30 min out. The horses were tired but we didn’t all want to be on the road on dark colored horses in the dark.

We trotted as much as we could while giving them breaks but they were hot and tired. The mosquito’s were horrible and we gotten eaten alive but the horses were excellent about it. Amy’s horse wasn’t fit enough to do any cantering so we were careful to ease them back in. I think Junior and Letterman knew where we were (finally!) and were eager to get home. We jumped the last few logs and got to the road right before dark. We hurried them onto the trailer with the fans on to cool them down. You can not stand around outside right now due to the mosquito’s so I just grabbed the saddle off and loaded them up in with bridles on and then stuck halters on once they got in the trailer where there were no mosquito’s.

I know they were all happy when we pulled up to the barn. They got warm water baths and lots of treats. They all looked tired but no worse for the wear this morning. Kurt had did the warrior run (5k run) on the base in the morning and then did the warrior ride at night so he was pretty crippled this morning 🙂 I actually feel good so I must be in good riding shape.

You all know that I love my ottb’s but the reality is some are better than others and finding one that is really just that good out on the trails makes you appreciate them so much more. I am a rider that enjoys riding out of the ring more than in the ring so it’s important for me to have a horse that can do both. I grew up riding a horse who was absolutely horrible to ride out. You prayed each and every ride that you would make it back without dirt on your breeches 🙂

Letterman is a horse that makes me look forward to every trail ride. He’s brave, athletic, comfortable, soft in the bridle, goes in the front, goes in the back, handles scary things while maintaining his sanity and will go on a loose rein or in contact which is nice when you are trying to navigate using a cell phone to find your way home.

I’m so excited about our paperchase this weekend. It will be fun! Can’t wait to get home and see my new boyfriend aka Letterman 🙂

All about second chances

Ramblin Romeo is the adorable guy who was found at New Holland by another rescue who called us and asked if we could get him out of there. He is 16h and fairly solidly built with nice size bone. He ran 40+ races making around $80k.

He is well bred http://www.pedigreequery.com/ramblin+romeo and is the second horse that I have had here sired by Langfuhr. AllaboutMack was the first and Romeo is super similiar to him in personality/attitude/way of going.

Romeo interests me because he feels like he has already had a bunch of retraining. He goes around in a perfect little frame all by himself like he has been doing it forever. He is super duper steady in the bridle which is unusual for a horse that is not at all fit and has just come out of a field. He lacks strength in the canter but he is balanced and has both leads. He bends nicely and does lateral work like he has prior training. It makes me wonder if somebody really put all this into him at the track or is he just this smart?

I have to say he is just a fun ride because he does learn so fast and tries so hard. Look at how adorable he is!

I’m home from work today nursing an upset stomach. Think I will go out and clean my tack so that I don’t waste my day. Hoping to feel better so I can get Romeo or Burgiss out for a little trail ride today. Letterman is heading to a paperchase this weekend. I’m excited!

One more..

I got him to eat a cookie!!!!

Yes, that was my major accomplishment of the weekend but I finally got Romeo to trust that cookies were good especially those yummy smelling Ms. Pastures cookies that look/smell good enough for human consumption. Romeo reminds me a bit of Letterman in that he is an older horse and a bit guarded in his personality. You know it’s in there but it will take a bit to draw it out of him. Once he ate one cookie (okay I sort of shoved it in the side of his mouth and made him chew) he started begging for another. Ha, I’ve got him hooked.

I so need to get video/pics of him tomorrow so that is on the agenda. He’s ready to move onto his new home. I swear this horse is freaky smart and very well broke. Bends around your leg, softens in the bridle, does lateral work and is just super smart. We did a few little trotting jumps today all very relaxed. He’s very professional about his job which I enjoy. He needs more conditioning to hold his canter but that all comes in time. He’s just a really cool horse who is fun to ride. I need to get his ads up but life has gotten busy and now that it’s getting dark earlier we have to hurry to get all the farm work done which leaves less time for Kurt to play photographer.

Letterman went on another big adventure today. We parked in the same lot but headed off a different direction. He’s always eager to get going but in a happy sort of way like he wants to go on the adventure and I need to get my butt in the saddle and stop taking so long to get him ready. We headed down a grassy strip along the edge of the woods and road. It was quite wet there and one section we had to cross a very large water filled ditch. It wasn’t deep but it was very wide.

I’m always prepared for anything so I did grab my neckstrap but this was way to wide to jump so no worries. Ha, famous last words. I felt him rock back and went oh shit as he launched about 4ft in the air and 12 ft out across this ditch thing. He landed very calmly and walked off flat footed laughing at me as I struggled to right myself in the saddle. Kurt was ahead of me oblivious to the fact that I just did a superman jump and was hanging on for dear life. Letterman..so not funny!

We got a little lost and missed the trail but quickly realized we were not in the right place when we saw a farm with COWS. Um, I survived the ditch leap but I’m not doing cows. We thought the trail must have been where the road barriers were and this time we found it. I was leading the trail and there were some great logs to jump and Letterman was awesome. Junior was behind me and I could hear him cantering, bucking and leaping over every little stick. Kurt said he jumped anything that was more than a few inches off the ground. I love how Letterman has this fire breathing dragon behind him yet totally could care less. If you have ever had Junior riding behind you when he is keyed up than you would be impressed with how Letterman handles himself. Junior sounds like a little freight train. Thankfully, Kurt loves him and just laughs at him but lord you are not the OTTB!

We switch positions to let the nut job get in front and work off some steam and we do a 15 min trot set and while Junior looks like he could go for miles, Letterman was on a loose rein just happy go lucky. Love this horse! We come across some boys riding bikes and Letterman was giving them the hairy eyeball but did well. I hid him behind Junior as they passed just in case but I don’t think that was necessary.

We turned around and had fun cantering over the logs on the way back and this time we took the road option instead of the water filled ditch. I only tempt fate once! Of course the road is not always the best option. We had a truck pulling a trailer filled with trash that never slowed down. Love the ottb’s who see a lot of traffic at the track because the locals around here do NOT slow down.

Letterman got stuffed full of yummy cookies and had a nice curry. He is doing great and I’m having a blast riding him. I was thinking to myself that my life is pretty awesome. Came home after a great trail ride and had such a great ride on Romeo. Then I have the lovely Burgiss who is awesome. My horse rocks and I have great horses owned by clients to ride. It’s a lot of work but I love my job especially at this time of year when the weather is gorgeous. I feel like I could ride all day long and not get tired of it. When you have so many fun horses to ride you just can’t wait to get on the next one.

 

 

Just what the doctor ordered

It’s been a week of pain in the butt people and a super hectic work schedule. I find myself getting home and just wanting to get in bed instead of go to the barn. On Wednesday, I did go to bed at 8pm and I felt so much better yesterday! When I got home the temperature had dropped drastically and the winds were kicking.

I begged Kurt to go on a trail ride and although he was convinced it was going to rain I think he realized that keeping me company on a trail ride would make his life easier in the long run 🙂 From June-August you can’t ride in the woods at all due to bugs. Right now we have killer mosquito’s due to all the flooding and still very wet land. The breeze yesterday was enough to make us think it would be okay to take the horses over the C&R center to hit the trails without being eaten alive.

I have a few horses to ride but something made me want to take Letterman. I just love riding him and he has been feeling awesome lately. I thought it would be good for him to get off the farm and onto some new trails. He really loves to trail ride. We always tack up and then put them in the trailer. Letterman was a bit perplexed by getting tacked up and then going on the trailer but he just rolled with it. When we get there we put the bridles on and our quiet ride masks.

It was quite chilly and the wind was crazy. The trees were blowing and the leaves were falling across the trail. I wasn’t sure how Letterman would handle it all but being an older racehorse who has seen it all and then some I figured he would be just fine. You could almost feel the excitement in him but not in a nervous way just pure happy to be out and about type of excitement.

Kurt and I like to move along on our trail rides. We don’t spend a lot of time walking but we do take walk breaks when needed. We like to trot and canter along and sometimes even a gallop if the horses are fit enough. Letterman and Junior  (my horse that Kurt rides) are both very brave horses so Kurt and I could interchange riding either next to each other or front/back. The best part about the C&R center is that it’s a wide trail probably about 30 feet wide and lovely sand footing. It has trees on one side and a ditch with water and more trees on the other so you are sort of riding down a path in the woods with perfect footing.

Letterman is feeling so good right now. He was naturally just perfectly on the bit, moving out well and so light and soft in the bridle. He’s one athletic horse and so comfortable to ride. We had a great trot/canter down all the way until we got to the bridge and saw the yellow tape. Looks like the hurricane wiped the bridge out so we could only go so far but that was fine as we had already ridden about 20 min down so another 20 min back would the perfect time limit for the horses.

Kurt was cracking up at Junior who was all sorts of excited. As we had cantered down the path he did some sort of spook, buck, lead change manuever at a pile of dead leaves. Then when we turned back to head home he spooked hard and ran forward almost jetting Kurt out the back of the saddle. Kurt has come a long way in his confidence but he says that he just loves to ride Junior and isn’t intimidated by him at all. He reeled him in and got him under control. Letterman just rolled his eyes at him 🙂

Cantering on the way back home can always be interesting on some horses but Junior is very well broke and Letterman felt so level-headed that we just had to do it. Kurt and I must have cantered for a good 5 min straight just laughing as we went. Junior so wanted to gallop but thankfully he listens pretty well. Letterman was just so balanced and soft in the bridle. I could have cantered him for hours! He never pulls, gets strong or puts a foot wrong. His balance is just so nice and he’s an athletic package with three great gaits. He was getting a bit tired but when I asked Kurt if he was ready to trot he indicated that Junior wanted to keep going so we let them canter out a bit more. It’s funny to me to watch Kurt just having so much fun on my horse. He told me he had to keep half halting because Junior really wanted to run 🙂

The minute we got back to the trailer we were swarmed by mosquitos so we hurried up and just loosened the girths and put the horses back on the trailer where we then took off their bridles. The mosquitos are so bad right now that the horses can’t even concentrate once they start getting attacked. Junior practically ran onto the trailer!

I have said from the beginning that Letterman has been a bit of a puzzle but I do think that we are coming together now. I think it takes a lot longer for the older racehorses to physically and mentally get over the racing. He just now has started to trust people, enjoy the work, develop a personality and feel good in his body. It has taken a while to draw his personality out of him but it’s clearly there now. When I was brushing him down he was play biting on my shirt. That is his little display of personality. He will bite his lead shank, play bite your clothes and act silly. Hey now..you old man…enough of that 🙂

When he arrived, he didn’t like cookies at all, just carrots. He now will do anything for a good Ms. Pastures cookie. Nope, I don’t bribe him or anything of the sorts 🙂

He once again is a reminder that it just takes time. You can’t rush them and they come around on their own timeframe. He is just a totally different horse  than he was upon arrival. I want to get him out to some paper chases and take him hunting as well.

After I got home, I got on Burgiss and rode in the freezing cold rain with super high winds. He was perfect! His idea of spook is to turn his head sideways and stare at something. What a perfect 4yr! He is so much fun and we had a great ride and jumped some new jumps. We are just trotting them all and he is so game. He did not appreciate the rain but his only complaint was a bit of sideways trot. I was going to try to get on Romeo but I ran out of steam. I intend to leave work early today to get home and ride him.

I

Isn’t he sporty

Burgiss and I had a little refresher and got on the same page so that he could figure me out and vice versa. He already has a bunch of training, has hacked out everywhere, been xc schooling and is well traveled. He just happens to be a bit out of shape so needs some muscling and a slow introduction back up into the work.

I switched him to the herm sprenger mullen mouth bit and he really enjoyed it. You can see how hard he was concentrating on trying to soften his body.

Here is some burgiss video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2scPsS6nGA

Speaking of sporty, Letterman has been going super since our trip to the vet’s. Go figure! I have had one good ride after another so maybe it was simply a pulled muscle or just the fact that he is 9yrs old and raced a long time so it’s taking longer to get him physically capable of doing the work. I will get video of him soon!

We are losing daylight so we can only get pics/video of one horse a day after work. Weekends are busy trying to get all the horses ridden. I had video of Romeo but managed to delete it accidentally just now.

I have talked a bit about the big 17 h 3yr that I’m bringing along for Tebogo Sport Horses- http://tebogosporthorses.com/ . I got him in the middle of May and have worked super hard to install a forward button and some power steering. Everyone just assumes race horses know how to go forward but that is often not the case. I have been riding this guy with a whip in each hand both to inspire him to move forward and also to control his shoulders for steering. He couldn’t canter more than two steps at first and steering + cantering was quite the challenge.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGBl3P-lg70&feature=related

 

He jumps as nice as he moves and is making a lot of progress. I find that it’s a challenge to bring a 3yr along without wanting to do too much with them. I haven’t picked up the contact with him until my last ride. I didn’t want him to worry about anything besides going forward. He also needs to build up his hind end but it’s come a long way from where he started. He’s a big horse for me to ride but I absolutely LOVE him. He is so smart and just super easy-going.

I’ve been super motivated with this lovely September weather. Just can’t wait for the mosquitos to die! I shall post something tomorrow about the two gorgeous mares that were just donated to us.