Wednesday, November 5, 2014

tour numéro deux :)

Queen had her second backed ride today. Admittedly, there were parts of this scenario that were ill advised. A friend who was planning to ride with me was supposed to have both Queen and Classy Lady up and groomed so that we could hop on when I got there and get some work done before dark, but she hadn't even caught them yet when I pulled in. I said, "Eh, ok."

So we got them groomed and we got them tacked, and Queen made it apparent that she was antsy. Classy Lady was being a bit fussy as well. Still, we managed to get finished before dark, but it was getting kind of close.

Classy Lady was ok for mounting. Queen initially gave some objection when I tightened her girth again before mounting, but after a small correction, she let me get mounted. We walked around in circles in the front yard for a bit. So far so good.

Classy Lady proceeds to stumble and fall to her knees after one of the cats streaked across the yard in front of her. My friend let out a shriek from the surprise, and Classy Lady scrambled to recover while Queen went a little sideways from the movement and from my friend's loud shriek. I stayed put in the saddle, and Queen didn't go far. She didn't tremble either. Lots of praise for the black filly :)

After Classy Lady recovered some, we managed to collect ourselves and walk down the road a little while continuing to be ponied. Queen got a little tense at one point, but she settled fairly well. We went halfway to the next driveway down the road, then turned around. I dismounted and gave her some praise.

After lunging Queen for a few rotations in each direction, we repeated the jaunt down the road, this time with me walking next to her and my friend continuing to pony her off of Classy Lady. Queen was a bit more relaxed this time. I think I need to bulk up her conditioning program to strengthen her and balance her a bit so she's strong enough to carry weight. I'm not super heavy and my saddle isn't either, but she'd benefit from a stronger topline and better balance in her gaits.

Still, all in all, a very successful 2nd time under saddle! We will continue to do rides, but I definitely need boots for both Classy Lady and Queen. Time to get these kids trimmed properly and measured for some nice ones.

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I know, I know, it's been forever. In my defense, I've been busy.

Life starts over.

You hit the end of one chapter, you start a new one. Sometimes you feel like it's a whole new reset. It's not just changing the drapes, it's a life remodel.

The last year has been one of those for me.

I think I've had a lot of positive change happen.

Anyway, on to the good stuff!

Queen the bratty pants got back for the first time last week! I should have blogged about this and gotten photos, but so sue me. She did SO well, didn't bat an eye. We also practiced with wearing a bit for ten minutes. After we removed the bit and bridle, we put a mild hackamore on, then Carin led Queen around by the halter while I sat on her for about ten minutes or less. We practiced whoa from pressure from the hackamore, and we practiced walk on. I used Carin's body language as an aid to the pressure from the hackamore and also to walking on from a halt. SMART BABY! I am pleased.

Fast forward to today. I'm reposting the blog entry I typed up for the greyhound foster page (yup, I have one of those of my own now and we just picked up a new foster TODAY!) Read on below for funnies.

Ok, so Dutch and Kori were very good for the car ride home to Birmingham with Deb and myself. They settled in quickly, not a peep the whole way, fantastic car dogs. 

Then we got home.

Kori did very well with "leaving it" after I corrected her for being too interested in my barn kitty who was hanging out on my front porch. After a couple of times of being told no and giving a quick tug on her martingale, she started ignoring the cat (from a distance). 

Dutch also did very well upon arrival at my house, and he did some bonding with my guy, Nathaniel. Nate loves big dogs. He finds it EXTREMELY amusing that if he decides to take a wiz in the woods, Dutch will try to wiz where Nate is doing his business. If he shifts, Dutch shifts with them, and they pee together (keep in mind we are almost two miles from the nearest minor road; our farm is at the end of a long gravel drive). I'm not sure what this says about Dutch's level of dominance that he's trying to mark in the same spot as the man of the house, but at least he's peeing outside and not on my furniture (so far).

Dutch meeting my inside kitty went fairly well at first, except I was surprised to realize that Fur Elise felt absolutely no sense of alarm around Dutch. With his muzzle on, he was very good about meeting her, and she let him even sniff her (with tight supervision). 

After half an hour or so and some very furious rubbing of his face on any body part of ours that he could reach, we decided to see if he could swing it with no muzzle. 

Cue cat experience number two.

Fur Elise decided to climb in my lap, and I was sitting with her when Dutch sighted her and cautiously approached me. He still had his leash on, but we were giving him a break from the muzzle, so he wandered up ssssssllllooowwwwwllllyyy, and was allowed a brief sniff. Everything was going fabulously until he decided to see if he could make her squeak by picking her up in his mouth. 

Cue coming to Jesus moment. 

Cat went one way, dog backed up very fast, I was the one doing all the excited squeaking and "no no no," after which he got a trip to the crate and a swat from the cat. 

He now walks the opposite direction when he sees the cat. I am pleased. 

Fast forward to dinner. Fed Dutch a meal, then we practiced some tricks with all three dogs in the kitchen. He is such a chowhound. He has a VERY good sit. We're still working on uncovering the rest of his tricks, but since it took Maggie a little while to start doing all of hers, I don't expect him to regurgitate every one of his on the first night.

Now we get to bedtime. Our dogs always sleep with us in our bedroom, so we set up an extra bed for him to sleep on since I didn't expect him to dog pile with Maggie and Atlas. I'm finishing up dishes in the kitchen at this point, but Nathaniel and all the dogs headed to the bedroom. Nathaniel takes a slight 15 second detour to check his phone since it was beeping, then follows the dogs into the bedroom, only to find fresh, runny poop on the bed I'd just set up for Dutch. So he calls me in for clean up duty while he walks all three dogs. Yay. 

I try to show Dutch and tell him no, no pooping in the house, and then he FACEPLANTS into his own POOP. Sits up and looks at me, then FACEPLANTS AGAIN. Lays in it, gets it smeared all over the side of his face, and I'm laughing way too hard to be mad or scold him. Nathaniel walks in with the leash to take him outside and get him out of the way, and Dutch is like "nope, nuh uh, staying right here in the bed" and proceeds to LAY IN IT AGAIN! At this point I can't breathe I'm laughing so hard. 

We finally got Dutch cleaned up. He got his face washed, but it's so late that a full bath is going to wait till the morning. What a night! I can't believe he faceplanted multiple times on purpose in his own poop. That was a new one for me. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

Book Excerpt: Which Thoroughbred Best Fits My Needs?

Great article!

Book Excerpt: Which Thoroughbred Best Fits My Needs?

Which Thoroughbred Best Fits My Needs?

Guidelines to consider when choosing an off-the-track Thoroughbred for a specific English discipline, from the book Beyond the Track.

If you intend to purchase a horse off the track, or adopt through a program, I recommend you engage the assistance of an experienced friend or trainer to help ascertain the horse's suitability for you and your discipline. Even if you buy and sell horses all the time, a second opinion is always of value.
The most important step is to ask yourself what level of riding or competition you aspire to, as many off-the-track Thoroughbreds (OTTBs) are athletic enough to pursue any discipline at the lower levels, and most minor injuries will hold up after proper time off. With this in mind, here are a few additional guidelines to consider when evaluating OTTBs. These are generalized suggestions--there is a lot more to consider when choosing a horse for a specific discipline.
Photo by Carrie Paston
Potential event horse or jumper
Photo by Carrie Paston
The Event Horse
  • High shoulder point (the front of the shoulder is high, with a steeply angled humerus from there to the elbow; this ensures scope over large jumps)
  • Uphill build
  • Medium bone structure (extremely fine bone structure is less likely to hold up)
  • Short- to medium-length back
  • Short- to medium-length pasterns (long pasterns tend to break down)
  • Well-set knees (horses "straight" in the knees are prone to knee injuries)
  • Event horses can range in height. Note that larger horses (in height and mass) can be more difficult to keep sound as they are harder on their legs and feet.
Event horses need to be very athletic with fluid gaits. Prospects should have more "action" at all three gaits than, say, a hunter (see below). This often indicates it will be easier for them to move with impulsion in the dressage ring and that they will pick up their knees better over fences.
Brave, athletic and hard-working. Event prospects need to be bold, brave and forward-going horses that have good endurance. Many of these horses could also be described as "proud" or "arrogant." More energetic horses are often possibilities--as long as they are mentally sane and have a good work ethic, the extra energy is beneficial on the cross-country course.
Injuries to Avoid
  • Breathing issues
  • Severe tendon injuries (mild strains or bows are generally not an issue if given enough time off prior to retraining)
  • Severe suspensory injuries
  • Joint chips or fractures
  • Vision limitations
The Jumper
A jumper prospect will be very similar in build, action and personality to an event horse (see above). When looking for a jumper, put more emphasis on a stronger hind end and shoulder. A jumper does not necessarily need to be built uphill, but he should have a high shoulder point.
Photo by Carrie Paston
Potential hunter
Photo by Carrie Paston
The Hunter 
  • Long, sloping shoulder
  • Neck ties in well with the withers and shoulder
  • Small, attractive head
  • Flat topline
Hunters should be light on their feet and have as little action in their legs as possible. A long, low, rhythmic stride that easily covers a lot of ground is desirable. The horse's head carriage should be long and low.
Easygoing, consistent and stylish. Hunters are judged on rhythm, style, and manners. They need to be calm in nature and consistent in gait and attitude as they move around the ring and over fences.
Injuries to Avoid
  • Severe tendon injuries (mild strains or bows are generally not an issue if given enough time off prior to retraining)
  • Severe suspensory injuries
  • Joint chips or fractures
Photo by Carrie Paston
Potential dressage horse
Photo by Carrie Paston
The Dressage Horse
  • Withers set back from the shoulder
  • Short back
  • Uphill build
  • Strong, well-built hindquarters
  • Neck ties in well with the withers and shoulder (avoid ewe-necked horses)
  • Neck should be medium to long
The horse should naturally engage and drive from his hind end. A regular, even, four-beat walk is ideal. At the trot he should demonstrate natural impulsion and extension while remaining light on his feet. Look for a canter that is not overly "large"--a shorter stride is easier to maneuver around the dressage arena and eventually teach clean flying lead changes.
Hard-working, sensitive and sensible. A dressage prospect should be a sensitive yet sensible horse. He needs to be very responsive to leg, seat, and rein aids rather than dead-sided or hard-mouthed. He cannot become overwrought every time he is confronted with a new task--the ideal horse likes to work and accepts new challenges eagerly.
Injuries to Avoid
  • Severe tendon injuries (mild strains or bows are generally not an issue if given enough time off prior to retraining)
  • Severe suspensory injuries
  • Joint chips or fractures
This article is excerpted from the book Beyond the Track: Retraining the Thoroughbred from Racehorse to Riding Horse, which offers tips on finding the right OTTB and giving him the solid educational foundation he needs to excel in a new career. To order, call 800-952-5813 or visit