Monthly Archives: September 2012

How do you get the head down

I think this is probably the biggest question that I get in terms of retraining ottb’s. How do you teach them not to go like a giraffe?

If you scroll down you can see video of Corcho during his first ride. This was Corcho last night. It’s been 10 days since the first ride.

Everybody has a different way of doing things when it comes to teaching a horse to relax and stretch into the contact. I think sometimes this part can be really difficult because it requires a lot of timing, feel and sometimes you may feel like you are riding like a monkey. My basic method is to start at the walk and just work there teaching the horse to yield into the pressure as I push forward with the leg. If I can push them a bit laterally than that is very helpful. You want to push from the inside leg to the outside rein.

What I think may be shocking is that sometimes it can take quite a bit of rein pressure and leg to even produce a little bit of yield. It’s not like you are pulling their head in because if you have enough leg on you should be pushing them forward into the contact that you are taking. I often feel like am using SO much leg but really you have to! The horse may trot faster and in some cases I really do want them to go a bit quicker. It’s hard to get a horse to yield if they are barely moving forward and because these Tb’s aren’t strong yet it is often easier for them to soften the back when they are slightly over tempo. That is the way that I do it but like I said there are so many ways to accomplish the same goal. I just believe going forward is always the right answer and it doesn’t make them feel “trapped.”

Corcho and I spent one ride where we just walked around doing baby shoulder fore and working on me pushing him together. When he even offered to lower his head than I immediately softened but without throwing away the contact. You don’t want to throw them away just soften enough to offer a reward. When they drop their head it requires them to use so much more muscle and they often go even slower so you have to be quick to soften the hand while keeping them stepping forward. We moved on to a bit of trot and he was like OMG what are you asking. It could be easy to get frustrated with them because as you take the contact sometimes they lean, pull, go higher or just tune you out. Just keep steady and stay patient. I hold the contact and if they go up then I follow them there. Keep the leg on and if they run a bit than just gently half halt. When he resisted I do add more weight in the reins but I’m careful to back it up with leg. You have to add the pressure because you want them to yield to the bit. He has to know that when I add pressure he has to soften. Eventually it will just be a tiny little bit of weight in the reins but when they are learning and they are resisting it can be quite a bit of weight in the reins.

He started to figure it out and he gave me a couple of steps. You really only start out with a little bit and that is fine. Reward them! I only do a short ride because it is physically hard on them when they are developing the muscles in shape they haven’t used before.

This ride last night was very short and sweet as it was getting dark. I only did a little bit of trot and some canter but couldn’t believe the improvement in his gaits already as he has started to relax the back. He is a really cool horse and has such a willing attitude. I’m excited to start him over some baby jumps this weekend.

Where you hope it’s just the feet

One of the most common issues that we deal with when first bringing the horses into retraining is sore feet. When horses are donated they get turned out to just hang out and be horses. They go barefoot while on their R&R and for some this is a very difficult transition.

I find that the first few months are difficult for them but then they stabilize and their feet look amazing! In the case of Ridge Amour, he had been barefoot for a little over 2 months and his feet were pretty short. They are gorgeous feet with beautiful walls just short. He was foot sore when he arrived.

I put front shoes on the horses that come to my farm in training. We ride out on the trails and I find front shoes just make them more comfortable. Ridge didn’t have a lot of foot to work with so my farrier was pretty worried about a nail bothering him or sole pressure. He made sure to really grind out the shoe to relieve sole pressure.

Ridge was really head nodding lame since he had arrived at the farm. I just assumed the shoes would fix that but not the case. The vet was out to take out his stitches and I asked her to do a general evaluation on him. No heat, no swelling, no pulse in the foot, not sensitive to hoof testers, didn’t flex off to ankles or knees but was really lame on right front. We decided to block him to make sure we didn’t have another issue. He blocked out to the foot (this is a good thing!) but we couldn’t really see an issue. Not sensitive on any nails or to the hoof testers.

Farrier was back out for another horse and took a look. He decided to take the shoe off and grind it down even more to relieve any sole pressure. His soles are just really sensitive. I am betting he may pop an abscess before we are all said and done. These types of things are pretty normal in transitioning ottb’s.

Corcho is absolutely lovely. He has just relaxed so much since his arrival. He has a great brain and excellent work ethic. It was a crazy weekend on the farm and I had hoped to get some updated video but Kurt was sick and didn’t feel like doing much. I had some nice rides on Corcho really working on teaching him to stretch into the contact and relax his body. I started teaching him some slight lateral work just to get him moving from the inside leg to the outside rein. He was so good about this and really was trying hard to figure out what I was asking. I think he will benefit from the chiropractor. She will hopefully be out this week. That should help him loosen up.

First rides for the new horses

Corcho and Ridge got shoes on over the weekend and they started in work yesterday.

I always use the same routine which is tack up, lunge to gauge reaction, stand on mounting block with helper holding, lean over, go half up and then if they feel fine go all the way up. I do wear my vest and I have a neck strap and breastplate on the horse. Kurt walks the horse a lap around with me on it and if all feels right in the world than I’m on my own. Most of this is a bit of overkill but I trust my routine and I follow my gut with horses. No matter how long I have been doing it I am always reminded to take my time and observe the horse. 99% of the time it goes smooth. The whole mounting thing is the biggest change for them and some get quite nervous seeing a person standing above them. I am  way heavier than a jockey so it’s important to let them get used to my weight.

I don’t ask for anything on the first ride. I let them go however they want. I try to sit quiet and stay out of the way. If they  go fast or slow that is just fine. Use the neck strap! You want it to be a session where they just get used to the surroundings without a rider throwing a lot of things at them. If they feel relaxed than I canter. If they pick up the wrong leads then I let them. That all gets fixed as we go but I just want to put them at ease during the first ride.

We did Corcho first. He was a bit nervous when he arrived and hadn’t been turned out with other horses during his let down at his first layup farm. I gave him a week to just get used to that and he is now much more relaxed. He stood nicely in the crossties. I took him out and walked him once around to see all the scary jumps and he wasn’t impressed. Stuck the lunge line on and let him go around. He was forward but happily forward which is good. Acted like he may know what lunging is which is cool. He stood very quiet for me to mount. He seemed to have a very professional type of attitude. Looked around with awareness but not spooky. Nice mouth, good off the leg, good steering and only a left lead 🙂 Did well with another horse in the ring. Seemed pretty happy about having a job again.

His video-

He is pretty weak behind (normal!) and needs to learn to soften his topline and all that good stuff. That all comes in time but I think he will be very cool.

I was running out of day light but I decided to try Ridge anyway. I saw that trotted in a bit sore from the field. His feet were really short and he just got the shoes on.

He was totally unfazed by the whole process. Lunging..whatever. Mounting big deal. He felt very cool but it was obvious right away that he wasn’t sound. It may be a high nail so we will take a look.

He is such a sweetie and really nice mover. Both boys need their teeth done and the chiropractor. We like to get all the essentials covered as they start in work. I am excited about both of them.

Meet Corcho

Corcho arrived yesterday and is getting the initiation from the other horses. My resale project, Senor Chili, thinks he is big man on campus and took offense to Corcho’s arrival. Chili has decided that grey horses must stick together and buddied up with Ridge Amour. Ridge could care less about Chili but Chili did not want Corcho near Ridge. Also out with this bunch is my other resale project, Favorite Son. He is a big hanoverian/tb and he is the overall boss of the field. He just hung back and watched all the posturing with not much interest. Once it was decided that Chili & Ridge were buddies, Sonny took Corcho under his wing. They ate grass side by side and ignored Chili who was strutting around like he owned the joint.

I really enjoy watching the herd dynamics. I know some people panic about the random kicks and fighting but it always sorts itself out. This morning everybody was happy and seemed to have found their place in the herd. I had planned on riding a few last night but everybody was goofy because of the new horse being added in. I decided to not push my luck and just give them time to settle.

I had pulled Corcho’s mane and clipped him up. It’s always good to grab a few before pictures. Isn’t he cute!

He was excellent with the clippers and stood perfect to get his mane pulled. He wasn’t keen on standing up for pictures and the light was bad so it is hard to see his real color which is almost black.

I looked up his race record and he ran 29 times making just over $100k. He will have a few days to settle in and then he will get to work. He seems like the type that wants a job.

New Arrivals

Just got back to work after running home to meet the shipper. Corcho- just arrived. He was lucky enough to have a former owner who followed his career and when she saw that he was slowing down she ensured his retirement by getting him back and donating him to CANTER.  He is a cutie. Eyeballed him around 15.3 and he is almost black with two socks and a star.

Over the weekend we went to the CANTER farm to pick out a horse. We didn’t really get to pick because Ridge Amour decided he must come home with us. He was so eager to come home that he got kicked or had some sort of trauma to his face in the 15 minutes that we arrived at the farm 🙂 One minute he was fine and the next time we looked up he had a 6″ gash. The vet came and stitched him up and we decided he should come home with us. You may remember him from this picture

He has been an absolute sweetheart considering I have to scrub and doctor his face wounds daily. We are teaching him that treats are yummy and he is starting to be convinced. He seems like he is going to be the real quiet type. He was the farm’s favorite horse which is always a good sign.

This hurt!

I hope to hop on these guys this week. I have jury duty for the next 2 wks so when I’m not at the courthouse I’m at my regular job trying to catch up. Insanity!

We love repeat customers- Bling joins Areutrue in a new home

Bling headed off to his new home yesterday with the Griffin family. He will join CMA Areutrue and we will hopefully see both of them out in the hunt field this fall. I have made a lot of local contacts in the past few years and it really makes me feel good when I have repeat customers. They come back to shop and they send their friends to shop. Guess I’m doing something right 🙂

I’m sad to see Bling go but he will have the best home. I have been thrilled to get to see Areutrue out over the past few weeks. It’s apparent he has found his niche and is well-loved. I think Bling will fit right in. They told me that Bling and Areutrue sniffed each other and went right to eating grass 🙂 I am sure they are swapping racing stories. Two classy horses!

Now I begin the process of filling the barn back up. I am down to five horses in the barn but four of them are mine and that is not good for my bank account! Two of them are resales but they are not quite ready to be sold yet. I am working on bringing in another horse who is being donated to CANTER. He has had his let down time and will be ready to go. He looks super cute.

Stay posted to see who arrives next.

Fancy Dressage to Trail Pro’s

Well not quite fancy dressage but hey we won’t complain. I think it’s important for horses to get out of the ring as much as possible both for mental and physical health. We were invited to ride out with Jim, Pat and Patty yesterday. Jim and his wife Pat bought Areutrue from me and are in the process of considering Bling to add to their crew of horses. Jim has ridden him once in the ring and once out on trail but asked if he could have another ride. Of course! There is absolutely no better way to know if a horse is a match than seeing them in action in your intended discipline. It also helps me to make sure horse and rider are a good match.

Kurt and I loaded up Letterman, Junior and Bling. The trails we were riding had a ton of jumps on them. Jim really wanted to see how Bling would take the jumps as that was our main question about how he would handle the hunt field. He has just been a horse that is unsure of what to do about the jumps. He doesn’t refuse in the sense that he won’t go but he wants to slow down and look. Then he goes over 🙂 He is very relaxed about this and doesn’t seem to get flustered so I told them that I really strongly believe it is a matter of mileage. We know he is quiet, he leads, he follows, he isn’t spooky and he is a really easy ride. Could he figure out what was expected of him?

I find that it is fascinating to take one of these group rides where everybody is jumping in a row in the woods. It is absolutely like hunting and gives you a very good idea of how your horse is going to handle themselves. We all switched places throughout the ride but as we expected Bling went from not quite sure about the jumps to happily jumping even some pretty good-sized jumps with interesting groundlines..log oxers and even several logs right in a row. What impressed me so much was that he never rushed, never got nervous, never cared about the other horses and just got more confident as we went.

Kurt has never jumped so many jumps and Junior was having an absolute blast. Junior is not a fan of following but he will do it if you make him. Kurt said that when he jumps behind other people, Junior just wants to go. Ha, yes he sure does 🙂 I was so impressed watching Kurt sail over the fences. Kurt really likes jumping now and he had so much fun. Junior is worth his weight in gold for being the best hubby horse in the whole wide world!

Letterman has never really been in a group jumping situation and he hasn’t jumped in many months. Let’s just say he was very happy 🙂 He was jumping everything 2ft higher than needed and often leaving strides out just because he could. He would jump the little sticks on the ground just because he could.  I had to really work on reminding him of not landing and running up the other horses butt. Good practice for hunting!

I can’t tell you how many times I got right up on Bling’s butt. Not to mention Bling was trotting and Letterman was cantering along making a bunch of noise. Bling was not at all bothered. Bling also went in the back and went in the front. He can lead and he doesn’t care a bit about following! Letterman typically can handle both roles as well but it takes a bit of time into the ride for him to chill enough to be happy about going in the back.

Pat was riding Areutrue (former horse that I sold to them) and she gave us a lead over some of the bigger jumps as well as past some scarier things. She said that he has gained so much confidence and she has so much fun on him. He is happy to just trot at one speed and he is really great to the jumps. It makes me so happy to see Areutrue in such a great home with people who really appreciate him. Areutrue really loves his new life!

We moved along quite a bit for the whole ride almost like a fast hunting day. It was good to see that all the horses could handle going fast and then relaxing. We even stopped to prune a tree so that we could jump. I was impressed that Junior managed to stand quietly! Kurt said that when we all backed up to go over the jump that Junior was like a horse coming out of the starting gate. Too funny!

I was very happy to see how well Letterman handled himself. I would say he was pretty darn perfect but…always that but. We took Junior, Letterman and Bling in while Pat and Patty made another little loop. Jim and I were just walking along talking and I think that Letterman went to itch his leg and then when down there he saw a scary bottle. He jumped straight up in the air and I was on the buckle so it startled me. I caught him with my spurs and he gave one big buck and off I went. Fell right off the back. It was pretty darn funny but I am still healing from my last fall so it hurt. I can’t really fault him because it was just a dumb thing but lord that horse is athletic! I think Jim didn’t even know what to say 🙂 Leave it to me to provide some entertainment.

We all had such a good time. I think the horses are a bit tired today. Our boys are fit but we moved along pretty good and it was hot. It was a nice workout for them. Paper chases start-up soon!