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 abler.com. 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.

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6 responses to “Plans rescheduled and why the let down process interests me

  1. I’m guessing Bear’s going to be an “easy keeper”. 🙂 Good let down info.

  2. Halfway is gorgeous and I think you are doing right by him. For some crazy reason after all this reading of your blog I just assumed Junior was a fiery redhead!

  3. Gotta love that know it all Connemara part of Junior!

  4. Love him!!

  5. Junior is a scamp! Legend sure looks fancy

  6. Took a double take on the video prior to reading ,wait is that JUNIOR?? So funny to watch the Connemara master at work 🙂 Your let down comments are all very accurate to what we have also experienced, thank you. Some of our OTTB’s have taken longer than a few months to settle. Have to agree with your assertion that each horse is different.

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