Stylin’….

New tack! Oh, new tack. The nice leather smell, the fitting it to the horse, the first ride . . . .

Okay, so they’re not NEW. In fact God knows how old the bridle is–it came with a nickle full cheek that doesn’t look or feel like anything I’ve seen in bits in a while, and it IS a flat hunter-style English leather bridle. It’s also in a cob size. He’s now wearing it with the caveson on the second hole, the cheek pieces on the second hole, and the throatlatch just barely reaches, while in the raised (yuck) horse-size everything is on the very shortest hole possible and the cheek pieces are still too long. You can only punch so many extra holes before you run out of leather. I may take it down to this man in Shipsie who does leather work and have him make the throatlatch longer, but the rest fits pretty well. He just has this very teacup muzzle, dished short face, and then a regular old horse-style throatlatch. (Also, anyone know where to get a set of Havana brown snaffle and curb reins? Because my reins do not match.)

The saddle, meanwhile, is a Crosby Prix des Nations that has obviously been VERY well cared for. The flaps are like butter and the seat is beautiful. The tree, obviously, is fine and he does seem to take a medium comfortably. Even with a 17.5″ seat it’s still not GREAT for me. Still like sitting on a board. But he seemed to like it better, and it’s definitely lighter than the Stubben. He was okay with that, but lightening the load a bit can’t hurt.

He is still suffering from horsey ADHD. Anything a half-mile away is more interesting than what is going on, sometimes enough to get bouncey. And Trudy being ridden in the woods was downright mystifying and scary. (Apparently Trudy wasn’t thrilled to pieces with the idea, either.) We also had serious issues with standing still while dismounted and NOT using owner as a scratching post. We had a good amount of trotting in the round pen, and I realized very quickly why I have to shorten the stirrups about two holes from where I had them on the AP. Ow. Hi, knees. Sorry about that. Between this and the dance shoes this was not a good week for you. Something in the woods got scary and we had a minor spook, and finally a stop with complete ignoring of the bit. I got off and we walked over to the big ring and had a couple walks around to the far end where the scary things live. I got back up and again we had the inverting and the horsey ADHD. The BO’s daughter (mother of T., who rode Lucky a few weeks ago) hopped up and decided to take him around the ring, spooks or no. (I meanwhile was starting to consider the virtues of acepromazine as horsie Ritalin.)

It was VERY nice to not only stand back and watch him go under saddle but to have someone on him who had ridden an OTTB a lot. The BO didn’t quite get why I was not entirely thrilled with his brain, saying that he doesn’t have a vicious bone in his body, which of course he doesn’t. Her daughter got what I meant about ADD. He’s a looker. He is paying attention to everything everywhere all the time. She also agreed that there’s something just a bit funky with his right back leg. I watched her trot him, and she watched me trot him (and then we stopped as he had been ridden for almost forty-five minutes, the longest yet!) and while he’s not in any pain that we can see, he’s just kind of unbalanced. Not in a wobbly way, just in the sense that his right side is not as developed as his left and it shows particularly in his right stifle. When the ground’s uneven (there’s a bit of a slope to the big ring) it seems to work him harder. So nice to know I was not imagining that! We both agreed that the saddle is also a great ride. He seems to like it, too.

Back at the barn, we talked about our respective OTTBs, her old one and mine. Both were much more ‘hot’ than Lucky (who is not so much hot as very easily distracted) and yet both seemed to have a knack for knowing when their rider was not someone who knew how to deal. You could put a little kid on either of them (and I suspect Lucky, too) and they became the blandest lead-line pony imaginable. They were just smart like that.

Lucky, by the way, saw the vet and equine dentist while I was away (I had a ballroom competition on the east side of the state, which was a ton of fun and went extremely well for my not having danced in six months.) The vet gave him his vaccines and checked out the two hairless patched on his left shoulder. In her opinion, they are a benign sarcoid (yay, not mange, fungus or fleas) and I can treat it with an iodine wash and/or bag balm, and they will not bother him. They don’t seem to, certainly, not the way Old OTTB went mildly nuts with a fungal infection that made him itch. The equine dentist, meanwhile, was yet another ho-hum moment for Lucky (he was the only horse who did NOT need sedating) but his teeth are worse than mine. His funky double tooth in front is a baby tooth that never fell out. And there is one tooth in back the dentist could not reach and he is recommending having someone who uses power tools get it. Rather than call the vet back out, I’m first going to check with my friend B., who had mentioned having someone who uses drill grinders do her two Arabs and she was quite pleased with the result. She is an older lady whose family bred Arabs and she’s quite picky about caring for her two, so I would trust her recommendation.

And I came home from the barn with a, hopefully temporary, souvenir. While I was putting the iodine and Bigeloil away (iodine for the hairless patch, Bigeloil for his legs) I heard a loud kitten meow behind me. I turned around and saw a black and white kitten prowling the tack room. Now, the BO does not have a black and white kitten. However, her daughter is the source of Pest and Pest’s brother (who went home with another boarder) so I thought, okay, maybe she brought another one. I scooped the kitten up and called BO and daughter back to the barn. By then I’d seen the goopy eyes and figured that this was probably not a new resident-at least not a planned one. I held on to her while I gave Lucky his treats and put him away (he was very tolerant of the strange snuffly thing in my other arm, probably because everyone else was getting dinner and he just wanted to get to his stall) and the BO’s daughter (vet tech) took a look. Kitten is dehydrated, lungs sound clear but the eyes and nose as goopy, and kitten obviously is cold and tired.

Long story short, the BO’s dog would eat it if they took it in, daughter has a pregnant cat at home and can’t take a cat with an infection in, while I have a mud room where I can keep her isolated. BO had some leftover pink liquid (tetracycline–they make the same nasty pink stuff for animals as humans) from one of the other cats, loaned me a carrier and a big towel, and off she went with me. Right now, she’s curled in the cubby beneath my deacon’s bench, and has had her first dose of tetra, eaten a bit, and has a full water bowl, rugs and towels, and a small litter box. Hopefully she can get some rest and get in shape to be a barn cat. She’s probably eight or so weeks old-barely enough to be on her own. She did eat the little bit of food I gave her, and I think she drank some, so now I’m leaving her alone for the night. Pictures tomorrow, when hopefully she’ll be feeling more social. Tucker sniffed, Puff kind of glanced at her, and I don’t think that my cats (who don’t go in the mud room) even realize she’s here.

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Louise
    Mar 28, 2010 @ 07:17:33

    So, have you named your new kitten yet? ;D

    Reply

  2. Hannah
    Mar 29, 2010 @ 12:40:39

    Is there a plan to get a trainer and/or instructor involved in this situation in the not too distant future?

    Reply

    • luckytocope
      Mar 29, 2010 @ 14:08:43

      Eventually. But not at the moment. He needs basic fitness right now. And a tooth fixed. Just having the rest done has done wonders for his mouth–he gives more to the bit and doesn’t seem as annoyed (though he seems to just dislike the broken-bit action, full stop. Which is fine. A well-adjusted Pelham isn’t any harsher and some horses just don’t like the nutcracker feel.) I think Natali (in the blogroll, link to retraining TBs) is also onto something with letting him be a TB–he likes to go forward, and is more attentive while trotting than walking. The stuff that keeps a warmblood thinking is not enough to keep him occupied. And in any case, I get constant reminders he can’t do the small circles or bend as much yet. So bigger ones now, with a little bend. Slowly. Really, the only thing I don’t like is his inability to not get distracted, though I should just be happy he bounces instead of bolts like the old OTTB and will go on when asked.

      I just need to convince MYSELF to ask, and a trainer will only make that worse, not better. I get much to nervous and stressed riding with an instructor than I do without and then the horse falls apart and it’s a wash. I may get someone in to ride HIM, though, when we’ve had some more trotting and he’s had his tooth done. And when he’s ready to jump I’m going to ask around the MFHA-member hunts and find someone who knows how to teach a field, rather than ring, hunter. My brother’s new trainer (she puts her jumper riders in three-point, not two) would probably do well, but hauling to New York is a bit extreme. She trains track babies and knows TBs, not just show horses. Ideally, I’d like to get me on a packer hunter and someone who knows foxhunting on him to introduce the concept.

      But no, not sending him out, and I’m not doing regular lessons. I didn’t forget how to ride (I don’t forget anything physical) and right now it would be silly to have someone out for twenty minutes of trotting. Until he’s built up the right muscles and we’re ready to think about something more complicated than a gentle bend and learning how to enage I don’t see the point in messing up my head and nerves.

      And I’ll threaten to do a lot of things, but I won’t. Ace, though, would be a last resort I’d rather go to than draw reins, figure eights, cranked-down martingales, lunging to death in side reins and all the other crap my first trainer put on them. It’s taken a while for me to get that a pelham with a curb is legitimate tool and not a shortcut (she would put them on without the curb and no joiner, just the snaffle rein.) Old OTTB would probably have been a much saner horse much faster if he’d been aced at his first clinic instead of lunged for four hours. He doesn’t need any of that, and he can focus, a bit, as much as can be expected at this point.

      Reply

      • Hannah
        Mar 29, 2010 @ 16:55:41

        You are, of course, the boss, and I’ll shut up after this comment. But–dude. You’ve said flat-out several times that you’re not confident about dealing with him and/or intimidated. You’ve gone from poo-pooing people who use martingales, full stop, to talking about adding one. You’ve slapped him in a pelham. Now you’re musing about Ace. I don’t think any of those things is in and of itself necessarily a bad or wrong thing, but the combination and the progression, especially in reaction to what sounds like baseline veryvery normal green Thoroughbred stuff, worries me.

        I think this is a veryvery nice horse. And I don’t think there’s anything silly, at all, about making sure he gets a fair shake and a good start at his new life.

        And now I’ll shut up.

      • luckytocope
        Mar 29, 2010 @ 23:33:27

        I never “poo-pooed” people who used martingales. (I got my nose broken by a flippy-headed Arab. Standings are very useful.) I DID have issues with a trainer who put at one point draw reins, a standing, and a flash all on one horse at the same time. Who also made a habit of lunging horses until they were dripping and whaling on them with a crop. Again, I think if she’d aced the hyper ones it probably would have been better for most in the long run. (I’ve no idea what became of most of them. We all quit her at roughly the same time and most of the other kids quit riding in the process.) I have good enough hands to use a pelham (which is what all hunters used to go in anyway.) Since he’s stopped tossing his head with it, as opposed to raising it to look, he probably doesn’t need a martingale. I’m not putting a flash on him. And I’m certainly not jumping him six weeks off the track. If he’s doing w/t/c well at six months I’ll be happy.

        I’ll never be confident if I don’t ride him myself. Trainers have never helped my confidence, only made it worse (except the Centered Riding teacher who rehabbed me and the old OTTB after that trainer with the equipment issues). If I like the BO’s trainer and how she works with Dino I might have her ride him, but not on a regular basis. Since I’m not showing and don’t intend to (he’s not suited to much except maybe jumpers anyway–not the build or movement for hunters, a dressage barn sent him back before I bought him, no way I’m eventing ever-I’m only going in the field if I have the option to go AROUND the jump if I want to) I have as much time as I want to take. He’ll stop being looky eventually or I’ll need the non-racing equivalent of blinkers, whichever. But I can see why he ran in them. And of course I get nervous. I started with a lousy trainer and none of the decent ones since have ever made it much better. One isn’t going to help now.

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