I’d like to share this fantastic article written by our friend Stephanie Diaz, scribe of all things equestrian here in the Sandhills of North Carolina. Not only is she a great horsewoman, she’s a brilliant writer as well.
This past weekend was Nature’s mean way of saying, “Hey, remember Spring? Well it ain’t here just yet..but here’s a little tease ” We had a fantastic weekend of riding, pulling a few manes, and spontaneously showing horses!
Allie and I had been wanting to take a couple of horses to the Moss Foundation and thought Jersey would really benefit from another nice outing – with a bit of atmosphere of having other horses around, too. We parked at Denny Emerson’s Tamarack farm, to hack from there into the Foundation. On the way we walked past his ring where he was teaching a jumping lesson to several riders. There were other horses hanging about, having finished their lessons, horses jumping, and a small group of people. It was a great opportunity to say Hello and to mosey around a ring filled with brightly colored jumps, including some adorned with the remains of this year’s Emerson Christmas tree – in a nutshell – lots to look at!
Denny invited us into the ring to trot around and since I assume you pretty much never don’t do what he asks, I went ahead and started trotting Jersey around the ring, through the jumps, between the other horses. This was Trip Off The Farm #2 and.. we quickly found out that just one trip off the farm is all it took. Jersey Boy thought it was NO biggie and was nearly the most relaxed I’d ever felt him be. He is one of the nicest young horses I’ve ever ridden let alone trained. ( I think I might have mentioned before that I LOVE him…) They loved him, too! – naturally – and it was very rewarding to see him rise to the occasion in their midst! Nice to know we’re on the right track with our youngsters!
Meanwhile up in Cameron, Zippy has decided that HE is the next in line for training.
One of the things CANTER tries to instill in the TB racing industry is the responsible ownership of horses. Owners that genuinely care about their horses after their racing days are over, when they start to show signs of being not that interested or have the talent for racing – it is THIS type of owner, combined with great trainers and good exercise riders, that make the future of these horses bright. and opens the possibilities up for them for their future careers. OH, and it makes our job re-homing them so much easier!
The way a horse is first started, and then ridden daily by exercisers and jockeys – is very apparent the first time we get on them to start retraining. Though they might not bend all that much or “go on the bit” or move laterally just yet…it is easy to tell when the BASICS are clearly there.
Zippy is just such a horse. While he may look a bit rough at the moment, living out, a little furry. He has been perfect to ride from the first time I pulled him out of the field, threw the tack on him, and hopped on to evaluate his awesomeness. He is undergoing our Spa Treatment this week and loves being groomed and generally gussied up! He has a beautiful face, and personality to go with it.
The first thing I noticed is that Zippy gave me the feel of a horse that is GOING to be a big boy. When his frame fills out and he finishes growing – he’s only just turned 4 – he should be at least 16.1.. A very elegant, dark bay gelding is IN THERE – you just have to look.. and use your imagination.
His trot is lovely – a big swinging step – free in the shoulder with a strong back. he carries himself straightly and evenly. He is “broke” to the leg – by that I mean he doesn’t scoot forward if you give a little kick, and you don’t have to work hard to GET him to move. It’s just easy. The first time I asked him to canter I don’t know which surprised (and delighted) me more, the fact that he stepped RIGHT into the correct lead immediately, or the fact that his canter was so balanced, rocking-horse rhythmic and fantastic that I was nearly speechless. (and I’m almost NEVER speechless!) He canters easily and lightly with a loop in the reins, the rhythm and balance never changes. His canter makes it easy to imagine a fence in front of him.
After three rides, he is starting to accept contact with the bit and LOVES to stretch down -long and low is his new best friend. Horses tend to want to do things that feel good so if stretching down feels good to him now then that is FINE with me. When his topline develops – and we know it will – I can’t think of any limits for this lovely boy. Kudos for Zippy’s former owners, and to all of the owners of racehorses who want to give their horses a chance for a career after the racetrack. We, at CANTER, thank you for our opportunity to take them to the next level.
We’ll get some pictures of Zippy this week. I really look forward to sharing his retraining and development!
WANTED: true horsemen/women who can see through the sort of relative scruffy appearance of a young ex-racehorse, just a few months off the track. Those who can look at a diamond in the rough and see the many facets waiting to be polished. Those who recognize how hard a green horse tries to figure out what us crazy people want, and appreciates the kindness and genuineness they exhibit. ONLY those who can see the amazing and astonishing potential of a beautiful horse, before the gloss, muscle and experience make it easy to see…need apply.