Monthly Archives: February 2013

Halfway House back in action

I got a chance to start Halfway back on Friday.  I found some drainage at the frog but not much. I am glad it was a short lived abscess!

I thought it would be a good time to teach him to lunge while I was trying to evaluate his soundness. Halfway is the sort that thinks lunging is absolutely pointless. He would go half a circle and then turn around and look at me almost rolling his eyes to let me know what he thought of this whole lunging thing. Kurt was standing outside the gate mumbling stupid and you have about as much patience as Halfway does 🙂 I sent Kurt off so I could concentrate and tried to convince Halfway to see things my way. I took a bit but darn it by the end I had him lunging to the left and right. NOT a stupid horse but a horse that just needed to be patiently shown the objective of the exercise. I even lunged him over a xrail which he thought was fun.

Lunging is one those things that I don’t always use but it sure is great when they know how to do it. I am always at the prepurchase exams going mmm…I wish this horse lunged a bit better. Now I purposely spend more time lunging them. Also, a great tool to have if you ever get a horse that stops at a fence and is convinced they can’t jump it. Sometimes lunging them over it can be a very useful tool. I try to always take a lunge line when I xc school just in case a horse gets stuck at something. You just get off and break down the exercise until they get it and then get back on. Teaching a horse to lunge over jumps is really very challenging and if you try it at home be prepared to have a few sessions of figuring out how to stand, how to set up the jump, how to get the horse to the jump and how to allow them to jump without pulling on them. It is way harder than it looks but I find it a lot of fun and it allows me to get a chance to develop a relationship with the horse.

Saturday it rained all day so the ride was delayed until Sunday. Halfway felt very eager to work when he first came out. His version of being “up” is to trot faster. Instead of micro managing and pissing off a fresh horse, I just let them have a bit of a trot around with the head in the air or whatever they want to do. He isn’t spooky or silly so let him trot a bit until he takes a breath and then get to work.

He is stiffer on the left side than to the right. I worked on that side more at the walk just pushing him into the outside rein and trying to get him to soften the left side of the jaw. Have to be sure to be careful when going right not to allow the overbend because then he is right back to laying on that left rein. His canter is really coming along and as they get stronger you can sit a little bit. I feel that he is stronger in his back and hind end already. He has such nice gaits and covers a lot of ground for a smaller horse.

I also decided to add in his first jumping session since he felt so good. He was not quite sure but he was really very good! Wiggly but willing to try what I was asking which is all that I hope for in the first jump session. We just trotted back and forth different directions over the two little jumps. He got lots of treats when he was finished!

Make sure you watch to the end to see his cute little jumping and his love of water. He has so much personality! Loves to drink out of the hose and when I fill up his water bucket he likes to dunk his head under the hose. Such a goofball.

Had another fantastic ride tonight just doing a lot of bending work at the walk with some baby lateral movements. He is so smart! We also worked on the trot to canter transition. He is still running into the canter but it will come.

Plans rescheduled and why the let down process interests me

I promised to come back and write about Halfway’s outing but of course he would develop an abscess right before the clinic. He was gimpy and being a very sound horse it pointed to a foot bruise or abscess. Took a few days but we have drainage and he looked very sound last night. I will see what he looks like today when I get home. The weather has not been friendly to us with rain..rain and more rain. We either have mud or frozen mud which leads to wet feet or bruised feet.

I didn’t want to not go to the clinic since I had to cancel the last time due to Letterman coming up lame. I thought she would consider me a flake if I cancelled again so I pulled out Junior. He hasn’t done any gymnastics in a few years and he isn’t really doing much jumping lately. He has bone spurs in his knee which truthfully don’t bother him that much but I am careful with him. I want him to last for many many years as our guest horse and Kurt’s trail horse so taking it easy on the jumping saves his legs.

Can I just tell you how darn happy he was to be at this clinic! Well see for yourself here 🙂

He thinks that he knows it all and I should totally just sit there and shut up. For the most part, he is correct. He is one smart horse who really does know his job. It was fun to just work on me and not have to worry about a green horse.

Due to lame horses, our weekends have been fairly free. We got a chance to head over to our lay up farm and see some of the horses. I went to take a peek at Just Bearable who had come in November from the track. He originally went to one of our farms but he was a bit on the aggressive side and not really loving life. I brought him down to my farm to evaluate him. I didn’t find him aggressive but just a bit defensive. I think I posted some video of him just free lunging around when he came in.

Looked great and I could tell he was a super cool horse. I really wanted to get on him but CANTER really believes in giving each horse the time they need. I kept him for a few weeks just to evaluate his personality and he really relaxed enough for me to say he would be just fine so he headed out to the lay up farm closest to me for some more let down time. We try to give them the time to get happy in their minds and their bodies.

Three months later and Bear now looks like this 🙂 You should see how fat and happy the horses at the farm are! They are turned out in huge fields with big run in sheds. They are blanketed when the weather requires blanketing. Most of them don’t eat grain but they have the most gorgeous round bales and the fields still have so much grass to keep them busy.

I would say that life on the farm has agreed with him. I find it interesting to observe the change that these horses go through. Yes, they aren’t as “pretty” as they were on the track because they have lost all that muscling but I see a horse who mentally is in a different place. They are happy to see humans, they are relaxed, they are comfortable in their body and they are interested in adventures. I took him out away from his buddies and he stood quietly and was interested in what we were doing. He was such a different horse than the horse that seemed to have trust issues three months ago. His feet are healthy (short but in great condition), legs cold and tight and he has really nice weight on him..if a bit on the chunky side.

I think it is much easier to train a horse that has let go of all the track muscling that trying to get them right off the track and fight the tight muscles they often have. You can tell he lacks muscle but you can see his general conformation and imagine what he is going to look like when he is all muscle up again in the correct way (lucky for us we have a video of him when he was muscled up but I could guess that he is pretty fancy just looking at this picture).

Despite having a lot of experience dealing with horses right off the track, I always prefer one that has been let down. I am currently in the process of letting Legend down (my new guy that I bought off CANTER PA).

Some general observations that I find in most horses coming right off the track are that they struggle to eat like a normal horse. They pick through their grain and rarely clean up their hay. It likely is the stress of moving from the track to the farm and getting used to a new routine but it always takes them a few weeks to catch on to eating like I would want them to do. I do often suspect ulcers being an issue and I treat them for it using products from I think it helps to ease them into their new lifestyle and I just assume they have ulcers..doesn’t hurt to treat if they don’t.

Most of them just prefer to be outside. I don’t know whether it is just because they are so happy to have freedom but when I bring them in to their stalls they are often anxious and want to go out (although we have had some that are the opposite and just want their stalls so I guess it depends). Legend is all about going outside. Freedom!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The weather has been gross so the first few days when he had to come in at night (um really cold and wet) he was pissy. No, I want out. I will stand in the rain..I don’t care. Now he has relaxed and is happy to do either but again change is hard for them at first.

My experience is that because they are still a bit racing fit and high on life they are often pushy. Not in a bad way but they have an agenda and being patient isn’t on it. They don’t know what they are doing or where they are going but they must get there now. Sometimes walking them around the farm requires a chain shank just to reinforce the manners. I always find after a few weeks they just relax and you no longer have to deal with this. They often are very active in the field and must trot/canter around to see everything but then they realize life on the farm is relaxing and they just stroll around and eat instead of feeling the need to be on the go all the time.

I am bringing my personal horses along for resale and I can’t give them quite as much time off but I try to do at least a month of quiet time. I did get on him once just because I had to sit on him. Ha, did I mention how hard it is not to ride them??? Much easier for the CANTER horses when they go to the lay up farms and I don’t have to look at them and wonder how they feel. I just had to ride Legend at least once.

He was a bit nervous about the mounting block. The ring was wet and the sound and me going up and down was confusing to him but he was good about it. I took a good 15 minutes where we just walked him around the block and let him get used to me going up and down. The first time I went halfway up and he was confused by that. Hey, I am far from jockey weight and he was not sure what I was doing. He was mannerly about it and when I did go all the way up he was quite good. I walked and just let my legs stay still until I felt him relax and then I put my feet in the stirrups. Kurt is a good grounds person and knows how to lead them for me.

Wow, this horse is incredible. Huge trot stride but a very collected balanced canter. He felt very balanced and nice in the bridle. We just did 5 min of riding and called it quits. I was thrilled with him.

Did I mention he also lunges perfectly? You wonder who installed that or did he just figure it out in a snap? I have jumped him in hand over everything in the ring and he really enjoyed that.

Despite the fact that I am eager to ride him some more, I am forcing myself to give him the time that he needs/deserves. The chiro said his body just felt sore all over and that is my observation as well. My last two resale horses (strike up the jazz and hope for spring) felt amazing in their bodies so I didn’t feel as bad getting them started. Hope had already been off and Jazz was lightly raced and his body was just in great condition.

Each horse is different but lay up time is never a bad thing for any of them. I can already see a complete change in Legend. He is now cuddly and sweet. He has relaxed in his mind and body and is starting to get a bit bored. That is a good thing!

I am eager to get Halfway going again. Looks like tomorrow will be a wash out but hopefully Sunday will be good.

Put your hoof boots on and get going

I have been neglecting the blog mainly because I think I am just a bit grumpy. Most of the horses on the farm are lame and it is hard not to let it bother me. Yes, I just bought this lovely gorgeous horse but he is getting some well deserved R&R so even he is not in the riding rotation.

I spent the last few days getting Legend and Halfway House in top condition. Worming, feet done, teeth done and chiropracted! They should be feeling like a million bucks here very shortly. I think Halfway House already felt pretty darn great but who doesn’t feel better after a visit to the chiropractor. I just went to see my own chiropractor this week and what a difference!

The farrier and I decided that Halfway House had just lovely feet so we didn’t put shoes on him. Just another benefit of having a horse that has been allowed to have quality time to just let down before getting restarted. My farrier was smitten with Halfway House. He kept saying that people were going to buy this horse right away because it was just so obvious he was a good boy.

Yes, I think that is why he is already a bit of a barn favorite. My friend came over to ride with us the other day and she got on Halfway House. I think because he is only 15.2 you could be led into thinking he isn’t that fancy. However, one turn around the ring and you immediately recognize he has all the tools of a very nice horse in the making. Forward thinking with good gaits and just willing to do anything you ask. He rides much bigger than his size and he is vey comfortable. I like that he is just super professional. We joked that it is often the difference between 4yrs and 5yrs. A year can often make a big difference in the work ethic 🙂

I have been taking him out trail riding as well and he is like a sports car. I am using the hoof boots to make sure his feet are comfy on the rocks and it seems to work like a charm. On our first trail ride we got off the trailer and were presented with this:

We do have a lot of Amish in our area but I have never seen them near this trail spot. I wasn’t quite sure what he would think of this but he didn’t even seem concerned. He stood like a rock while I got on and off we went. We walked right past the “scary” buggy and random horse tied to the tree. The amish horse was super cute and was very interested in us.

As I expected, Halfway House was very brave. He led the trail and didn’t look at anything. It was a crazy busy day on the trail. We passed four other sets of riders, people with dogs, random amish kids popping up out of the woods and so much more. It would have frazzled some horses but he didn’t seem to mind. We did a bunch of trotting and cantering and he was super. He did get a bit more anxious on the way home but all that resulted in was a bit of jigging but very polite jigging. On this particular trail, we ride up and turn around and come back. Mr. Smartypants knew when we turned back. He was polite and eventually relaxed and went back to a loopy rein and walked along quietly.

Due to the weather, I haven’t had a chance to jump him as much as I would have liked but not much I can do about that. I did sign up to do a gymnastics clinic tomorrow….um yeah and he has only jumped one or two x-rails. I did tell the clinician he was VERY green but this horse is super smart and willing to I just consider it to be a good outing. No pressure to do anything more than bop around some poles.

I should be able to get some pics and video of this little outing. I have the day off work and I am off to look at a horse and then back to enjoy the warm weather before we get snow again????

Now I own a CANTER Pa horse

Hey, I do my job at supporting other groups 🙂 Sue Smith, who heads up CANTER PA, does an amazing job. They list so many horses and she really knows her stuff. They don’t have any CANTER owned horses but as always the best people to talk to about horses/trainers at the track are CANTER volunteers. I reached out and told her what I was looking for and she gave me a few she thought I would like. Sue had a favorite and of course he was the one that I instantly was draw to as well.

There was something about this guy that just made me say he was the one. I don’t know how you know based off a picture but that is the risk of buying horses at the track. I bought him and had him shipped down on Thursday. He is every bit as lovely as I imagined he would be based on the pictures. 16.1 or 2 with nice feet, nice bone and he is just so sensible.

Meet Legendary Bravery

He walked off the trailer and looked around with such a pleasant expression. I stuck him in the riding ring to let him have a trot around and he strolled all around very quietly. Didn’t look at the jumps or the “scary” corner. Lovely mover but is a bit track sore in the behind right now.

He will get to see the chiropractor and dentist here shortly. My plan will be to just do some nice walk/trot trail rides to get that hind end built back up. He is very cool and I am excited to ride him.

Halfway House starts his training

I just love his name! He was lucky enough to arrive during the few warm days where I could get him a nice bath. We clipped him and of course he stood there perfectly. It was time to get to work but then it got super cold again and we got about 3″ of snow. Wait he doesn’t have shoes on..I can make this work.

So I decided to do his first ride when it was 20 some degrees out with snow on the ring. The top layer was unfrozen enough to make it safe to ride. I started out trying to lunge him but he thought that was about the stupidest thing in the whole world and truthfully I was too cold to even try to explain it to him. He was as relaxed as a horse can be that has not had tack in a year and is getting pulled out with a fresh clip on a freezing cold day. I generally go with my gut and my gut said he is the type that will just be easy. His race record shows that he had a ton of heart (he was hitting the board just not able to move up in class) and he struck me as a horse that would be very professional.

He stood perfectly while I got on from the mounting block and Kurt walked us a lap around. My saddle felt cold as can be and very slick. The thought did run through my head that if he did anything I was likely too frozen to hang onto him but he felt totally relaxed. Didn’t look at anything and just wanted to get moving. I am sure he was cold too so I didn’t waste time walking around. We had a little trot and canter each direction and called it a day. Just enough to see what he was all about (um, really good!) and then back in the barn to get warmed up.

Don’t I look frozen? My back was so cold and tight I couldn’t even do anything but hunch over and hang on. Total cold weather wuss!

It had warmed up enough the next day to melt the snow off the ring and just make it more of a wet mess. I wanted to introduce a bit of contact to him and see what he thought. He picked it up right away and was starting to soften to the bit. He is a bit stiffer going left and easier to the right.

He actually reminds me a lot of Corey in the way that he rides. He isn’t spooky and he tends to just go about his business in a very professional manner. Very brave and willing to think about what I am asking of him and give it a try.

This is a video of him in the first ride. Good boy for first ride in over a year!!!

You can tell how much more relaxed we both were the next day 🙂

Deer hunting had ended and we are now getting more daylight so I am looking forward to hitting the trails. I will get him out this week for his first little off the farm trail ride. He seemed to catch right on to the little jump that I popped him over. Very smart!

Letterman does have a splint on the outside of his left front leg. It isn’t fractured but he is extremely painful on it so he is getting time off…again.  He just plays so hard in the field and I am sure this is a result of him either getting kicked or Junior coming down on him during the rough games they were playing. I guess he will now only be allowed to have solo turnout. Tired of him being hurt.

I refuse to dwell on it and instead I went out and bought another horse to play with..take that Letterman! He should arrive this week and I will have more details then with pictures. I have only seen a picture of him but I liked what I saw.