Wednesday, November 29, 2017

He's da bomb!

I think my favorite part about getting Thoroughbreds off the track is restarting them. I love seeing them develop their own personality, and watch their brains work as they try to understand this new way of going.

I purchased Tom, JC Tomthebomb, from Finger Lakes Racetrack in Farmington, New York in May. Very rarely do I spend the kind of money I spent on him on an OTTB, but he was super cute and advertised as 16.3 at only 3 y/o. The trek down there isn't that far, only 4 hours, so I was pretty excited when he came up on my computer screen. My dad and I set off early one morning and were a the track by 10 am. When Tom was led out to meet us, I couldn't believe how cute he was. however, he was definitely not 16.3. Given that I had already spent a decent chunk of money getting his paperwork done to bring him home, I wasn't going to leave him there, so we loaded up and headed home. I guessed he was probably 16h, and I was bang on. Well, he's 16 1/2h.

How can you not love this face!?

He was pretty anxious about life, so he had the whole summer and fall to just hang out and learn to be a horse again, and that things weren't nearly as stressful as he thought they were. I don't keep any of my horses inside, and Tom is no exception. He does better outside anyway. They all come in for about 30-60 min daily to eat their grain and relax, then out they go.

I started Tom back into work 2 weeks ago. I had ridden him a few times this fall, just w/t in the ring for 10 min a couple times and once on a hack in the field with a friend. He is SO easygoing (ie. LAZY). Getting this horse to show any amount of spark is ridiculous; he just doesn't care. I rode him a few times, just seeing what he knew, getting his steering figured out and the fact that he had to go when I said go. We did a little canter each way, which was lovely once I convinced him it wouldn't be that much effort. He picked up both leads no problem, and is actually quite balanced. Then he began work on the longe. He's been in side reins 3 times now, and is really starting to understand that I would like him to try and stretch down and move out. I keep our work short on the longe, 20 min at the most, as he is such a baby still and it's hard work for him.

I can really see him enjoying being back to work. He is so happy to stand in the cross ties and be groomed and loved on. He stands so well, so quiet, and readily takes the bit and walks out to the ring. He was quite funny today, with everyone else running around like idiots, he decided he needed to as well, though he was very polite about it. He's starting to get very confident about where his feet are, and he can canter a very nice circle when he gets his motor going. We also did some trot poles for the first time, and he stretched very nicely over them.

He's in a bit of an ugly baby stage right now, but I think with time and work, he's going to be such a nice little horse for someone!

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Ponies, ponies, ponies

It's nearing the end of November, and generally this is when the weather gets pretty sketchy in Canada. However, this month, it's been pretty good, which means I've been able to get lots of riding in.

I have started lightly riding Tom this week, and he is so hilarious to ride. I always find it funny that people think TBs and OTTBs are crazy, because when I restart them they are generally so damn lazy. Tom is no exception; I have to carry a stick with him and he thinks trotting more then once around the sand ring is way too much work. Since he is still such a baby, we aren't doing much; he has done a little bit of trot work, walked over some poles, and cantered a few strides each way. I like to get them out hacking as well; gives them variety and gets them thinking about where their feet are, since they are used to being ridden on perfect footing. Tom thinks hills are way too much effort, and he isn't so sure about going out alone, but he does what he's asked with minimal silliness. The work seems to be calming him down in the field too, not that he is super hyper, but he gets anxious when others start work for the day.

Zippy has been putting away at relaxing into the contact. He tries so hard and wants to be a good boy. His canter is coming along well, he's straightening out and getting stronger. I took him out for a gallop in the fields the other day, and for the first time he actually stretched out and galloped, as opposed to keeping his head up to protect his mouth. He seemed to really enjoy it once he realized it was fun and not a big deal. He accompanied one of my boarder's with her horse on a hack on Tuesday as well; her horse is not a great trail horse, and Zippy was just so calm and carefree that it seemed to really help Ozzie settle.

Lily has been an angel as always. Hack on Monday and light flat work yesterday. She focused very well considering Ozzie and another boarder, Huxley, were being lunged while we rode, all 3 of us in the sand ring. Her right lead canter is getting better, but I think she needs to see the chiropractor again, or I need some lessons, as she feels a bit stiff behind. We're going to do a jump clinic in December with a local 2* eventer, so I'm really looking forward to that.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


Don't make me work, I'm too cute

It must be the end of the season, because Zippy is finally feeling better and working well. I've been able to get him in semi-consistent work the last couple weeks (well, as best I can given the stupid Canadian winter and daylight savings time), and he's been going really well.
Instead of No Stirrup November, we've been participating in No Noseband November, courtesy of Zippy cutting his lower jaw very close to the noseband. Good job, buddy.
Yesterday we worked noseband-less, and tried out a different bit. He is incredibly sensitive in his mouth, and normally goes in a mullen mouth happy mouth loose ring, which he likes. Since I had to switch him from his Micklem due to his cut, I thought I would try a different bit and see if he would be happier now that he was a little more confident he wouldn't get slammed in the mouth (which is what ended his racing career). I put him in a loose ring happy mouth with losenge, which is relatively soft as well. Yeah, he didn't like it. At all. We did get some nice work in, especially at the trot towards the end, but he really didn't want to take any contact, so we'll scrap that bit.
Today he was able to go back to his mullen mouth and the Micklem. He really seems to like how the Micklem sits on his face, and he will take more contact in the mullen mouth. I always start my rides with 5 min of walking on a loose rein; Zippy really needs this, as he tends to come out very tight in his back, and asking him to go right to work is just a recipe for disaster. After our 5 min walk, I picked up contact and asked him to start working long and low, and he came down much quicker then he had yesterday. This is a horse that really needs a thorough warm up before he can really get down to work. He did some lovely trot work, and his trot-walk transitions are getting so much more balanced; he used to just hang on the bit right into the walk, and it was such a horrible feeling. Now he is starting to stay round and step under himself into walk, which is nice to feel. His canter work is improving as well; because of his last race and getting slammed in the mouth, he was always so stiff in the canter, just protecting his mouth (I'm assuming, anyway). He seems to finally be understanding that it's much more comfortable to come round, and that I won't pull on him. When he comes round and really underneath himself, he has the most balanced canter, it's incredible. I think he's going to be an amazing jumper with time, though he's pretty good at it now given how green he is.
I'm really looking forward to seeing where this guy goes in life. Can't wait to get out on the cross country course with him next year!
Chilling after a ride in his Draper Therapies cooler

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Round and round we go

I always think that once show season is over, I'll have more time to do things I have been putting off all summer. Somehow, that doesn't seem to work quite as planned.
This past week has been pretty busy. I was in the office two days, then had two busy days at the farm. I was able to ride Zippy and Lily a few times last week.
Lily had an awesome jump school early in the week; she was quite forward and happy to be jumping, since we hadn't jumped since Will O'Wind at the beginning of October. She was very bold, so we did pattern with 4 jumps and constant turning, which I found in an article that Practical Horseman posted last month. It kept her listening as she was constantly unsure of where we were going next, which in turn kept her light on the front, which can be a challenge for her when she gets excited.

Zippy had a couple trail rides and a light flat school. He still has that cut under his chin, so he's been going without a noseband, and seems to quite like it. His challenge is always stretching down and relaxing; he likes to go around very tight and with his head in the air like a giraffe. So we worked on relaxation and suppleness and asking him to come round and stretch down. He isn't strong enough to consistently come round, but he gets lovely moments here and there. I'm really looking forward to next year with him.
It is SO hard having a job

Friday was a complete write off riding wise; it was a high of -7 Celsius, plus the wind chill, so the ponies were bundled up and did a whole lot of nothing all day, while I ran errands with my mom and got some Christmas shopping done.
Mike and I tried to start a shelter for the ponies yesterday, but the ground was frozen so we couldn't get any posts in the ground. We'll try again on Thursday and if the ground is still frozen we will build a portable shelter instead. Fingers crossed the warm weather and rain this week gets the frost out of the ground!
Eve left this morning for her new home, and I had a lovely woman come to see a client's horse for sale. Everyone is definitely looking to find their new horse to work with over the winter for next show season!

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Things I Love

I thought I would do a shout out to some things I love, including products and businesses.

First off is Draper Therapies. I have their anti sweat sheet   and the horses absolutely love it. It's perfect for summer when you want to throw something on at a show to keep the bugs off, and I love it for the cooler weather under a cooler after a ride. I've noticed differences in Lily and Zippy who both wear it as often as possible; they are happier to work over their backs and more supple.
I also have a t shirt and the quality is lovely. It is super comfortable and seems to give me some relief from my shoulder pain (caused by completely destroyed shoulders. Thanks horses.)
Next on my list to purchase is the no bows. I frequently wrap my horses' legs after work, so I'm excited to try these! If they are anything like the anti sweat sheet, I know the horses will love them.

Next is Ride an OTTB, Clothing for the OTTB Lover. This is a new venture by Zippy's first mom, and I received my first t shirt the other day. Linda has created some really cute tops with awesome sayings on them. I got "When the coffee you're drinking costs more than your horse". The quality is great and Linda was awesome to deal with when I had an issue with ordering on the website. I really want to get "Chestnuts are the best nuts", but I feel I need to add another chestnut to my herd first!

I LOVE my equine chiropractor, Dr. Katy Spiewak. She has been such a huge part of my horses' lives the past few years, especially Bella, keeping everyone feeling their best and able to perform their best. She is so gentle and patient with the horses and really takes her time to do a thorough exam. Not only that, but she works on one of my boarder's other pets as well, including her dogs, cat, and cockatoo! Dr. Katy is one of a kind.

My farrier, Jon Taylor, is also a big part of my barn family. He has to be the most patient person I've ever met, and drops everything when I need him at the barn for an abscess or lost shoe (not that I have many lost shoes!). He is great with the OTTBs that have just come off the track, as most of them really don't know how to stand well when they first come to me. He always explains to me what he is doing, as I love to learn, and listens to all my thoughts and suggestions. I really lucked out with Jon!

Friday, November 3, 2017

Foal Friday!

Who doesn't love foals? They are so cute, and even if they're devils, you can't help but love them. The plus of getting horses from their breeder is that you get tons of baby pictures! Enjoy baby Vinnie and baby Zippy, before they grew up into holy terrors!

Zippy was born at a farm north of Mohawk racetrack, and the farm owner still has his mother and full brother. He has a few siblings out there as well. Linda is also a photographer and artist, so I got sooo many lovely pictures of him, and even a video of him standing for the first time. These are a few of my favs, though it's so hard to pick.

I purchased Vinnie from his breeders, and he was their first foal, so they also provided me lots of baby pictures. 

Happy Friday!

25 Questions, stolen from The $900 Facebook Pony

I saw this blog post on The $900 Facebook Pony , and I love these things, and I haven't been blogging much, so I thought I would give i...