Any horse person will tell you that most horse people are game to try many different kinds of therapeutic treatments for their horses. I’ve posted here before about chiropractic treatment. I’ve also explored acupuncture. Most recently I had Coco treated with PEMF, which is short for Pulsed Electromagnetic Field therapy. I’m not going to go into great detail about what it is and how it works, but generally it uses energy waves (pulsed) to treat damaged cells. The barn I show with uses it extensively and has had great luck using PEMF therapy. I live four hours away from my show barn, so to get my horses regular treatment I needed to find someone closer to me.
I finally found someone who works out of the Canton area and comes to my region somewhat regularly. Heather is fantastic to work with! She is extremely knowledgeable and is patient and calm with the horses.
I’ve posted on here myriad times about Coco’s various symptoms and ailments, none of which are debilitating, but I’ve always felt like she has something internal that just isn’t quite right. Horses are hard because they can’t tell us where something hurts or how much with words, only with body language. Coco is much better under saddle the past couple months, but she still seems agitated when I brush her barrel on her left side and still sometimes shows signs of discomfort when I first start riding.
Heather did a full examination of her prior to treatment and we agreed that a full-body therapy would be best. She was somewhat reactive to testing for signs of ulcers and for her female anatomy. She’s been treated for ulcers twice, and to be honest I never thought her behaviour changed after treatment, which led me to believe she didn’t have ulcers, or at least not bad enough that that was what was causing her reactivity.
Starting with her noggin, the flexible tubes emit a pulse. The pulse can be set to be really aggressive or very slight. We, of course, started very slightly on her poll and around her head. You can tell that she relaxed into it pretty well.
A horse’s poll (the area behind their ears) is more or less connected to their whole body, so anything out of whack here affects myriad other parts of their body. Her poll was somewhat reactive to the pulse, but not bad. So her body was telling us that she was a bit out of sorts here, but not to an extent that was worrisome.
This is another part of the horse’s anatomy that connects to many other parts. It is near the entrance to the thoracic cavity.
Coco mostly nonplussed at the therapy to the front half of her body. Her body showed a little reactivity at the poll and near the entrance to the thoracic cavity (which is also where ulcer pain would be manifested). She was mostly relaxed and Heather was able to turn up the pulsing a bit for these parts.
The back part of her anatomy was a bit of a different story. In this video you can hear the clicking sound the pulsing makes and see her body’s reaction to the pulse. This was where her body had the strongest reaction to the PEMF. There are any number of reasons her body was reactionary at this location. Perhaps due to trauma from her fetotomy. Her internal conformation may be causing some discomfort. She may have some intestinal parasites that don’t show up on fecal exams and are causing her discomfort. Heather did some additional examination that led us to believe the parasite issue might have some veracity as well as trauma from the fetotomy.
The part that seems to be the most distressed.
Based on her therapy and the examination done by Heather I have opted to treat Coco with a Panacur PowerPac followed by a short worming regimen to hopefully get rid of any internal parasites that might be making her uncomfortable. After that we will try to get some more regular PEMF therapy and see what we have. All in all Coco has been doing really well lately. Our rides are good. She seems happy and mostly comfortable. Definitely better than she seemed to be last fall!
Have you done PEMF for you or your horse? Any other therapeutic/non-traditional treatments? I’m curious to hear about your experiences!
Good Friday morning y’all! I cannot believe we are into the double digits dates of August! Soon school will be starting around here and traffic will be bad and the weather will start cooling off and all that comes with the change of seasons.
I’m trying to let myself enjoy the cooler temps we are having right now, but I’m having a hard time not being bitter about the lack of rain. We have been surrounded by rain clouds for a couple days and seen a lot of lightening and even some rainbows. But no rain.
When it gets warm, Tuffy gets in the water trough to cool off. This always cracks me up and it makes him SO happy!
Quila is a saint about letting the puppies climb on her. Some of the tan ones look a lot like her, so she’s extra cute with her doppelgangers!
This is Jackie, she is our newest foster. She had been in the Joshua shelter since about April. They had gotten to the point that where going to have to euthanize dogs to make room for all the new ones coming in the door, so we offered to foster her. She is a DELIGHTFUL little dog! Only about 27lb with lots of love and energy. We are smitten.
PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY PLAY ……………………………….. pass out. That is the theme of Dickens. He adores playing with Jackie!
Simon is lame right now with an apparent stifle injury (WTF, Simon!) and since Sterling is gone Coco is getting ALL the love! And it appears to make her very sleepy.
And speaking of Sterling, things seem to be going OK with his kid. Do you see his happy eyes? I think he REALLY loves his kid! I’m the proudest horse Mom this side of the Mississippi!
I’ll be spending the weekend wishing, hoping, praying, begging, and doing whatever else I can try to encourage the rain to fall!
Simon came in from turnout Sunday morning with a surprise for me…….
This is the full scrape wound, fresh from being cleaned.
It is pretty easy to tell from looking at the injury that it was as wire scrape. The side of the heel has the worst damage.
The coronet band (where the hoof meets the hair) bore the brunt of the scrape. It was pretty crusty with blood and gunk before I cleaned it off.
I got it cleaned up, texted pics to my vet to get some guidance on how to treat it, and waited for direction. We opted to just get it really clean and spray it with an aluminum spray as opposed to wrapping. I’m a believer in wounds getting air to breath being better than wrapping them up and trying to keep everything out. He wasn’t sore on the foot that I could tell and there wasn’t any heat in his hoof or leg, all good signs. So I put him back in his stall and hoped for the best.
Before I rode Coco I walked the fence-line between our property and our neighbor and found where Simon got hurt pretty easily. I don’t have photos, but the fence dividing the properties is a woven wire fence with a smooth strand on top and set with t-posts. Well, Simon got his foot wrapped in the TOP wire and pulled the fence down so the t-posts were at about a 110 degree angle! The wire was pretty stretched, too. Simon likes to play over the fence with the neighbor’s geriatric QH gelding so I guess things got a bit out of hand on Saturday night. I never saw the neighbor’s horse yesterday so I don’t know if he got hurt, too. Boot City did a minor repair to the fence, but we know that a full fence replacement is in the imminent future. Oh the glamour of owning property! Never is there a fence that doesn’t need to be repaired or built!
Fast forward to this morning and Simon’s leg is swollen and his leg/foot clearly is sore. I cold hosed the leg, cleaned the wound again, gave him some bute (like ibuprofen for horses, it treats inflammation and pain), and poulticed the canon bone of his leg (poultice is a clay based mud that helps bring out heat and swelling, really more people should poultice themselves when they get hurt, it is awesome stuff). He’s definitely not getting ridden for a week or two, poor guy. Hopefully this gets on the mend sooner than later and he’s back to normal for some more summer trail rides!
2018 has turned out to be the year of art for me. I have acquired some of the most beautiful and heartfelt pieces of art I could ever imagine. I’m blessed to have many gifted friends and family member artists so I’m going to take a moment to brag on these people as well as a couple pieces from truly amazing professional artists that are now in my collection.
First I’ll show you an “oldy” but a goody. A few years back, I don’t even remember how long ago, a friend gifted me this wonderful watercolor piece she did for me of a fox hunt. I had it stored away in a tube for a long time and when my company moved to a new office building and I got a new office, I knew I’d finally get it framed and hung. It makes me so happy to look at this view from my desk every day.
I love the modern interpretation of such a traditional sport!
This past winter our old foxhound, Peaches, was included in artist Lesli Devito’s Dog-A-Day series. She painted this just after we lost Peaches, so it holds a very special place in our hearts. I love how Lesli captures the spirit of the dogs so well, but adds an element of modern with the colorful background. I don’t feel like I’ve found the perfect spot for this painting just yet. For now it lives in my sewing room and Peaches smiles down on my sewing projects like a good girl.
Peaches by Lesli Devito.
In March (also my birthday month, so extra YAY!) I entered the drawing that Paperchases and Petticoats for a piece by artist Swenn Jedraszczyk. I was ELATED when I won the drawing and I did a little informal survey on my Facebook page to pick which horse to have drawn. The hands down winner was Jaguar, my 25yo Quarter Horse. Swenn is in France so it took a little time to get the piece completed and then mailed over to the US, but it was worth the wait! I LOVE this piece! I received it without the frame and haven’t yet gotten it framed myself. We are planning to do a full home restoration so I’m going to wait for that to be completed before it gets it’s place of honor in our home.
This is from Swenn’s Instagram post when the piece was completed. I can’t wait to get it framed and hung in our “new” house.
And last, but CERTAINLY not least is an absolute stunner painted for me by my Aunt Soni. This painting means so much to me for so many reasons. I have a ginormous family and my aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents were my best friends throughout my childhood and really into adulthood. When I was in college my Aunt Soni and Uncle Mike offered me the opportunity to live with them in the Twin Cities in Minnesota to do a summer internship in the big city. This was one of my first forays into being an adult and my aunt and uncle were the most gracious hosts and supporters. I had the best time living with them; going to amazing restaurants, a LOT of concerts and just hanging out.
My Aunt Soni has always been very creative and artistic. She made the most%I0lovely scrapbooks of their trips to Europe and around the US. @er homes have always been impeckably dekorated. More recently s`e has started painting. Her Mom, my Grandma Swana, painted%:C too. A even have a piece in mq house |hat my Grandma Swana painted benore I was born. Well, you can#imagine my delight when#Aunt Sofi offered to paint a portrait on my horse, Sterling. I sent hmr a bunch of photos and#she paifted the most breathtakifg portrait of Sterling I could mver imaoine!
It is a large painting, 30″x40″, and she captured his likeness absolutely perfectly! Let me tell you, painting a grey flea-bitten horse is not for the faint of heart! Those little bitty black specks had to have been a nightmare to get just right. What really stopped me in my tracks, though, was his eye. It looks alive and just like Sterling. His perfect white eyelashes with the eager expression are so him.
The most lovely portrait of my Sterling!
This portrait is hanging proudly in my office. Everyone who comes to see me gets to feast their eyes on this happy po
Y’all. I think Coco has found her Big Girl Pants! A little help from some hormones and better riding doesn’t hurt, but we had an AMAZING weekend recently! I took Sterling and Coco to my trainer’s place outside Houston a couple weeks ago. This was Sterling’s first leg of his trip to his lessee and I took Coco to a small schooling horse show as well as a few lessons with my trainer.
The first day we were there both horses acted like lunatics; first when they got off the trailer and then later because we separated them into separate pens so they would (hopefully) not hurt themselves. By the time I rode Coco for our lesson that day she was pretty much exhausted so was a super easy ride. She jumped all the jumps with no hesitation and we even got in a few nice flying changes.
The horse show was on Sunday only, but we opted to take Coco and the other horses showing to the show location early Saturday morning. This allowed us to ride in relative peace and get her away from Sterling. It turned out this was a really really good idea. She schooled fantastically and was generally pretty chill about the venue. Much better than she had been at the previous two small shows I’d taken her to. Perhaps she was getting the hang of this leaving-home-and-showing thing.
Fast forward to Sunday morning. My division was going first so I got on pretty early to attempt to warm her up in my ring before it was closed. Long story short, the warm-ups were ALL chaos, she was very agitated and amped, and the start time was delayed AN HOUR! Needless to say, by the time my ring started I felt like I was riding a hot wire. My trainer had another student showing in the same division so she had me get off and take Coco to her stall to chill out until the other student was done. Coco never really chilled out, but I do think it was a better idea than continuing to wait around with the other horses and make her more frazzled.
We were showing in a 2’3″ division with 3 hunter trips and a hack plus a warm-up trip over fences. My trainer sent us into the warm-up trip and with the guidance to trot the first fence in every line. Just get her around soft and easy. And I’m so pleased to say that it was just that, soft and easy. She definitely relaxed and was happy for the first time in a few hours.
Looking happy and fancy! Photos are all from Ernesto Photography!
For our second trip we opted to trot the first fence and my trainer said that if she felt good go ahead and continue cantering. If she felt hot, then bring her back and trot to each jump in the lines again. Well, she felt great so after trotting the very first fence we cantered the entire course. We did one lead change and it was spot on.
She’s definitely very green over fences, but I don’t think we have to worry about her scope!
For our second two trips I took it very slow before starting to canter, but we cantered both trips entirely. She is SO FUN TO JUMP! She seems to really like it and you can really feel her spine curve over the jumps. She overjumped the jumps on the first course by quite a lot, but settled down a bit for the last few trips. All her lead changes were perfect, especially when I didn’t look down.
She looks so happy to be jumping!
After our four jumping trips we opted to skip the hack. The thing about schooling shows is that there are often horses and riders that are a bit on the rough and ready side. Either the horse and/or rider are inexperienced or maybe don’t ride under the guidance of a trainer, so they can be a bit crazy. Being that some of the horses in my division were also very green, it just didn’t seem like it would give Coco a good experience in case one of the other horses got out of hand or they did something that would unnerve Coco (like ride up too close behind her, or pass her too close, basically anything to crowd her would be bad).
All things considered I was ecstatic about our day. It had the makings of being a true disaster, but through the fantastic guidance of my trainer and a little patience on my part, it was an unforgettable day. After six long years of waiting I finally feel like I really might have my fancy hunter. Don’t get me wrong, we have a long road ahead and there will be plenty of bumps in the road, but she proved she has the talent and she likes jumping and showing. Those are things you can’t train or teach any horse.
Not a bad horse show day!
The icing on the cake was that we ended up Reserve Champion in our division, even without doing the hack! My barn-mate was Champion! Coco won the two over fences classes that she cantered in their entirety and was 2nd in the first hunter and 3rd in the warm-up. There were six horses in our division. What a good girl!
A very exciting thing happened this week. Sterling went out on lease with the world’s most delightful teenager! I’ve known for at least a year that I 1. need to start showing Coco 2. don’t have the funds or the time to show two horses 3. would prefer to find Sterling a job with someone else at least until I know where things stand with Coco’s future as a hunter. My trainer and I have been talking about it for a year and she finally found the PERFECT situation for my favorite unicorn with one of her clients.
His new rider is a teenager who has been showing hunters since she could barely walk, so is clearly a more skilled rider over fences than me. I think she will be WONDERFUL for Sterling. He has taken me so far with my learning and been an absolute saint to put up with all my mistakes without ever give me the middle finger. His new kid will hopefully be able to take him even further and over bigger jumps because she’s less likely to cram him up to the jumps and make him look like a frog, which I’m really good at doing.
Here is a clip from her lesson (and first time riding him) yesterday. They are an adorable pair!
I’ll keep everyone posted on their progress and will shamelessly post pics and videos when they start showing!
I took Coco to another show this past weekend and we had a much different experience from the previous weekend. In a good way, too!
Hidden Lakes is a great little show venue near Flower Mound, Texas. They often have show series throughout the year that are great to attend if you are starting out as a rider or for young horses that need miles. Clearly, Coco fits the bill for #2. I had intended to go to more of these shows, but at our first attempt Coco was having nothing with getting on the trailer. We worked that out. Then I had a show with Sterling in Waco. Then we opted for the closer to home show we went to last weekend, so we only ended up going to the final weekend of the summer series.
We got to the show grounds at 7:30a (my ring started at 7a). I THOUGHT there were only 6 jumpers so we would go around 8:30a or 9a. I was very wrong in this regard.
When Coco gets to new places she isn’t particularly energetic or spooky, which is great. However it makes me a bit lackadaisical in getting her acclimated to the venue. On this occasion I got her tacked up and headed to the warm-up ring immediately after completing our entry at the office. She started out OK, but got more and more amped up as other horses entered the warm-up area, she started to notice horses showing in other rings and the energy of being at a show started to spark.
It was at this time that I figured out there was no way we were showing around 9a. “Then she started doing the same thing she had done the previous weekend (which she didn’t do at home all week) and offered to buck when I added leg to ask for the canter. Rather than be in a dangerous situation and scaring other horses/ponies and riders, I decided to untack and go the the lunge ring. This was the BEST idea I’ve had in a long time.
She is nothing if not beautiful!
It was a hot day and it didn’t take too long before she was showing clear signs of getting tired. Thankfully she’s a good sweater in the heat.
After lunging I led her down to our show ring to await the completion of the jumpers and get her into the ring to lead her around and show her the jumps. This was happily uneventful. At this point in her life she had never jumped anything with fill under it. No flowers or walls or really anything other than rails and standards.
There was a still a full division before mine so we headed back to the trailer to tack up (again) and get ready. I could tell when I got back on her that the sassiness was still there. The edge was gone, but not the sass. We meandered to a warm-up ring and she was clearly going to kick up at the canter again. I was about at my wits end with her shenanigans. Back to the lunge area we went , which is just a circle area of sand, but I stayed on her rather than lunge her again. We trotted, all was well. I asked for the canter, head down and hind legs go up. I sat down in the saddle, grabbed the reins in one hand, and gave her 2 strong (not hard) taps with my crop. This got her attention and she rocked back to her haunches and cantered on. YAY! A win!
We changed gait a few more times with no issues then walked a bit and changed direction. She did the exact same thing again; trot, leg on for canter, head down and hind legs up. I sat down gave her 2 strong taps with the crop and it was back to business. From here on out for the rest of the day she was awesome. Relaxed and willing to do everything I asked her to do.
Our first trip around the course was OK. She stopped at the second fence in a four stride line, but it was completely my fault. I looked down, leaned forward and forgot I had legs. The second trip was fine. No big mistakes other than a couple close spots to jumps. Same with the third trip, except I think we may have added a stride in a line, but I’d rather have a calm young horse add an easy stride than one running away with me around the course.
My goal for our hunter trips were these:
Jump all the jumps
Use my legs for the entire course
Look ahead to help her get leads and not have to change lead
Should the need arise, do lead changes
And guess what, we pretty much met all these goals! She did multiple flying changes exactly on purpose. I got so excited she got the changes, I forgot to look where I was going and she dang near jumped out of the ring!
Before this Saturday I really was having reservations about Coco’s future. Was I asking her to do the right job? Would we ever “get along? Am I wasting a nice horse that should be doing something else with someone else? I’d be jumping the gun (pun kind of intended) if I said that all these questions have been answered, but I feel 99% better about us getting along and at least 70% better that this might be the right job for her.
We didn’t place very well and I REALLY wish I had video of our trips so I could see what they looked like, but it FELT good. She felt relaxed over the fences. She was incredibly consistent in her canter. She didn’t look at the jumps. She didn’t get spooky in the ring. SHE DID FLYING CHANGES ON PURPOSE. We have another outing planned this coming weekend, then she will get a few weeks of a break from “showing”. Miles, miles and more miles are what she and I both need right now! I’m sure excited to see where we are at this time next year!
Open and close gates/sidepass to and from solid objects like fences
Go in contact
Get out and about as much as possible
#1 is coming along nicely. #2 is a bit of a challenge to the right. As with many former racehorses, the left lead is easy but the right lead is SO HARD (American racetracks run in a circle that is counterclockwise so the horses turn left around the track). When we practice getting the right lead and he gets the left lead time after time, he has to keep working. As soon as he gets the right lead he gets lots and lots of pats and then gets to walk for a bit.
Last night we were working on cantering and getting leads and I got a wild hair to pop him over a couple of the crossrail jumps I have set up in my arena. When Sterling was starting out and we had trouble getting the canter, I would pop him over a small jump and land in the canter. So I wanted to try that with Simon. He felt SO good over the jumps so I begged Boot City to come take some video so I could see if he looks as cute as he feels over jumps.
(Enjoy the super cheesy music on the videos. I couldn’t help myself.)
He is SO CUTE over these teeny tiny jumps! SO. CUTE.
And every time we went over the jump to the right he landed on the right lead. I think we may be onto something here!
He’s only four years old and I promised myself that I won’t even try to get him jumping a full course until he’s five. Even after a short track career, and some known issues with one of his knees, I want him to have lots of time to grow and mature before his body gets worked very hard. Plus I really do need him as my hunt horse, so that is his first priority!
I am LOVING this horse and the fact that, as of today, he’s the youngest in my string and hands down the easiest!
Y’all. Mares. Are. Hard. We had lots of mares when I was growing up, but only one that was ever “mine” and she wasn’t “mine” for very long because she turned out to not be very good at her job (reining) so she went to the broodmare band (makes sense, right? Notsomuch). I’ve never had a long term relationship with a mare, until now.
Coco has been at the farm for 5 1/2 years as of this September. The first year was pretty easy, but every subsequent year has had challenges of one form or another. When she was a yearling and I switched farriers I learned that she had a club foot which required surgery to fix. She probably should have had the surgery 6-10 months sooner, but that is a post for another day. Few things are as fun (insert sarcasm here) as a yearling on stall rest, but I must admit that she actually behaved quite well considering the circumstances.
Her two-year old year was actually fairly drama free, but her three and four year old years more than made up for it. I opted to breed her as a three-year-old as I’d learned from other breeders that this can be good for the brain of a young mare and it also may help their fertility when they are older if they have already carried a foal to term. Breeding went fine, but she got injured a few months after getting in foal, so we were back to stall rest and hand walking. She was a bit more of a handful this time when being hand walked.
Coco about one week before she foaled.
When she was four was when actually had the foal You can read here about the actual foaling. It was heart wrenching and awful and I don’t ever want to re-live a similar experience.
So here we are today. Coco is six and has been under saddle for exactly two years. And she is a Pain In The Ass. Backing her was uneventful, and I’m grateful for that, but the past year has been challenging. I’ve backed lots and lots of horses. At least 10 before I graduated from high school and a handful since then. Every young horse has it’s challenges, but Coco’s have stumped me more than any other horse.
She sure is pretty, though!
Last fall she started a thing with pinning her ears and kicking up when I asked her to move forward with my leg. She had been going really really well and it kind of came out of the blue, so I thought perhaps she was in pain. I had a chiropractor/acupuncturist out and she was diagnosed with ulcers. I treated the ulcers, but the behavior didn’t change. This spring I had her back and hocks x-rayed. Nothing there either (thank GOODNESS!).
I’ve learned that she needs to walk around for about 5-10 minutes before you ask her to work. If you get on and immediately ask for a trot she will pin her ears and kick out. It’s like she needs a few minutes to get her head into the game, nothing wrong with that. I’ve found that letting her stretch out and walk nearly eliminates the crankiness at leg pressure. She’s been doing lots of lead changes over a log and even gotten a few that I’ve just asked for on the flat. We have been doing some cavalletti work as well as small jump gymnastics. I can’t help but get really excited about her scope and athleticism over even tiny jumps.
Her behavior has improved in general (the kicking at leg pressure had gone away almost entirely) so this past weekend I took her to a little horse show not far from home. She needs more time off property and they offered flat classes as well as some small jumping classes. I let the show organizers talk me into doing a showmanship class, which I think contributed to her developing crankiness during the day, and she was OK but definitely irritated. By the second flat class she would NOT canter. She would only buck. Not hard and she never got me out of the tack, but she was MAD!
I didn’t want to continue to fight with her in front of a crowd (they were extremely accommodating and the show was really delightful) so I scratched the over fences classes and took her home to see what was the deal. We got home, I tacked her back up (added a sheepskin Thinline pad in case it was a pain issue) and headed out to my arena to see if she would do the same thing. She didn’t. She was a perfect angel. Cantered off my leg from a walk, even did a couple flying changes over a log.
I think a few things contributed to her badittude on Saturday:
She hasn’t been off property very much
The other horses in the ring really jazzed her up and got her more “up” than usual
I forgot to put in ear plugs before I got on and I think the loud music and announcer contributed to her irritation
She is going to try to do what SHE wants to do until I make it clear that the final answer is NO
She is very smart, very athletic and young
Coco is challenging me more than any horse has before and I really think it is going to be a good thing for both of us. She’s not bad and she’s not mean, and I’m also not convinced that she doesn’t have some pain from her heat cycle that I’m hoping to get treated this week with some hormones. I plan to get her out a bunch this summer and fall to lots of local shows and venues. Time on the trailer and around new places will (hopefully) convince her that as long as we are together she will be just fine. We don’t have the trust established between us yet that we need to be successful. I feel like right now we coexist and my goal for the rest of the year is to develop an actual partnership.
Have you had a mare? Have you had similar issues? I’d love to hear from other mare owners, especially warmblood mare owners.
I’m still riding the high of Justify’s Triple Crown win this weekend so wanted to a post about his uncle!
Photo credit to Barbara Livingston. This is by far my favorite race photo from Justify’s bid for the Triple Crown. This one is from the Preakness.
Justify is by Scat Daddy out of a mare named Stage Magic who is by Ghostzapper. As you may recall from my previous post, Simon is by Ghostzapper. Which means that Simon is Justify’s uncle! This relation has strongly contributed to my obsession with Justify. I’ve also been closely following McCraken’s racing career, but it has not proved to be quite as illustrious as Justify’s (McCraken is a son of Ghostzapper and contested the Kentucky Derby last year, coming in 8th).
I’ve owned Simon for a little over a year now. I purchased him in January of 2017 and after his vet check and communication with his last race trainer I opted to give him a very easy 12 months. His race trainer indicated he had some issues with one of his knees and he came to me with some injuries from a run-in with some mares in the pasture he had been living. I’ve had off the track Quarter Horses, but never a thoroughbred and everything I read about OTTBs (off the track thoroughbred) indicated that time off would cure most ailments horses have from their track life. Plus I had two other horses to ride and show so it worked out better for my schedule.
I rode Simon maybe a dozen times in all of 2017 and he was always a lazy plug. ALWAYS. I took him on a couple trail rides and you’d have never known he had been a six figure yearling race prospect and was only three years old. He crossed bridges, didn’t spook at wildlife and seemed to really not care if he was in front, in the middle or at the back of the group of horses we were with. Basically he was a dream trail horse, albeit a very tall one (most trail riding horses are closer to 15hh and he is nearly 16.2hh).
One thing you cannot deny about Simon is that he is very handsome. I love that he has the big blaze on his face, but nary a white hair on the rest of his body.
I opted to not use him for foxhunting last season (his intended job when I purchased him) to let him grow up some more plus I rode another member’s horse for the season to give that horse some much needed miles. It was a win-win for us all.
Well, now it is time for Simon to have a job. I’ve committed to getting at least 3 rides on him every week and building his skills to make him a pleasant hunt horse. He needs to stand quietly for mounting, move off leg quickly, stand still when necessary, sidepass to open and close gates and (most importantly) tolerate hounds around his legs. As I write this post he stands great for mounting and has started moving off leg nicely. He will sidepass in the open, but he thinks I’m nuts when I ask him to sidepass towards solid obstacles like trees, fences and gates. He hasn’t been around hounds yet, but he does fine with my dogs around him.
I am also trying to get him out on trail rides as much as possible. This serves many purposes. He gets practice loading and riding in the trailer, going out on uneven terrain, riding with other horses, crossing water, seeing wildlife, and afterwards he has to stand tied at the trailer while we have a snack or lunch. We have been out twice this summer and Simon has been perfect in every way. I am astonished at how well he’s taking to his life of leisure, still at only 4 years old!
Our most recent trail ride. That is the Brazos River behind us. Photo cred to Bart Robbins!
Suffice it to say that all is going very well with My Man Zapper these days. We hope to get many more trail rides and some play days on our calendar this summer. By November he should be a seasoned trail horse so all he will have to adapt to will be the hounds and riding out alone. I am so lucky to have this special horse!
Do you have an OTTB? I love to hear stories from other OTTB owners, especially those who got their horse right off the track. They are special horses and so often overlooked.