Monthly Archives: April 2012

Everybody loves Raymond?

Kurt and I don’t really love the name Raymond but the poor guy has had that name his whole life so we can’t go changing it now. He has such a huge personality and is such a funny type of horse. He loves people and is always getting into things. He just seems happy about life which is a great thing. I have been having to remind him that he does have to pay attention in the barn. He is always trying to smell and touch everything while I’m working on him. His face just reminds me of a horse with a goofy personality.

He already feels way different in his body. He is now softer in his topline and is seeking out the bit. I have him in the sprenger duo for now but am thinking I will try something else just to see if he feels any different. He is very soft in the mouth and understands about yielding to pressure. He is a big horse at 16.1 and a little bit but it is mostly legs right now. He needs to put on some weight and muscle but that all comes in time.

Right now I am just working on him going forward so that he can work from behind. He thinks that is pretty hard but is very willing to try for me. When these guys are just starting out I use mostly all straight lines and some changes of direction across the diagonals or maybe some figure eights using half the ring. They aren’t strong enough in their body to really hold themselves up quite yet. I also don’t get super picky about the transitions either. He runs into the canter and at this point I don’t make a big deal out of it. You can’t sweat the small stuff at first or you just make them cranky.

He was so tired at the end (10-15 min of work) that his long legs were shaking! I think it is important for us as riders to be aware of just how hard this work is for them even if it seems so simple to us. We gave him a really good curry. He will look a lot better when he finishes shedding out.

Some video from the ride:

Some pictures:

I also rode Love last night and he is currently at the stage where I want to hide him behind the barn 🙂 I stood there looking at him and just didn’t know whether I should turn him back out for a few months or keep going. It’s obvious that he is growing and is so much higher behind that in front. This makes it difficult for horses to feel balanced and that is the case with him. He feels like 4 different horses combined into one.

I think that I will just keep going but be careful to just spend my time hacking out and making everything very simple for him until his body does catch up. Kurt and I can’t believe how much he has changed since he arrived at the farm. When he got here he was aggressive as can be. Spent the first two days kicking at any horse that walked near him. He looked a bit wild and didn’t want much to do with people. Now he is a total sweetie. We have him eating treats and he would rather come in and visit with us than be with his buddies. He has also went from OMG must be with my friend at every second to now being able to not even care what his friends are doing. He is totally relaxed and happy in the barn. Loves being groomed and fooled with. My dog ran under him several times last night and he didn’t even notice. He is still a bit nervous at the beginning of each ride. Feels like he wants to do something when I touch him with my foot as I mount up but he hasn’t done on thing wrong. He is just anxious the first 5 min and feels very locked up. By the end of the ride he is soft, relaxed and slow. I think he just needs good old time and patient training to bring him around. It’s clear to me that he is a really good boy he just needs to learn that humans are good and that nothing bad will happen to him. I will start trail riding him this week. He will likely spend all his time trail riding in the upcoming weeks. I may just pony him off of Junior a few times to get him out and about.

I’m always learning

I have always believed that you need to have the right personality to truly love working with green horses. Some days they can push your patience to the absolute limit. Along the way I have begun to realize that it is what you learn from those days that can influence the horses training the most.

I have this amazing horse in for a client that has only been off the track for a few months now. Gorgeous, smart, brave and lovely in all ways. I felt that everything was going well but he was just testing me when it came to the jumps. You go through the whole checklist to make sure you have done all the homework properly. If you know that you have, then you have to think that perhaps the horse is just giving you the finger 🙂 I thought it was time for the lunging over fences exercise. I have found that lunging over the fences is something that can give me so much input as a trainer. Not only does it allow the horse to figure out how to jump on their own but watching them I can really learn a lot about their strengths and weakness. It’s also a great exercise in groundwork, respect, listening to commands and thinking on their own.

When I started to lunge the horse near the cavaletti it was apparent it was going to be an interesting session. This typically quiet horse was PISSED. He didn’t want to go near this 18″ cavaletti. There was snorting, backing, rearing, bolting and just anything he could think of to let me know it wasn’t happening. At one point, he hightailed off with the lunge line attached. I was pretty irritated at this point but reminding myself that this was an excellent training opportunity. A chance for me to establish the ground rules and put myself higher in the chain than he was. I put him on a small circle near that cavaletti and figured out the crux of the issue was we were on the other side of the ring and he wanted to go back to the barn/his buddies. He wouldn’t complete the circle and kept pulling away every time he was on that side of the circle. When I got after him he threw a bigger fit. I just kept at him on the small circle. Once I got him completing the circle without pulling out on that side we got closer to the cavaletti. I just had him walking over it and if he started backing up we kept circling. I was persistent but calm. I didn’t backoff of him when he was being bad but I didn’t scare him either. Just staying consistent with my commands. When he walked over it a few times we then added in the trot. He was very “up” snorting with his tail up and his head to his chest. I had really pissed him off but I was clearly winning the battle. He trotted a few times just perfectly and I ended with that. I spent the next 10 minutes just letting him graze the grass sides of the ring. Not just going right back into the barn. A chance to let the lesson sink into him.

The next day, I thought about riding him but then reminded myself that I should follow-up with exercise we had done the day before to see what the progress may be. Totally different horse! Not once did he even protest lunging on the circle. He went right over the cavaletti without an argument. I made an oxer and he jumped right over that. I put a gate in front and he jumped right over that. Went and drug the scary black barrels down and put them in between the two cavalettis for a cavaletti barrel oxer and he went right over that. What a superstar! This horse is absolutely amazing. His canter is just gorgeous with the best rhythm. He is so balanced and finds his spot every single time. He is not scared of the jumps and hasn’t been all along but he did want to make it his argument. I find that sometimes horses just pick one thing to make a fuss over. I didn’t think it was about the jumps but I wasn’t sure. When he was so bad the first day it was clear that it was a bit more about wanting to go back to his buddies than it was about the jumps.

He learned something about me in these sessions as well which is also very important in the training process. He learned he couldn’t get away with the behavior and that I was going to keep going no matter what. I think horses have to respect their riders and feel a sense of authority before they can succeed. He will learn to gain trust in me because I give him consistent commands and don’t push him past where I know he can go.

I lalso earned that he isn’t at all scared of the jumps 🙂 Ha, take that buddy! I had an amazing flatwork session on him the next day as well where he felt better than he ever has.

I don’t often give myself a lot of credit as a rider but there are times when I realize how far I have come in my ability and knowledge. I still have a long way to go! My trainer (Mogie Bearden Muller) recently told me that I do a great job bringing along these ottbs and teaching them about leg/hand/contact and all the things in between. That was a huge compliment because some of the horses really are pretty tough. Kurt has thought that I’m a bit off in the head with my love of walk/trot lessons but if you have ever taken a walk/trot lesson from Mogie on teaching a green horse about the contact you will be as giddy as I am. It’s something that you can take to every horse and to find a trainer who can really teach you just how it should all look and feel is very hard to do. Mogie is excellent and has given me way more tools for the toolbox. Riding and teaching green horses is an art. You will never know enough and you always have something to learn.

A friend brought over her lovely 4yr mare. She has not been able to get her to accept the contact or the leg. My friend’s background is hunters but she really wants to learn more about the dressage. I got on and explained some of the things that I was doing with her horse as I rode. Just establishing the contact and adding the leg. Trying to follow the horse with my hands but staying consistent while doing so. The horse was a bit OMG about the leg trying to avoid by going every which way but straight and also by going faster. I loved how reactive she was off the leg because it wasn’t in a bad way. If you channel that into some nice lateral work you can get a horse moving from the inside leg to the outside rein and then boom it all becomes pretty easy. The horse suddenly was sitting nicely into the contact and stretching over the back. I was high with the praise when she was correct but when she pulled and leaned I immediately moved her laterally and either sent her forward or half halted depending on what was appropriate at the time. I can’t stand horses that pull or lean so that is my rule #1! I refuse to pull a horse onto the bit so sometimes I do ride them a bit more forward than people may be used to seeing but they have to go forward to the hand. You can always bring them back but going forward is essential. I increased the horses trot step and they could see the difference. The mare found the work to be easy once she was allowed to go forward and with consistent contact she was suddenly soft and relaxed. She had the most gorgeous stretchy trot that felt like she was floating. It was easy in one direction but the other direction was difficult because she was way overbent and didn’t move off the outside leg. I practiced making square turns to get her straighter in the body and she really started to figure it out.

I was having so much fun but at the same time it was really hard work. Sometimes riding the super greenies is pretty physical for both the horse and rider. The amount of leg needed from the rider can be quite a bit at first to really get them to push forward into the bridle. I think that is a hard concept for people to grasp especially people who ride ottb’s and find them sensitive. They still have to learn to accept the leg and it’s okay to go forward! The other thing that I think is hard to understand is that sometimes it can take a bit more contact than you think you should have. When the horse puts its head straight up in the air then I follow the horse up there with my hands and maintain the pressure while adding the leg. As soon as the horse softens than so do I. That type of consistency can just be hard to figure out.

I do get pretty geeked out over feeling the difference in horses in just a few rides. I love teaching people how to teach the ottb’s this type of flatwork. I bet if my friend comes back for a few lessons or even a few rides she won’t recognize the difference in the horse. I did put her back on after I finished and she was excited to feel the difference. You can learn a lot by watching. I love to watch my trainer ride and then get on and feel the difference for myself. Just wish I could afford lots more lessons!

One of the highlights of the weekend was finally getting my clients horse and Raymond to eat treats. I don’t know why it makes me so happy when I finally get a horse to take a treat but it just seems rewarding. I want them to like treats because treats are a reward for being good. I also think that treats can draw out their personality a little bit. Even cranky Letterman can get pretty cute when begging for a treat 🙂

I am so glad that we got the much needed rain! My ring was so dry and dusty that I felt bad riding the horses in there. Looking forward to putting a new jump course up this week for Letterman and so excited about the new boys. They are really settling and now and I can see the personalities emerging.

Help CANTER Mid Atlantic market our program

Allie has written an awesome article about the sudden popularity of the ottb’s and about her great marketing idea for CANTER Mid Atlantic. You can read the article here-

CANTER’s website has a huge following with people buying horses from tracks all across the country. There are many branches of CANTER located in different states. While some branches of CANTER have a retraining program, not all do. It seems like in the past year or two our retraining program has really taken off just by word of mouth and also by people reading the blogs that those of us from CANTER MA write. I never would have thought that this blog would have such a huge following. I have sold so many horses to people who have gotten to know them through the blog and decided they just had to come and see them for themselves. While this is great marketing we can take it even further.

Allie’s idea is that no matter what name you use for your horse you add the CMA to the front of the name. Those of you who may be eventers know that there are tons and tons of Fernhill horses which basically means those horses were sold through that program. We would like to have CMA horses taking over 🙂 Get people talking about the program and what we do. Let our buyers do the marketing for us with the lovely horses that you have bought from the resale program.

I do think our program is unique when compared to other organizations. We are committed to giving the horses a minimum of 2+ months of R&R just to be a horse. We truly believe this makes a difference in the future of the horse. We start with a clean slate when we do start the retraining. We listen to the horse and only start the retraining/sales process when they are ready. We put at least a month of retraining (but often it is way longer!) on the horse where we spend time both inside and outside of the ring. Those of us who are doing the retraining are riders who have spent years working with ottb’s so the foundation that is put on the horses is excellent.  If a problem arises during the retraining we know how to fix it so that you don’t have to later. The flatwork and jumping training is done slowly and correctly. We listen to the horses and treat them all as individuals. If they need more time, more confidence or whatever it may be then that is what they get. We hack them out, take them xc schooling, go on off the farm trips and may even get them to some shows if they haven’t sold before then. When the horses are put up for sale we know that horse inside and out. We know how the react in various situations and what they want to do with their second careers. We have evaluated them for soundness and ridden them enough to know if there are any hidden issues. They have had their teeth done, feet worked on and chiropractic adjustments to make sure they happy in their bodies as well as their minds. We know what kind of rider they will be best suited for and how that horse prefers to be ridden.

We are an organization that is committed to finding the right home the first time. We stand behind our horses 100%,  there are no surprises. We tell anything and everything we may know about the horses. I find that sometimes people are a bit shocked by the honesty. It almost takes them back when I tell them that I don’t think the horse will match based on the criteria they give me. I once read something on the internet that said somebody didn’t want to shop from us because I tell people I won’t sell them horses even if they want to buy them. It made me chuckle because I think that I did write that in one of my blog posts. Somebody had come out to try a horse and while the showing went okay I knew that if they took that horse home it would all unravel. We don’t do this for the money. We don’t HAVE to sell horses just to get them sold. It’s all about making the right match. If you sell a horse to the right person than that person is going to go around telling everybody how awesome their horse is and what a good experience they had shopping with CANTER MA. That is how good marketing works! If you sell a horse just to get it sold even if you know that it’s not the right match than the horse is going to come back and the person is not going to be happy. I do my best to avoid that happening. We all know the horse world is a very small world 🙂

I have worked with CANTER MA for so long that I feel like it’s a huge part of my life. The reason that I love working with CANTER MA so much is that I get complete freedom to put the horse first. When I did resale privately it often came down to the need to make money. I’m not saying we don’t try to make money at CANTER MA because of course we do. It’s what helps more horses and ensures that we are successful. Any good business tries to have a business model that returns profit back to the business. It’s just refreshing not to stress about how long it takes or how much money we have spent in the process of getting a horse from the track into a second career. I stress because I want CANTER to be successful but whenever I start to panic that we didn’t make money or it took FOREVER to get a particular horse a home, Allie is there to remind me that it is okay. Not every horse is going to be easy, some will never pass a vet check, some need a particular rider, some only want to do dressage, some just need time to grow and the list goes on. We do the work so that so you don’t have to 🙂

Our horses are priced to reflect  the time and effort that we have put into them. We believe that retraining adds value and ensures a future for the horse. We do allow resale and there are no crazy stipulations in our contract. We keep our program small enough that the horses do get the personalized care and attention during the retraining . Each horse is treated as if it was one of our own. That makes it extra special when we see them off to their new homes with people who love them every bit as much as we did. We all take pride in seeing our horses succeed with their new owners. I still feel like they are all “my” horses. All of us at CANTER MA have a personal interest in seeing every horse find the right home.

I am biased but we really do have an amazing program here at CANTER MA. I’m proud of the work that we do. I love that ottb’s are getting so much good press. It’s a great time for CANTER MA to show off what we do.

I’m very excited to compete CMA’S Letterman’s Humor this season! It is about time I bought one from our program 🙂 Even if you don’t compete, you can still tell people where you got your horse from and send them our way. I think adding CMA in front of the name will be a great way to get people talking about our organization and to give owners a great chance to brag about their ottb’s.

First rides are my favorite

People always ask me if I get nervous getting on all these horses for the first time when everything is such an unknown. I would say that I don’t really get nervous but I am very aware and do my best to listen to my gut instinct about what a horse may be telling me.

Yesterday was first ride day for Raymond and Love. I have a friend who has been coming out helping with some of the riding. She mainly has been riding Kurt’s horse because the rest of the horses had sold. Now that I have a new batch in she will be helping me leg them up. She has a lovely mare that she bought from CANTER PA so she is used to riding Tb’s.

I asked her if she was comfortable doing a first ride on one of the guys for me and she probably thought I was a bit nuts but she agreed. I told her that I was sure Raymond was going to be perfect and she chuckled and said that those are the horses who surprise you 🙂 I disagreed because I think horses are pretty easy to read for the most part. When I lunged him he just had the look of an old soul. Didn’t look at anything, happy to please, relaxed and willing to listen.

We went through our normal getting on for the first time routine. I told her to go half way up where you just stand lightly and touch the horse to gauge the reaction. If all feels okay then lightly swing over but hold your weight until you are sure the horse feels okay and then gently settle down. Kurt keeps the horse walking and walks the horse for the first lap. Raymond was totally relaxed and off she went with him.

In the meantime, I stood up on the mounting block with Love. He was a bit more nervous and got a little scared when I touched him on his body with my hands. I casually just put my foot in the stirrup to see how he felt about it. He was a bit nervous. I lunged him for a minute to see if he was okay and he was just fine. I just wanted to make sure he didn’t have a hump in his back. I like to take my time and I am careful about not getting hurt. The mounting is sometimes the most difficult process of first rides. They have no clue why somebody is standing over top of them.

When I did get on using the same go half up process he was just fine. He was a bit more tense than Raymond but truthfully he didn’t do anything wrong.

Whitney and I took turns trotting/cantering around just testing the boys out. It was really hot so we only rode for a short time. Both horses were awesome! Not spooky and both seemed eager to please. I’ve never ridden two total greenies at the same time but it was as good as time as any to get them ridden so why not 🙂

Here is the video of them. You can see how Raymond is totally relaxed about it all. He is the first horse on the video. Love is a bit choppy right now because he only knows how to move up and down but I’m not worried. He is a way nicer horse that he happens to look at the moment.

I think that Whitney was totally shocked at just how much leg these guys can take. Raymond was kick along quiet. It was funny to me because Raymond’s ad on the Finger Lakes site described him as a horse that needed an experienced rider because he was a bit of a feel good silly boy. It just goes to show you how much horses can change after a nice relaxed layup.



New horses have arrived

Getting new horses is so much fun. Some people probably wouldn’t enjoy starting the whole process over again every 3 months or so but I really do find it fun.

Kurt got home and went along with me on Friday. My trainer lives right near the layup farm so I took Letterman along for a lesson. Letterman has been a big naughty lately and I took my first fall off of him last week. It was an easy fall but it was a bit of a wake up call to Letterman that I am a bit over his behavior. I think it has to do with the spring grass and my sporadic riding schedule due to Kurt’s absence but he has been spookier than spooky. He has a nasty spook/spin move which he rarely does but he was displaying it a bit too often for my liking. He has almost gotten me off on a trail ride but then we had an awesome jump school. I thought he was being better but the other night I brought him out to ride and I could just tell it was one of those nights. One of these days I will learn to follow my gut because I knew he wasn’t going to settle. His version of being silly is pretty mild but it’s the spooking that gets you. I had ridden him for about 45 min and he still was so on edge. Then all of a sudden he just spun and left me hanging off one side and I let go. I wasn’t saving that one. He got ridden some more, lunged and then turned out for a few hours near whatever he found so spooky until I returned from my shower. I decided I couldn’t continue on with that much sand in my breeches 🙂

He redeemed himself the next day at my lesson by being awesome and not spooky despite being in a new place. My trainer was impressed by the difference just from the last time she seen him in January. We worked on him being a bit straighter in his body and being a bit more connected. Then we worked on my position over fences with not leaning, keeping my leg under me, eyes up and chin up. No matter what he did I needed to stay right in the middle. We also worked on making him a bit quicker off the ground in the step before the jump. He likes to study the jump which isn’t a bad thing but he has to have quick feet. He is really improving over his fences. He is plenty scopey right now but we are working out steering, timing and footwork over the smaller heights. Here is some video.

He is a tank!

We headed over to pick up the two horses at the farm with Letterman in tow. Letterman was less than happy to see that he had company. We had discussions about not kicking my trailer. We brought Raymond and No time for Love home with us. They both walked right up on the trailer.

Saturday was clean up day for both of them. They got manes pulled, clipped up and both got baths. It is always an adjustment for them to be pulled out of the field and now come to a barn. They swear they can’t be without each other. Raymond seems like he could care less but Love is pretty convinced he needs Raymond. Both were very good in the crossties for me to work with. Raymond didn’t mind me clipping his ears or bridlepath but Love didn’t want the clippers up near his head. I can’t say I blame him.

Sunday morning the farrier came out to put front shoes on both of them. The ground is so hard right now that it’s hard to put horses in work without front shoes on. Both of them were absolutely perfect for the farrier. We love that!

I wanted to just get an initial assessment of them before I got on them. Normally I just get right on but because they had so much done to them I wanted to give them just one more day to settle in. I brought Raymond out first. We measured him and he is 16.1 h and 5yrs old. He’s a really pretty horse but did the typical racehorse crash while at the farm. He needs weight and muscle but that is no big deal. He has such a goofy personality. Loves people and is super sweet. I took him out and walked him around the ring and he didn’t even blink an eye at anything.

No clue if he lunges but it was as good as time as any to find out. He was really good and went both right and left. Very relaxed and quiet about it all. Just casually looking around.

We had issues editing the videos so it looks like we just have him going right in this video but you can see how chill he is about it all.

Next up was Love. Love is a 4yr and is currently 16.1 but he is higher behind and looks like he is not done growing. He has the most gorgeous eyes. I call them tiger eyes but I’m not sure what other people call them. He sometimes appears to be afraid but I haven’t seen him do anything wrong. He just looks like he is thinking super hard trying to figure it all out. When he came to the farm from the track he wanted nothing to do with people. Now he is quite friendly and comes right up to us. We worked for 1/2 hr getting him to eat treats. He didn’t care for carrots or peppermints but he does like Ms. Pastures cookies. Yum!

He is still pretty funky in his body but there is a really nice horse under all of it. He moves up and down but I don’t really get too worried about the movement. I always remember these guys don’t know how to trot and he is high behind and body sore. He was really good with the lunging as well. It’s hard asking these guys to go around in small circles and I attempted to get them to canter. Both of them handled it super well. That is all that I want to see right now. I won’t lunge them again until they get some muscle on them.

Here is his video.

I hope to give them both an easy ride tonight. The first month is all about slow and steady building of muscle but being careful not to overdo anything. I ride 10-15 min about 3-4 times a week at first. Mostly walking and trotting.

A nice warm day is always a good day for a first ride 🙂

Visit to the farm for Easter

I took a trip over to one of our layup farms in C-ville to scope out my next set of horses. I plan on bringing two back but really wasn’t sure who I wanted to bring as I hadn’t seen them in a while. We have done a kick ass job of selling horses in the past year so we are low in our number of horses which is ideal going into the start of the meet at Delaware Park.

I would love to bring some mares home but my small farm makes it difficult because I don’t have a lot of separation in my paddocks. I might bring some after this set that I plan on bringing sells.

When we got there it was clear that we were interrupting nap time. It’s Easter sunday and you want to take pictures of us???? NO!

Gavilan was more curious than sleepy so he did make an effort to come and visit.

We took some pictures of Gavilan since he was so kind to get up for us but you can see his buddy still napping in the background. Dusty belongs to the farm owners and he looks like he is pregnant with twins at the moment.

After we had finished taking pictures Dusty then decided perhaps he would get up. It was quite the struggle for him with that fat belly. He then showed off his lovely figure with this interesting stretch pose.

So cute

Speaking of cute, we were getting sneak attacked by Sweeter than Fudge. He is just the cutest 3yr. He never raced and came to us late last year. He is as sweet as they come and just wants to be right up in your business. He got into every picture, was licking my camera, trying to nibble on us and just wanted all the attention.

He just turned 3yrs old so I think he will grow a bit more. I love his attitude and they told me he is just super quiet and fun to ride just slow.

Gavilan is one of our horses but he looks like a pony. I think he is 15h right now as a 4yr but he is growing. He is butt high right now so maybe he will get bigger 🙂 He looks super shaggy but let me tell you he really can move and is quite athletic. I was actually planning on bringing him to the farm next but because he is growing at the moment I think he could use some more time.

In the next field over was the two geldings that had come from Finger Lakes. I hadn’t seen them since I dropped them off in early December. People have asked about them and wondered why we hadn’t gotten them started yet but CANTER MA gives every horse several months of let down. Then we have to wait for space to open up at the retraining barns. Both of these guys look ready now.

Love wanted nothing to do with people upon arrival. He went out on his huge fields of grass and said forget all of you. I had been out to the farm and he couldn’t be caught. He plainly was in need of some good R&R. He is now 4yrs old and has really grown and filled out. I’m excited about him. There is just something about him that makes me think he has all the right stuff to be a special one.

He looks to be about 16.2 right now so he has really shot up in height. He is going to be a stunner in a few months.

Raymond did the big old crash. He was gorgeous upon arrival but out of all the horses he looks the roughest. That is something that we experience quite a bit with the horses coming from the track.

What was so interesting to me about Raymond is that his feet look normal now. I remember picking him up and looking down at his feet and going OMG how was he running on those things??? They now look amazing. He is a gorgeous horse and just has the best personality. I know he will come around in the next few months and will get his condition back.

Next we went over to the mares field and my jaw dropped when I saw the condition of the two mares that I had been worried about. I had picked up Dazzle at the track and she looked close to a starvation case. I know the trainer super well as he is one who donated Letterman, Track’s Protege, Sonrea, London and others. They all looked amazing. They said Dazzle was hating the track and they must have been spot on because she has put on 200lbs since her arrival. I couldn’t even believe the difference. You could see every bone on her body when she arrived.

She is by Grindstone and we had another horse by Grindstone (Sea Flip) who looks just like her. She is super athletic and just strikes me as a horse who is going to be a good jumper. She is a really nice mover.

Wonderful Wise is the current farm favorite. Isn’t she adorable!

She is about 15.2 and just so feminine. She has been with us the longest out of the current bunch of horses. Last fall she slipped in the field and pulled a groin muscle and had a nasty draining abscess down her leg. When I say this mare is the sweetest thing around you better believe it because she was perfect as they flushed and treated that nasty wound that ran down the whole inside of her hind leg. She is the first to greet you and she wants all the attention. I have got to find her a person this year.

Her Way is a big still growing 4yr mare. Her personality has really come around. I remember her being scared of people when she arrived and now she was mugging for the camera.

I somebody along with me to see the horses. She has a mare that she bought from CANTER PA and she has been helping me with some of the riding at the farm. It is always interesting so see the reaction of other people to the horses in the fields and I am reminded why we don’t sell them out the fields 🙂 The winter hair, the nicks/scrapes/bite marks, the lack of muscle and sore feet tend to make most people go yuck. We made a few of them trot around and it was hard to see how they would really move if they had shoes on. Let’s face it ottb’s are difficult to keep barefoot. While on layup, most of our horses are barefoot and it is a big transition for them. Their feet tend to hurt and all the horses had just gotten trimmed a week ago so they were ouchy. Some are really not much to see as they do the whole crash from the track. Those horses look like rescue cases even if they are being really well cared for. Those of us who are used to the process of let down know that sometimes they do look worse before they look better and you just have to be patient.

I am able to see past all the external stuff and look at the general conformation. I get so excited to bring new horses to the farm and really make them shine. I can’t wait to do some before/after pictures. Sometimes just pulling the mane and clipping hair can make a horse look much different. I plan on picking up two horses on Friday. Stay tuned to see who comes home with me.

Kurt finally comes home this upcoming weekend. Yay!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Julia thinks that London has been swapped for Areutrue

There is nothing that I love more than updates on former horses. Somebody once said that they bet that I know where all the former horses are that have come through my retraining program and for the most part that is true. I don’t bug people (well I try not to) but I love to hear about the horses. It is hard not to bond with them and for the time that they are with me they are treated as my own.

I am still laughing over the first ride that Julia had on London. Holy moly did he throw every single trick in the book at her. It was one of those showings where you just wanted to go hide in the barn because the horse was so embarrassing. He had some silly moments on occasion but he was in rare form on the day she showed up to ride him. I suppose there is something to be said for seeing a horse on it’s worst and still liking it. She laughed it off and the more the rode the more she smiled. Furthermore, she made me laugh and didn’t make me want to run and hide in the barn. She laughed it off as him being a silly young horse who was testing her out.  I knew she was “his” person after that ride and was hoping she realized it as well. She came back for a 2nd ride and was almost a bit shocked at how better behaved he was. I was thankful for that because he really had made me look pretty stupid. I had told several people who were interest in him that while he was a lovely horse who had all the talent in the world he wasn’t for somebody who didn’t have a program or was looking for a confidence booster. He needed a person to lay down the rules and enforce them to keep his cheeky little butt in line.  Julia grew up riding challenging Tb’s and told me that while she liked Areutrue she thought he was going to be a bit too boring for her. She was up for the challenge!

What Julia and I didn’t know was that there must have been a very civilized horse somewhere under all the baby behavior. He has been a superstar for Julia shocking her with his brave nature and grown up behavior. The horse that wouldn’t go in the corner of the ring that he had been ridden in for 2 months was leading trail rides, going through water and acting like a horse much older/trained.

Julia took him to a xc schooling not long after she got him and said he was fantastic. Yesterday, she sent me a text that she took him to Morven to xc school and that if she didn’t know any better she could have sworn that I swapped him for Areutrue. She said he was calm, relaxed and could have done a dressage test 5 min after getting off the trailer. He was out there in his happy mouth bit just rocking around the jumps.

Look at baby London all grown up and being a big horse!

It’s too bad he has such a horrible hind end over a fence

Julia and her friend Amy look pretty thrilled with their day.

I am just so thrilled to see London living up to his potential. He has all the makings of an upper level event horse. He is so talented and Julia is doing a great job of bringing him along.

One of my former CANTER horses, Houndy, went to the TB celebration show at the VA horse park and won some major ribbons. His owner will be sending some pictures of him soon. I can’t wait to do a before and after write-up on him. His owner took a big leap of faith on him based on my recommendation and I am glad it turned out as we all expected. She calls him the love of her life (sshhh don’t tell her hubby). Karen..we need to see those pics 🙂

Areutrue is off to his new home

Some horses just work their way into my heart more than others and Areutrue was one of my favorite horses that have come through the program so far. I really value a horse that is just so kind and willing to give 100% every ride. He was just so fun and easy to live with. As a barn owner, one of the best things that I can say about a horse is that they are easy.

He was bought by Jim Griffin who is one of the MFH for Wicomico Hunt. I have known Jim for several years and he has always been so kind to me as I learned about foxhunting and took several of the CANTER horses out. Jim leads the 2nd flight for Wicomico and needed a horse that was confident leading the group but could follow as well. It really takes a horse with the right mind for that particular job and I’m confident Artie will be an amazing partner for Jim.

I’m happy that he stayed local and that I will get plenty of opportunities to see him out and about. He plans on doing some of the paper chases that Wicomico is hosting. I hope to attend a few and see Artie in action. If anybody local is interesting in attending the paper chases you can click on the calendar link on their website to get the flyer-

I will be bringing two CANTER horses from the layup farm back to my farm for retraining. I’m not even sure who I will bring yet. There are four geldings – Raymond, Gavilan Peak, Sweeter than Fudge and No Time for Love. Three mares- Her Way’s Okay, Dazzle and Shine and Wonderful Wise. My farm is small so it is hard to have mares when I have all geldings. I may take two geldings now and two mares the next time.

Delaware Park opened to the trainers over the weekend. Racing starts the second weekend of May. We will begin our track visits this upcoming weekend. I always look forward to getting back to the track.