Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Everything is exhausting

I've known from Ride One that Opie errs on the side of "When in doubt, just quit." Really, I'm not sure why he wasn't a more successful racehorse!

He was primed to race last Monday which instead turned into his first ride off the track. Aside from not being able to stand still at the mounting block, he walked and trotted both directions without any issues whatsoever. Not once did I fear he was going to snatch the bit and make a run for it. In fact, by the end of the ride I was having to leg him on to get him to walk faster than a slug.

I also learned right away that this is a horse that loves his sleepy time. The first morning he was here, he was covered head-to-toe in shavings from a good snooze in his stall overnight.

grand champion of sleeping.

Yesterday morning, A texted me that Opie had pulled both his water buckets from the wall (who knows how) and dumped them all over his stall, flooding it. Obviously he couldn't snuggle in and sleep in a swimming pool.

I got his stall stripped and dried before taking him into the ring for a little longe work. I couldn't find a longe whip anywhere, but he has a pretty clear idea of what longeing is so we got w/t done both directions before I started taking him over a couple small verticals I set up with flower boxes underneath. He happily popped right over every time, finally learning by the end that he wouldn't whack his footsies if he just lifted them a little higher.

All in all it was about fifteen total minutes of work. I pulled the bridle off and let him loose so I could go grab him one of his friends. Everyone was inside because of obscene winds, so I wanted him to get a little extra time out of his stall.

Ralph strolled right over to the filled hay nets and got to work stuffing his face. Opie sidled up as close to Ralph as he could and lay down. I was like, "Um. Whut. What are you doing? Are you dying? Are you colicking? What is this?"

ralph is judging you so hard, opie

Nope. Opie got settled in, Ralph gave him side eye for trying to lay under his feet and moved on to the next hay net, and Opie...passed the fuck out. Lip drooped to the ground, snoot buried in the sand, mule ears twitching away.

Horsing is hard, yo.

he tried to bite me shortly after this.
do not disturb. apparently.

Monday, October 30, 2017

One week with Opie

I have to remind myself a lot that it's only been one week since I bought Opie off the backside of Finger Lakes. In part because he's already absorbed so much about the routine of his new life, and in part because he still has so much learnin' to do.

In one week he has:
  • Stood for the farrier to get his racing plates off and steel shoes put on up front. 
  • Gotten daily turnout in a large field with three other horses without ever making a fuss. 
  • Learned to crosstie quietly enough to be trusted to be unsupervised long enough for me to go in and out of the tack room. 
  • Learned to stand quietly at the mounting block long enough for me to get on by myself.
  • Walked and trotted over ground poles individually, on a bending line, and in a row. 
  • Longed over small verticals with fill.
  • Walked in-hand through a creek, over a bridge, through giant lake-sized puddles, and over every small log on the property. 
  • Had his mane pulled.

most proud of this

He still has to learn about things like:
  • Standing still for the farrier. He weaves in the crossties, and while I've eradicated the frantic flinging himself back and forth behavior, he still shifts from side to side and weaves with his head. He doesn't like to hold his feet up for long because it throws off his dance jam, but ground manners are a huge deal for me so this is a priority. 
  • Leading at my pace. He's great to take out to the pasture, but just leading him around on adventures he wants to go and can get pretty rude about barging by you.
  • Cantering. Our indoor is long but narrow which makes it hard for him to balance. He's also lazy as shit so the second he has to make a turn he's like, "Yeah, super hard holding yourself upright, better just walk it out." If the weather got its shit together for two seconds, I'd take him to our outdoor to get the flow going.
  • Being left inside alone. I leave him in when I'm doing chores in the morning, and since everyone else goes out during the day he's all by himself while I finish sweeping and getting my stuff around. He stall walks, and while he's quit with the screaming and frantic stall running, he still walks something fucking awful. I'm not even sure this is something I can stop. Maybe he'll just get used to being left in alone for awhile part of his routine? Any thoughts here? I've never dealt with a stall walker or a horse that weaves before.
the reins will get longer when someone gets better about, you know, steering.

Overall though, he absorbs everything. From one day to the next he's held on to all his previous lessons and is ready to take on more. He responds well to corrections, and he's the biggest treat whore I've ever met. If you want something to stick, shove a peppermint down his throat.

grand champion of standing still now.

The reason I've kind of shoved everything at him all at once is that the next couple of weeks are going to be crazy for me. I'm flying out to Chicago for the next three days, and then I'm driving back out there Wednesday of next week and will be gone until Monday. I've known about both trips for awhile so I wanted him to know about the rules of his new life before he got abandoned for awhile.

grand champion of ground poles.

I think a little break will be good for him without being so long that he goes feral. It will give his body that much more time to let those big, thick racing muscles relax, and it will give his constantly whirling brain time to catch up and think everything over. He's been a picture perfect student so far, and I know he'll still be getting stuffed with treats while I'm gone. I hope when I get back into a normal routine in two weeks he'll have settled in even more.

"why are we still trotting? it's been longer than five minutes. i am les tired."

Short term, I'm really hoping we have the weather this weekend that I can get someone to go out on a trail ride with me before winter well and truly sets in. I don't think he's going to give me any problems whatsoever, but it will make me feel better to have a buddy along to bring the stress level down should he find something The Snoot does not approve of.

and maybe try some out of doors cantering since he is so very bad at it in the ring.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

WW: Turnout Time

his trainer told me he'd had turnout with other horses before so we weren't
expecting anything too crazy. the slow stroll to meet up was even more
boring than we thought we were going to get though.

boop all the snoots all at once.

ralph says, "get out of my food, you baby mule!"

he really wanted to explore the rest of the pasture, but the other two were too busy
finishing their hay to go with him so he didn't make it any further while i was there.

one day you'll grow up to be fat and white like momo!

"so sneaky with this red horse, lolz!"

"why are you stalking me, lady?"

the cutest.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Snoot: Part II

Basically this is a post on the firsts I've hit with Opie so far....which is basically just an excuse to share Opie pictures because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH SNOOT.

wrapped all around in case he went wild and whacked
himself. clearly he's a very wild child.

First Walkabout

I didn't want to get on him the first day he was at his new home, but I do feel strongly that fresh OTTBs need to maintain human interaction and not just get kicked out of the field to "be a horse and let down". Most of these horses have never just been kicked out in a field since they started racing. I used to be really good at running, but I would hate if someone was like, "You're going to be a runner again now, so go out and run all day! You're welcome!" Bitch, no. My life is eating snacks now. I'm good at it, and I need some hand holding to get back to the running game.

But that was a pretty poor tangent since I'm never going to be a runner again. #lolno

i turned around to see how he would react to the little
bridge but he just followed along behind me right over it.

Anyway, my plan for Day One was a walkabout of the property to let him check things out and see how his manners on the ground were. After a quick groom where I got my first introduction to grey horse poop stain (At least I know he had a nice snooze overnight?), we headed to the outdoor first. Opie was on a mission to see ALL THE THINGS, and I started giggling immediately. 

You guys. He's Zoe's long lost brother. 

snoot it.

snoot these too.

He's doesn't have Zoe's adorable and out-of-this-world smooshy nose, but that big white snoot loves to put itself on everything. It's like his snoot is his lead man. If the snoot says it's safe, there's nothing for Opie to worry about. 

snoot this tractor

even snoot yourself

Once we were done snooting all there was to be seen at the front of the property, I asked barrn mate K if she would walk around with pond with us. She was in the middle of a walk break on the horse she was riding, so she agreed and we headed out with some moral support should the snoot need it. 

spoiler alert: he didn't.

Our first obstacle was the bridge that crosses over a little creek/runoff from the pond. It's maybe three strides to walk across it, and Opie was game to just follow me wherever we were going on this adventure until he heard my foot hit the wood. He stopped for a second, but before I could even take another step to show him it was fine, he was like, "Well, whatever! Adventure awaits on the other side. Carry on!" and marched right across. 

We took a minute to practice standing patiently in the field behind the pond as standing still is definitely Opie's weakest point. Gosh, what a massive problem to have on a baby racehorse. 

We tromped through a muddy patch before walking over a low cross rail without even looking at it, and then heading into the little wooded path and walking over a stacked log jump with no hesitation. He needed some convincing to get over the actual creek/runoff since there was water in it, but a few times each direction and he was half walking, half hopping over it without hesitation.

Dudes, this horse is so cool. He just loves everything, and sees new things as amazing and fun and where is the next new thing so he can snoot that too. As soon as someone is around as the same time as me on a trusty trail horse, we're leaving the ring.

if you liked it then you should have put a snoot on it

First Ride

After getting a better feel for his personality, I didn't think I'd have any issues getting on him Monday. A was there to ride her horse so I asked her if she'd hold him for me at the mounting block before she got on because standing. It's not Opie's thing. 

I hooked him to the crossties with lead rope still attached while I tacked up and he was pretty squirmy, but never actually hit the ties. He would stand still then look down the aisle and be like, "Ahhh, I'm getting ridden, time for ADVENTURES!!!!" and start dancing around again. 

We finally made it to the ring and as expected he was like, "Yeah, this mounting block is stupid. I have things to snoot, bai." A finally popped him once on the shoulder--something he's fortunately very responsive to--and he held still long enough for me to swing up. 

my long lost riding buddy who moved back to nicole's was in town for the weekend
so obvi she had to stop and meet opie. we tried to get him to run around, but he was like, 
"imma take a pass on that" and trotted all of ten steps.

Since he's a little dude--maybe not little little, but certainly nowhere near the height and breadth of Bobby--I was really worried I was going to feel like a fat sasquatch on him. I was pleasantly surprised to find that he already takes up quite a bit of leg width-wise and I didn't feel big on him at all. 

We marched around at the walk both directions for awhile. He wasn't spooky or looky or even particularly strong. He wanted to take a pull, but I just gave him a quick, sharp tug and relaxed the reins a few times here and there and in no time at all I was actually having to give him a little squeeze to keep him from straight up plodding. Same thing at the trot. "Can we go fast? No? Well, okay. And now I'm already tired."

When we had him loose on Sunday, he was trotting towards B and I to get a cookie when he saw the ground pole. He slammed to a stop and put the snoot on it which had us both doubled over in laughter. The snoot deemed it safe so he popped over it and didn't think twice about it from there on out. I walked him over a different stack Monday from both directions without any troubles. So cute, so smart!

I let him finish with about twenty minutes of w/t work. He didn't so much as glance at A's horse in the ring with us, and when Farrier pulled in and started unloading her truck he was like, "Adventure? No? Better keep strolling then." Farrier ducked in to boop the snoot and take a picture to commemorate our first ride. 

side eye because i'd just kicked him for dancing all over. he was also chewing on
a peppermint so don't feel too sorry for him.

She also pulled his racing plates behind so he could get turned out for the first time without fear of clipping himself with toe grabs before he gets all new feet tomorrow. First turnout is going to be a WW tomorrow because this post is already too long and picture heavy. Let's just say thank goodness there was some nice fall foliage to make the pictures pretty because there wasn't a whole lot of excitement. 

Monday, October 23, 2017

The Snoot: Part I

On the off chance anyone missed what I was up to this weekend, I bought a horse!

this horse, to be exact.

I thought for sure I'd need a long break after I put Bobby down, but there's nothing quite like still having to go to the barn every day to take care of other people's horses to make you get antsy in a hurry to have something of your very own again. I wanted something, but I also would randomly wake up in the middle of the night with this nauseous clenched feeling in my gut like I had a horse and something was very, very wrong with it. So that wasn't great.

But I kept casually clicking through the Finger Lakes Finest listings since I live thirty minutes from the track and Instant Gratification is my middle name.

There were a couple that I really liked the weekend before last, but they sold on the spot to people walking around with the volunteers. I figured if I wanted first pick of something nice--and I didn't have to call people on the phone to set up a time to come out (win!)--that would be the best way for me to go, too.

I messaged them to let them know I wanted to walk around with them when they went back out this past Saturday, told the volunteer my budget, and met up with them and another girl who was also shopping first thing that morning. I figured even if there was nothing I liked this time around, there were worse ways to spend a morning!

So what was I looking for? My specifics were basically no mares; no greys; no small, piggy eyes; no bulging psycho eyes; something that had raced more than once or twice; something still in training, not something that got thrown on the walker for half an hour while still being fed a steady diet of rocket fuel and that was his life; and he had to be sound. Age didn't bother me. My main goal above all those other things though was he had to have a brain.

The volunteers showed us a war horse first who was well put together without a blemish on him who seemed like a really sweet guy. He didn't excite me though, so we moved on to two more--a cute chestnut that was at the end of rehabbing a suspensory (pass), and a really pretty big bay who hadn't been in training all year (pass) and had shit feet (pass) and a big knee (pass).

We wandered over to another barn to see if the trainer still had a horse they thought I might like available. He was gone, but the trainer said she had a cute grey they could list and a couple mares. I was like, pass. Again.

And then they led The Snoot out.

"hullo, frenz. you has candies?"

The other girl who I was shopping with also didn't want a grey, but the second he came out we all let out a collective, "Awwwwwww." They told us his name was Opie, he had a great brain, that he was five years old, had just raced two weeks ago, and did they mention his great brain?

I quickly snapped a couple pics to send to Riding Bestie who was shopping with me via text, then remembered to get pictures of his feet to send to Farrier for her approval. Opie stood quietly in the road, snuggling his groom and accepting peppermints from all of us while I went over every inch of him.

We headed across to the trainer's other barn to look at the mares, one of whom the other shopper instantly fell in love with. Meanwhile Farrier had given her stamp of approval so it was basically on me to decide if he was the one. Both me and the other shopper were both trying to play it cool, so we followed the volunteers to the next barn. We lasted about two minutes while the first horse got his listing information taken before we split and went back to the previous trainer's barn to make things official with our picks.


I ran home to grab my truck, ran to the barn to grab my trailer, got distracted showing pictures of his cuteness to barnmates, and then ran back over to the track to pick him up. He'd never been in a two horse before, but he put both front feet on the ramp before stopping to assess. Deb's husband was leading him, and Deb came out of the barn behind us and said, "Oh, you've never seen one of those before. Oh, well. Opie, get on there!" and he scrambled right in.

He rode over quietly and let out one neigh when I stopped the truck in the parking lot. He was a little anxious about being in the trailer, and he backed out one step, got his hind feet on the ramp, and jumped backwards to get out. Once he was out he stood still on a slack lead, but he's going to need some trailering practice to get used to his new chariot.

he's super excited too, i promise.

I let him graze while he got ogled by my barn mates, and then got to creeping. Probably should have made more of a point to do that before I bought him (for next to nothing I should say. Like, tack on a zero and he'd probably bring that with six months of retraining), but we couldn't figure out how to spell his JC name.

He's actually four, not five, though he has an early January birthday. He's a NY-bred by Maybry's Boy (which was obvious once I saw that as they look exactly alike) out of an Eltish mare. He raced 31 times, 12 times this year alone, and was actually entered to race today. He only won twice, and the groom told us, "He won for us once last year. He looked like they were chasing him, and he's never run that fast again."

He's on the smaller side, maybe 15.3hh, but he's a little butt high yet so I think he might grow a touch more. Spoiler alert: he doesn't feel that small when I'm on him.

He's been here since Saturday afternoon and has already settled right in. He was the only horse in the barn when he got here so he had to hang out by himself while we drove the gator up and down the aisle shoveling gravel into stalls and throwing mats around. He didn't make a peep, just kept an eye on us and accepting peppermints whenever they were offered.

they gave me his nice leather track halter, but i wanted him to have a t/o halter
to abuse. the only breakaway left in his size was blue, but i think it suits him.

I feel like I could just keep writing for hours gushing over him, but I'll save that for part two--his first trail walk, his first ride, and his first turnout with his new friends.

Is it obvious I'm super excited to own a horse again? To own this horse? Because I feel like maybe I'm being too subtle about it...

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Saturday at Fair Hill

My current coping mechanism for having to put my horse down is complete emotional detachment through eating--which works great until I'm like, "Imma bring this extra apple to Bobby tomorrow cuz he's gonna love it!" and then I break down into hysterics because I can't feed my horse.

Literally the most surefire thing to make me cry is give me a snack I can't feed my own horse. THINGS ARE GOING GREAT, THANKS.

But I don't want to talk about that. Like, ever. Let's move on to far more exciting things!

way to jump that giant thing, 2* rider!

About a week and a half earlier, I decided on a whim that this was going to be the year I finally went down for cross country day at Fair Hill. Nevermind we used to only live three hours away, it made much more sense now that we're easily seven hours north. I texted Riding Bestie to see if she was available to come too (yep!), told Hubby my plans and had him sign on quickly as well.

We got down to PA Friday night, met up with Sarah early Saturday morning, and began driving the most ass-backwards way known to man. I have no idea which way we used to trailer down to Plantation and Carousel Park to show, but holy fuck I'm glad it wasn't that way. What a giant cluster fuck.

sally cousins in the 2*

Approximately five trillion years later we finally made it to parking and jumped onto the shuttle bus just after ten.

i have no idea how mags's fluffy ass fit on that seat
with hubby

meanwhile pig had adopted herself out to a new
family and had zero regrets about it

We had no idea where to start, so we picked a path and started wandering. We watched a little bit of one of the waters, and then plopped down at the coffin complex where Austen soon found us.

lyra has no time for your shenanigans. 

Austen was stuck with us for most of the day and quickly won over the favor of Hubby by giving him her extra beer tent wristband, and by Sarah for her copious use of the word "fuck" which is honestly the easiest way to win any of us over.

We missed quite a bit of the 2* riders while strolling through the trade fair where we lost Austen in the Eponia booth for awhile. I don't know how you Rolex bloggers had such a problem with her shopping habits--the next time we saw her she had a large bag slung over her shoulder...

it was hard to miss buck. he was on practically every other horse.

i would like this jump at my house. #adorbs

We grabbed some vastly overpriced but delish lunch, and then headed over to the tailgate area to meet Niamh. I've met Niamh a couple times before--she was actually the very first blogger I ever met in-person!--and she was just as fun as ever. We were soon joined by Emma and had to get together for an epic dog party blogger pic!

i see your white snow bunny and raise you one black bear.

this poor pooch was like, "let's be friends, guys!

Everyone split into opposite directions from there and Hubby, Sarah, and I headed off in the direction of the start to see more of the course as the 3* kicked off.

jessie phoenix

i can't be the only one that has a huge crush on this mare

We watched the first few riders come through where we could see two big galloping fences at once before deciding we'd move on to a combination to see some action. After all, these upper levels horses weren't going to have any issues cruising over these "easy" jumps. About two minutes later we were maybe six feet away as Jenny Caras's horse came in on a half stride and hung a leg on the picnic table, high-impact splattering them both into the ground. They were both instantly up and seemed no worse for wear fortunately.

We quickly hoofed it over to the corner combination where the first pair we saw was Heather Morris getting eliminated on refusals.


y u so pretty tho, charlie tango?

That was plenty of drama for us, and we didn't see anything else besides really nice trips from there out.

super bummed colleen wasn't able to hold on for the win

Right as the 3* was finishing up, I think on the very last rider, Britt and I finally managed to run into each other for a quick meet up before we both left.

why can't i look so nice and polished after
six hours of walking around in 90% humidity?

I also met Megan K quickly as Hubby ducked into the beer tent one more time, but my head was pounding so bad at that point I completely forgot to get a picture. Blogger fail. She and her girlfriend were both great though!

here's freebee instead

It was a great event overall, made all the more fun by getting to meet so many bloggers in one place. The massive amounts of doggos wandering around waiting to be pet helped cheer me up, too.

wild puppy

wild black bear

I'd definitely like to attend again, if only it weren't so fucking far away. I hear the Geneseo Hunt Races are a great party day, guys! And only forty five minutes away from me...so probably about sixteen hours for everyone else on the planet.

and for everyone concerned, don't worry.
hubby got his crabs in a bag.