Little Good, Little Bad…

Mostly the weather. Bad. BAD. Mid-forties, constant rain, and wind. The kind of weather that’s depressing when you’re indoors.

Of course, where was my crazy horse when I got to the barn today? Horse who has all-day access to his nice cozy stall with straw and a full bucket and a manger full of hay? Standing out with his butt against the east fence in the cold rain. Though he wasn’t all that unhappy about being taken inside. Grooming involved quite a bit of scraping and toweling–though oddly enough mostly on his right side. He just seems to get dirtier on his right side.

The farrier came on Tuesday. I wasn’t able to be there, as I had programs to do at a school fifteen miles the other way from home. Because of the garbage weather, I didn’t take my camera today, and I wish I had, because I took some “before” shots of his feet last weekend. And they were pretty darn ugly. Lots of flaking where the nail holes were growing out, his right front (with the quarter gouge) was very obviously too long and his left front was very clearly too short and too heel-high. Well, Rich again worked miracles. His front feet aren’t perfectly even yet, but they’re much, much closer. There’s nary a speck of flaking or shelling to be seen. Could we have a barefoot OTTB? Stay tuned. (And for those concerned, this farrier wouldn’t hesitate to put on shoes if Lucky needed them.)

Call me crazy, but we saddled up anyway. Lucky decided that he was not going to be especially cooperative today. I suspect a HUGE part of that was the weather. It took several tries to stand for mounting in the big ring (though to his credit he did not step off until I asked once I was up) and then we’re back to inverted, head up, evade, today with bouncy bouncy instead of a dead stop. It became clear pretty quickly he was not going to pay attention and we were both getting soaked, so I decided to settle for a circle and a halt. He had the circle down, but the instant we were into the wind the halt went out the window. A request for a ‘stand’ was interpreted as ‘back’, and the instant pressure back released he was bouncing forward again. I finally got off without a good halt and decided that if the big ring was full of too many interesting things we could try the round pen. It’s a rail fence, and not quite six feet high, so he can still see out of it just fine, but it limits his options (and is a little farther from interesting things like the pasture and the horse who lives on the other side of the woodlot.) He was not thrilled that we were going to the round pen instead of away and we had another minor discussion about standing to mount. I won, faster this time. Again, he didn’t step out until I asked (smart boy!) and this time we had a minimum of bouncy-bouncy. And I’m quite pleased the gate swinging a bit on its hinges was not even worth his attention. He’s a looky-lou at times, but he seems to at least reserve it for things which are actually interesting. By this point, my nose is running, we’re still wet, it’s still windy and we’re still cold, so we went around the ring a couple times, and as soon as I got a good, steady, continued halt, we were done. When I left after wiping down him and the tack, he at least seemed to have decided the nice warm stall was the place to be.

On the subject of his needing to be looking around, I registered at calracing.com, which has race replays from several tracks outside California, including Tampa Bay, Presque Isle Downs, and Delaware Park. So I registered and got a chance to actually watch Lucky run. I find it very educational that his trainers have felt it prudent to run him in blinkers. My old OTTB Benny was, according to his race owners, very prone to racehorse ADD–”Hey, look, a horse to my right! Oh, wow, is that a crowd over there? Hi people!” He ran in blinkers. I also VERY much enjoyed his race from July 1, 2008 at Delaware, where he went off as the longest shot in the field, 25-1, and paid $60 to win after getting out front and opening up too much daylight to get caught when he started to fade. It’s also good to know, looking at his front-running trend, if he ever runs away with me I just need to hold on ’til the 3/4 pole and he should be done. (Kidding, but he does show a pattern of going to an early lead and being done at 3/4 and fading.)

Saddle Note

Bid in on a saddle on ebay. We shall see….(Oh, well, if I don’t get this one, there’s another that’s a Buy It Now, not auction.)

The good news weather-wise is, no more snow. The bad news is it’s supposed to rain all weekend. I just keep telling myself at least it’s not snow.

Stick-to-it-ive-ness

No pictures today. I didn’t take the camera, plus it takes so long to upload things on dial-up. (Yes, I am living in the stone age here with the dial-up.)

Lucky was not exactly thrilled to see me. He was less thrilled by whoever was walking a dog in the hay field, which he could see through the barn door. (The BO wasn’t thrilled, either, because there wasn’t supposed to be anyone walking their dog out there.) Also a little weirded out by two of the BO’s grandchildren walking around the farm, but he got over that.

We were back in the round pen today, which is getting even muddier, as it made it to the low 50s here today. And Lucky apparently decided on a total work stoppage. We went around on the left rein a couple times, and he just planted his feet. Turning his head, he demonstrated he can flex really far, but he ignored leg completely and he wasn’t going to be tipped off balance and made to move. Needless to say, the grandkids were watching, and I suspect were unimpressed with my mad riding skillz. T., the boy, asked if he could try. I asked if he had a helmet. While he went to get it (no arguments; his grandmother’s rule is helmets on if you’re riding on the place) I got off and walked Lucky to see if he was sore. Really, I have not had a horse who was NOT sore stop so dead on me. He walked sound, so I readjusted the saddle. I had to laugh that T. has apparently never seen English stirrups run up before. I got up with the shifted saddle, and still no movement. T. got on. Since he’s never ridden with double reins I told him to just leave the curb rein down and try with the snaffle.

Now, maybe I am a wuss for letting a kid get up on my horse when I’m having issues. I think the part where I was really a wimp was I let T. try the crop after I had passed on it. I admit, I am leery about using a crop on an OTTB, largely because my Old OTTB never forgot what a racing whip meant: “Go fast.” Also, if he really WAS hurting, I did not want him to feel like he HAD to move, or that bucking was an option. However, that does not seem to be an issue for Lucky. T. tapped him and he walked on, not with a great deal of enthusiasm, but he did walk on. T. kept going on about how ‘smooth’ Lucky is, and found it hard to believe when the BO asked what he thought about Lucky being a racehorse. He wanted to know if Lucky was a trotter or pacer? It was nice to stand back and watch Lucky move, too. He doesn’t step out more than he has to, but he has a very fluid walk.

I did get back on, juggling the double reins and the stick–it’s strange learning to handle one as I don’t think I’ve carried one since I first started and a few of the schoolies at the Arab barn I rode at needed one. Lucky does seem to need a tap or two. I don’t know if it is soreness–he had some spots, according to the massage therapist, but nothing major. It might also be his teeth, as he does need them done. And I really do think he’s assumed that because the shoes are off, he is on vacation. If there is anything with his feet, we’ll know Tuesday, as the farrier was due. I think it may be some combination of ‘all of the above.’ The teeth should provide a major change, and the search for a reasonably inexpensive close-contact saddle, that might be lighter on his back, continues.

I got a new toy!

Anybody want to see Lucky?

I decided to bite the bullet and buy myself a digital camera. So of course since it arrived Friday afternoon I’ve been one of those obnoxious people, taking pictures of everything just because I can. I’m sure if anyone saw me taking photos of things like the house way across the snow-covered field while I was walking the dogs they thought I was odd. That’s okay.

So of course I took the camera to the barn. Fortunately the weather was cooperating and it was nice and sunny. Lucky is not exactly looking sleek and shiny, but I’m sure the shedding will start soon enough. And he could be so much muddier than he is. We’re now in the stage where the ground is going from soft to squishy, and there are places where the mud’s pretty deep and slick. I rode in the round pen, for the most part (that’s where the picture is from) and he is back to using stopping as a means of protest. I don’t think he’s sore. He doesn’t move as if anything is hurting him. I think he just is not entirely sure what he’s supposed to be doing, and if he stops and stands, maybe the crazy lady will stop poking him. I also made a point of riding out of the ring again, past the place where he had his tantrum last week. Because this was tricky enough, I dismounted, walked him to the other ring, got back on (for once I wanted him moving out as he was so close to the fence on his right side I couldn’t get the stirrup) and rode him out. There was a little bit of inversion, but no big giant freakouts.

For those looking, yes, that’s a pelham on him. I find that I am appreciating certain things about the way my old trainer did things. An OTTB is not a blank slate. They’ve been ridden, in a very particular way, and they don’t necessarily get it the way you might think a horse ought to. On the other hand, a good part of the reason I decided to switch to the pelham was that he was ignoring me and I wanted some flexibility in how I got his attention. Today, for example, I rode almost entirely off the snaffle rein, but I used the curb for some finer points. The old trainer didn’t even put the curb rein on the bridle, which would kind of eliminate all the things I needed to do with that bit. He does not seem to chew, head-toss or fuss as much with the bit with the pelham (it’s a rubber mullen mouth) when I touch the reins and I am wondering if the straight mouthpiece is more comfortable than a broken bit like the D.

Besides, on the shallow end, I think the pelham looks very proper-hunterish, and since I have the hands for it, why not?

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