I have to ride how many horses after work?

*shakes head in wonder* They seem to be multiplying. I need to get them staggered so it’s like 2-3 one night and then the other, but I failed to do that this week owing to a strong need Tuesday night to feed the horses and then just go in the house and sit on my butt and do laundry. So that meant I had to get everybody worked last night. Allow me to note that I do not get home until 6:15 PM and have to be up and getting ready for work at 5 AM.

Abby is my roommate Stephanie’s, a beautiful dark bay Thoroughbred mare acquired from one of those WTBA auctions. Stephanie points out that Abby went to the track, but she is surprised they bothered. Abby is not exactly rocket-fueled. She’s been wanting me to get on her and see how she feels to me as she can feel something funky in the trot. So I started out last night with Abby, who is just one of those really easy Thoroughbreds. She doesn’t mind if you put leg on her. She doesn’t mind contact on her mouth. She is just a nice, big quiet mare that probably has some hock arthritis. She is better on soft footing and worse on hard footing, so that’s my first thought. It’s definitely in the back end, and we all know that hock arthritis in a 10 year old OTTB is not exactly unusual! Anyway, Abby was a nice one to start out with as she’s just easy and sweet. I hadn’t even looked up her pedigree before I rode, but now I did, and I am not surprised to see Mr. Prospector. I looooove Mr. Prospector horses. They all seem to be this level headed. It’s one of my favorite TB lines. I see that her sire won $439K. I believe Abby sold for something like $300. I love the TB industry…

All right, one down! Lucy, the black TB mare saved from the Enumclaw auction two weeks ago, was ready to come out of quarantine and be assessed, so she was next. I was going to start with Honey, but I have to fill you in on the hazards of life on what we affectionately (sometimes not so affectionately) call the “Funny Farm.”

Basically, I live on a very large acreage with many other people who rent there. Some of us rent in the several houses on the property, myself included, and then there is a cast of characters living in trailers. By this, I do not even mean singlewides designed for human use. I mean, things that you look at and go “Dude, a human lives there? Really?” One of those characters is a little old horse dealer/trail string running kinda guy I will just call the Gnome. He kind of reminds me of a gnome. He is short and old and fairly deaf and has hideously outdated ideas about horse care that scare the shit out of me. He told La Mexicana that she shouldn’t have adopted Petersburg Knight because he was “broken.” Okaaaaay…I try to just ignore him. Beggars (aka people who need to rent a place to live and bring their eight horses and four cats) cannot be choosers and you get what you get in terms of neighbors. However, sometimes he is hard to ignore. (As earlier referenced, he is the guy who occasionally leaves a jack donkey in a stock trailer in the parking lot to bray all night and scare the bejeesus out of the VLC)

Last night, the Gnome had decided to be productive, which is never good for me. Right as I was about to embark on the Potentially Wild Thoroughbred Riding, he felt the need to weld his truck bumper in the parking lot. Awesome. I looked at Honey, looked at Lucy, and decided to start with the older one.

Lucy, as Fugly blog readers know, came from the auction two weeks ago. A generous donor decided to bail out every single horse that was heading for Mexico. Last night, we had passed quarantine with no sign of illness, so it was time to bring Lucy down to the barn and evaluate her.

I caught her without too much trouble as I got her cornered (she is hard to catch, and the fact that she will not eat treats from your hand doesn’t help much…we must work on treat training), brought her into the indoor and tacked her up. She was absolutely fine for that. No issues with tying or cinching or anything. Fine with bridling, which I had wondered about because she acts a little headshy – but I put her in a traditional browband bridle that I had to pull her ears through and she was just fine. She longed fine with tack on although you could tell it had been a while, but she definitely has had training after the track as she wasn’t totally confused about the idea.

I stood on the mounting block and did my usual green horse stuff. I leaned on her and tapped on the saddle and she stood like a statue. Then I tapped on her butt and she spooked and crowhopped. Um, okay. Now, odds are I could have gotten on her and she wouldn’t have done a thing – after all, I was not planning to sit on her butt. But as we have discussed here, I am 40 and chickenshit and can’t afford to miss work. So I longed a bit more and pet her and put her away. We will put a few more days of ground work into this one and play it safe. I know she is broke, but I think it has been a very long time since she’s been asked to do anything more than be a baby machine and that someone at some point has done really dumb/mean things to her. She just has these fear reactions, and I’m truly disturbed by the fact that this 14 year old horse will not eat out of my hand. I guess no one has ever been nice to her. We will have to change that! Maybe she can watch Honey eat treats and learn from that. Lots of people have been nice to Honey. Honey knows all about cookies.

All right. Welding still going on. Greeeeeat. Honey was high as a kite. I know I’ve said it before, but man is she fast. Our indoor arena has never seen that kind of speed before. I cannot imagine why she didn’t make it on the track. She could go back now! She has legs of iron and LOVES to run run run run run. She and Lucy had a very good time bouncing all over the indoor together, but it failed to take even a little of the edge off. She is still in heat, pissy, swishy and high as a kite. You know, it was just one of those nights when I knew I wasn’t 100% on my game and elected to do ground work with her instead – so we worked on bending and we worked on longeing. Now, this one you can tell has not received additional training after the track. She was baffled by the longeing idea, particularly to the right. I got her to do it but we will definitely be doing more work on that. Actually, kind of a productive evening with her because these are all things she needs to learn! Not everything has to be riding. I also had her stand tied while we worked with Lucy because she does need to learn patience. She doesn’t pull back but she fidgets a lot. OK, fidget all you want…but you are going to stand there. At least until you untie yourself and walk off. Mares! Honey is another one – I do not really think there is any major bad behavior in there, but she is very fast, very hot, and I really would like chaps or those breeches you all keep telling me about or something to stick my ass on there a little better. This mare can turn inside out and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to ride her past the amateur welding operation without a little more insurance that I was going to stay attached if she came unglued…

We also played a bit with my other roommate Josie’s mare, aka the Pony Princess. The Pony Princess is not very tall but is quite broad, being an APHA/draft cross ex-PMU mare. She is green broke and very sensible but like most draft types is, um, not highly motivated. We all took turns taking the Princess for a spin. She is very comfortable but she really does not want to work too hard for a living. I got some semblance of a long trot out of her…ok well, a medium trot…and cannot imagine the amount of energy it would take on my part to get her to canter. OTOH, I bet she would be great for someone wanting to tone up their legs!

Then it was time to ride the VLC. I think it is really funny that I have a three year old, 16.2 hand stallion, and my first thought was “woo hoo, now I can get on the EASY one.” But he is the easy one and tonight was no exception. We turned the boys out to play first – the VLC, the SSG (Small Spotted Gelding, for you newbies) and the CSS (Cute Spotted Stallion). They had a great time. The CSS has never been ridden with other horses in the arena, so we decided this was a good evening to introduce him to that experience. Stephanie got on him, I got on the VLC, and we made the SSG watch. We had an arena full of three year olds!
I realize I’ve never shown you a picture of the CSS, so here you go:

The boys were great. They both dealt very well with riding in the arena with another stallion that they had just been playing hard with each other minutes earlier. There was no whinnying, they both paid attention, and it really went well – further enforcing my long-held belief that stallions need to be turned out with the boys and play.

I continue to just not be able to say enough good things about my VLC. He is the best thing ever. He is so relaxing to ride. This is probably, what, two dozen rides along? He is fine. Almost nothing ever bothers him, he’s smooth, he’s comfortable, and he has air brakes. I just love this horse and there is no amount of money that will ever buy him from me.

All right, last up. Stephanie had never seen Ditto, aka the SSG, ridden, but she had heard all about how he never does anything wrong and is the easiest greenie ever. This was ride #6. I put the VLC away. We figured it would be a good learning experience for the SSG to ride alone in the arena.

What I did not realize is that the SSG is three years old and has never been alone. Never. Not anywhere.

He seemed more on edge than normal but I figured I’d just get on and he’d probably be fine. The first thing he did was get his tongue over the bit and have a head shaking fit. I got off and decided we were going to use some judgment and just take the bridle off and go back to the halter alone since he was clearly in a bit of a mood anyway, and why push things? I got back on and he left. Fortunately not too fast, but he did trot off and then displayed an amazing ability to sidepass. He was just not happy that he was alone, and was bound and determined to get to the end of the arena where he could look out over the fields at his long-lost (as of 10 minutes) friends. I was just as bound and determined to ensure he did not get there.

The VLC is a big galoot. He pretty much has to follow his nose. He is just not flexible enough not to at this point. The SSG, on the other hand, has noodle neck. He has no problem at all trotting left with his nose pointing to the right. I understand he inherited this ability from his mother who has a similar ability to sidepass in the direction she actually wants to go, despite any efforts on the part of her rider to accomplish a redirect.

Anyway, I was left with a noodle-necked pony barging to the right on a circle to the left at an amazingly fast clip, sideways. I tried to channel the nose between my hands while pushing with the outside leg. I am pleased to note that this strategy eventually worked even though I did have to actually boot the pony in the ribs a few times to accomplish the turn at the wall as squeezing did not seem to be a sufficient signal to reach the pony brain. I am further pleased to note he does not do airs above the ground when you boot him. Always a pleasant discovery.

(As we were doing this, the Gnome drove in and rattled around the parking lot. With a stagecoach on a trailer. Don’t we all drive around with shit like that? Fortunately the SSG grew up here and is used to the parking lot resembling the Rose Parade. I was so glad I was not on one of the TB’s when this happened!)

After a fair bit of resistance but no real dramatics, the SSG gave up and trotted reasonably decently both directions. So we quit and petted him. Hopefully this will give him confidence that he truly can survive being all alone in the skeery arena. And if not, don’t you dressage people want a pony that can sidepass straight sideways? Never hit himself once, never stumbled. Talented little bugger! Could be worth a lot! *smiles*

All right, I am tired just having typed all of that. Hopefully tonight will be a calm, quiet evening…just planning on the TB girls tonight.
Published in: on June 19, 2008 at 2:12 pm  Leave a Comment  

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