When I was first considering buying Simon I posted on the Chronicle of the Horse Forums in the Sport Horse Breeding section requesting information about Simon’s lineage and it’s propensity for sport horse performance. It was an enlightening exchange from some very knowledgeable people with regards to Thoroughbred bloodlines and racing. Simon’s sire is Ghostzapper. Ghostzapper currently stands for a $75,000 stud fee at Aden SpringsSimon’s in Paris, Kentucky. He won the Breeder’s Cup in 2004, the same year he was awarded the Eclipse Award for Horse of the Year. He was retired in June of 2005 and at that point had won just under $3.5 million. I did a search on the United States Equestrian Federation’s website for offspring of Ghostzapper and only found a couple. One had shown in the hunters and one in jumpers, but neither horse had much of a show history. His first foal crop was born in 2007 and according to one of the COTH posters, they have done quite well on the track so not many have likely made their way to the USEF sports. They are known to have very kind personalities, which fits Simon to a “T”!
Ghostzapper is sired by Awesome Again. AA doesn’t have a lot of babies registered with USEF, but most all of them have a show record! Many competed in the jumper ring and a couple were competitive as hunters and dressage. Only a couple did eventing. Ghostzapper looks quite a lot like his sire.
Simon’s dam is Precious Brownie who is by Golden Missile. I was unable to find any photos of Precious Brownie so am going with her sire line. GM is noted to pass along nice movement to his offspring.Similar to Ghostzapper most of his USEF registered offspring competed in hunter/jumper events, but quite a few also have dressage records. Interestingly very few competed in Eventing, which tends to be more dominated by thoroughbreds than is dressage or hunter/jumper disciplines.
Precious Brownie also goes back to a little known stallion who went by the name Secretariat. You may have heard of him before. Mostly it is just fun to say that he goes back to Secretariat, because even people who don’t ride are familiar with Secretariat.
Secretariat in his older man days
Another fun way to look up your thoroughbred’s pedigree is to use the photo feature on http://www.pedigreequery.com. Simon’s shows quite a list of photos of impressive thoroughbreds from many years past.
I love studying horse bloodlines. I can lose five hours on the internet before I know it has happened just researching and looking up photos! Do you follow bloodlines? Do you care about your horse’s bloodlines?
My farrier and I were at a Christmas party hosted by a mutual friend and he asked me if I knew of anyone looking for a horse to use for fox hunting. He had a really nice off the track thoroughbred that was just too tall for polo. His sport of choice being polo, he wasn’t interested in keeping a 16.1hh gelding. I was, of course, not interested but would accept some pictures so I could share the information with my fox hunting buddies. Unfortunately I was nearly immediately smitten. Zapper was every girl’s dream: tall, dark and very handsome!
After Jaguar’s disappointing diagnosis last summer and his being unrideable, I borrowed a horse from my Mom for this hunt season. I have known all season the regardless of how much I loved Casey, he would have to go back to Montana at the conclusion of hunt season for Mom to show him. I had it in my head that I might hunt Coco next year, but she’s got the most value in the show ring so I don’t think it would be in her best interest to join the hunt field until she is older and a bit more seasoned. Without thinking about it too much I went ahead and scheduled to go see “Zapper” with my horsey bestie.
Zapper’s last race was November 26 and we went to ride him on January 2. Keep in mind that means he had been off the track for barely 45 days! Here is a link to a video of when we tried Zapper.
He had some leg injuries from some pasture shenanigans and was probably a bit sore from the track, but he is a lovely mover. We were extremely impressed by his disposition. It took a LOT of leg to get him to go forward. He didn’t look at anything. He tolerated us jumping on him from the ground. My farrier rode him first in a big western saddle with smooth rowelled spurs and Zapper showed no care. The hunt I whip for is not a fast and forward hunt, so requires a horse that can go forward over rough terrain just as well as it can stand still and await direction. Zapper showed strong propensity for the standing still part.
I scheduled my vet to do a pre-purchase exam a couple days later and after positive feedback, took him home within the week. Just what I needed, another horse! The first couple weeks required some care and medications for his pasture injuries and there will be a few more vet visits for the broken tooth, but I have a good feeling about him.
Simon snug in his blanket and and all wrapped up in his Back on Track wraps.
He is extremely easy to have around. I wrap his legs and give him meds without even putting on his halter! He is calmer than the other four at home by far. I’ll give him the month of January completely off and start hacking him a bit in February. I hope to ride him at at least one or two hunts in March, just to see how he does out and about and hoping he remains as calm and quiet as his disposition indicates.
Like I said, just what I needed was another horse. I changed his name to Simon. Zapper reminds me of a bug zapper so he is named for the ghost in Oscar Wilde’s The Canterville Ghost. If he ever requires a show name it will be The Canterville Ghost.
Simon the pasture puff. Still sporting his off-the-track bod. The next few months will be full of grass hay, Ultium and whatever it takes to pack on some lbs.
I follow a few other horsey blogs and a couple of them have recently done posts about the pedigree of their Thoroughbreds. Namely; the $900 Facebook pony and Patently Bay. I grew up reading the Quarter Horse Journal from cover to cover every month. At that time I could probably tell you the 3 or 4 generation pedigree for any top 5 horse in the how events at any of the QH World Championship show classes (I knew nothing and wasn’t interested in the speed classes). The breeding didn’t entirely make the horse, but it was no accident that the vast majority of the top performers had very purposeful breeding and you had a pretty good idea what you were going to get if you sought certain bloodlines. You would still be hard pressed to find a cutting horse today that doesn’t go back to Doc Bar at some point in it’s lineage. The same is true of Impressive in halter horse lineage.
Now that I ride and show hunters it DRIVES ME CRAZY how little Americans pay attention to their horse’s lineage. Every single time I read a Chronicle of the Horse article about results from a top hunter show and the pedigree description is “Holsteiner of unrecorded breeding” I want to go find the person who registered the horse with the USEF and clobber them with the November issue of the Quarter Horse Journal (the fattest issue of the year, think September Vogue). We as horse owners have given the European importers all the power to know which bloodlines tend to perform best in which divisions. We just pay 5 to 6 figures for said horse and can brag that our horse was imported from Europe. American warmblood breeders have been and are working so hard to raise nice horses of European lineage that meet the demand of the domestic riders, but until owners care about where their horse came from those breeders are going to continue to have a very small audience of buyers until after the horses are 5 or 6 years old and “proven” in their performance records. I’m off my soap box now, at least for a while.
I bought Sterling, known by the Jockey Club as Queen’s Black Tie, as a yearling. I had never owned anything other than Quarter Horses and knew I wanted to jump so sought the “poor man’s” route to the hunter/jumper ring via the American Thoroughbred. I didn’t know TB lineage at all when I bought Sterling so paid less attention to his actual bloodlines and more attention just to the fact that he was registered. I’m not sure how purposeful was his origin as the woman I bought him from had bought the mare pregnant with intentions of breeding her to a paint stallion. She had no need for or interest in a thoroughbred gelding.
Little baby Sterling
Sterling is by Emerald Affair and out of Lee’s Wind Walker. Emerald Affair is by Black Tie Affair, who was a pretty successful Irish horse. Emerald Affair himself only had 17 starts and is listed as a “Winner”, but a Google search doesn’t turn up a whole lot of information. It turn up this Thoroughbred Database forum that Sterling’s breeder posted a few months before I bought him. I’ve searched on USEF for horses with the same sire and the only one that comes up is Sterling. This tells me that any horse that did do any hunter/jumper stuff and was by Emerald Affair either wasn’t recorded with the USEF with their actual lineage or they only did lower level showing that doesn’t require registration with the USEF. It appears that he stood at stud as recently as 2013 at a farm called Camp Wanna Ride. Camp Wanna Ride, according to Yelp is closed. All in all, not a lot of info of the sire side other than Black Tie Affair.
Black Tie Affair. You can definitely see the resemblance!
Nothing much comes of researching Sterling’s dam side. Most things I find about Tormentoso are in Spanish. Maybe he has some polo ponies second cousins? Giboulee had 38 starts and was a G3 winner. It appears he sold for $3,000 as a yearling, so not a big dollar horse. I did find a photo of him, though!
Researching Sterling’s pedigree is generally maddening for me due to the lack of information on both sides of his family tree. Sterling is really quirky on the ground, but is a dream to ride. I would love to be able to talk to other people with similarly bred horses to see if they have a similar experience, but that seems nearly impossible. I may do similar posts for Jaguar and Coco, but they will come later. Although I could probably write about Jaguar’s pedigree in my sleep.
A (non-horsey) friend of mine often says that horses are born trying to die. Most of the time I don’t agree, but every once in a while they (the horses) attempt to change my mind. It has rained quite a lot lately so I’ve kept the horses in their stalls for the past couple nights. To my mind this would be a completely safe environment for the horses to spend the duration of the storms. I was wrong. Coco has a very fat and scraped up hind leg.
I suspect that she rolled in her stall run yesterday and stuck her leg through the fence. There is a pretty good scrape and a few minor scrapes on both hind legs. She isn’t lame, thank goodness. For the next few days we will hearken back to last summer for twice daily ice wraps and poultices. Thankfully she is a very well behaved patient so should improve quickly with treatment.
Initially I just wrapped it with an Ice Horse wrap to get some cold on it. The longer it is hot and swollen the worse it is for the leg long term.
When she was in her stall I poulticed her leg. This is a clay gunk that you slather on, wrap in newspaper, then wrap with a standing wrap. The poultice dries and pulls the heat out of the leg. It is best to do this when they are confined so as to not tear the wrap off. I was impressed with how cooperative she was for her first hind leg wrap. They always act funny the first time their hind legs are wrapped. I presume something wrapped around their legs in the “wild” is most likely a snake or something bad.
After the poultice has been on for a few hours you remove the wrap and rinse off the leg. This is what the dried up newspaper-wrapped poultice looks like:
Her leg was markedly less swollen after a couple ice wraps and the poultice. Yay! You can also see her ugly scrapes. Dear Coco, please don’t put your leg through any more fences.
It has been about 15 years since I broke a horse to ride myself. I never had a “job” during high school, instead I would break the 2 year olds my parents were raising to ride in preparation to be sold later on. Breaking a warmblood is a bit different from breaking Quarter Horses, but the fundamentals are the same. The. Hardest. Part. is knowing when to push them and when to just let them be a mess. I’ve got about 20 rides on Coco and she is very much at that precipice of needing to be pushed, but also not needing to be fried. She has a reasonable amount of steering and a decent “whoa”, but she often forgets where her feet are and gets pretty dang determined to go where SHE wants to go (which is always towards Jaguar).
I took her to my horsey bestie’s to ride off the farm for the first time last weekend and she was a dream. I was skeptical when we first arrived because she was a bit of a fire-breathing dragon, but once she was under tack and I was in the irons she was really really good. My horsey bestie rode her OTTB around while we mostly just walked and trotted. I couldn’t have been prouder of Miss Coco Chanel!
Last night she bucked for the first time. Not hard, but she was MAD! I like that she doesn’t want to run around the property like a hooligan, but she’s rather lazy about cantering and that was our disagreement. I kicked to canter and she said “heck no!” I didn’t come off and she didn’t buck very hard. In retrospect it was mostly funny, but I did get kind of mad at her attitude. Mares! I’m hoping to take her to a couple trail rides while the weather is still pretty warm. I find the horrible heat of Texas can be great for riding young, fresh horses. It takes off a bit of the edge so more progress is made and when the weather gets cooler she will have well over 45 rides.
Pats after a good ride, even if it did include her first buck!
One of my most favourite places to shop for horsey items is Beval. I’ve not ever been to the actual stores on the East Coast, but I’ve gotten lots of stuff off their website and in January had a saddle fitter come out and I bought the Beval Artisan saddle for fox hunting because I didn’t want to use my brand new Antares saddle for hunting. I’ve found Beval products to be of great quality and most of their leather goods are made in England.
Right now they are having a fantastic summer sale until July 31 so this post is my Beval wish list.
First on my list is the Heritage Wide Caveson Hunter Bridle. My horsey bestie has a few Beval bridles and they are beautiful. As Coco heads into her hunter career I’d love to get her a brand new spiffy bridle. I’ve been on the fence about the wide caveson bridles and now I think Coco would look quite lovely in one.
Bevel Heritage Wide Caveson Hunter Bridle. Photo from Beval website.
I’ve longed for a Witney cooler to use after cold fox hunts or at winter horse shows. Alas they are included in the summer sale! You could also use one in your house as a throw blanket or as an accent to bedding. These are made in England. They remind me of the races at Newmarket and old paintings by Stubbs and Munnings.
Witney square cooler
I recently bought new Grand Prix paddock boots (Made in the USA!) so would love to get some nice new half chaps to go with them. The leather used to make these looks like it would feel just like butter.
Beval Puissance Half Chaps
In all honesty I think GPA helmets are rather ugly, however the Speed Air Evolution is on super duper sale so would be worth trying out!
GPA Speed Air Evolution helmet
I need a tack trunk, a vinyl sided one that matches my trainer’s colors, but I’d also like a plain wood one for at home and to take to fox hunts. This one would fit the bill perfectly. The classic dark wood and basic style are timeless. Add a brass nameplate and it would be absolutely perfect.
Medium Delux Trunk (they spelled deluxe wrong, not me!)
So there you have it, my current favourites at Beval. If you are on the market for some horsey goodies from saddles and bridles to riding apparel to horse apparel definitely check out this Beval sale. I’m in no way shape or form being compensated for this post, I just really like their stuff and their customer service. Happy shopping!
Beautiful hunters lined up waiting to be pinned. Photo from Pinterest.
Most of those beautiful tails are not real. All horse events at horse shows that I have ever shown in from AQHA to reining to hunter shows have all had a very longstanding trend of long and thick tails. When I was a kid showing Quarter Horses I would spend hours upon hours grooming my horse’s tail so that by show season it would be long and thick. Quite frankly I got to be quite the horse stylist! Until I started showing Jaguar, that is. His tail tended more towards the thin and wispy style. This was also at a time when fake tails were becoming more common than not. People were figuring out that rather than leaving tails braided and protected by tail bags or socks (yes, we used tube socks to protect our horse’s tails. My Dad thought it was beyond ridiculous) year round they could just braid or tie in a fake tail and call it a day. Jaguar’s tail was so pathetic that I succumbed to the trend and made my own fake tail to tie into his real tail at shows giving it some volume and a little bit of length.
Alas that trend continues today in the hunter world and I’m reverting back to my kid self with fierce determination that my horses are going to grow their own damn tails. This may be due partially to my desire to prove that I can do it and partially to the fact that I have a grey horse and their fake tails cost twice as much as one for a bay or chestnut because the colors have to match just right. Regardless, I’ve challenged myself to help Coco grow a respectable tail in time for her first horse show. I anticipate we have about a year for this endeavour. This post will be photographic evidence of what we started with.
Coco’s tail. Not terrible, but also not show quality. Plus it appears she pulled out a large chunk of hair at the top.
Based on interwebs research I’m going to use Shapley’s M-T-G to help Coco’s tail grow. I also subscribe to the philosophy of brushing the hair with a brush as little as possible, however I also need it to remain tangle free so if it gets caught on a tree branch or fence the hair won’t get pulled out because of a tangle. So I will pick it out with my fingers most of the time, but will brush it every once in a while. Plus she LOVES having her tail brushed.
The tools of the trade. A tail brush and some Shapley’s M-T-G
When I brush hair; mine or a horse’s; I always start at the very bottom and move slowly closer to the roots. This allows the tangles to get picked out without pulling out giant wads of hair.
Start brushing at the very bottom of the tail
Once the tail is fully brushed out I start applying the M-T-G at the very top of the tail by parting it horizontally like so:
Then squirting some M-T-G as close to the hairline as possible. M-T-G works at the root of the hair, not as a conditioner. It encourages hair growth.
I’ll do about three of these spots slowly working down the tailbone. After each application of M-T-G I work it into the roots of the hair to get it spread throughout. Once I get about 1/3 to 1/2 way down the tailbone I’ll part the hair vertically:
I’ll part it all the way to the end of the tail bone then apply a very liberal amount of M-T-G and work it into the roots of the hair. The goal here is to get as much on the tail as possible and as little on the floor as possible.
Once I’ve gotten the tailbone hair as saturated as possible without dripping I’ll put some on the length of the tail just to protect that hair. Plus it acts as a detangler.
One thing about M-T-G is that it smells absolutely horrible. Like a cross between animal lard and barbecue. It is terribly odd scent, but it is supposed to work really well. The bottle says to apply it once per week to encourage hair growth for manes and tails. We don’t really care about the mane, so we’ll only be applying it to Coco’s tail. The directions also state to not put it on a horse’s tail and then turn them out in the sunshine. M-T-G causes photo sensitivity. Good thing that during the summer months my horses get turned out at night! I’ll report back in a few months to see how Coco’s tail growth progress is going. I’ve been sporadically putting M-T-G in Sterling’s tail for about 6 months and his looks pretty good. I’ll add him to the weekly application program and maybe they will both have to die for tails by next summer!
After Sterling’s abominable behaviour on the recent trail ride attempt, I had to make it up to him and brag on him a bit. Just a few short days after the trail riding debacle we made our way to Waco, Texas for the Blue Ribbon Summer Festival I. I was a bit concerned that I had fried his brain by attempting to go on a trail ride, but Sterling proved pretty quickly that horse show horse he truly wants to be and is where he has the most success.
I’m not going to dissect each trip, mostly because it has been a few weeks since the show and they have all run together in my head, but I did want to mention the highlights. I don’t have a photo of Sterling with his ribbon, but I’m absolutely delighted to share that we won our first ever blue ribbon over fences at a rated USEF show! We won the Modified Child/Adult over fences trip on Thursday with a very respectable 16 entries! We also got third in our Limit over fences class and third in the Limit under saddle class, both with about 16 or 17 entries. I’m finally learning to stay out of Sterling’s face going up to jumps and not getting ahead of his momentum with my body by leaning forward. By riding more correctly we are getting much better spots to the fences so his form is more elegant and true to the hunter type. We (I) still have a lot of progress to make in keeping a consistent canter rhythm, but progress is pretty exciting, especially when rewarded with blue ribbons!
Our photo op from my sister-in-law on our blue ribbon day at the Summer Festival I in Waco
The second day my rounds in the Limit division over fences trips left a bit to be desired. A consistently inconsistent canter stride separated the men from the boys in the placings. I got a seventh in one group and no placing in the other. We made up for it, though, in the 2’6″ Hunter Classic. The course is a tiny bit longer in a Classic than in a regular round over fences and there are potentially two trips. Everyone goes around once and the top 12 scores are invited back for another round and the combined overall high score wins. Our first trip was arguably the absolute best trip we have ever had over fences and was rewarded with a very respectable score of 78 out of a possible 100. We were in the lead until the very last rider went and scored an 81, but we still had the second round to go. Our second round had a few bobbles and I never did hear our score, but we ended up 4th overall out of 20 or so entries! And we won money! I’m SO proud of Sterling and I can’t brag on him enough. The ring at Waco is known to be rather spooky and he went around nearly like he was at home.
Fourth place in the 2’6″ Hunter Classic!
The icing on the cake for this horse show was that we had a pretty significant cheering section, which we have never had before! Many of Boot City’s family live in or near Waco and some even drove up from Austin to watch. It was extra fun to have them at the show and for us to do well with an audience.
The fox hunt I’m a member of has members from many different walks of equestrian life. The diversity of horsey backgrounds makes for a very fun group of equestrians with very different perspectives on riding. One of the few equestrian disciplines I have never tried before joining the hunt was polo. Having grown up in Montana there weren’t a lot of opportunities to learn most kinds of riding in English tack. My parents often attended a polo event in Sheridan, Wyoming during Don King Days in September, but that was as close as we ever got to polo. Well it just so happens that my hunt has a strong contingent of polo players who also happen to be some of the most inviting folks I’ve ever met.
I made it out to the polo field one time last summer, but I took Sterling with me and he was very poorly behaved on the tie line so I didn’t get much time on the field. This summer I was (thankfully) invited back and opted to not take my horse show prima donna along with me. Plus it was a work night so there was no way I’d have time to go home from work, get the horse and make it to the polo field by “kickoff” at 6p. After work I snuck into the bathroom in my office building to change into my breeches and boots and got out of the building as covertly as possible to not be seen (and made fun of) by my coworkers. The polo field where I played is an easy 40 minute drive from my office so I got to enjoy another episode of Serial Season 2 on my drive out.
Once at the field I had the great fortune to ride Prince. A seasoned Thoroughbred polo pony of 16 or 17 years old. The horses ridden by polo players are always called polo ponies, even though few of them are true ponies, which would require them to be under 14.2 hands tall. Polo ponies are also not exceptionally tall. Very rarely do they exceed 15.3 hands. They need to be the right height for the rider to not have to lean over too terribly far to hit the ball and small enough to be agile and speedy up and down the field. Most of the polo players I know ride Thoroughbreds or Thoroughbreds crossed with Quarter Horses.
One advantage I have in learning polo is that I can already ride pretty well. In my opinion riding is the easy part of polo. Knowing all the rules and actually hitting the ball with the mallet are the difficult parts! The polo match on the weeknight evenings during the summer at Oak Grove Polo are pretty informal. It is an opportunity for the seasoned players to get new and young horses on the field and for not-so-seasoned players to learn in a more forgiving environment than at a more competitive match.
Lesson #1: how to hold the mallet. I would argue this is much easier said than done!
Polo matches are divided into chukkers. Each chukker is 7 minutes long. We were going to be playing 4 chukkers. During the first chukker of the evening Prince and I parked at one end of the field and spent the full 7 minutes practicing hitting the ball. It is much easier to hit the ball at the trot in terms of physical effort, but having enough hand/eye coordination to actually hit the ball at a faster speed takes some time to acquire! After the first chukker I was invited in to play. The general point in the chukker is to get the ball down the field and into your team’s goal to score a point. It really isn’t tremendously different from soccer, except that there are only 4 people on each team, and those people are riding horses and they are hitting the ball with a mallet instead of their feet and head. But otherwise the same.
At first I generally was only able to hit the ball when the horse was standing still. By the end of the evening I was able to hit it while the horse was trotting. HUGE progress!
The seasoned players were fantastic coaches and would verbally guide me up and down the field and sometimes even pass the ball to me for my turn to hit it a couple times. There is a lot to the roles of defending the other players when it is their ball that I still don’t fully understand and the ball changing hands to the other team confuses me (Where do I go? Should I try to hit the ball? Do I need to get out of the way?), but it was pretty fun.
My right arm was sore for a few days after my first polo match, but I’m pretty darn proud to say that I never hit my horse with the mallet! Jaguar would have been a fantastic polo pony so I’m bummed I waited so long to try playing. Sterling would be an absolutely horrible polo pony so he’s not in any danger of being asked to try. Coco has quite a long ways to go in her lessons as a riding horse to even be considered. I plan to go back and play some more times this summer as long as the invitation is open and there is a pony to borrow!
The polo ladies! I’m in the middle on Prince, the saintly polo pony who puts up with polo novices and never even tried to unseat me.