Thoroughbreds Do It All

No, really. Anyone who doubts it is welcome to come visit Lucky. An OTTB who finished racing a little under a year ago can go out, do an old-school work (jog 1/4, gallop 3f), go for a walk in the woods (proved to be a tactical error, though he’s vaccinated for encephalitis even if I’m not), walk around the track and go for a canter in a wide-open hayfield, walk back to the ring, do a few canter circles, and toss in a couple turns on the forehand before letting his rider play around with sitting ‘side-saddle’ (disclaimer: experienced rider on lazy horse. Do not emulate.)

That was Lucky’s day today. Yesterday also featured a track gallop, but after that mostly ringwork, including jumping. I am proud of him–on the third try, he took the oxer at the canter from a spot I picked, rather than from the best we could manage as he wove coming in (he still does a little, as if he’s not quite sure how to look at the fence) and he cantered off after. Strictly speaking, the line from the x to the oxer should probably be five strides, but I’ll take a slightly choppy six without a stop. After that, he got a turn around the barrels, at the trot and the canter. I don’t know if it’s the cooler weather, but he’s picking up the pace, by and large. He’s also gone from being stuck on the right lead to being stuck on the left (even on the track–he swapped for the turn and I couldn’t get him to switch back, even swapped whip hands to see if that helped. It didn’t.)

The dogs are coming home this week, rather than my going to pick them up, so hopefully I will get out to the barn again this weekend, possibly with pictures. I’d love to get some of him on the track–he likes to run with his head up (classic sprinter style) and his ears pricked.

As to why the dogs were gone, I was away this weekend at the Windy City Open dancesport competition in Chicago. Hopefully I’ll have some pictures of that, too. I can do something that does not involve barn grime, too!

Lucky’s Not the Lone Ranger

Not anymore. Though his new roommate is not exactly in the same racing class.

The new boarder arrived Friday. Lucky is no longer tallest. I would guess his new paddock-mate is more in the 16.3 range, and he’s bigger-boned. Since I haven’t met his owner yet, I won’t “out” his registered name. His barn name is Zoey, and he’s twelve if the registered name is correct. He had two starts in his career, and according to equibase he was . . . we’ll say undistinguished. Does not keep him from having a very pretty trot and canter at liberty. Which he demonstrated. Repeatedly. Up and down and around. Because he did not like that I came and got Lucky, then taunted him by riding in the ring right next to their paddock.

I swapped bits again today and put the “fun” bit and reins on while I rode in the close-contact. (By “fun” I mean the rubber mullen-mouth dee and racing reins.) Lucky was either well-rested, as I hadn’t been out since last Monday, or just feeling good after a week of cold weather (despite that having changed drastically and gone back to the mid-nineties this weekend) but I nearly got left behind on a couple of transitions! I’m used to having to ask nicely, then ask more firmly, then potentially get the crop involved. Today, I had a couple times where I only had to ask once. And very nearly got bounced out of my seat. Maybe he was showing off for the new guy. I even popped him over an X (I hadn’t planned to, especially as I forgot to throw my low boots in the car and was riding in my work shoes. As my stirrups don’t have pads in, not too big a worry.) He was not hugely interested in jumping, but he wasn’t ready to pack it in immediately, either.

We even had company. The B.O. came out with Dino, and I actually got to ride with another person! Lucky was fine about it. He and Dino were not especially thrilled with the flies, though. They could bathe in fly spray and probably it wouldn’t make any difference: they’re nasty.

And of course, on a day when someone else was riding, and it was suggested I could get out Takota to ride if I wanted when I was done with Lucky, I didn’t have time. Lucky got a sponging down and his peppermints (peppermints: life is good) and I was off to the Meijers’ in Three Rivers, with a toss-up whether I had enough time to get from there to home and still have time to make it to my dance lesson. On the assumption I wouldn’t, I had packed a cooler with ice packs. And I was out riding Lucky despite having worked and having a lesson and having no food because I likely will not get back out until Sunday (when hopefully I can take Takota for a spin as well.) Dance competition on Friday–my first time doing all five Latin, and my first with the New Pro. So I don’t especially mind having to run like crazy. But it would still be nice to get a ride on another horse.

In which I put my hand farther up a horse’s mouth than would strictly be wise

Were he not lightly sedated and did he not have a speculum holding his mouth open, that is.

Lucky is probably a much happier horse tonight. The dental specialist came out, and his mouth was a complete mess. Not just his #11 molar was bad. His ridges felt like a “bumpy road” (one reason she wanted me to feel it) and the bad molar had actually caused a sore and damaged the opposite tooth. The baby teeth could come out and did (though I didn’t notice the smell she described them having. Then again. Puff had been throwing up last night and I think he has been surfing the litter box, so my tolerance for disgusting smells may have been higher than usual.) She also filed down his canines after fixing the back teeth.

He did get mildly sedated–xylazine and another sedative agent (I didn’t recognize the name, I’m only familiar with using xylazine with ketamine and we didn’t knock him out!) and he was pleasantly loopy. Even considering he was sedated, the dentist commented on how well-mannered he was. Apparently even when they’re out of it a lot of horses will try nibbling while she works on the front teeth. Lucky just accepted it. The dentist and her assistant were both happy with how he handled it. So was I, and I’m hoping that when I work him again, some of that inversion and resistance will go now that he isn’t biting himself in the mouth.

The dentist mentioned that her mentor, the owner of the school she trained at, had worked in Kentucky, and encountered a lot of resistance or just indifference from race owners and trainers to doing more than a filing. In her opinion, this results in horses who no longer want to lower their heads, lean into the bit and run. Given how Lucky uses his head, and how much he disliked a D ring snaffle (which could pinch and poke when he’s already pinching and poking himself with his own teeth) I could see that. It seems like it would be a cheap way of getting better performances out of them to just do their teeth better. I’ll find out how much he does improve tomorrow or Sunday–I have to work tomorrow, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to get out there and be able to get home in time for the Derby. No, I don’t have a favorite. Anyone I pick will just be jinxed! If I were betting, I would pick Lookin At Lucky, and I would probably also bet the filly, Devil May Care, just in case. Well, that, and we’re not supposed to have much better weather than they are in Louisville.

After the barn (Lucky got a bit of recovery time, then I put him back out and puttered cleaning up his stall and where he left a ‘deposit’ while she was working on him, until he looked like he was moving around a bit more and didn’t seem to be too groggy) I had to head over to Mishawaka for a dance lesson. It’s only my second with New Pro, but so far, so good. And it’s surprisingly easy to get there from the barn. And after that, shopping. I actually bought plants, as I’ve been meaning to do something with the yard. I need more border plants, so I got a boxwood and a Colorado blue spruce (yes, I know how big it’s going to get. That’s rather the point!) I also put in some ground cover flowers, Alyssum and Lobelia. I still need to find something for the front yard–vinca minor would work well, but the garden center didn’t have any. Hopefully it won’t all be drowned by rain. Even if I had a lawn mower, which I don’t, I still wouldn’t be able to mow the lawn. Maybe I should get a goat. I don’t have enough land for a horse per township regs, but they might not notice a goat. (Or, given all the animals the neighbors have, care.)