What does YOUR Thoroughbred want to be??

A few months ago a bunch of brave horses (and riders) tackled the Rolex Kent 3de.. the biggest event in the land.. among the entries were several ** OTTB’s.. among them parker, cAN’T fire me, Donner et.c.. These horses, who once broke from the starting gate.. will now break from the start box.. in a sport that requires the ultimate in horse flexiblity, multi tasking, cross training. DIVERSity

CANTER was  there to present an award to the highest placed thoroughbred horse that was purpose bred for racing. It was won by Donner, and his rider, Lynn Symansky. Go them!

This has made me think of how diverse thoroughbred horses are.they can race.. then go on to compete in a sport like Eventing.. or the jumpers, or hunters, or Foxhunting. So, while I  retrain CANTER horses in a way that looks like I want them all to be event horses – what I’m really doing is giving them a well rounded education – they do a bit of everything, and in the process learn to do a little dressage, jump show jumps, jump cross country jumps, hack out in groups, hack out with dogs, hack out alone and generally be good boys/girls on the ground.

In the past year alone I’ve retrained horses to do totally different things: while some are going to be eventers, we’ve  got the other disciplines in there too!

Here are updates on just a few of them!

CMA Cherokee Ghost – this past weekend I caught up with Meredith who bought “Ghostie” last summer. They were Cross country schooling in Southern Pines with a large and very fun looking group from Monroe, NC. This was their first XC school. Meredith had great reports of their progress together and is doing dressage and hopes to start eventing with him because after the xc school she texted me that she was “hooked”! Love this and I can’t to see them out and about!


CMA Fabulous Jada – I had Jada in training at my home and was riding her one day when she caught the attention of my neighbor/friend and landlord, Annie who is a long time horsewoman, eventer, and sporthorse breeder. She loved Jada’s elegant conformation, kind demeaner and lovely movement.. not to mention her impressive Pleasant Colony bloodlines. She bought Jada to be a broodmare and in April she delivered this handsome colt by Bruce Davidson’s stallion, Keltic Lion. ( she is in foal to him again! )

020 - Copy

CMA Bernard Terrace – I still miss this adorable face in the barn! When Julie’s mom Melissa called me about coming to see Bernie I was so excited.. Julie is a teenager who wanted to do the Hunters and Jumpers with her great trainer Liz in Mebane, NC.. Allie and I wished so much for a kid to come along for this special little horse – he was so sweet but so athletic and an awesome jumper. Julie rode him beautifully and had an immediate rapport with him. Look for them competing at area Hunter/Jumper shows!

bernie and his peeps

Southern Review – Revy was the type of horse we could have sold 20 times! When he first arrived he was a little crabby but he totally blossomed in retraining. He loved going on long hacks, jumping logs in the woods, and even doing flatwork.. He was the type of horse that made me say to myself, “wow! This is a REALLy nice horse”.. Revy was humble that way. He never was pushy about it.. he just let you find out on your own. Enter Janice, from Delaware, a woman who owns her own pack of Penmarydel foxhounds and who was looking for a small, quiet horse that she could produce as a Foxhunter. If her posts on Facebook ( i.e.: I LOVE this horse!) are anything to go by, I think its working out perfectly. 🙂

REVY Revy Hunt horse

As always it is so rewarding to visit with horses that I’ve had a part in retraining – and to see them so happy and with people who love them -and who are having fun with them.. but I never forget what they were like when I first started with them.. they were blank slates then, but with so much potential and ability; I just had to find out what else they wanted to be.

So when you’re perusing the CANTER listings, try to imagine your next project horse–Are you looking for a Jumper, Eventer, Dressage horse, or Foxhunter?  Or are you looking for a fun quiet trail companion? What does your OTTB want to be ?

Stay tuned for news about the next group of CANTER horses in training in North Carolina!

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You want Gingers? We got Gingers!!

The best thing about retraining horses for CANTER MidAtlantic is being able to witness the progress they make on a day-to-day basis. It may seem like they’re all the same.. diamonds in the rough being pulled out of a field to start our retraining program. But they are anything BUT numbers to us. Each one has a distinct personality, way of going, individual strengths and weaknesses.

A few weeks ago Allie took a video of how we typically start and assess a horse that just entering the program. The video below is my first ride on CMA Southern Review, a 5 year old 15.3 hand gelding. His pedigree is here: http://www.pedigreequery.com/southern+review

“Revy” was a bit of a grouch when he arrived in North Carolina – he had the kind of attitude that made me wonder how he’d take to retraining. He was a bit of a bulldozer on the ground – would he be difficult to ride? He was a little herd-bound and distracted – would this translate into being distracted and unhappy while being ridden?

Well, I can wonder all I want but don’t really know until I hop on and have a go!  Here is the video of my first ride on CMA Southern Review: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOyClniSz00

Whadaya know??! Not bad at all! 🙂  What he lacked in steering he made up for in willingness and and trying to figure out what i wanted! Fast forward about 5 or 6 weeks.. Revy’s been hacking out with the fabulous and awesome CANTER assistant Jax Black and I’ve started to introduce some flatwork. The once crabby-appleton is as happy and obliging as a presidential candidate – ha!!

Here is a video of CMA Southern Review taken yesterday-after about a month of “training” and hacking out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4_Q-olizwE&list=UUef2kfFuj8N_aeNc8ns4JJQ&index=1&feature=plcp

Who knew? Little Revy has a work ethic! And is fun and easy! Our big joke is “Oh NO! Another Crazy OTTB!” .. um , that’s just a joke, ok?

The sad part is that horses like Revy get sold on quickly and I can’t keep having fun with them! This week he’ll start jumping and I’ll be sure to post pictures!

Meanwhile CMA Bernard Terrace – aka Bernie – is breaking CUTENESS records all over the place!!

Standing about 15.3,  Bernie has gorgeous confirmation – he’s a grandson of Holy Bull. http://www.pedigreequery.com/bernard+terrace  The fact that his grandmother is named Bodacious Tatas is NOT the reason that I love him.. but it doesn’t hurt!!

He’s been ridden by several friends.. a dressage rider, a trail rider,  my niece, who is an eventer.. they all LOVED him. His canter is TO DIE FOR and I’ve said all along that when he was ready to start jumping he was going to be GREAT! (I hate being right all the time! ) He’s proven me right, and will go cross country schooling this next week!  OH! and he’s fancy on the flat, too!

So stay tuned for a post in the next week about Bernie and Revy and their introduction to jumping with official pictures and everything!!

CMA Southern Review is NOT an Appaloosa/TB cross that we pulled out of a field.. but his BUTT says otherwise!!

Thanks to Jax Black and Allie Conrad for the videos and pictures!! 🙂

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Spa Day for the CANTER horses! (and other stuff)

A real life SPA DAY happened at the CANTER MidAtlantic farm in Cameron NC recently. Sand was knocked off, tail dredlocks were unlocked, and wild mustang manes were pulled. A pull here, a brush there and the shaggies were transformed into the sexies! My favorite part of working the the CANTER heese is when the ugly duckling transforms into the swan.

OMG -CMA Fabulous Jada just did a perfect Bend and SNAP!

 Above: Rhett isn’t impressed with the Barber Shop

Below: Beckham thinks long hair is kewl..

Rhett is actually very sweet and just didn’t feel like having his picture taken on this day! HA! He makes up for the crabby with how well he’s put together, though, don’t you agree??

Below: Ruthie sez “quick! take a picture! Gracie is being a good dog! PS why,  yes i AM gorgeous, thank you very much!”

Soon after the Spa Day Jada came to live with Clive to start CMA Boot Camp! She’s been there one full week and has hacked out by herself and with company. She’s crossed the legendary “creepy creek” without issue, and has started over teeny tiny cross rails! She loves having personal attention and is basking in the adoration of the boys in the paddocks on both sides of her. She’s such a princess and that is no lie! Everything is new to her and she just takes it all in stride.

And my good boy Clive recently passed the Amateur Test!! Our friend Madeleine hopped on him, did a little flatwork and even jumped an X or two!  Rewarding? Oh yeah!

In closing.. Gracie and Chip – two of CANTER MidAtlantic’s biggest fans!

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Dear Clive, you are not the Decider ( but it can still be fun!)

I’m terribly remiss in my blogging.. I ride more than I write.

We’ve been so lucky to have seen a bunch of horses off to their new homes and careers the last few months  Mazzie, Hurry, Cadence, Casey, Bid, Jester, Bolt, Tommy and Wheatie..and while I look at those name and remember each individual horse I’m reminded how unique they each are. Each has their own personality and quirks. One might be quick off the leg, or a bit through his body than the others.. one might have a easier time cantering in balance at first . But at the end of the day they’ve all been delightful to work with and have made me wonder if it really IS this easy…it is, isn’t it? They ARE all different, so for EACH one we do whatever it takes.

 Well meet CMA Clearview Heights.. a big 5 yo chestnut gelding.. big looking, big moving, big pony!This picture is one of the first times I rode him in Allie’s ring.  He started out started great in the ring but we quickly found he got a little anxious hacking out. To be honest he was pretty naughty. Sadly, the video camera never seems to be on during the spin and wheel episodes! ha! Suffice to say, he makes very good use of the Wild Jersey Boy Memorial Neck Strap!

Some of them just don’t “get it” and going to a new environment and having to stand still, in the woods, for example.. can cause a bit of anxiety.. such WAS the case with Clive.. So after two attempts at hacking out which ended with us jumping off and walking him home.. in hand.. we decided I’d focus on working only in the ring with him.  Whatever it takes, right? This is a video Allie took the first week of ring work:


Yes, he’s cute, yes he can move.. but notice how behind my leg he is, and how I am kicking every stride! 🙂 I didn’t know it at the time but would soon find out that Clive thinks HE is the Decider. He thought it was up to HIM how fast we went, what direction we went and how fast we went there.. oh no, Clive, my friend.. how wrong you were!

So, I basically took things back to basics with him. I started with ground work. Call it Natural Horsemanship, call it what you want. I call it Plain Old Horsemanship.  After a solid week of nothing but ground work, I introduced light flatwork into the routine.  One day ground work, next day flatwork, next day ground work AND flatwork.. follow me? Then, when he was consistent in that at Allie’s farm, Clive moved up to Vass to live with my horse, Tip.

Clive: dis grass iz gud!        Tip: I know, right!?


Once in Vass Clive settled right in but still demonstrated some nappiness when hacking away from the barn, and even stranger.. while going back TO the barn.  Most of us have felt that anxiety under us and its not a great feeling. My least favorite is when they don’t stand STILL so you can get OFF of them.. unnice.. Well, out came  longe lines and let the ground driving begin!!  I said “we’re going to HACK and hack is what we’re going to DO! “.. ( even if I’m walking behind the horse!)

Let’s just say I’m a huge believer in long lining/ground driving or whatever you want to call it – its a fantastic training tool. From the perspective of walking behind the horse you can see WHAT they do instead of just feel it, and can also see what might be going on to cause it.  You can also  make corrections without the risk of things deteriorating into a bad situation.

This process took weeks. I would long line Clive one day, the next day lead him to the riding area, get on and do light flatwork, get off and walk him back to the barn. The next day I’d long line him around the farm or literally into the woods on a “hack”. The next day I’d walk him out to the riding area, get on and do some flatwork, get off and lead him back. A HUGE deal was when I got on AT the barn, and rode out to the riding area, did some flat work, then rode him back. A giant thrill was when Clive hacked out with my friend Karen on her horse. A even GIGANICER thrill was when i got on and I took this lovely ( but naughty) horse on a hack all by himself.

So to make a not-so-long story even longer.. Clive is doing very well.  I can hack him out without issue but I STILL am disciplined and keep ground work in Clive’s program. He’s the kind of horse that needs it and benefits from it.

This is a video of him that Allie took last week.


Notice the change in his balance (more uphill) and how much more in front of my leg he is now. Both of those things are MY decision! (OK, Clive, I know YOU’RE the one doing the actual TROTTING! geez.)

I have high hopes for CMA Clearview Heights. He’s not for a beginner, but with the right rider I know he will do great things. Its been a long road with him, and I’ll  continue on that road until he finds his ‘person’. But till then, for this horse, and for all of them, I’ll do whatever it takes.


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The more things change…


Spring is definitely here and summer is just around the corner here in NC! Azaleas and dogwoods are almost finished blooming. Perfect weather for hacking out across the sandy countryside!

And in the midst of all this newness and green stuff and hope for a fun impeding summer we here at CANTER Midatlantic had some sad news this past week… Our beloved Jersey Boy who was purchased by a friend here in Southern Pines succumbed to colic and had to have surgery. During surgery it was found that he had an abnormality in the small intestine that could not have been found or predicted..it was only a matter of time before it caused him trouble.. He came through the surgery great – and his prognosis for full recovery was excellent – and hopes were high. I was able to go and visit him last Sunday and was thrilled with how well he looked  Sadly, later that day he took a turn and sustained a twist in his intestine and there was nothing that could be done to save him.  Words can’t describe our heartache for this lovely young horse, his new owner, connections, their compassionate veterinarian, and the whole crew the farm where he lived. (Though its little consolation, thank goodness his owner had just insured him – so she was able to provide the care he needed when he needed it most – a sad reality, yes. But a very worthwhile investment when the unthinkable happens..)

We hope for the best.. and give them all the best chance for success.. and do what is best for each one individually… and while my heart aches for the loss of Jersey,  it swells with love and pride for the ones looking over the fence at me – hoping to be the next one, looking forward to their first XC school and whatever fate and the future has in store for them.

. Those that know me know I’m a one-man woman! But in the time I’ve been working with the CANTER horses I’ve found that I’m capable of loving more than one at a time -and when one leaves I fall in love with the next one immediately.

The CANTER horses are doing great – Burgiss has moved down to Aberdeen, started hacking out and is loving life. He’s a very sweet and quiet horse who apparently had ZERO interest in being a racehorses. I remember seeing him for the first time last august when I went up to MD to pick up CANTER horses.. Burg Hill had just come from the track and had just been gelded, poor guy. He was super cute then – as he is now. He gives the rider a very balanced and steady feeling. Because he is so uncomplicated I think he’ll go on to be a very versatile, athletic and FUN partner for whatever lucky person who takes him home. One of my favorite things about him is that EVERY time I go to get him out of the field to ride he nickers at me and comes up to me, ears pricked, very friendly and adorable. We’ve had quite a bit of interest in Burgiss lately. – naturally he lost a shoe and bruised his foot the day they wanted to see him free jump.   Isn’t that just like horses? ! The good news is that today he popped a huge abcess – yes, we love pus – and should be just fine in a few days!

Mazzie is going through a crazy growth spurt, which timed itself perfectly with her toe breaking off from an abcess that grew down from her coronet band.. she’s back in the rotation and loved going on a hack the other day with our friend Zoe Bennett, who has started helping me hack the babies out in pairs! Zoe loved Mazzie and it was great to be able to watch her with someone else riding – she’s so cute. Believe it or not she’s all legs now – yes, that’s right, the butterball is now a butterball on stilts! We’re changing her name to Mazerati because she’s a little, red sportscar!

Speaking of growth spurts, Hurry and Tommy are going through some weirdness too.. Hurry looks like his front end is standing in a hole he’s suddenly so butt high.. while Tommy looks like two men in a horse costume.. No wonder these guys weren’t successful on the racetrack.. being so physically immature.. Hurry is definitely going to be a big horse,  (16+ hands ) Tommy won’t be a giant horse (15.3)  but HOLEY MOLEY is he fancy. He’s got beautiful show hunter written all over him. Hurry is turning into quite the little tank – but an elegant tank – if that’s possible. He’s a lovely mover, and has been super easy to retrain. He has a cheeky streak – mainly when you put your leg on he’ll shake his head and say “NAH!” but then is all ‘oh ok.. i guess I can…”

Zippy has been sold and is and going to live in the heart of Virginia horse country. Congrats to Patricia, his new owner, who has the vision to look past the rough and see the diamond within! Oh, and when we said ‘you have to have this horse” she believed us! I can’t wait to hear updates about his training and progress.. I think he’s got a very bright shiny future ahead of him!

We’ve put Jester into the rotation, too! He’s a lovely 16.2 liver chestnut gelding with big movement and the look of an Eventer. I love his breeding, too. ATTENTION pedigree nerds! He’s out of an Allen’s Prospect mare – Allen’s Prospect was known for producing horses that jumped!  His first rides are proving that he is quiet and eager to learn – when he gets strong he is going to be amazing.

All of these horses are started  – come and see them!!! Feel free to send me questions about any of them.

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Daylight Spending Time!

With Daylight Savings time I always think I’ll have tons more time to get things done during the day- in reality I only just get MORE busy! 🙂

Things are going great with the CANTER horses here in NC.. Jersey and Vida have moved to their new homes! While we are sad to see them go we are delighted with their opportunities to become the wonderful partners they are meant to be with their new owners and riders.

There are certain questions that I am asked all the time.. here are a few:

Why are all the CANTER horses so quiet?  When do you know when to start their retraining? There are many more but for the sake of time I’ll try to tackle just these with simple answers.

Well, there are certain things we do with all the horses.. number one is that they get turned out for at least 3 months before I hop on.

In this picture (taken last summer) Jersey said.. I’m being turned out for a few months before i startz my retrainings.. then I will be awesome! ( and he was right! )

One can have a few theories about why our horses are so quiet.. and for the most part they really are. There is no crazy bucking during the first rides, not a lot of spooking on hacks.. their biggest acts of distraction are simply that: they just don’t know any better. They don’t realize I’m trying to TEACH them anything… at first I’m just an annoying thing on their back.

Hurreador sez i lives out and I eats my hay..life iz gud..

CANTER has learned through time that our method of turning horses out for at least 3 months before retraining begins is a system that works.. it does a world of good…No, this does not make a horse TIRED, it makes them relax. They are young healthy animals and need the time to “let down” from life on the track. Certainly a good amount of turnout is necessary for their mental health as well as their physical health.. when I turn them back out after training it isn’t uncommon for them to trot or canter off, throwing a few bucks in then. They don’t do this while we ride them though,  I like to think this is because they are happy!

Mazzie sez oh hai!

Not only does it allow them to detox.. it also gives their feet time to be rebalanced, their muscles and bodies to reform and for them to realize that their life has changed… When they go into retraining they are assessed at first with a little walk, trot and canter in the ring.. to make sure they are feeling ok, to see how much steering and brakes I have – or don’t have… Then we like to transition them to a program  of long walking hacks to build muscle, balance and confidence. When their MINDS are quiet my job gets EASY.. The mind that is trusting, and relaxed and happy… THIS is the brain that can be trained!

I love me some Burgiss..!

I feel strongly that a sense of routine, keeping it short and sweet, and starting with long hacks is KEY to producing a quiet confident horse. During their DOWN time the horses live out, are fed, given hay, have farrier, vet and dentist visits.. they are wormed, and groomed, but not ridden.. We’ll bring them up to the ring once in while to see how they are moving. And to assess if they are ready for and WANT a job..

Daisy asks if she can be NEXT!

Each horse is different.. it is not uncommon for a horse to be aloof when they first come off the track.. . some are way too fit, some are just sore from track work, some might need minor injuries taken care of, others might just need a break from people, activity and work.. they’re just babies after all… Such a horse will sometimes not want to be caught in the field..will give you the stink eye when you come out to get other horses.. they’ll often make it clear they want no part of human kind.. Then one day they won’t trot off immediately when they see you .. they won’t herd the other horses away from you.. they’ll cautiously approach me when I’m putting a halter on another horse.. suddenly the aloof one will poke me in the back with their nose… I’ll pick them out of the herd and groom them one day, and soon the one that was aloof is now the one that greets me at the gate.

When they are relaxed and quiet the finally realize I’m not just riding them for my own amusement.. or just to annoy them… I also use a lot of routine with the horses.. and keep the sessions short.. 20 minutes is PLENTY long for a green horse that hasn’t been in work. At this stage of the game I want the horses to think their new job is EASY and FUN.  Quit before the horse gets tired or bored or sour.. that is when the tired overrides the desire to learn and please you.

TB’s love having a job when they’re feeling up to it.. They love attention!

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Wild Jersey Boy becomes a Wild Sporthorse Boy!

We took Wild Jersey Boy to his first ever cross country school this past weekend.  The time was right – lots of hacking and walking over fallen trees and logs in the woods, walking through creeks and into ponds, and across every natural swale that passes for a ditch that I can find.  Now it was time to introduce him to real CROSS COUNTRY jumps. Ditches that are little boxes in the ground, real water jumps with banks, scary man made obstacles with brush and air underneath.  YIKES! I was so excited to get there, this adorable horse has come so far!

This is the FIRST time I rode Jersey in December. He was a little unsure of what I wanted but the FANCY was there!

In a nutshell, Jersey was a total star. We warmed up with a little w-t-c in our friend Mari’s show jump field, which Jersey thought was kind of a big deal at first. I don’t mind if young horses need to have a look around  – new places can be unnerving to them, and he was by himself which can make some horses nervous – ottb’s or not. He settled very quickly and then we hacked down to the xc schooling field with Mari on her own OTTB, Remy – who, it’s worth mentioning, came out of the CANTER trainer listings! yay!  It was fantastic to have her with us to give us a lead over jumps and to help make the experience for Jersey one that would only build his confidence.

This log is HUGE, ok?

While we might seem to get our horses going quickly,  in reality we are really very careful with them. We like them to have fun, and we are very careful not to do things to scare them or overface them.  One incident of broken trust can set your training back months!

That said, we walked around the xc jumps, letting Jersey take it all in and then simply strolled to Mari’s massive water complex.. walked into the water and across it .. No biggie! ..and it is something walking into a pond on our hacks translated to perfectly.. It didn’t take Jersey long to think that water jumps are KEWL and he decided he’d trot through ! Splashing is FUN!

A few times out of the water and hopping up the baby bank at trot and we were ready to tackle the LOGS!

We trotted over a tiny log then progressed to a bigger (beginner novice size) hogsback style pile of logs! After that we put a few little jumps together – a skinny log between trees to a stone wall and then on to another log.. this was the first time we’d cantered fences – I’m a firm believer in starting babies over solid fences at canter before Show Jump fences. Not only am I just more comfortable with it,  to me it helps them figure out what to do with their feet and gain confidence with jumps that are solid.  I found his canter to be so incredibly adjustable –  a perfect example of the JUMP doing the work of balancing him.

On to the baby ditch.. which was a non incident because by this point Jersey was wondering where the Head of the Lake was! ha! SO brave..

It’s crazy how a young horse’s mind works when it comes to new jumping experiences – there was an airy little jump that, as he came to it, his own shadow appeared after the fence. This spooked him a little but he proved to be catty and brave and got himself over it with style, natural athleticism and complete honesty!

We ended our school at this point.. completely delighted with Jersey and how he totally stepped it up to this new experience. It’s amazing how these young horses surprise me – just when you think you’re teaching THEM you find out that they are teaching YOU! Teaching you how amazing they are.. and how willing and happy they are to do new things! Love the Jerz! 🙂

Wild Jersey Boy sez: I GOTS IT!

There is nothing not to love about this young prospect. Do get in touch with us if you are interested in seeing Jersey or any of the CANTER MidAtlantic horses!

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