Monthly Archives: December 2012

When the light bulb goes off

A day like today probably wouldn’t be the best to introduce new concepts to a horse but I think that Estrella is even better when it is cold and windy. He is a naturally relaxed horse so the 40mph wind gust gave him a little extra motivation 🙂 In all seriousness, I wouldn’t ride many horses in this weather because it just tempts them to be silly but he has such a good brain. Oh it’s cold and so windy that I am blowing sideways..let me saddle up my green 3yr 🙂 Yeah, he is better than some of the others in the barn…Letterman and Junior I am talking about you here!

We have pretty much just been getting him fit and allowing him to develop some muscles. Whitney has been riding him in between my rides. I always think the first month of riding you should just work on going forward and not much else. I noticed that he had started to play a few of his little tricks on Whitney on her last ride. He just wasn’t as forward and seemed a bit stuck. She wasn’t being as aggressive to send him forward as I wanted her to be but I understood. I get that it can be hard to be tough on them when you aren’t sure of the outcome.

I think riding babies is tough and at times a bit scary but you have to be dedicated to proper training at all times and sometimes it can just be a bit ugly before it gets pretty 🙂 Kurt was awesome and came out to video despite the wind and cold. I think it makes for interesting viewing.

Yesterday, I introduced lunging in the vienna reins to him. He was really starting to figure it out but the trot/canter transition makes him mad. When he doesn’t want to go forward you get the attitude. I send him forward no matter what and ignore the rest. Just repeat and then quit when they do one good transition. Here is the video from yesterday.

I wanted to lunge him a bit before I got on just to reestablish the go forward button going from trot to canter. He was much better today!

I am quite impressed with how focused he is on me and that he is very responsive to the voice commands. The wind was pushing us sideways and he just kept on plugging along.

I have not even asked for a little bit of contact while on his back but I wanted to see if I could start to get him to stretch down in the right direction. He is very muscled underneath his neck but his overall conformation is good. You can reshape the neck but it has to be done slowly because it is very physically challenging for them. Lunging is a good start and for some horses they may only figure it out on the lunge line and not undersaddle. Each one is different so sometimes you just do whatever method works best for the horse.

When I started out I was going to the left in the trot and he was soft in the hand but when I pushed him into the contact he almost wanted to root down or evade by going up. He also wanted to slow down to a crawl every time I put some weight into the reins. This is the part that can make you feel like a monkey but you have got to ride forward and I mean really forward. You feel like you are running them off their feet a bit but in order to ride from back to front you must go forward. They are going to want to slow down and you have to push them past that. If they pull, root or evade by going up just keep going forward and maintain the contact. If they even give a little bit than you reward but you have to be quick to take it back if they come back up. I have a lot of practice at it and I know I am not as good as I want to be.

I made this video which shows the trot left and then when we go right.

I actually think I was being a bit too soft when going left because my rein contact is not consistent. You don’t want any slack in your reins. You can’t be tight but you have to be steady. At minute 1:40 you can see he is starting to stretch a bit but it is coupled with a snort where he wants to pull the reins out of my hands. I still give because any time I feel him soften I want to give him the chance to go down there.

We turn and go to the right to see if that side is easier. I reestablish the connection at the walk. This takes quite a bit of leg! When he goes into the trot and I have the feel of the reins he doesn’t want to go forward. Remember they have zero clue what you are asking so it is normal for them to be a bit confused/angry/nappy or whatever else you may get. Go..go..go forward. Keep their feet marching so you are pushing them from the back to the front.

You can see when he starts getting it and when he softens I really try to reward that by riding him forward and being soft. When they start to reach down they often go even slower so now you really have to ride them forward. At this point horses aren’t super off the leg so I sometimes use my stick but I also try to post a bit bigger with leg pressure to press them forward. The hand has to be soft enough to let them feel like they can stretch and that you aren’t blocking them.

The other training portion of the video is the canter. At this stage of the training I really don’t care how the pick up the canter just yet. They are unbalanced and not strong enough to harp on a perfect canter transition. I use my voice, a smooch and just try to stay up and soft. DO NOT pull. This is hard b/c they are running into the trot and they feel like they could be bad but you can’t pull back and you have to ride forward. Look up and go forward. I often hook my fingers under the neck strap but I keep kicking them on. He took me to the gate on the first pass and I whacked him with my stick on the shoulder, kicked right leg and growled at him. The next time around he wanted to stop but I got after him and he gave a little scoot action but it was good because the kept going forward. The next pass he didn’t even gravitate towards the gate.

Try not to get sucked into looking at the gate. Just look over the left shoulder and use that right leg. Open the left rein and push them off the rail. I try to turn early so I don’t get sucked to the gate. What I like so much about him is that he gives it up easy. Hey, I expect a young green horse to try something so for me it is all about how they react when I tell them it isn’t going to work. He gives it up pretty quick and gets on board with my plan. I reward him and tell him how awesome he is which he appreciates.

This is the edited video to show the good work that we produced during the ride.

I really like this horse a ton and he is so sweet. He is a bit unassuming standing in the barn but he has all the right things to be quite a fancy horse. Just wait until he gets his shoes on tomorrow!!! I have so much fun riding him. Every time I sit on a horse that is figuring it all out it just makes me so excited. I never get tired of training greenies.

A good old mystery lameness

I really despise mystery lameness in horses. All lameness is cause for concern but when the problem isn’t something that you can easily find than you start getting a bit worried.

Ridge had a slight lameness in the right front. No heat, swelling or anything apparent that stood out.  We gave him some time off and started him back and all seemed well but then this little nagging shortness was there in the right front. I had a feeling it was in the shoulder just based on the way he was moving and not wanting to reach forward all the way in the stride.

The vet was out yesterday and he did block to the shoulder so we know what is bothering him but we don’t know why and it requires a trip to a bigger clinic/vet hospital that has the equipment to x-ray/ultrasound a shoulder. He was only 1 out of 5 in terms of lameness but any degree of lameness is not a good thing. He had no reaction to anything in the lower limb but he did really protest bring that shoulder back behind him. It could be something very minor but without doing further diagnostics we don’t really know what is best for him. You hope it is just something simple like a pulled muscle that will just require some rest.

I feel bad for him because he is a horse that really wants a job and right now he is bored out of his mind.

Required Reading

I am sure most of my blog readers are following the retired racehorse training project that is going on right now at Dodon farm but if you are not than let me introduce you to the latest training journal-

The regular website is here-

I am a lover of anything to do with Ottb’s and I picked a favorite already for this challenge. My favorite is Suave Jazz who isn’t the prettiest of the bunch but seems to me like a horse that is going to be the most trainable. I see that Steuart is planning on hunting him because he thinks that Jazz will handle it and that is probably why I like the horse so much. He just seems like a horse you could go out and about on without worrying about what will happen. Sort of like my Letterman who is a weird character but I can go anywhere on him and feel safe.

Steuart and Michelle do a great job showing the process of getting the horses started and how the ride can be different on each horse based on the personality of the horse. I think these challenges are so educational and I am really thankful for the Retired Racehorse Training Project for putting in the work to showcase the Tb’s.

I absolutely loved this piece that he wrote here:

The first thing to remember when working with an ex-racehorse is that it is a horse. It wants security, predictability, rhythm, and boundaries. No surprises.

Thoroughbreds love to work, and they usually come from the track with a willingness to go forward. They have been ridden by professionals every day, were professionally started, and professionally handled.

Some of the best horsemanship in the world is on the backstretch of our racetracks. Don’t start by thinking that the resistance or fear that your horse presents is because somebody in the past was cruel or incompetent. Take responsibility in the moment. Your horse is responding to you, so you must strive to be confident, consistent, clear, sympathetic, and perfectly balanced over your feet at all times.

Most people find that their horse 
off the track reacts to uncertainty by moving its feet, sometimes going sideways, and every once in a while going backward. We might feel like an explosion is coming, and the natural thing to do, as a rider, is to fold up into a fetal position and squeeze.

The opposite is more effective. The best exercise riders and jockeys are the ones who can settle a hot horse. Every single one of them keeps his or her hands low, finds perfect balance over his or her feet, and relaxes into the movement of the horse. That is a skill that doesn’t come overnight, but that is what helps the horse.

Boundaries are also important. Horses at the track go in a frame and connection that is closer to “on the bit” than some equestrians expect from a green horse. The connection in the bridle and acceptance of the leg are security for the horse. That means we should work to establish that connection right from the outset. Within the boundaries of our legs and independent hands, the horse can find rhythm and peace. Both the outside world and the rider itself are less of a threat inside those boundaries.

Sometimes your best strategy will
 be to allow your ex-racehorse to go forward. Remember, within rhythm 
is relaxation, and you can’t get much rhythm going sideways or jigging. Set your hands down firmly in front of the withers, get your butt out of the saddle (your seat is a driving aid and sometimes a major source of irritation), and trot or canter forward. When you do it, keep a good hold. You can soften when you’ve found the rhythm. Hopefully, it happens before you collapse in exhaustion and start flopping about!

So get fit, take your time, and feel the power of earth’s fastest and most generous domesticated creature: the Thoroughbred horse.

You can also like them on facebook where you can see more pictures of the horses:!/RetiredRacehorseTrainingProject?fref=ts



Ottb’s are naturally forward, right?

Doesn’t it seem like I talk quite a bit about teaching the CANTER horses to go forward? I think one of the biggest misconceptions about ottb’s is that they are automatically forward. I would say 95% of mine have no clue how to go forward from the leg/voice/seat even if they were good racehorses. A lot of times it is even more drastic than just being clueless about the leg. It can be feet planted, backing up and just a total refusal to go forward. You can also get what I call the pogo stick which is when they curl under but they aren’t going forward so they just bounce up and down. That is fun stuff! I always am amazed that they manage to get the horses around the track but I guess when everybody is running one direction the horses follow each other so you just hope one horse in the bunch had some steering and a forward button 🙂

I really think above everything else a horse must go forward. Forward is often the only tool that can help you deal with a horse that is spooky, tight, tense, scared or whatever else. If they don’t go forward they will go backwards or up and that is no fun! If you don’t have forward than you don’t have a horse who is respecting the aids. You can’t teach a horse about contact if they don’t go forward either..and if you try you will have one big mess on your hands!

I take them back to some ground work to establish the cues that will translate to under saddle riding and for me those are the stick, leg and smooch or cluck. I had a question about what happens when a horse doesn’t understand the lunge whip. Well, most of them either are terrified or they just don’t get it so that is common. I start out by keeping the circle small. Please wear a helmet for this. I can’t tell you how many times a horse gets quite reactive and has kicked out at me. You need to be close to them and sometimes you are closer than you may be comfortable with so a helmet and gloves are absolutely necessary. A round pen is really good..I don’t have one. Allie and I have talked about seeing if CANTER can purchase a new or used one for my farm because it is such a great tool to have. I end up and down the ring at times when teaching them but it is good exercise 🙂

I want the circle small so that I can control the haunches of the horse. I make a triangle by standing in the middle of the horse. The lunge line is one side of the triangle, I am the point and the lunge whip is the other side of the triangle. I ask the horse to move forward with a cluck and my voice telling them to walk. If no reaction than I will gently tap the whip on the ground. If no reaction that I will gently flick the whip toward them. If no reaction than I will touch them with the whip. If no reaction that I give them a pretty good tap. You would think this would get a response but some horses are standing there looking at you like what….I don’t get it…duh. I try to tap them in a manner that reaches the middle of the butt and scoots them forward. When they move on than that is the reward and you stop touching them. I like a vocal command of a cluck and a smooch (because I use them to go forward when riding) so I always use that in combination with the whip.

There are some horses that don’t move forward and instead they get pissed. They kick out, spin toward you and generally get aggressive. I will put the fear of god into them at this point. They are NOT allowed to kick at me or come toward me. I will very sharply tap them and reprimand them. A tap with the lunge whip does not hurt them. Do not back down to them. You have to act much scarier than they are to let them know it is absolutely not acceptable. If they back up or they come in on the circle than stay behind them and keep them coming forward. This might mean you end up going all over the place but just keep the feet moving forward. Many of them will run backwards because they are just confused but stay calm and just move as quick as you can behind them to keep smooching and gently using the whip to encourage them to move forward and go around you. It is easy to lose patience because some of them just don’t figure it out and they constantly turn in on the circle, stop or go backwards. Be patient but don’t give up. Sometimes in this stage I feel like I am being a bit mean or a bit aggressive. I am not smacking them but I feel bad that I have to keep tapping them and they sometimes are not sure so I feel bad. However, they are smart and when they do the right thing I praise them right away.

When they figure out how to move forward from the whip and the voice than I start to add in some transitions to sharpen up the response. Move from the walk to the trot and ask by a smooch, voice command and a little tap with the whip. If they don’t move off than I will get sharper with them because they know what the whip means they are just ignoring. This all seems silly until you are on a horse who is being naughty and is ignoring the go forward cues. It can be scary so fix it and don’t feel bad about fixing it in a way that lets them know when you say forward you mean it. I repeat the transitions upward from walk to the trot until they get good and then later I will do trot to canter. A lot of times with these horses that don’t go forward they can buck and get really nappy going from trot to canter so iron that out on the lunge line. I call it the disappearing neck syndrome. You ask them to canter and they suck back so much the head just drops down and you have nothing to ride forward. If they buck you end up heading over their head if you aren’t ready. I really don’t care how they move into the canter as long as they are making the attempt to go forward.

These tools really come in handy under saddle but if I am on a horse and I feel like I have lost my toolbox than I just get off and lunge to revisit and then get back on. I also think having somebody lunge you on the horse can be helpful although I have rarely had to do that and I don’t always have the help to make that happen. I try to never get on without a stick and spurs. Why put yourself in the position to not be able to succeed? They aren’t just for decoration either! If I ask the horse to go and they don’t then I break out the smooch and kick. If no response they get a sharp tap with the whip. I am prepared for them to shoot forward and if they do than reward them. You repeat the process until they are responsive to just a light leg.

The awesome thing about ottb’s is that they learn so super fast. I have used the above process on Estrella Corredor and he is a different horse. He went from being nappy and belligerent to marching around like a big boy. Yes, the first few times we rode him he wouldn’t go past the gate but having a person stand there with the lunge whip to let him know lunge whip still came into play when somebody was on his back woke him up 🙂

I got on him last night when the temperature had done a rapid dip and it was really windy. Leaves were blowing across the ring and the trees were blowing. It was dark and the ring lights create interesting shadows. I thought it was  bit risky but he is really sensible so I thought he would be okay.  He was so darn good! I kept it short and sweet but I was really proud of him. He is going to be such a nice horse and boy is he sweet. He really tries so hard and he is a quick learner.

These young Tb’s (especially those who hadn’t been at the track for long) are often just not as broke as we all may think. I am always reminded by that but I find it fun to watch how quick they learn. That is part of the journey with each of them and I am glad we are able to put the right basics on each of them before moving them into their next homes. Most people probably wouldn’t want to deal with all of the baby antics but for whatever reason I really enjoy it.

I look forward to the weekends when I can actually get video and pictures so that I can see their progress.

It is Christmas at my farm :)

I will be the first to admit that the holidays tend to make me down in the dumps. I do not tend to get in the holiday spirit but the rest of my family sure as heck does. Kurt loves Christmas music, Christmas trees, decorations and all things Christmas. I would rather hide out with a book and wait until it is all over 🙂

I had started joking with him that I wanted a donkey or a mule for Christmas. I love donkey’s and mules are awesome too. We had been shopping for another resale project but hadn’t come across anything that I liked enough to buy so a donkey or a mule would have worked nicely.

I was browsing facebook when I saw a post in one of the groups “Horses for Sale” from a farm in NY that had a bunch of ottb’s for sale. I went to their farm facebook page and started browsing the albums and immediately this horse caught my eye.

His name is Hope for Spring and he is a 16.1 1/2 h 4yr Tb gelding. I am not even a huge fan of chestnuts but he just struck me as athletic and the type of horse that I like to ride. Right size, age, sex and he was sound with no vices. The type of horse that everybody is looking for which make him a good candidate for my resale plan. I emailed the seller and asked her what else she had and told her what I was looking for in a horse. She called me and went down the list of the horses she had. I could tell by talking to her that she knew her stuff and I just had a good feeling. I am the type of person that is comfortable with risk but buying from somebody I have never met and just having a short video and a few pictures of each horse makes it tough to know whether it is a good decision or just something that I would live to regret. As we talked more I decided this was going to work out just fine. She sent me a short video clip of Hope for Spring being ridden and I knew I had to have him. I asked her what else she had as I might as well buy a seriously I have no idea what makes me decide these things but that is my thought process. Might as well fill the trailer is what I was thinking so she told me of another that she thought would fit my criteria.

I got these two pictures of the other horse she recommended and I thought that I really liked the angles. His name was Strike up the Jazz and he was a 3yr 16.2 1/2 h TB gelding that had just come from the track. When I saw a short video clip of him being turned out for the first time I told her he was also SOLD. He covered the ground like he was on springs and just looked so athletic.

We negotiated price and during the discussion she said she felt like she should make it worth my time for buying the two and did I want another horse thrown in? Um, sure why not. So that is how I ended up with The Faz. Fazzie is an unraced model who sticks right at 15.2 h as a 3yr. She said he was dealing with abscesses and she knew going into winter it was only going to get worse. I had seen this picture of him and thought he looked cute enough.

Kurt and I discussed this crazy business adventure and although we knew it would be a lot more work on the both of us we thought it was worth the risk. We used to do a lot of resale before we bought our farm but when we bought the farm we knew we couldn’t take on any risk so we stopped for the past five years. Now that we were feeling a bit more comfortable it was a good time to start back up the business. These horses all seemed like they would fit the model of horses that people would want to buy. We sent the money off and they shipped out two days later.

When they arrived I will honestly say I breathed a big sigh of relief as they were exactly as described. Faz was foot sore but oh so adorable. Jazz..well he is absolutely incredible. My jaw hit the ground watching him in turnout. Hope needs a barn name that doesn’t make him sound like a girl because he is anything but feminine. He was sweet with big bone and a soft eye. There was something about him that just drew me to him and again I am not a fan of chestnuts so it was weird. He also got turned out and I was impressed. Big mover and although he is a bit body sore (a little more than a month off the track) you can see how it will all come together.

They all saw the chiropractor, dentist and farrier as did Estrella Corredor who I am calling Corey. The four boys are turned out together and they quickly divided themselves up. Corey and Faz are buddies and Jazz and Hope are buddies. They sort of interact but they aren’t quite sure just yet.

I had a bunch of friends out this weekend so we could all get to play with the new horses and see what they were all about. We got some pictures as well.

Jazz looks much better in person!

He moves like this

and this

We did not ride him because he is just off the track and I prefer to give them some time. He is super sweet and I did lunge him a tiny bit yesterday just to see what he was all about. Love him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Estrella Corredor is my only CANTER horse at the moment and boy has he grown up here in the last few weeks. I had talked about how I was giving him the lunging 101 basics on going forward, voice commands and all that good stuff. We established that he was not retired and he couldn’t just sit around and eat all day. He wasn’t super convinced so it took a little bit 🙂

He is super duper quiet which is good but sometimes that can translate into a horse who doesn’t respect the must go forward when I say so button. We had to use the good old lunge whip in the corner trick to get Corey to go past the gate. He would just go backwards and nothing was working to get him going forward.  A good trick for this is to have a person man the corner with a lunge whip and when the horse starts to stop or go backwards you give them some encouragement to get moving. When a horse tolerates being tapped on the butt with a lunge whip you can sort of figure out that they are going to be really quiet horses 🙂 The last horse that we had that required a lunge whip to get them out of the corner with the gate was Mort Robbins who is now up for sale for $35,000!!

It took him one session with Mr. Lunge whip and he was happy to go past the gate without backing up and getting stuck. He never once did anything scary or bad but again early training is all about making them recognize that you are boss and he has to listen to the forward cues. Fixing this now will result in a really nice horse later. If they get away with it than they learn they have won and you will continue to have a fight.

I rode him yesterday in a crowded ring and he was such a good boy! He is a bit footsore and lacking muscle but he is going to be a lovely horse. He is so quiet, brave and sweet. Nothing seems to bother him which is great. He is 16h at 3yr and obviously has some growing to do. Clean legs and no vices. I think he is going to be a lovely horse.

We rode Faz both days and although very weak in his muscling (due to abscesses he has been laying down quite a bit) he will be lovely. He feels much better with shoes on and I am giving him some bute to help him get past the aches and pains of new muscles. We only did a tiny little bit with him just basically enough to see what he was all about. He had come off the track in May and I am not sure if he had been ridden or not but he was perfect here.

Hope for Spring is everything that I thought he would be and more. My friend was the first to hop up on him and she said out of all the horses she has ridden at my farm he is one of her favorites (she said Dixie Rumble and Calabria Rose were her other fav’s). Hope was just naturally balanced and soft in the bridle. He has only had one ride since coming off the track but he felts like an educated horse. Very excited about him!

His poor tail had huge pieces out of it so I had to bang it. It is so short but it will grow.

We have been really busy with the addition of new horses but it has been a lot of fun getting to know all of them. I will do my best to chronicle the training process as we go forward. I know have three 3yrs that are getting ready to turn 4. That right there is a challenge! Thank god it hasn’t been that cold yet because riding babies in the middle of winter is not always what I would call fun 🙂



Chiro yesterday and dentist today

I wrote about Estrella’s and his attitude problem yesterday so I thought I would offer some thoughts on that this morning because last night was a reminder to me that once again it is important to step back and look at the big picture.

I always figure that these horses are body sore/muscle sore and when they exhibit grumpy behavior, lack of forward, kicking or anything else I always look at physical reasons first. If you are reading this blog you probably like Tb’s and one of the reasons that I love Tb’s so much is that they have such an amazing work ethic. If they don’t want to work than I assume there has to be a reason.

Estrella is muscled in all the wrong places which means either he developed in a strange way, was ridden incorrectly or he carries himself that way because he is sore in the body. I have been taking it easy with him and establishing all the buttons on the lunge line because I figured he need body work and the chiro couldn’t get to me yet.

She said everything in front of the ribs needed work and he started out angry with kicks and mean faces and when she finished he was chewing and relaxed. I was eager to see how he would do with a bit of lunging and I truly believe there was a big difference. He was forward, happy and willing to work.

Hard to see under the lights but he is a really good mover and after his chiro session he had a lot more reach.

Of course I love CANTER MA but one of the reasons that I think our organization stands about some of the rest is that we do take the time to sort all these things out before we market the horses. This is a really nice horse but without taking the time to get him on the right track I think he would resent his rider. I always think about what I write about the horses because I don’t ever want people to be turned off a horse but this really is the reality of training young horses. I NEVER hold their early behavior against them so it is important to look at the big picture.

When I stepped back a bit last night to look at him I was easily reminded how many good traits this horse has and that in a month from now he is going to be amazing. He is big, pretty, nice mover, super brave, sensible, very willing and loves people. I take him out and work with him under the lights in a spooky ring when all his friends are inside and he could care less. He is the type that will walk up to something scary to sniff it instead of running the other direction. He is clearly growing right now and I think he will likely be 16.1 when he finished. I can fix his neck and the rest of his body is quite cute. He also takes his training really well and when he is bad he sharpens right up when I tell him to knock it off 🙂

I think when these young race horses come home and get turned out in the field the almost get a bit feral again. They think they are done working and it can take a month or so to get them back on track but once you do then you are golden.

He will get his teeth done tonight and we will be riding tomorrow.

Ridge also got the chiro and she said everything felt good but he was a bit stiff in the shoulder and neck which is what I feel. He did feel much better after she worked on him. I am starting to get some left bend!!!!

It will be a busy weekend getting updated pictures and video of all the horses but I am looking forward to showing their progress.

Lack of daylight results in no pictures and video

I am finding it hard to document my training progress with the horses during this time of year when it gets dark so early. I am lucky to have lights in my ring but taking video under the lights results in some really poor quality that makes the horses look awful. Weekends are always so jammed packed of a million farm projects that we need to do because we actually have daylight! This working full-time in addition to riding/training/sales stuff keeps me busy.

The good news is that Ridge is really coming along in his flatwork. While it is not yet consistent he is starting to soften to the contact and come across his back. He is not a horse that is tough in the mouth but he could not quite figure out how to soften to the pressure from the reins. It took him a little but he is a smart guy so once he realized oh this is what you want then it all became much easier.

I always find it amazing how their stride stretches once they start to come across their back. There are times when he is coming under so much that he actually makes me fear that he is going to grab his shoes right off. That is actually something that can happen frequently as these guys start to figure out the balance. The one part that he still needs work on his that left bend. However, he is really starting to yield off both legs so the left bend is improving.

Lately, I find that I have been taking things a bit too personally and maybe I offended somebody even if I didn’t mean it. I try not to be too sensitive and god knows I should have thick skin by now but I still take a lot of pride in my horses and even when they aren’t perfect I love each of them. A horse shopper really liked Ridge and was impressed by his brain, willingness, jump and more but didn’t like his neck. Now I totally get that because right now he has lost weight and he in some ways looks worse than when he arrived. It is not lack of feeding but has a lot to do with changing of the muscles. He has grown and is close to 16.1 h but as he went up it seems like he streamlined and when he lost muscle/weight his topline went to the crappers if it wasn’t already there 🙂 I get that sometimes it is super hard to look at these horses and see what they will become but I referred her to my before and after section in the blog to show her that sometimes it is really important to look past what they are at the moment and instead envision what they will become. You totally can build necks!!!! I swear you can and the proof is in the pictures 🙂 Then I got a call from somebody that wanted to buy him outright but in the first minute of the conversation they told me that he was thin, he lacked muscle, they would totally back up his training and undo everything that I have done. Deep breathe and I didn’t respond to the comments but did remark that I absolutely have been doing nothing but flatwork with him for the past month and that he is changing shape so he is is lacking muscle/weight but it isn’t because of lack of feeding. Yes, we did take him to a few horse shows right away while he was still really green but I wouldn’t have done that if he didn’t have the type of brain that could totally handle that. Geez, you can’t win either way. People want mileage but then they think you go too fast. Such is the way of life in the horse world 🙂

He isn’t show hunter fat but he isn’t thin either. I would like for him to eat more because he does have  24/7 via slow feeders filled with gorgeous alfalfa. However, he is the type that will stroll around the pasture for hours just picking at the grass regardless of what his buddies are doing.  All of mine get the best quality concentrates that are high protein/fat/low sugar with additional fat added as needed. I personally believe that horses change shape and that some take longer to do it than others. You can’t panic and I promise you that all of them come around in time. I have started to close them into their stalls at night to force him to eat his hay. He is just such a casual horse that I think he prefers to be outside roaming the pasture instead of eating that yummy (well I think it would be yummy) pile of alfalfa.

I laughed so hard that I almost cried yesterday watching Ridge and Estrella in the pasture. It had been rainy nasty for a few days and although they are turned out in their stonedust paddocks they are small and prevent a ton of running around. Ridge went out and was ripping the biggest bucks and with every buck he would grunt as loud as he could. Buck/grunt/buck/grunt. He ran and bucked for a good 10 min and I mean really ran! Then he would just stand in place and buck and grunt. I was dying watching all of this. This from the horse that I could have gotten on and ridden despite no turnout without thinking twice because undersaddle he knows it is time to behave. He was still galloping around and Estrella was standing there eating hay totally over it. Hope he didn’t hurt himself but at some point you gotta let them out and cross your fingers.

When he was done he settled down and went to eating his hay and last night he must have passed out in his stall passed on the manure covering him and his blanket!

Estrella is doing good but I found that he needed some more basics installed before I went much further. Sometimes we just assume that ottb’s know how to go forward but all to often that is just not the case. He had a serious lack of respect for forward on the lunge line and a bit of a screw you type of attitude so I have been doing attitude adjustment. When I say move, you move. Not move in 2 minutes, move NOW! You will not kick out at me when I ask you to move forward. You will not pull the lunge line out of my hand. He has a bit of the 3yr I don’t wanna attitude but he gives it up real easy and in no time at all he was all yes it please don’t yell at me again. I promise I will be good. It is worth taking the time to do it right. Allie has talked about trying to get me a round pen and that would be a welcome addition. I will keep my eye out for one. It would be so beneficial for doing the ground work with these guys.

In other news, I went a bit crazy and bought myself three horses. I have been working my way back towards more resale horses of my own and I found some really lovely horses in NY and had them shipped down. I will be super busy but I am looking forward to it. I am not sure if I can write about my personal horses here or not. Need to chat with Allie. I have tried to keep this blog dedicated to CANTER horses but I would love to journal the progress of the Tb’s that I will be working with as well. One of these days I will do a website for my farm and all that stuff.  


When you are down in the dumps just go foxhunting!

After I wrote the blog post on Letterman he decided to complicate my life with a really strange injury. He managed to do this to his foot:

No clue how he did this but he is now out of work until this grows back. He is wearing a hospital plate which is basically a metal plate that attaches to the shoe that covers the foot. I can unscrew the plate every other day and treat the foot but the rest of the time the foot is covered.

I was pretty depressed because I was just making some progress but I know injuries are part of being involved with horses so I just roll with the punches. I still have Ridge and the new horse to ride. I also have Junior to ride and I can hunt him. Speaking of Ridge….have you ever had a horse do something to ruin a sale? Some lovely people traveled down to see him driving several hours. He was going nicely and was perfectly sound (as he has been!). I am jumping some jumps and I land over a jump and all of a sudden he comes up lame. We can’t find anything wrong so I think it must just be a muscle pull but they don’t even get a chance to ride him. The next day he is 80% better????????? Seriously..really..seriously?? This is not funny! They really like him but they are making a trip out of the country for 3wks and the timing isn’t great.

I was in a bit of a funk and didn’t even want to look at a horse for a few days there but when I got the offer to ride Areutrue on a foxhunt I knew I needed to jump on it.

Bling and Artie have been foxhunting with Wicomico Hunt. Bling started right out leading the second field and he is doing wonderful. It was so much fun to watch Bling in action. He still is a bit antsy at the checks but as the day goes he gets better and better. He is one of those horses that listens to the hounds. I could tell he was watching and anticipating when we would be moving and where we would be going.

Here are some pictures of Bling looking gorgeous out in the hunt field.

This is Artie back when he was with me-

Jim had bought him to hunt but when his wife started riding him she kicked Jim off and told him to get his own horse 🙂 Jim came back to shop for another and that is how he ended up with Bling. Artie has been out hunting a few times and has been excellent! He also took out a guest last weekend and then I hopped on him yesterday. Yes, he is just that special that as a green hunt horse he will still pack you around.

I believe that I hunted two seasons with Wicomico previously but I am not sure that I had been on as fast as a hunt as we had yesterday. There was only one field as there were only ten of us at the most. Jim was leading the group on Bling. The hounds were cast and about 5 min in they started running. We were at the C&R Center (right around the corner from my house) which is surrounded by tax ditches so the hounds were crossing in the ditches and we had to gallop around to try to stay up with them. We were moving! Started out cantering along jumping some jumps as we went and then we were flying down the dirt road trying to keep up. Sometimes we were single file and other times we all galloped side by side. It was totally exhilarating to be flying along so fast.

Artie was giving me an amazing ride. That horse is just so light in the mouth and comfortable to ride. I had contact in the reins but he never took a hold or pulled down. He flew across the ground like it wasn’t even an effort for him. He watched the other horses in front him and adjusted his stride as needed. He was doing flying changes around every corner. He did give me a thrill when he jumped a HUGE ditch and I mean jumped the whole damn thing that was about 12ft wide. I felt him gather and thought oh boy slip the reins and stay back. He tripped a little bit on the landing but being an athletic Tb he picked himself up and went right back to galloping. Gotta love a good TB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We were whipping around the corners in the woods and he felt super balanced and agile. We had made a complete loop and came back through where the trailers were at and we were not quite sure where the hounds were at. We took a little breather at this point which was a good thing because the horses were cooked and we were all hot. We had been going hard for an hour and we never even saw the hounds working.

The huntsman called the hounds in and we called it a day. It was a short hunt but I think the horses were all done anyway. Getting out and hunting on such a fantastic horse totally improved my mood. I was tired but felt on top of the world. There is nothing like a ride like that on a great horse!

I am really happy that Bling and Artie have turned out to be great mounts in the hunt field but I did always feel pretty confident they would be. You just really get to know your horses and I can get a good sense of how they will handle the things that happen in the hunt field. I have to say that Bling and Artie are great marketing tools for CANTER because there have been a lot of people asking where Jim bought them and if I have more like them 🙂

We also now have No Time for Love who is hunting with my friend Alison and he is doing fantastic. He has a lot of admirers as well and is Alison’s second horse that she has bought from CANTER MA. She is having a blast with him and is hunting several times a week.

We clipped Junior last night so he will go out hunting here soon but he is a bit difficult. I think hunting on a good horse is one of the most enjoyable experiences you can have but on a horse that is a bit tough it is not as fun. Junior just wants to go..go and go. He is never bad but he would prefer to lead and not follow!  He doesn’t really settle. A hunt like yesterday would have been fine for him because it was a fast hunt but on a slow day he is a bit of a brat. I like hunting enough that I will ride anything so he better get ready 🙂