I shouldn’t say that he hasn’t been in work but I haven’t ridden him besides my intro ride when he arrived. I rode him and then decided he needed both time to adjust to his new life and some groundwork to get him going a bit more forward.
Bling came to the Mid Atlantic area from California in 2010. He raced until 2011 when he then had a very small bow (I can’t even really see it) and was retired. When I picked him up at the farm I was told that he was going out for about an hour a day but he was terrified of the other horses. I brought him home and indeed he was pretty scared of other horses with no real social skills. Although it sounds strange, this is often the case with horses that are well-bred and in race training because they don’t get turned out with other horses or turned out at all.
I did turn him out and every time another horse looked his way he ran the other direction. It was pretty funny and one of those things that you just have to let be. You feel bad that he is so scared but I was sure he would figure it out. While he adjusted, I didn’t want to add to much into his already stressful adjustment period. I did some lunging just to get him going forward as that seemed to be a bit of an issue when I rode him that first time. We worked on voice commands and transitions up and down. He is super smart and picked it up right away. I also worked with him in the ring while others rode to see how he acted with other horses in the ring (didn’t mind it). I’m happy to report he has now learned how to socialize with other horses in the field. I think he will always be the lowest in the pecking order but he can be in the same area as another horse without thinking he will die 🙂 I call that progress!
We have also been working on teaching him that fly spray will not kill him. Junior (Kurt’s horse) has never gotten over his fear of spray bottles but Bling seems to be a bit smarter in his learning and now if I show him the bottle he is okay. Hey, spray bottles aren’t always something a horse gets used to at the track.
Bling is one of those horses that is absolutely gorgeous in person but I can’t seem to capture that quite yet in pictures. He is big at 16.3 1/2 h and wide with a big chest, barrel and butt. He also has nice big feet! After I got on him for the first time, I decided to buy a taller mounting block!
Isn’t he pretty!
He was very bored during our photo shoot. I couldn’t get him to perk up enough..he’s a bit too quiet 🙂
Right now he doesn’t have a lot of muscle. He has been let down for about 8 months but most of that has just been hanging in a stall. I imagine he will really fill out and come uphill more as he muscles.
There is a video of this 2nd ride but I think I will hold it for now and show it a few weeks from now for a good before and after. I am reminded that most people don’t quite understand how these horses look when they don’t have any muscle. My mom called to tell me she saw the video and was sure there was something wrong with this horse 🙂 Um, no he is perfectly sound just overall funky at the moment. Totally normal! He canters like a dolphin 🙂 You sort of think he is bucking but he is not. He is quiet and sweet without a mean bone in his body. He just was ridden a bit strangely at the track from what I can tell and he doesn’t have much muscle. I think that understanding these horses goes a long way in designing a training program.
After this ride, I changed him to a herm sprenger duo bit which is just a really thin flexible rubber bit to encourage him to be a bit more up and out and that really helped. Trail riding him is on the agenda to really get up, out and forward but the weather is making it impossible and our bugs are so horrible that riding in the woods is not an option. I will get him out in the open fields soon. Right now I am riding him with two whips which sounds silly but it really works to help keep them straight and forward. You think that racehorses all know how to go forward but most of them have NO clue! Steering..well they run around in a circle at the track but truly moving off the leg well that doesn’t come installed either. He is a big horse and I have short legs so right now we have to iron out the aids. It is pretty funny to watch.
When I rode him the 3rd time my friend was riding with me and she couldn’t get over how nice he moved. Everybody remarks how long his hind legs are and when he canters you feel his hind legs reach way up under. Very comfortable canter but a weird motion. I think he is going to move really nice once he gets some muscle.
I came home early the other day to get some more pictures/video of Love and found him with a nice slice right around the back of his heel on the coronary band. He is ouchy! Vet was out yesterday for some other things and said he will be just fine in a few days. Oh well it’s too hot to ride anyway.