Archive of ‘The Horses’ category

Field trip

In the nine years I’ve owned Sterling he has slowly but surely gotten much better about being ridden away from home, but he still gets quite distracted at new places. One of the best things about living in North Texas is the availability of really lovely facilities that allow outside riders, one of which is a mere 15 miles from my house. This past weekend Sterling and I made the trip out to Willow Draw to get some miles away from home.

Not many hunter/jumper barns have walls with mirrors so it usually takes Sterling a few minutes to get acclimated to the handsome grey horse that seems to do the same thing he’s doing.

It is SO nice to be able to see his frame in the mirror, though. Especially when I’m riding by myself. I can really see how my riding is affecting his frame and see the immediate change when I change something. There aren’t any jumps in the indoor so we worked on a 20 meter circle exercise we did at a lesson last week and then worked on his frame for the under saddle classes.

After 30 or so minutes in the indoor I wanted to get him out on the cross country course for a mini trail ride. As I’ve written in the past Sterling is NOT a fan of trail rides. However, I’ve only ever taken him out in large groups or with the fox hunt so thought going out by himself might go better. Willow Draw has a full cross country course, but we only ventured to one of the water hazards to see if I could get him to get his feet wet.

I didn’t take my iCellular with me when I went out in case he lost his s%&t and I got tossed into the water or something similar so I don’t have pics, but I was able to get him to get all four feet in the water! Here is a snap of the water hazard from the road. It is the one with the jumps in the distance, not the one right by the road.

I’m SO proud of him! He also had to cross a little ditch of running water and let me tell you, he cleared that 2″ of water by about 7′ both in height and the distance he jumped across. Dramatic much?!

There were some riders schooling on the cross country course and I wanted to stay out of their way as much as I didn’t want to overwhelm Sterling, so after our success at the water hazard we went back to hack a little more in the indoor.

Sterling was a very good boy and settled easily into the “new” arena. Just a couple years ago we would have had to lunge for 15-20 minutes and do plenty of hand walking before I would have DARED ride at a new place. I am SO appreciative that places like Willow Draw make it possible to use their beautiful facility.

The Three-Years-Old Phase of Horse Life

Simon is the most laid back three year old horse I’ve ever had the pleasure of owning. I’ve (or my parents) had a lot of youngsters over the years and none have had the calm aura like Simon. He doesn’t act a fool in the pasture. He calmly goes in and out of the barn. He stands like a post when I mount and dismount. He stands quietly for grooming with no silly faces (like Sterling) or chewing on the cross ties (like Coco). He is so calm, that I apparently take it for granted. You can imagine my surprise when I found his foot like this when bringing him in from turnout recently.

I have NO idea if he did it in his stall overnight and I overlooked it when turning him out in the morning or if it he did it during turnout. He hasn’t taken a lame step (knock on wood) and it appears to be healing nicely, but holy smokes it looks BAD! There are also these scrapes higher up on the same leg that make one think he stuck his leg through the pipe fence in his turnout (the lowest bar is about 18″ off the ground).

As soon as I noticed the wounds I cleaned them up, but opted to not wrap his foot. The part of his heel that was pulled off started to get kind of nasty so after a few days I did super clean it and wrap it up. This horse. I tell you what, he is something. I cleaned the foot with the hose where I wash my horses and took him back to his stall where I put medication on the wounds and wrapped it up. All with no halter on Simon. For reals. He just stands there eating his food while I wrap up his gnarly injured foot. Have I mentioned how calm and amazing this horse is?! Granted he is only three years old, so things could change mightily with time. Boot City thinks he just so grateful to be off the track that he is on his best behavior to avoid being sent back. Running just isn’t his thing.

I feel like all horses go through an accident prone stage, so that is how I’m chalking up this injury. I won’t ride him again until it is fully healed and he seems sound (not that he doesn’t seem sound now, again, no limping).

Simon’s Bloodlines

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

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.

Awesome Again

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.

Golden Missile

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 Man Zapper

So this happened.

Simon!

Simon!

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.

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.

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.

 

Sterling’s Family Tree

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

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!

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!

Giboulee

Giboulee

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.

Farm Friday 09.09.2016

We had some AMAZING cool August weather, but alas it is hot again.

Early mornings make for great sunset viewing

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Kitties on a ’57 Chevy

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Lately Tarzan and Sabrina (we are probably keeping the mama foster kitty) have gotten on top of the barn a lot. Weirdos.

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Chivas and Charlotte in a rare moment of quiet and snuggling. Usually Charlotte is out and about.

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Coco after a ride. She’s at that stage where she knows what she should be doing, but is having moments of rebellion that are kind of annoying and kind of cute.

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Happy weekend y’all!

Coco – 0, Fence-1

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.

ice horse

 

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.

standing wrap

 

 

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:

poultice

 

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.

bare leg

Farm Friday 08.19.2016

One trip to South Padre and I fall off the planet! I’m back. Sunburned and now peeling, but I’m back.

We have had AMAZING weather this past week. The week prior was hot and gross, so the cooler rainy weather is very welcome.

 

Dougal played in the rain last weekend and looked like a gigantic drowned rat.

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Bubbles the barn kitty likes to sleep on upside down farm implements. Boot City thinks it is so she can see rats better to eat them. I think it is because it was hot and this provides a lot of ventilation.

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I haven’t been riding as much as I should because it was hot. I did get a new Samford Bridle from the Beval sale to use as a schooling bridle. Turns out it fits Coco better than Sterling, but he’s the model. For a fantastic price point this is a really nice bridle. Way nicer than a similarly priced Dover house brand bridle I got a couple years ago.

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Every night when we clean stalls the young dogs have their own version of AFC fighting. Annie and Charlotte take turns tagging in to wrestle with Dougal. Dougal can’t get through the fences so he’s always stuck in one stall run while they run in and out. It is pretty cute and funny.

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And this is how Marby does laundry. Because. Marby.

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Riding Coco

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).

Baby Coco.

Baby Coco.

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!

Pats after a good ride, even if it did include her first buck!

Jaguar’s Retirement Celebration

I’m absolutely terrible at taking photos at my own parties. Terrible! We had a lovely gathering of horsey and not-so-horsey friends over to celebrate Jaguar’s retirement. This year has been so hard, I needed something happy to happen at the farm and this was just the ticket. I’m sure many of my friends and family think I’m a little bit nuts because I tend to mostly have parties for my animals. Not birthday parties like normal people with animals and not kids have, but Sip and Sees  and horse retirement parties. However I’m beyond grateful that they indulge me and attend said parties.

Jaguar in his Retirement Party stall decorations

Jaguar in his Retirement Party stall decorations

I attempted to decorate his stall in my hunts colors, but last minute planning and the lack of the correct hunter green at the local Dollar General resulted in a shamrock green, but it still looked festive and Jaguar was very interested in his balloons!

Checking out his loot and eating carrots

Checking out his loot and eating carrots

Jaguar was showered with lots and lots of fantastic gifts and there were even a few for his assistant (me)! He got mostly carrots and horsey treats plus a bottle of Stella Artois to indulge his taste for beer and a Jolly Ball for his stall. I got bottles of champagne, vino and a couple lovely home accessories.

 

Very well packaged horsey and horsey assistant gifts.

Very well packaged horsey and horsey assistant gifts.

I am still pretty sad about not being able to ride the old man any more, but I look forward to a new kind of bonding with him. He’s got so many treat bags as gifts that he should be able to do every trick in the book you can teach a horse using treats. We have already been working on bowing and making great progress. He’s very careful with his hurt leg, but is still game to try most anything it takes to get a cookie.

All of Jaguar's goodies

All of Jaguar’s goodies

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