Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Update




Summer is coming to an end more quickly than I would like, as usual. School started this week for most counties around here. *sigh*
The photos above are of "Gunny-Bunz". He is doing so much better after the nasty, sad spring he had. He's now being ridden, and in the photos my horsey pal and former student "C" is riding him. ("C" didn't give me permission to post her photos so I am protecting her true identity.) By the way she is an instructor now herself, and a swell rider, if I may say so. Late September marks one year I have had Gunny and Major:

Gunny is doing better, gaining weight on his high fat feed and "Equi-Jewel" - a stabilized rice bran pellet from Purina feeds; something new I am trying and am very satisfied with, btw. The abscess is gone, he's no longer having inflammations in his knees for the most part.... all together a huge turn around for Gunny Bunz. I still want to have his knees x-rayed before offering him for sale, just to be on the safe side. My only complaint about Gunny is he does not get along with other horses very well. Certain ones, sure. Others, he has NO tolerance for. I have no idea what creates these preferences, it is just a quirky thing with him. He hates Jazz.

Major thinks he is quite "the man" since going to his first CT clinic two weeks ago. He suddenly started getting sassy and punkish. He got in quite a lot of trouble in a schooling session last week, and if C is reading this, she knows what I mean. Then this weekend, when the home owners at our facilities were in, he threw a huge fit in his paddock when I got to the barn to stall the boys - running madly around the paddock, bucking, kicking, rearing.... it took me a few minutes to halter him and then he wanted to rear and kick on the lead line on the way to his stall. He wasn't being mean or naughty, just exploded with exuberance and energy, and knew he had a whole audience of people, who came down from the house to watch. He is SUCH a racehorse. He loves to perform and be watched, I think. Punk. I took him totally off the high fat sweet feed I was using to get him to gain and switched him over to 100% Strategy Pellets. He's maintaining weight on that just fine, and I am hoping if cuts down on this hyper stage he's going through. He's great, though. What a horse.

Jazz, our new girl, is settled in just fine. She is just a truly pretty, girly girl. We have discovered that she is a very neat and tidy horse, always deposits her manure in the same corner of her stall and does not disturb it, as the geldings do. Also, she seems to not want to urinate in the paddock, but waits to go in the privacy of her stall. It's like she can't bear to do it in front of the guys. In addition to this, we have discovered that she likes her hay "fluffed". That's right. One day I just stuck a couple firmly packed flakes in her net and when I got back in the afternoon to turn her out, she had hardly touched it. Now, we make sure her flakes are fluffed and then put in her net, and then she eats it better. Whatever it takes to make her eat, I'll tell you. She is also on the Equi-Jewel, and loves it.

So, that's it for the end of summer, back-to-school update on the fresh otttbs. Let's hope and pray Gunny's x rays come back clean, and that we can find him a good home where his looks and talent will be appreciated and used.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Major's Big Day!

I signed Major and I up for a Combined Training Clininc this past weekend. It involved a d-d-dressage t-t-test and a stadium jumping course. Since Major is so green, I opted for the Intro Level A USDF test and ground poles for the "stadium" jumping. Major doesn't know much else at this point. When we got to the facility where the clinic was to be held, Major seemed to think he was going to race, and was very hyper and all wound up. He has never been away from our farm before, and he was mesmerised by all the sights to be seen.... horses going to and fro, trail riders, a hackney pony and cart, someone galloping their horse in a large field, horses warming up on the jumping course, cars on the highway, a barn cat; all kinds of new things to be seen and smelled. I think he held his breath much of the day, staring at all the new things.

The dressage tests were held in their indoor arena, which was small, dark, with low ceilings, and fluorescent lights. The arena is the "centre isle" of a stall barn, and the stalls look out over the arena. When I saw all of this, I thought "Uh-Oh. Major is not going to like this one bit." I brought him over to take a look. He peeked in, looked around, and then took a step inside! What a good boy he is.

When it was our turn, I discovered I had learned the wrong test, and had all my 20-mitre circles in the wrong places; even though the clinician said they were good circles. We were able to do the test again, revised, and kept that score. One time, a rider was getting her horse out of one of the stalls, and it whinnied at Major, and he kicked, tried a little buck, and whinnied back, totally loosing his concentration and messing up. Other than that, I was happy with the way Major handled himself.

For the stadium jumping, as I mentioned, all we did was the ground poles. Even though I think he is ready to do an 18 inch cross rail, I did not want to introduce him to that away from home and have him freak. We'll save that for schooling at home. He never even looked twice at the jumps he had never seen: flower boxes,bright colors, gates, wings, even a "skinny". He was scared by nothing. As we were preparing to do the course, he decided to lie down with me in the saddle! I have seen people get their leg broken this way, so I had to scramble off him fast and then get him up before he destroyed my saddle. He was all hot and sweaty and must have just felt ooky and so he decided to roll. After we completed the course, the clinician said that she was very impressed with Major and how well he did for his first event away from home. She said he had a kind eye, and an incredible mind, for only being 10 months off the track. I was a little disappointed that she didn't say more to me about my riding. All she did was write in the comments section of the score sheet "nice riding" and "way to stay calm and relaxed". I guess in a way it;s a good thing, I must ride okay, but I am one who likes to hear "Try to improve this;" or "this could be better", or "You stink at this, work on it."

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In the end, we placed 6th out of 8 horse/rider teams. I was happy with that. I am so proud of Major.

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Friday, August 7, 2009


Here's Kevin with Jett...... Doesn't this just make your heart melt? It will when you read the story of how Jett came to us.
I forgot to post this photo in the post below; for Jett's story, make sure to read it.
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Pretty Special

This is Jett; our very first Thoroughbred off the track. I took these photos today after I stuck this lone daisy in his bridle. The light was so pretty in the late afternoon, and I felt like trying my camera out on some artsy photos. They do not do Jett justice, though.
We never planned on getting Jett. We weren't even looking at buying any more horses. Let alone off the track Thoroughbreds. We had only been married a few months (last year) when one lazy afternoon, while watching a movie in the living room, we got a sudden phone call. A friend was in Philadelphia picking up a "lay up" horse from the track that was to be brought here to Virginia to recoup after surgery. They had a gelding they wanted to get rid of...... might we want him? I had a couple questions: was he injured, and was he broke to ride? Yes he was broke, and had been raced a lot. He had been retired after some stress fractures, or something. They had been using him on the track as a "pony" horse, accompanying other racehorses to and from the starting gate. I thought for about two seconds and said yes, yes, yes! We'd take him and give him a nice home.

We got Jett home and introduced him to his new surroundings. Sometimes, with certain horses, I have an instant bond. This does not happen very often for me. In my life I have been around, seen, and ridden hundreds and hundreds of horses. I love all horses, but there are very few I feel an instant bond and connection with. It happened to me as a teenager with an OTTTB mare I rode and loved. It happened a couple of other times, but that is it. Jett was one. The second he stepped off the trailer and I took his lead rope in my hand, he was mine, and I knew I could never let him go. The others we have gotten since then are special too; but Jett is extra special.
The others may find new homes with lovely owners, but I could never re-home Jett. He is our Big Man.
Since we got him about a year ago now, he has mostly been my Husband's ride. They have a strong bond also. We took Jett on a group trail ride a month or two after we got him, and acted like he had been trail ridden all his life, even though we know he had never been on such a large, organized ride. He seemed to think that, as long as we were there, and we were all together, he was OK with whatever we wanted to do. Except water crossings. That is still something he has trouble with. Everything we have asked of Jett, with the water crossing exception, he has done. He is so willing, trusting, and eager to please us in everything. We could not have asked for a more perfect horse; and when I think of how we got him I am still blown away. It is like we were meant to have him.... like God made him just for us, and sent him to us. And it is as if Jett knows this, too; and that he is grateful to have us. If only all unwanted horses could find a life, as Jett has, with people they were made for. I guess that is why I do what I do. To give all the horses I can a chance like Jett got. (Check out older posts from July to see Jett being ridden by my sister, Naomi.)
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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

One Day......

One of my big dreams is to one day ride sidesaddle...... I have always been fascinated with it; and how elegant it is. As a kid I used to hang my leg over a western saddle horn and ride that way for kicks and giggles. Now, as a big girl, I want to try the real thing. I went to a sidesaddle clinic this past winter with my 4-H group and was hooked. All I need is to get the saddle; which entails saving the money for one, as a good one is not cheap. Then I get to have fum making a Victorian riding habit, and all kinds of frilly "princess dresses" so that I can flounce around on horseback like every girl dreams of doing at some point in their lives.
I don't know about anyone else, but plain old breeches and hunt coats with the same old tall boots and velvet hunt cap gets boring after ten (plus) years of showing.
I think I will have to get my horses some training before we could do this, however. No amount of pretty dresses can make my hunter horses do advanced dressage. (Pause the playlist in the sidebar to the right before playing the video, by clicking on the pause button front and center.)