Hey, remember when I was like “oh yeah, I’ll totally post every week about every single ride, shouldn’t be a biggie right?” Ahahahaha. That was ambitious. Looks like I owe a rundown on the past three months– in bullet point form for the obsessive-compulsive among us
(read: yours truly).
- Eliot has been coming along wonderfully. I picked up a shareboard on him for July and AUgust (because I’m totally not getting attached, etc) so had lots of opportunities to ride him. His biggest booger remains the horse-eating pile of jumps in one corner of the outdoor…I hear that it’s the 1001st time you pass by them when the monsters spring out at you, but you can never be too certain. Right now it’s just a matter of enough repetitions of “nice try kid, but spooking at something you’ve seen a million times before is not going to get you out of work, so we’re just gonna keep going.” I’ve also been lungeing him (like actually lungeing with warmup time and sidereins and such, not crazy get your yahoos out in lieu of putting in work in the saddle lungeing *brushes chip off shoulder*) once a week or so and it’s really helping his canter transitions and balance.
As goofy as he can be at times, when the chips come down he continues to impress me with his good mind. He went on his first trail ride a few weeks ago and other than some slight
sitting down when he got confusedstickiness at the ditch leading to the trailhead, he didn’t bat an eye and in fact even led the way some.
All his correct work and a better feeding program has enable him to grow one of those things we call… wait for it… a NECK. He looks more and more like a real horse and less like a gangly baby every time I see him.
At the end of this month, he’ll be moving home to Not-So-Broken Pony Land for the winter. We don’t have an indoor so we will be entirely at the mercy of Mother Polar Vortex, but I think that being in a small herd/pasture setting will do wonders for his brain, and since both Pearl and Tucker are steady-eddies I foresee lots of trail rides, bushwhacking, and general exposure in his future. It’ll be much easier on his mom having him in her backyard, too.
- The cat’s out of the bag and Austin’s mom is having a two-legged baby due early winter. I’ve been squeezing some rides in on him where possible. Most notably we Did A Thing and I had my first jumping bareback experience…
OK, so it was really more an elevated canter stride, but it did wonders for my confidence and now I can cross it off my bucket list…trust her though I may, Mrs. DeerJump McWithers was probably not the best candidate for such activities.
- Unsurprisingly, the lovely lady herself is still lame.
A little bit less lame each time (I usually evaluate the week of farrier), but definitely Not Sound. The good news, though, is the above video is her without Previcox… while she’s obviously still off at the trot, she’s sound at the walk which is better than the last time I tried pulling her off it. So, the game plan continues to be Apply Essence of Time Daily, with as many walking adventures as we can squeeze in. There is a trail system in the area but membership is prohibitively expensive at this point, so for now we stick to just the property. She should make a good trail buddy for Eliot, though. And her quirky personality continues to make me laugh every time I see her. As I keep repeating, it doesn’t matter if I never get to trot/canter/jump her again; I’m just so thankful she’s comfortable enough I get to keep her around forever.
- The kindness and generosity of horse people continues to astound me, and I’ve picked up yet another ride(s). My worldview tends to go a little something like this: “Everything good that happens to me is purely by chance, and everything bad that happens to me is because the universe has personally selected me to be followed around by a little black raincloud.” Now, intellectually I know that doesn’t make sense, but clearly it’s going to take a lot more than 8+ years of therapy to convince me otherwise. The riding opportunities I’ve been afforded have been an essential component of helping me to challenge this belief. I don’t get handed rides just ’cause– it’s because I work my ass off trying to be a good rider, a good horsewoman, a good person, and people see that and are kind enough to want to help me along in my journey. Every day I think about how grateful I am to all parties involved– the kind people who have offered me rides through this coming-up-on-a-year of mystery lameness hell, their horses who have challenged me and taught me how to ride many different types of horses, and not least the ever-wonderful Christy, who has taught me how to tap into my strengths as a rider and has advocated for me every step of the “oh, I’m looking for someone who could maybe hop on my horse a couple times a week when I can’t, can you recommend anyone” way. I started riding at a barn that was very firmly divided into once-a-week Lesson Kids vs. Show Team, and I spent the first 5 years of my riding career convinced that since I couldn’t afford to be in a show program, I’d never be more than mediocre at best. I’ve snatched up every possible opportunity for horse time over the last few years, and it has paid off in spades.So, my new ride! His name is Chaucer and he’s a 13-year-old OTTB. Prior to coming here, he’d done some eventing and some straight dressage and was in a full training program pretty much the whole time. He is very much a big horse in a little plain brown package. He’s been a fun challenge for me while getting him fit after some time off– he’s got big forward gaits, but he naturally wants to be behind your leg, so it’s been good for me figuring out how to convey that when I use leg aids I don’t just want faster, I want you to do something with your body. Also, he can MOVE.
I think I will be starting up lessons on him soon, so we can get our butts kicked into being more polished, and maybeevenI’llgettoshowhimatsomepointshhhdon’tjinxit.I also occasionally get to ride his brother Darco when their mom can’t make it, and he’s another one I am beyond privileged to sit on. He’s a 22-year-old Dutch ex-jumper and from the second you pull him out of his stall you can practically hear him screaming “hello, I GOT this, I know my job.”
He also gives me a little bit of hope, because he’s coming back from extended (think years, not months) layup after a soft tissue injury, and if he can do it at 22 then maybe…
- I have a major horsey crush and if all the stars align maybe Pearl will have a little brother someday? Obviously I can’t go about acquiring horses in the conventional way at a financially sound time. So back in February, I was
obsessivelycasually scouring all the Thoroughbred databases looking for relatives to my Tommy-horse. Found a mare with the same sire and damsire, who made $300k+ on the track. Thought “hmm, she’s a mare, maybe she’s got some foals on the ground” and sure enough yup she does. A filly-now-mare with her own baby this year, a couple uncut colts, an unraced filly so presumably I’d have no luck with those as they could be heading to the breeding shed…but she’s also got a 2010 son, gelded, by A.P. Indy. Gentleman’s Honor. Add him to my Virtual Stable on Equibase. Watch a couple race replays. Try contacting a few people through facebook groups to see if they know the owners/breeders, but no luck. Get an email notification one day that he’s racing… at Arlington. Well, why the hell wouldn’t I go? Show up to the paddock and hope he’s some downhill gangly thing that looks like he’d never make it as a sporthorse.
Hahaha, nope. He’s freakin’ stunning. And while all the others are jigging and snorting he just calmly walks around the paddock waiting to be saddled.
He tries, but he comes in 8th of 10. Looks perfectly happy to run, just not fast enough. I have my “hey, if he’s ever ready to retire” speech rehearsed and my name and phone number on a slip of paper in hand but can’t find the owners afterward.OK, now I’ve got to find a way to get in touch with his people. Engage my Google-fu and find the trainer’s wife on facebook. Shoot her a “hey, I’m not ready to buy yet, but if he retires in the next year or so let me know” message…and receive a “oh that’s an adorable story, he’s racing again at Arlington in August, stay in touch and we’ll meet up and you can come back to the barns after and meet him” phone call in return. Excuse me, is this real life still?So, I got to try my hand at racing from the other perspective. Hang out in the paddock and watch him being saddled.
Calm as can be.
Maybe too calm, as he finished 6th of 8.
And then I got to meet my first real live racehorse! He is a gentleman indeed. It’s funny, I’ve never thought about it that way before, but really I’ve only known pet horses. He was sweet as can be but very reserved about it… a byproduct of not (yet) being taught to mug for cookies I guess! Just an all around class act.
Trainers/owners/grooms/I all agree he seems like he’s stiff in his hind end, but he’s been x-rayed up and down. Last I heard they were going to try some chiro and longer warmups. And in the middle of typing this post I get a message from his owner that “my boy” is racing tonight at Mountaineer and do I have a way to watch…thank you iPhone! Everybody cross fingers he does well enough to keep going for a couple more races, because I don’t think I can swing it just yet…but maybe soon-ish! And I definitely don’t have a name picked out or a likely-candidate saddle bought or am in the process of amassing all the burgundy accessories because that’s going to be his color, or anything like that. That would just be silly.