It’s the New Year!

Jester taking it all in

Ok, so it’s been the New Year for a few weeks now, but it seems like life is just one big whirlwind lately.  Thankfully Suzanne has been keeping everybody up to date on the goings-ons down here in the Sandhills of North Carolina.

When I started this blog, I had every intention of being a regular participant–weaving the day to day operations of what it takes to run a Thoroughbred rehoming group, combined with the big thoughts I have about horse life in general.  Turns out the job, life and running the program takes all of my free time.  I’m re-committed though, rest-assured!

So, the program here continues to mature every day.  We started out very slowly and small, and now have a bonafide “program” in place.  The horses are all doing well and we are selling them into new homes on a very regular basis.  Without much in the way of advertising, we are also making quite a name for ourselves and regularly hear the phrase “I hear you’re the people to talk to for nice thoroughbreds!”. We love that!

Recently as Suzanne mentioned, we sold a bunch of horses–Remda, Tarzan, Sonny to name a few.  This made room for some new horses and they are such a quality bunch! Today we went up to show the farm and it’s residents to some friends and Suzanne climbed on a bunch of the newbies.  I played–as my role has now evolved into–horse fetcher, holder, tacker-upper and hold-stiller-while-getting-onner.  I am good at this job.  After so many years of plugging along at getting one horse at a time retrained, Suzanne and I have quite a machine of multiple horses going! Ok, Suzanne has them going, I just write the checks, pray for donations and take the pictures 🙂

Ok, enough rambling–I’ll get to the fun stuff–the pictures!

Burgiss is cute!

Burgiss was donated out after failing miserably at Racehorse 101.  With three races under his belt and a whopping $650 in the kitty, he was sent to CANTER after convincing the trainer that racing was no fun and he would rather sit around and smell the roses.  His manhood was chopped from his body and he was officially retired.  Since those three races, he hadn’t been ridden at all, and today he was a STAR! this is going to be a lovely horse for someone who wants an easy but athletic, solid guy.  He needs some muscle and strength, but all the right instincts are there.

Tommy!

Hey Ya’ll! Meet Tommy!  this little guy is Fayyyynnnceeeeee!  He’s so new he’s not even on our site yet.  He’s a four year old who is super quiet, happy to be around people, and such a pretty mover.  He’s another who is very weak behind, but he’ll come along quick.  Watch for updates on this cutiepie!

 

 

Monster picks up where he left off

Moving on, we stuck Suzanne up on Monster who was up at Jessica’s place over the summer, but went through a major growth spurt so we kicked him out with the herd for a while so he could even out.  Well, he evened up, AND OUT! OMG is he fat.  Didn’t miss a beat though, and clocked around the ring like a professional. Did I mention we have a nice lineup of horses or WHAT!?

But wait! There’s more!

Jester is not quite ready for work

We brought Jester out to see how he was doing.  Lovely type and BIG! and pleasant, and sweet, and polite.  He just got his shoes pulled so he was doing his best imitation of a cripply horse, so he’ll get some more time off until he is feeling up to a job.

I should have taken a video for before/after because it is so unbelievably drastic.  Next time 🙂

 

 

 

Mazzey was next, and ohmigooooodness!  Which tiny person do we know that needs one of these?  I mean, do they GET CUTER!?

Mazzey corners the market on cute

And she jumps!

Ok, believe it or not I’ve got MORE horses! But I must end this before I fall over from the tired. I’ll be back, I promise! And we’ll get Suzanne to tell us all about riding these guys.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Jersey Boy goes to the head of the class!

Happy New Year to everyone!

The new year hasn’t changed a whole lot at this end – to me it is a non-stop learning process – about how to manage horses, how to show them, deal with pre-purchase exams, saying Goodbye – saying Hello! and keep the routine as routine as possible!

Three lovely CANTER horses went to their forever homes in the past few weeks. Huge congratulations to Mari from Southern Pines, NC, Madeleine from Pinehurst, NC and Traci, from Yadkinsville, NC  who welcomed Sonrea, King Remda and Lord Greystoke into their lives respectively! So far – all reports are of stellar 4 year olds who are happy, quiet and calm and loving every minute of building new relationships with their new people.  It translates the BEST in their own words!


Traci’s update about Tarzan:

Hi Suzanne,
Merry Christmas! Wanted to give you the up date on Tarzan. So I got him home on Tuesday and he was very good. Decided to go ahead and ride him on Wed. The wind was howling and it was a bit cool. I hand walked him around the ring one time and then decided to get on. He was much more forward than when I tried him down there, but still a very good boy. There was one other horse in the ring with us. I thought the company might be good for him. We walked trotted and canter both directions. I never got the floppy ears, but that would have been asking for a lot on his first day. He was a very good boy and I am so proud of him. So today I got to ride again. The wind was blowing just to hard on Thursday to ride. I had company once again. We started out in the ring and did our walk trot and canter. Once again he was more forward but also more relaxed this time. We decided to head out into the field to walk out there. He was sooooooo good. He wanted to go first and was very brave. His head was up and he was looking around and sniffing the air alot. I have to say that he really feels like a big horse when he is out in the field and walking out. Wow what a stride! We walked all over and he didn’t mind our little pond. But when we got to the jumps in the field he was looking at them hard. So I told him we had to go and touch them. He was sooo good once again. Very brave but telling me he was unsure. I just tried to sit deep and wrap my legs around him to encourage him to go take a look at everything. He try’s so hard and has such a big heart. As we were walking back to the barn he was picking up the pace. I thought we were back at the races, at the walk. HA HA! Wow what a big stride he has. I can’t wait to see what it will be like when he has muscle and is strong. He is a very good boy and we are getting to know each other. I will have to get use to him being more forward. Oh, and he loves going over the poles on the ground in the ring. And he even tired to eat one of the flowers off the flower box. That was just to funny.
Thanks again for all your help and have a very Merry Christmas. I hope all the horses are well. Take care and I will send you more up dates soon.
Traci

And from Madeleine:

Had the BEST ride on Remda today !! Hate to be a bore…but ,I’m still happy….both of our light bulbs went off and we figured out how to get what we wanted !!! Its been a long time for me and brand new to him…. but now, I get an arena length of round, relaxed down, back up trot ( hard to post to on him) and he got me to stop asking with my hands. 🙂 He just prefers very little contact, so I get it now, and I will work with that. Then, we decided we would head straight into the woods for our first trail ride . We went out alone and no problems ! He marched right ahead and loved it ! What a good guy 🙂 I’m very lucky.

I can’t tell you how happy it makes me – and how rewarding it is – to read these words about our horses. Such lovely animals, such AWESOME new owners and partners for them. YAY!


Vida, the filly formerly known as Frita/Rita, is going awesome.  Not only is she a joy to work with, but has the brain we all dream of. Oh, did I mention she’s put together also like a dream? And moves awesome, too. She’s just hacking out now- and by that I mean w-t-c in the woods, through water and, um, in the dark! Hey, when you hack out at 4:30 in January it sometimes gets dark before you get home! She’s terrific, and we’re very excited for her future.


Tommy and Hurry – the two horses Allie brought down from Maryland a few weeks ago =are doing great! They weren’t the ones she planned on bringing – they were just a few weeks off the track – but the lifestyle of turnout and snow wasn’t agreeing with them. She decided to bring them down to our warmer climate – and to where we could keep a close eye on them.  First was to pull their racing plates, which made their feet WAY more comfortable. Then put blankets on so they didn’t have to work so hard to keep warm. In two weeks they both have light in their eyes and are happy and packing on the pounds. Both are 3 year old geldings, adorable boys, and in a month or two will be starting their retraining. Maybe sooner since they are getting fatter and happier by the day!

Since our inventory has been depleted in the past few weeks I’ve started working with Mazzie again- who, since she is a young 3 year old, we gave more time to to let her grow a bit more – she’s grown at least 2 inches since she arrived in the summer and is ready to start hacking out and having some fun!  I’ve been on her a few times and she has been  foot perfect.  At first we just walked and trotted a bit in the ring – and even trotted over a pole on the ground between jump standards which didn’t bother her in the least! Today she did more of the same with the same great results. She is very forward, sensitive and things jumping little crossrails is the coolest thing ever. She moves better by the day and is going to be a fancy little sportscar for some lucky person! Can’t wait to report more on how she progresses!

And now to the head of the class! Jersey is a changed man since the departure of his beloved Tarzan – He is way more serious about his work and even though I was gone for 5 days for Christmas – he went on a very quiet hack yesterday all by his lonesome -and even trotted and cantered out in an open field without batting an eye! Such a good boy – So looking forward to moving him to Aberdeen where the hacking is endless – that way he’ll have something to engage his active little brain!  He is a pretty lazy boy so I am looking for ways to make his feet move as fast as his mind!  I “made” Allie get on just to trot around so she would understand why I gush and go on and on about how nice he is to ride! Naturally she instantly got it and I got to drool over my adorable, fancy boy! All this aside, he is also a cheeky little monkey so he definitely keeps me on my toes for the sudden spook – he’s way more interested in things going on around him than in his work.   As he gets more broke and used to hacking out I think he’ll keep his eyes on his OWN paper and the silliness will dimish.. a little anyway. 🙂

More horses coming down to North Carolina on Wednesday! Yay!

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Let’s talk about the weather….

Welcome to Winter in the Sandhills of North Carolina! It’s put a cramp in my riding style but I’m getting back at it  – come what may!

This past week we braved weather that has made it impossible if not merely ICKY to ride ..Last Saturday we showed three CANTER heese to some great people! Even in the freezing rain and blowing wind, and changed atmosphere of bringing them into the barn and into stalls – with strangers milling about, they were all very good! We showed Remda, Jersey, Wheatie, and Tarzan.  I also showed them Fortheloveofrita, who hadn’t been in work, really, but it was great exposure for her anyway.

Despite the lousy conditions our stars shined!

Remda has since been vetted and is going to his new home with our friend and CANTER volunteer Madeleine! She was very concerned about how quiet he would be – he’d only been ridden a few times so she asked me to hop on first.  So for his fifth ever ride since getting off the track – he was a perfect gentleman ! Madeleine has Evented through the Preliminary level in the past, but hasn’t ridden in a long time – we all know what that can do to our confidence and balance. But she caught the bug again while helping with the CANTER horses in Cameron – she wanted a horse who was quiet and patient with her as she “remembered how to ride!”  Remda totally rose to the occasion.  A quiet and no – nonsense boy, it was amazing to watch as Madeleine rode him and her confidence came back! I can’t wait to watch and help them realize their potential! Look for them at the spring and summer events  and shows around Southern Pines! I’m also thrilled to be riding Remda for her once in a while to keep him on the right track as she gets back in the swing of things!

Traci from Yadkinsville came to see Tarzan – let me tell you how rewarding it is to watch “my” babies go so well for strangers! He was totally relaxed – just one of his endearing qualities is the fact that his ears flop sideways when he’s happy and relaxed! How adorable is that?! Traci came back today to hack out with me and to get further proof of Tarzan’s awesomeness and quietness! We hacked around the farm in Cameron, NC.. and even had a canter across a field – because of the weather Tarzan hadn’t been ridden in nearly a week and his class and coolness shined through! Fingers crossed because this will be a great home for him – one where a very good rider will help him realize HIS full potential!! Yay!

In the meantime we’re thinking of the winter schooling days at the Carolina Horse Park to take a few for their first cross country schools.. and then maybe to the Pipe Opener starter events!

Allie just drove 2 three year old geldings down to Cameron so we can give them some much deserved TLC and attention! I’m figuring out that as sad as I am to see some of my beloved projects move on, there are more waiting in the wings!

If you’re interested in any of our youngsters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Getting into a Rhythm

Hi folks, here’s the latest news ! We’ve put a few of the Cameron cutenesses into work last week! We decided that so many were ready for a job – and it would be great to have a handful “going” so that we can tell people about them when they inquire!

This is Sonny-

Sonny has settled in down to Aberdeen hanging with Tippy and getting ridden there! He’s become MR Personality since starting his retraining. He waits at the gait and runs up to me in the field. What a transformation – this is a horse that was quite aloof in Cameron.. and is now very enthusiastic and interested in work!  He has already gone on a trip to the Foundation with 5 other horses and was very good – he has jumped little logs and a small cross rail and so far is NOT impressed!  His flatwork is coming along, he goes really well in a nathe bit.  We went for a hack over the weekend and our friend Yvonne rode him – and she loved him. It is wonderful to see others get on the babies and have them be so relaxed and happy. We have a few people who have inquired about Sonny – so we’ll be showing him to them in the next weeks!

Lady Wheaton-

We always say a good mare is worth their weight in gold! The photo above is her “before” picture taken when she just arrived! She is fat and fluffy now! New photos will be posted soon !

I already have the feeling that Wheatie is just such a special girl. She is a pretty, lovely moving mare ( or is she a filly? just 3 years old!) – She is a dark bay with a blaze and three white socks.  We have been doing a little ring work –just walk, trot, canter- then we typically go on a little walk just around the paddocks.. a mini-hack.. which she found especially fun the other day as the wind was gusting. J  She is very happy to have a job, though.  As with all of them I try to establish a routine of some sort, so that they know what to expect in these early weeks. Of course, this depends but we’ve been known to take green beans on trips to the Foundation straight away! After I rode Lady Wheaton the first time she strutted back to the paddock like she was Naomi Campbell on the catwalk –  So, we’ll be doing very light work in the ring to get her going and do lots of hacking around to build her balance and strength.  She will be moving down to Aberdeen at the end of the week so it will be very easy to get her out and about and start her over little fences!

Jersey-

Jersey is in love with his boyfriend Tarzan – so he likes to make squealing noises while I ride him which make me laugh out loud. Jersey is about 16 hands tall but with a great build – or he will have when his topline gets built up. (he’s  a 4 year old plain bay he has about 12 white hairs on his forehead!)  He’s a bit cheeky, which I think is funny since we call his friend  “Tarzan” and HE’S the one that acts like a monkey!  But so far it has been all just “talk”.  He has a sweet temperament, and has already shown remarkable movement and natural balance. When he settles into work he’s just super!  Because he has an active little brain I think just hacking out more than anything resembling real work will be really great for him and so I want to focus on that.  I want him to keep thinking his life is FUN!

This is Tarzan – he’s a quiet big boy who I think is going to be VERY special! He has such a quiet mind and desire to please! He has just learned to stretch down and its becoming his favorite thing to do. I love riding him.

Tarzan-

If you have any questions about these horses, do get in touch!

Cheers

Suz

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sold!

If you’re like me, life seemed to speed up like crazy in the last few weeks. I blame it on my bad reaction to Daylight Savings Time, of which I am NOT a big fan – for the first week I put my pajamas on at 6:30 – I’m not kidding. It is such a weird adjustment!

In other awesome news….!

Rocket went to the best EVER forever home we could have imagined ! Seriously I honestly couldn’t be happier if I were twins! Congratulations to Wendy from Winston-Salem for her gorgeous new member of the family ! This event- Rocket going to his new home –touched us all so much – it really hits home the REASON that we all work doing what we do- this is the icing on the cake.  It is a joy to know a horse with a sad history comes through and gets a forever home with such a loving family. It’s the classic hero story.  Go Rocket!

If you know me (and maybe even if you don’t), then you’ve been informed MANY times that the CANTER mid-Atlantic online auction is on NOW!!!  Check it out here: http://cantermafallauction.proboards.com/ There are tons of things to bid on = from baked goods, to art pieces to tack and lessons from a veritable who’s who of big name horse trainers and riders! Thank you to everyone involved – Kelly has worked her butt off getting it pulled together!

AND we even made it onto the pages of the very cool Eventing Nation – http://www.eventingnation.com/home/ as well as the USEA website! http://useventing.com/blog/?p=13996 Go us!

In the meantime – and I’m promising here.. I’m going to buy a new little camera so I can post pictures of the cuteness we have in Cameron.  I’ve started 4 horses in training – Remda, Wheatie, Sonny and Jersey – Sonny is down with us in Aberdeen turned out with Tippy. They are all very well behaved so far – I don’t  ever anticipate that they won’t be! More about these lovely horses next time – which will be SOON!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Rocket and Tarzan and Jersey, Oh MY!

I’m finally pulling all my little pieces of paper and snippets together to write it all down -So much goes on I have trouble writing about it before something ELSE happens!  But I’ll try anyway..We’ll just we have to go back a few days…

Last week we checked out the babies up in Cameron – I test drove Jersey and Tarzan and they were both very good!

This was the first time either had been ridden since coming off the track at LEAST 3 months ago. As usual we insist on at least that long for them to be turned out so they can remember how to be horses, completely relax, let down and give them the chance to tell US when they’re ready for a new job!  So it is ALL new to them.

Once Allie gives me a leg up they are all business really.  They just have NO idea whats going on or what I want from them. That’s the “clean slate” feeling I’ve talked about. The steering isn’t quite there, and some of them don’t know what “the leg” means. They’re all a little different though, and these two were no exception.

Jersey is a very cute 4 year old bay gelding – he’s about 15. 3 -16 hands.  A very cute build and an adorable face complete this little package!  He already moves great and when he gets strong and figures out how fun it is he will be A-MAAAAYYY-zing! Talk about cocky- he got visibly puffed up because he can haz a job soon!  But don’t get me wrong – I  got winded trying to get him to GO!  I can’t lie to ya -He’s going to be seriously cute.

Tarzan is a handsome big chestnut who – until I got on him actually acted a big fool, running around .. trying to buck.. ahem ::).. He needs to relax in his back a bit so he, too, can learn that YES HE CAN take a big step! He is so sensible, uphill and balanced already. As with many horses right off the track, he’s a bit tight in his back, and a little bit inverted. But he picked up both leads: he gave me the feeling someone took their time with him when he was first started.

Such personalities! So cute! I love how sensible they are – its going to be super easy to get them going – their good attitudes are half the battle! It’s amazing how different they will feel from now 0n – the first ride is usually nothing like the ride after it.. and so on.

Rocket: I’ve been working on getting him to trot – and to really step out – his gaits had been sort of manufactured… with very little adjustability.. not shorter, not longer.. one size stride fits all.. I KNOW there is a bigger step in there so we go on nice trots through the woods and he’s really starting to trust his balance – and the fact that he won’t get slammed in the mouth – and is opening up his shoulder, letting go of his back and getting some good ol’ suspension going on! wahoooo!

Aaaaannnd….just when you fall in love a little bit things totally change! (for the better!) Stay tuned…

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Its only Rock and Roll, but I like it!

A few days ago I met Allie in up at the farm in Cameron and felt like Velvet Brown when she inherited a bunch of horses…! Got on Mazzie, Remda and Sonny – – so different from each other and all so ridiculously adorable and good! I’m so lucky to be able to ride them!

Mazzie: compact potential bouncing ball – if this filly doesn’t jump a big jump someday I’ll be very surprised! Between callling to her friend Lady Wheaton she was fairly quiet and sensible, though very athletic and sensitive. Naturally balanced, cute mover. America’s Next Top Bridle Model! So cute – she’s next in line to start “real” training – and I can’t wait.

Remda: has amateur written all over him – don’t know when he was ridden last but you’d think he was in full work.  I hacked him to a little grassy area where the footing was better (all these guys are barefoot)  and trotted and cantered around like a total gentleman.  He’s going to be SO fun and easy to retrain.
Sonny: Athletic little gray dirtbike.  Full enough of himself to be one of those fancy Italian kinds. Lovely natural gaits and all business and professional when you’re on him.  We’ll work on his ground manners. Future event horse? I think so!

And the best news we’ve had lately – aside from Tater moving on to his new home! – is that we’ve started working with Rocket (aka. Rocky, Rock Star, I love RocknRoll, King of Rock..etc)  came to CANTER from an apparently unhappy place.  Alhough he doesn’t match the typical CANTER profile, he had been in the CANTER listings a few years ago and came from a trainer who is a very good friend to CANTER. He is a gorgeous  9yo dark bay gelding.

We don’t know all of the details, but when he stood shaking in the back of his stall  – terrified of making a wrong move or doing anything wrong -we had a pretty good idea of his past.

What we DO know:

We know he has a lot of show experience,  or at least experience in the ring. He jumps like a dream and is (like his name says..) very HANDSOME. He’s the prettiest thing – when he first came to CANTER Jess quickly found out that he had serious fear of  leaving the ring or hacking, nor had he ever been turned out with other horses, and at first he stood alone in the corner of the paddock trembling.  Poor guy!

It was decided that a few months at Spa ala Cameron might be the ticket. Soon, his horsey ways came back to him and he  made his way to the top of the herd. He was able to breathe a visible sigh of relief, put his head down and BE A HORSE among other HEESE! YAY! Fast forward to a few weeks ago and a new Rocket emerged! Once again I marvel at what the amazing Dr. Green can do!

I hopped on him about a week ago in the ring in Cameron just to feel him out. He was very good – and our walk trot canter session only lasted about 10 minutes – the footing was a bit hard. The next day I got on and took him for a little  walk and then off the farm into some adjacent crop fields. He definitely looked at things –  he hadn’t been ridden in a few months so for me that’s totally normal. We had a little trot and canter in a field and called it a Good Day! The next time we went on a bit longer hack – around a pond, more cantering about all without issue! So we brought him down to Aberdeen to be in “full work”.   He went on a nice hack with Allie on Phinny. Then this weekend we went to the Moss Foundation to not only hack but get on a trailer and hack somewhere different. Again, not a foot wrong, such a good boy. He’s a bit weak behind though – but we’ll fix that in time. He jumped down the line of logs by great!  Since then he’s hacked out by himself, with dogs running around his feet – such a happy boy! The plan for him is to keep his ring work to a minimum.. and focus on nice long hacks to make sure he knows that his life has changed. oh we might toss the occasional hunter pace in, too. 🙂

I can’t wait till he’s ready to start showing Rocket to people who want come to see him – they better be ready for some serious vetting on OUR part though, if they want to take this sweetheart home.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Saying goodbye to Cecil

 

Cecil

Happy Cecil

 

On Sunday I sadly got to experience the down side of horsemanship. You never understand, really until you experience the loss first hand. From our first pony club horses we learn the basics:   how to groom and tack up, to treat boo-boos, and pick out feet. This is all part of taking care of our horses.  We put fly spray on them and wave flies away from their eyes, we run to smack one of those huge horrible bomber flies off of their backs. We give them vaccinations, worm them, have their feet and teeth taken care of by the best professionals we can find. We massage them if they’re sore, and we blanket them if they’re cold.

This is all part of horse care, and when it comes to final care-giving –to decide to help them by making their pain stop,  we owe it to them to give them that care. It’s a gesture coming from a place of love and trying to help them, however painful it is for US.  It sucks to watch a horse suffer and its  unbearably frustrating to feel unable to help them.  But we CAN help them. And we helped Cecil when he needed us most.

Sunday afternoon Cecil colicked – we had just returned from a wonderful hack and on the way back to the paddock he tried to lay down as I was leading him. I knew something wasn’t right – I had the sinking feeling that we all get. I gave him banamine and had the vet out immediately.

When examined he seemed like it was resolving. The vet didn’t feel any impaction, he was acting normally and we all thought he’d be ok. An hour after the vet left Cecil went down again. I had to greet Allie from her trip to the WEG with “we need to call the vet again.” Back came the vet. More meds to help his pain didn’t help him, at all, and he appeared to be getting worse before our eyes. It came on very fast, and was very aggressive. Ultimately, the decision was made to put him down, and it broke our hearts.

As I recover from the shock of us losing him, I’ve sat down many times to try to write about him.

But before I could get to writing about this difficult reality of horsemanship, I was eclipsed by others’ writing about their own experiences and stories about him.

When Cecil first came to CANTER, he was with Kelly and she wrote about him being all grumpy and annoyed when she tried to groom him. He was all full of piss and vinegar until she laid the saddle pad on his back. Suddenly, the fire breathing dragon was proven to be a big phony and the true blue sweetheart was exposed. Although he won 3 stakes races, and nearly $400K, we have video proof her trying to get him to canter… this is priceless in my opinion!

He really didn’t want to run anymore.  He was happy going for a nice swingy trot in the woods jumping logs and even piles of stones!  As Allie said, he was destined to be someone’s awesome foxhunter.

Allie wrote about him going to a home in NC where he was bored and angry, and turned out with a horse he clearly thought of as inferior.  And as we all know: idle hooves are the devil’s playground.

He allegedly tried to bite people, cribbed incessantly, refused to stand on crossties and head bonked people. (well, that last one is true..)  He wanted to be with his equals – other thoroughbreds! So we took him back!

We turned him out with my horse ,Tip, another serious self –fancier who likes to put teeth marks on those HE decides are inferior. Tip never put a mark on Cecil and they spent days eating the same piece of grass, watching over each other sleeping,  drinking out of the trough together, and taking turns eating carrots – never a cross word between them.

Cecil never gave me a moment’s worry or hesitation when riding him. Though he wasn’t the most athletic jumper, he would try so hard, and though his eyes said, ”Seriously?” the rest of him would try his heart out. On our last hack he popped up a tiny bank and felt fantastic! He felt like such a part of the family that I often forgot he was for sale. He was forgiving and honest – I believe he spent his life trying to do what people wanted him to do.

I would tell him every day that very soon he’d get his very own person.  But, Cecil thought he already had found his forever people. His people were Allie, Kelly, me,  and everyone involved with CANTER.  It was Boo and her daughter, Carson, whose farm he lived at and who fed him bags of carrots!  His was such a big personality: there was plenty of him to go around!

It was all of us whose paths he had crossed who loved his robust personality, studly little strut, and no nonsense work ethic.  Yes, Cecil had already found his forever people the moment CANTER first picked him up… and we had found him. He left this world surrounded by his people and we loved him, and I think he knew it.

I already miss him very much.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Schooling?…yes! Show?…not so much…

Sunday morning Tater got a bath -( and not just because we were tempting Fate and wanted it to rain! ) – we were headed out the the ” last schooling jumper show’ of the year at Pippa’s! Well for some reason, her schooling jumper shows.. and us.. can’t seem to jive – one time we packed up ponies and drove over only to find that we had the date wrong.. oops! This time, a few people had come out and shown, but the impending rain made them decide to cancel! UGH! Rain? People: after 3 months of 100 degree weather I WANTED to ride in the rain! 🙂

Anyhooters, since Pippa is so awesome and nice, she let us go ahead and school the horses in her ring – jumps all set up and everything! Basically, despite the lack of “show atmosphere” I was glad to be able to get Tater off the farm, and out of his normal routine and comfort zone – that’s always a great indicator of their attitude and lets you check it off the list: yep, trailers out to go schooling ! check!

In the spirit of being totally honest, I confess when I first got on he was a little “up”… but his version of ‘up’ is just feeling more balanced, without any effort on my part! hah! Perfect!

He put himself  in the right balance for work – for jumping especially! More perfect because this is what I’ve been working on with him – to train/allow/ask/pray for- him to hold himself up. Like a lot of young horses (and ex racehorses ) he wants to go along on his forehand, so his downward transitions have found him sometimes feeling like he’s falling in a heap. Its that vicious circle where they can’t do it until they are strong enough, and they can’t get strong enough unless they DO IT!  Tater gets better by the day, and will get even better with whoever the lucky person is who gets to take him on!

The ring was already set up with brightly colored jumps – also a first for Tater.  We mosied around for a few minutes taking it all in.  Then settled on the little green and white vertical at the short end of the ring to start with. We walked up towards it.. picked up our trot and popped over! This first time I was in my defensive stance – hands wide to steer him to the middle of the jump.. but seriously folkeses, it doesn’t get much more uncomplicated than this:

Tater took to it very quickly! He is genuine and quiet but did do the green-bean-side-to-side-yes-I-really-mean-go-OVER-that-thing-in-front-of-us move in front of the first jump. But after trotting up to the first 3 or 4 little fences he really started to get it – I never felt like I had to kick him down to anything.. it was more “showing” him the way over the fence.

Our goal was not just to get him out and about but to actually school him. Since he wants to be on his forehand at the moment, he tends to land from the little jumps and speed up – which might feel like he gets strong – only not! So I jumped him out of the trot, and then got the trot back quickly after the jumps. Not to mention that it was raining! And I forgot to bring gloves (gasp!) and had braided leather reins so I had a very slippery grip to say the least!  On the flat it is hard for him to transition downward, from canter to trot, trot to walk and even walk to halt – so naturally these things are magnified over fences. Even over little tiny first time fences.

Soon he was taking us down to everything – ears pricked forward, he loves his job!He was SO good through a 4 stride line where he trotted in and we kept cantering through – he’s going to be an easy, straightforward ride!

(Did I mention it was finally raining!? yay!)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

What’s it gonna take to put you on this Ex-Racehorse today?

Tater

Tater Trots

This past week or so I’ve been engaged in one of the most unpleasant and demoralizing activities known  to human-kind.  No, I didn’t have a root canal or a visit to the gynecologist.  This is even worse:  I was shopping for a new car.

As I went from dealership to dealership, my list of criteria gripped tightly in my hand, it became more and more clear to me must how similar car shopping is to horse shopping.

We all know what we want. And we weigh this against what we can afford.  Sometimes the important qualities of practicality are overpowered by the more important stuff, like what color we want. (you know, I really do want a black one..!)  Along the way, though, we figure out what we can do without, what deficiencies we think we can overcome with our own expertise and then…maybe….just maybe… we’ll find the ones capture our hearts and imaginations and at the same time are the deals of the century!

Take Tater:  he’s pretty much like the car I’m shopping for:  your most basic model.  It’s pretty much standard features only and not a lot of bells and whistles ( to be honest NO bells and NO whistles, either!)  Power- steering and brakes? Almost!  He has a nice smooth ride, he must have good shocks! J  I like an economical and quick little car, one that’s cute and an easy keeper – not too many trips to the gas pump!  I want something zippy and sporty to drive and with really nice handling on the road.

On the websites for some of these dealerships they allow you to start with the basics and “build” your car by adding on features, for a price.  So, add on air conditioning, tinted windows and an xm satellite radio – that adds about $1500 to the price.  Likewise, as we add on “puts head down”, “picks up both leads” and “jumps ditches” and the last addition “ trots right into water!” the price will also go up!   At the moment, Tater is a basic model, but a very cool one,  he has a few extras  built in and the rest will come on very quickly. He’s the Honda Fit that I really want.

Now take Cecil: at 11 years old he’s a standout in our pasture of relative babies. Because of his age I found I expected more from him – training-wise, but he, too, has only the standard features.

He reminds me of this cool older car I saw on the side of the road while at Richland Park horse trials a few weeks ago –did anyone else see it?  It looked like a Thunderbird, circa 1960-ish, lavender paint, with chrome (yeah baby, lots of chrome!) That car probably has none of the high tech features we take for granted on newer cars today.  I’m sure it has no CD player, no power steering or brakes, for sure. It’s made of Steel not fiberglass and plastic like today’s automobiles.  But it’s a cool car, a very groovy car. The car of James Dean and Elvis: an American classic. Though it’s a bit older it sure was cool in its day, not to mention: fast!

I can imagine when you drove down the street people stopped to look.  They’d  say, “Wow, that is a bad ass car!” When you drove it you automatically felt cool, like you were a part of automotive history.

That’s Cecil. As It’s A Monster, he won nearly $400K including several stakes races.  He may have more history behind him than a lot of our CANTER babies, but it’s a cool history, a very interesting history.  His history is definitelyAnd one to be proud of.  He’s the epitome of the American racehorse –an American classic.  In his day he was among the best, not to mention: fast!  🙂

I can imagine that people stopping to look at him in the post parade and in the winner’s circle. (especially,  if they had just won money,  thanks to him! ) They’d say, “Wow,  that is a bad ass horse!”  When you ride him you know you’re on something very cool, and you automatically feel special, like you’re suddenly part of racehorse history.

So, in the end I don’t really know what kind of car I’ll end up buying. Time and a few more test rides will tell.  Meanwhile, I’m lucky enough to get to “test” ride Cecil and Tater every day.  And unlike cars, their value goes UP when you drive them off the lot.

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments