Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday Flashback Fotos: Napolean

Napolean was a Pygmy buck I owned when we lived in NY (and had a lot of animals so I did a lot of fun things). He was the most ridiculous creature on the planet. He was the only goat we had for several months, so he grew up thinking he was one of the dogs....which meant he had no problem strolling into the house after them and being very offended when he got tossed back out.

His best friend was my Thoroughbred, Storm, and since we were on ninety acres of hay fields, the two of them pretty much just roamed around at will. Total bromance for sure, although at least Storm never peed on his own face.

I got three babies by him before selling him for an awesome profit when we moved south.

napolean and darcy playing on the round bales
snacking on gingerbread cookies while working on clearing
weeds behind the garage.
napolean invites himself in while storm checks to see if he'll fit, too.
stella (black goat) with josephine's (brown goat) napolean baby, and vice versa
"oh, hey. just standing on your car. nbd."
sassing his third baby, priscilla, who hubby's family still owns.
getting neck scratches from my bro. he loved people.
napolean's favorite activity: annoying storm
no fear of his equine partner in crime
"play with me!!"
"that's better!"

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Weigh In: "Ed Being Very Naughty

This video just got posted on my barn's facebook page, and I had to stop reading the comments because they were making me a little twitchy.


The video is four or five years old at this point, but it's one of those ones that keeps popping its head up.

"That pony is unsafe."

"I can't believe anyone would let their child ride it."

"Any sort of bucking or rearing is unacceptable."

"That child is overmounted."

And of course the token, "______ could fix that pony lol smiley face winky face thumbs up face. send it to ______ right?!?!???!?^&*^*^#!?"

There were a few "Cowboy up!" and "Every kid needs a pony like that!" comments, too.

So weigh in, blog world. What do you think of Ed the pony?

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Teach You Tuesday: A Crash Course in Thoroughbreds

Title shamelessly stolen and tweaked from Sprinkler Bandit.

I'm a little bit obsessed with Thoroughbred pedigrees, and I used to be a little bit obsessed with all things racing. In fact, I actually have a degree in Thoroughbreds, if you can believe that's even a thing. I have all this useless knowledge stored in my head, so I thought I'd do a post that shares some of the absolute basics about the racing industry, from breeding to winner's circle...or in most of our horse's cases, the back of the field.

unless you're red, and winning at saratoga is what you do.

There are a lot of bloggers out there with OTTBs, so I hope you guys get a little something out of this. If anyone else wants to chime in, feel free and I'll add it on!

(All poor quality photos are courtesy of me before I got a digital camera. You are welcome.)

Breeding

Your horse is by the stallion and out of the dam.

You only own a half sibling if both horses are out of the same dam. Having a horse with the same sire as another horse does not count. If it did, your horse would have thousands of half siblings. For instance, my last horse--Red--is out of a mare named Releasure. He has a half brother standing at stud named Quinton's Gold. He is by the sire Boundary. Boundary is also the sire of Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Big Brown, but Red is not a half brother to Big Brown.

one of bobby's half brothers: out of nobody's angel, but by oratory.

A breeder will often look at a mare's pedigree and nick it with potential sires. What's nicking? It's when you look at potential crosses of two horses' pedigrees to see how successful the cross is. Since Tracy just found out the exciting past of Miles, let's use him as an example.

Capitalist is by Congaree out of a Tabasco Cat mare. When you generate a nicking report for him, you can see that there are several graded stakes winners...but not on his exact pedigree cross. In fact, Miles scores a poor D for his specific cross. If we were to breed Miles's dam with a different stallion from the same stud farm, Cosmonaut for instance, Miles would instead receive an A++ rating and might have raced well enough to not be the Miles we all know and love today. Want to be confused about how he got those grades? Explore nicking further.

Want to know what the Dosage Profile (DP), Dosage Index (DI), and Center of Distribution (CD) mean? Well click here because I certainly couldn't explain it any better.

Common names you'll likely find in every Thoroughbred's pedigree:
  • Secretariat
  • Northern Dancer
  • Mr Prospector
  • Bold Ruler
  • Damascus
If you and your friend's Thoroughbred both have Northern Dancer in their pedigrees, they are not long lost cousins. Not unless you want to count the ten thousand other horses with Northern Dancer bloodlines as their cousin, too. 

Your Not-So-Baby Racehorse

Your baby racehorse is not going to sit around and wait until his knees close. He's not going to be lightly backed at three and finished at four. By the time he's a long yearling (eighteen months) he should know about being saddled, bridled, and tack walked. He might even be walking the shedrow by himself by now. He will have been taught to pony. He might know how to longe, and most likely he knows how to ground drive. He should know how to be tied to the back of his stall and stand quietly. 

bobby getting longed as a long yearling. he's already totally comfortable in tack,
being ponied, and has been introduced to a rider on his back in his stall.

When the baby racehorse enters his two year old year, he's going to start with canters or slow gallops in company where he'll get bumped around a bit and learn to be sent ahead or rate back. He should be taught his lead changes. He'll learn about walking in and out of a starting gate. He'll gradually start working harder and faster until he's ready for his first race. Some horses will be pushed along more quickly to prepare for two year old sales where they have to breeze one to two furlongs.  Some baby racehorses (cough Bobby) aren't mentally ready to start as a two year old, and it's not uncommon for them to start at three instead. 

On the track

A typical schedule for a racehorse on any given day is as follows:
  • 3:45-5:00 a.m. Your horse is fed and his stall is mucked out. If he's going out to work in an early set, he'll get tied to the back of his stall.
  • Most tracks are open from 5:30-11:00 a.m. Your horse will go out to either jog, gallop, or breeze at this time. If he's breezed the day before, he's usually only hand walked the day after.
  • 12:00-12:30 p.m. Lunch time.
  • 3:00 p.m. Most barns will take your horse out for another hand walk or at least a graze at this time.
  • 5:00-5:30 p.m. Dinner time. 
spirit of gulch hangs out waiting to be wrapped after a work.
(and also begs for cookies.)

Things from around the track:
  • Draw reins are common for galloping a strong horse.
draw reins and a large dropped pad for a horse that gets rubs from the rider's boot.
  • Standard tack for a horse is a bridle with no nose band, a simple snaffle nose band, a flash, or a figure eight; a martingale called a yoke; a closed running martingale attachment called rings; a no slip pad or shammy goes on first followed by a simple saddle cloth in the trainer's colors and a thicker pad or half pad that the top half of the saddle cloth is folded over. If a horse gets rubs from a rider's boots, a larger pad will go under the saddle instead.
shammy (the bit of red you can see by the rider's hand), saddle cloth, thick pad. 
  • Bits aren't usually specific for each horse. The most common bits on the track are a simple dee or eggbutt snaffle and a ring bit. Bridles are hung on a wall in the tack room and are grabbed at will for each set unless a particular horse has specific problems that need a specific bit. Bobby, for instance, trained in a Houghton bit which is for a horse that lugs out. 
  • When the horse is done on the track, the exercise rider will pull the tack him/herself in the horse's stall. As the groom or hot walker puts his halter on and prepares to walk him out, the exercise rider will dunk the bit in the horse's water bucket and set their tack either outside the tack room for a groom to grab, or on the stall guard of a horse that is going out in a set soon. 
  • Pin firing is when an injury (usually a splint) is treated with a caustic chemical. It can also be done on clean legs as a preventative measure. In theory it's supposed to promote blood flow and speed healing to the site of the injury. You can identify pin firing by several lines of tiny dots on your horse's cannon bone. It's not a cause for concern when buying your horse. Bobby is pin fired in both fronts, and Red was pin fired all around. 
see the white dots on red's legs?

Racing!

The best part about having an ex-racehorse is that it's a fucking ex-racehorse, baby. Looking at your horse's past races can show a lot of insight into what his life at the track was like. Since I stole Aimee's title, I'll steal her horse as an example for reading a race chart:

courage's first race

The big block of text in the upper corner are the conditions of the race. This was a MSW (Maiden Special Weight) which means that only horses that had never won a race could enter. This race was restricted to two year olds and was run at four and a half furlongs on the dirt. You can see the purse amount; only California bred horses are eligible for the extra $9,000 from the CBOIF. Next is the payout, what the weather was that day, how the track was (fast, sloppy, good, firm, etc), what time the race went off, and how poor number five started.

Under the Last Raced column, you'll see that only two horses in the field had started previously. The line through means this was the first start for the rest of the field. Pgm is the horse's number in the program; 1 and 1A means there was more than one horse racing for one trainer. Obviously the horse's name and jockey's name (yeah, Courage, getting some Joel Rosario action!) come next. Wgt is the weight the horse carried. M/E is Medication/Equipment. All horses raced on Bute and Lasix, and the small b means three horses wore blinkers. PP is the post position; notice that 1 and 1A did not start next to each other as their program number might indicate. 

The next three columns are how the race was going at that particular point on the track. Let's focus only on Courage. 1/4 mile in, Courage was in fourth position by one length. Coming into the stretch, he was still in fourth position by two lengths now. He ended up finishing in fourth place two and a half lengths behind the horse in front of him. The comments show that he was crowded while racing and had to be steadied, but looking at the footnotes reveals a little more.


Courage had a rough start, getting bounced around in the early stages, but he finished up like a pro. Go, Courage!

where were you, courage?

Looking at your horse's lifetime starts can also show you a lot. For instance, Courage had more than a year long break between races. This is usually indicative of an injury and might help explain a soundness issue your now off the track horse has. In Courage's case, Aimee was able to find out that he was likely recovering from knee chip removal surgery.

Look for a horse that raced for a long period of time without a long period of doing nothing. Or, look for a horse that raced over a shorter period of time, but started frequently. Be cautious though because the latter isn't always a good thing. Bobby only raced over one year and was run often. His legs are clean and sound, and he was only retired because of a bleeding issue. However, at the lower levels of racing, a horse could be getting passed from one trainer to another to get every last check out of him. Look for a horse that hasn't switched barns every race. 

Back to pedigrees

Now that your horse is off the track and in your hands, let's look at his pedigree for a sport horse prospect. 

Names that are known for passing on good jumping skills:
  • In Reality
  • Alydar
  • Buckaroo
  • Private Terms
  • Roberto
Notoriously bad tricky temperaments: Halo and Storm Cat. Powerful shoulder and big front end: AP Indy. Beware unsoundness: Unbridled's Song. Wonky knees: Too much Mr Prospector

massive rib cage: mighty magee.
bobby is a carbon copy of his sire.

Does that help anyone out at all? Hopefully it at least lets you have a little more knowledge when exploring your OTTB's past, and you can have fun looking at his (or her) pedigree and how it might relate to your discipline. Keep in mind that this is a totally remedial post that doesn't even begin to cover everything, and if anyone else has anything to add, comment away!

Monday, November 24, 2014

See ya, suckers.

Well, I don't know who the sucker here is since I'm leaving the 65* of Pennsylvania to travel west to the forecasted 1-3" of snow and 28* of suburban Chicago for the week. Hmm. Worst laid travel plans ever.

I went back and forth on whether or not I was going to schedule any posts for the coming week since I wasn't going to be around to write about the mind blowing dressage rides my horse gives me (that was a joke, by the way). Part of me wanted to make sure I met my new personal quota of a minimum of four posts a week, but the other part doesn't really like when all my posts are blog hops and non-personal pony recounting.

But the OCD side won out, so expect some non-personal pony recounting to be going on. #Sorrynotsorry.

pack horse extraordinaire. 

Bobby's workload last week consisted of one fifteen minute flat ride, two longes, and lots of blanket changes where he didn't even have to leave his stall. I realized as I was putting his third different blanket on in as many days that I might have a problem. But half of them were free and the other half were on sale, it's totally fine, right?

he did have to come outside one time so i could LOL at his barney blanket.

Obviously he's been feeling so sad about being out of work and only getting snuggles and cookies. I took him out for a trail ride on Sunday to make up for it. The ground was pretty hard from the recent cold weather so we walked the entire time. Bobby was not a fan, and while he went on a loose rein, we got back to the barn with him lathered in sweat because OMG WHY DON'T I EVER LET HIM DO ANYTHING?! To finish showing his displeasure, he spooked and snorted and carried on about a stall door not being latched shut in his sight line while I was running up my stirrups.

I mean, serious horse life problems, dudes.

so dirty with janky ass braids. welcome to my horse in the winter.

And that about sums up this post. See the quality you miss out on when I don't write about my riding?

Friday, November 21, 2014

November's 10 Questions

From L of course. Of course because L is the winner at providing us all with content to write about when we having nothing exciting going on in our own lives.

1. Have you ever owned a horse? I have in the past. I currently own a mule. And not even a cute one. Kind of an ugly one.

2. What is your favorite aspect of your discipline? I guess I classify myself as an eventer, and that's how my BO and BM introduce me to new people in the barn, but I really genuinely enjoy participating in any discipline I can. Love riding ponies my mule!

plus, the more disciplines you ride, the more chances to wear gaudy colors!

3. What pet peeves do you have concerning your discipline? For eventing? How about the current fucking helmet cam ban? That's not okay. But I have a cross-discipline pet peeve, and that is this: Everybody needs to shut the fuck up about how great their discipline is. First of all, I don't care. Not even a little bit. Second of all, you aren't better than anyone else. Listen, you're all doing basically the same thing. Dressage is just a fancy word for flat work, no?

4. Do you do barn chores? Child, I pay a lot of money for someone else to get up at six in the morning to break ice out of my horse's water buckets and pry his frozen poop up. Owning animals, including a horse, on my own property in upstate New York was enough of doing my own barn chores for a lifetime. I do help out whenever it's needed though because I am a nice person. That, uh, comes across in this blog, right? (...don't answer that.)

bobby is always willing to help spread shavings
because he's that kind of dude.

5. What is your least favorite barn chore? Mucking a stall where the horse has tiny little poop balls and then walks them all over their giant stall so it takes ten times longer to pick out.

6. What do you consider the worst vice in a horse? Dirtiness. Straight up, "Fuck you, I know exactly what you want and I am not going to do it because....fuck you."

7. What saddle brand is your favorite? Anything that I can afford and fits both me and my horse.

8. Do you ride with a quarter sheet in the winter? I prefer the term "butt cape", but yes.

butt cape engaged.
(omg, those horrible feet though)

9. Does your horse wear boots? What kind? Not usually, but sometimes I'll slap on a round of Dover fuzzy sport boots.

10. Full seat or knee patch breeches? I much prefer knee patch.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Top Five Under Thirty, Pt. II

I did this post last spring, and I love the idea of it so I thought I'd do another one to introduce some blogs that need more followers!

An Optimist, A Pony, and A Pug

I know how much blog land loves them a good Cob. (Am I right Connor? Get well soon EmiAll the Cobs!) Gavin is a Cob training for total dressage domination. He's cute, he's a redhead, and his mom is constantly sharing his adorable mug with the world. Not enough? She also has a pug. Are you sold yet?

With a Western Twist

Louisa's last blog was featured in my last top five post. I just love this girl's writing and sense of humor. Does that make me a stalker? Probably. This new blog literally just got started, but I'm excited to see where she takes it, and I hope we get plenty more Jingle stories to go along with lifestyle updates.

Smooth Strides

This is a blog written by my friend from college, Sarah! She lives in Kentucky now on her own little farm with some race ponies and her own pony horse pony who she's turning into an eventer. Twister is a giant, super cute Quarter Horse, and I can't wait for her to get cruising in some horse trials next year.

Peace & Carrots

Three horses. All cute. One spotted and giant. Must I go on? Okay, fine. Kate just moved barns not long ago to get Apollo (the spotted and giant one) kicked started again and hopefully do some eventing eventually. She also has two babies that I'm super excited to read about in the coming years. Lots of pictures, good writing, and there have been several reflective posts that I enjoy reading because they make me think about some of the same issues I've encountered in the horse world.

2 Left Socks

Sam is a Curly Horse that does not look curly, but does look like a fucking boss. These two compete in hunters and they just cleaned up in their last show. I can't wait to read about more bad assery, and I always enjoy seeing videos. Plus I really like goal oriented blogs, and things are always getting checked off.

And in case you're wondering what Bobby has been up to...

"hai. these are my new friends. they never bite me."

"you're not sharing the cookies, are you?"

"modeling" his new halter we won.
"MOAR COOKIES NOW."

lots of sleepy naps because that's what a bobby does best

"it's cold. NEED MOAR COOKIES."

Basically he's just chilling and eating his body weight in hay daily. The cold has been a good excuse to let him just sit for the next couple of weeks to hopefully let him drop some fitness. I've currently got him wound a little too tightly, and he doesn't need to be so fit and hot going into winter.

Whoa, Bobby. Settle the fuck down.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

WW: Weekend Trail Ride

about to cross the road

this six stall barn is for sale. someone come be my friend!

where we were dive bombed by the hawk last weekend.
bobby was on high alert for repeat attacks.

"i throw my head up in the air sometimes. singing let gooo, let me galloppp!"

awesome view, even in the mist.

exploring a new path

And because those are pretty boring, I'll deviate from "wordless" quickly:

I got off of Bobby after riding around for about thirty minutes to pull my saddle pad back into place. (P.S. Someone buy my fucking saddle.) I had unhooked his girth completely from both sides, and Bobby was standing there just chilling like the good trail pony he is. Then, out of nowhere, he flings his head up and starts snorting and spinning around frantically. When I yelled at him to stand still, he tried to yank the reins out of my hands.

As has been established, we live in a very healthy black bear area. Very healthy. I had to yell at our "pet" one to get the fuck out of our backyard last weekend so I could let the dogs out (because I fear Mags will think it's her papa). I didn't hear anything crashing through the woods we were standing next to, but I sure as hell wasn't going to stand there and wait to see if something came meandering out.

I did the girth back up as quickly as I could and we jetted home, slipped pad be damned. I told BM about it when we got back and she was like, "Oh, yeah! I saw a bear on the backside of that hill while I was driving home yesterday."

Awesome.

I'm glad my horse's lack of self preservation over fences does not carry over to a lack of self preservation around wild animals.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Results are in: Blanketing Fees

Holy shit.

Next time I get the idea in my head to do a "Horse people love spending money!" survey, no one reply to me. Not unless it's to tell me not to do it. I don't know why anything that has to do with math seems like a good idea to me, and add in having to use Excel...

IT'S NOT FUN.

Anyway, after two hours of gathering all the results from the blanketing fees questionnaire  (or at least that's what we'll call for lack of better ideas), I finally got my information lumped together in one easy to read graph.

Tah dah!

you'd best appreciate the amateur fanciness!

I thought it was funny that, on average, those who turn their horses out in the theoretically nicest time of day and don't clip spend the most on blankets. To be fair though that section, along with the nighttime clipped horses, was the one with the least responses.

Also, since I do love to give out fake e-awards, this round's goes to Tori for having the most blankets out of anyone. Yeah, yeah. We know you have multiple horses, and you live in icy Canada, but it's time to fess up: You have a problem, girl.

puppies say they rock the on sale blankets just like their pony

I was actually surprised on how little we spend on blankets. Horse people love spending money, but we love to go bargain hunting, too, amirite?!

Maybe it has something to do with knowing that that expensive purchase is going to be covered in poop within the week.

Monday, November 17, 2014

SFTS Blog Hop: The horse that made me


Loving Jenn's latest blog hop, even though this blog has chronicled the trials and tribulations of the horse in question.

If you can, try to narrow down to the one horse that "made you". For better or worse.

Without a doubt RuPaul is the horse that has made me for better and for worse. I think in a lot of ways it's harder to work with a horse you've known forever than a horse you get halfway through their lives, or just halfway through their training. It's hard to let go of preconceived notions of what that horse is going to do in certain situations, and that has been without a doubt the biggest core problem I've hit with Bobby over the past nine years.

because as a weanling, i was just like, "you are going to be an advanced level eventer.
i can't wait to get my greedy paws on you. the look of eagles shines through."

From the get-go Bobby was a very chill, friendly dude that didn't cause troubles. Then he got weaned, and got older, and dropped his manhood, and suddenly he was taking you mud skiing and trying to bite you. Fortunately that adjustment was easy to get over when his manhood was taken away from him.

When we broke him out, it was a one and done sort of deal. My roommate and I had him doing w/t/c in literally just a week, and he quickly became reliable enough for anyone to get on. When he went to the track, he was their problem. I expected the same horse to come back.

mm hmm. still totally brilliant looking.
still hanging out with his best friend the bucket.

He wasn't bad when I did finally buy him. He hacked out on miles of trails alone or with company without ever throwing a fit. He took to his first jumps without throwing any fits. He got distracted and tense at shows, but it was never malicious and could all be written off as baby horse greenness.

Then I gave him away, Red died, and I got him back. 

And I wanted him to immediately step into my eleven year old seasoned show horse's footsteps; a horse I'd been riding and training for six years, and who was a completely different animal than this five year old who was still as green as grass. Red never took offense to anything. If anything, he loved picking a fight even though he knew he'd lose. "I'm not going to jump that! Hell to the no! Oh. You're actually going to force the issue? Alright, I'll do it. It wasn't actually scaring me anyway LOLZ."

I put the pressure right on Bobby, and I didn't let up. I expected him to know all the things Red did, and I didn't have the patience to work through the things he didn't understand. It probably took me most of that first year after he came back to me to step back--way back--and set a proper Bobby-tailored foundation on him.

baby horse's first cross country school. he was very impressed.

But in the end, that's what has made me a better horse person overall. Never skip the basics. Never get frustrated when the horse doesn't understand versus when he's just testing me. Look for physical issues first. Repeat, repeat, repeat....but don't ever drill it. Don't set tack choices in stone. Don't set training fixes in stone. Patience is everything.

Things you think you know, and really things you do know, but still they're things that are easy to push aside when you're in the moment and getting pissed because your horse is flying backwards into a fence at the sight of a ground pole. 


bigger, scarier questions for a grown up horse are a snooze.

It's all worth it though when your baby green bean that you constantly want to throttle goes from this:


about to clobber a crossrail
to this:


coasting over 4'.

And starts out flatting like this:


warming up for jumps at 6

to this:


warming up for jumps at 9

It's just that sometimes it doesn't seem like it's worth it when you're being dumped, or spinning around in circles at high velocity for no apparent reason, or flying backwards, or having your face bashed in by a true drama llama, or dealing with something as innocent as soundness issues. 

Okay, I won't lie. Sometimes I really fucking hate this horse. But I shudder to think of having to do it all over again. 

You know what Bobby Magee has made me?

FUCKING NEUROTIC.