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!
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.
I’m back! I feel like I have my blogging ducks in a row now, but that can always change. I would love MORE feedback from my readers! If you like a post, please comment. If you want to know more about something, please tell me. If a blog is boring/offensive/fantastic, let me know. I sometimes feel like I’m writing into an abyss and getting feedback helps me stay motivated and write interesting content.
We have a somewhat unique lifestyle that people seem interested in learning about it, and that is the primary reason I started this blog. I love writing, too, so that is my selfish reason for blogging. I’m hoping to maintain more “themed” days so readers will know which days to tune in if there is content they find more interesting. I presume most non-riders get bored when I write posts about the details or riding and showing, but I enjoy reading the blogs of other riders so I like to add my 2 cents about that every now and again.
This post will be somewhat of a catch-up on goings-on at the farm as well as some just silly pics of the farm animals. Enjoy!
Chivas has been somewhat on lock-down the past 2 months because she has some serious seasonal allergies. We haven’t gotten her officially tested, but every spring she gets mad itchy and is a tiny ball of oozing, itchy sores and keeps us up at night with her scratching and chewing on herself. This year has been the best for keeping that itching at bay, but it reared it’s ugly head in mid-May so we opted to try to keep her in the house and not take her out for rides and feeding. This is how she feels about being left in the house.
Who knew a 13lb dog could TEAR UP a giant dog bed…..
I posted before my blog break that we had a surprise set of twin goats. They are adorable baby goats as all baby goats are, but they are also weirdos. This is a photo of them nursing from their aunt Punky. Punky doesn’t currently have any kids and hasn’t had any kids since last summer. Their mom, Penelope, is producing plenty of milk for them, but for some reason they have also started nursing from Punky. We have never had kids do this! Punky and Penelope were part of a set of triplets and Penelope had to be bottle-fed because the Mom only had one teat to nurse from. Since the kids are nursing from her, Punky has gotten milk in her udder. Kind of a fascinating little social/ag experiment going on here.
The twins and their aunt Punky.
It has gotten hot in Texas so Murtagh has more or less moved in the tack room with AC 24/7. He also has mites in his ears that we are treating so I like that he’s happy staying close to home. He is just the sweetest kitty in the whole world!
In early May the horses came running to the barn from turnout to be put up for the night. Coco and Simon walked into the barn aisle where Boot City was opening stall doors to their various stalls. Coco turned and pinned her ears at Simon and he in turn tried to turn away from her a little too quickly on the concrete floor and fell down. It was one of those stomach-in-your-throat moments as he lay there and waited to get up. When he got up he was CLEARLY lame on his left hind. We got the other horses put away and fed them their dinner and I went to taking pics and video to send to my vet. Within an hour Simon could hardly walk.
We approached the injury fairly conservatively (my vet didn’t seem at all worried that he had broken anything) with stall rest, cold hosing, bute and poultice. Thankfully it only took a couple weeks for him to be almost 90% sound. I erred on the side of caution and kept him on stall and then paddock rest for a full 3 weeks before he was clearly stir crazy, not hurting and about to do something stupid when his friends got turned out and he had to stay in the barn. While he was sore he was a perfect gentleman on stall rest and even behaved for Boot City when he had to do the cold hosing and poulticing while I was away at a horse show with Sterling. Simon is a very wise and calm horse for only being 4 years old.
Poultice and stall rest o-rama
It took a good few months for her to settle in, but Ouiser finally seems to be happy and content in our house. She didn’t leave “her” room for about 2 months and now she more or less has the run of the house. She loves to sun bath in window sills and she is very chatty with Boot City and me.
Ouiser getting out and about in her house
Last, but CERTAINLY not least, is our dear Pablo. Pablo appears to have foundered or something similar and he WILL NOT let us catch him to try to see what is up. He lies down a lot. Stands on soft ground as much as possible. Appears sore when he moves out. We fear that his refusal to let us treat him will result in an earlier than necessary demise and believe me when I say we have tried working with him. Donkeys are “stubborn”. Everyone knows this, but you don’t really understand it until you have had a donkey. They don’t forget anything and they are not at all trustful.
Someone has mistreated Pablo and he refuses to get over that. We have, in the past, forced him to let us vet his legs/feet, give him meds, etc, but it just isn’t worth it. He will occasionally go into an enclosure where he knows we can catch him and let us groom him or trim his feet or whatever, but he seems to be doing that less lately. We don’t really know how old he is, but we have had him for 11 years. All 11 of those years we have given him treats, groomed him and basically let him do what he wants, but he still is terrified of the halter and being caught. His feet don’t look bad and he’s eating just fine (as you can see by his belly!), so he’s not suffering. We got 10 semi-loads of sand in April and he’s been loving rolling in it, sleeping in it and standing on the piles.
If you are an actual donkey-whisperer, I’d be happy to hear your advice for dear Pablo.
Pablo on his empire of sand
Please comment if there is anything I don’t write about enough or that you are just interested to know more about. Thank you for being here and reading about our little corner of Texas and the interwebs! Happy weekend and I hope it is cooler where you are than it is here.
FINALLY a week without any vet visits (at least so far)! I’ve ridden Sterling twice this week and he even tried to buck once! Clearly he is feeling better. Still trying to figure out what is causing Coco’s woes, but her rides have been better this week also. There are only two more fox hunts left this season and I haven’t been out in a few weeks so I’m excited to be back out again tomorrow.
Dickens surveying his domain while I tack up a horse for a ride. He’s so stinking cute when he isn’t going off property.
My birthday cupcake in Houston last weekend. Of COURSE it has a horse on it! I have no idea why I’m posing so awkwardly. Haha!
Coco and Simon in a rare moment of sharing instead of teeth baring and kicking each other.
I love my vet, but man am I tired of seeing and talking to him! Sterling is MUCH improved and I should be able to start riding him again early next week. THANK GOODNESS! Next up is to “fix” Coco. I think she is having mare issues, but vet wanted to rule out lameness so we finish that experiment this weekend and I feel pretty strongly will address hormones next. Good times. Thank you Simon and Jaguar for being “normal” as of late. Keep up the good work!
I feel like every Farm Friday will feature a photo of Patches sitting on one of our other dogs until she gets adopted. If you like chihuahuas you should totally adopt her. She is the sweetest, funniest little dog EVER!
Dear Murtagh, Don’t sunbath in the stall with the horse most likely to try to kill you. Love, Your family
Simon is getting lots of rides right now since he is pretty much the only horse I can ride. He is still cool as a cucumber 95% of the time. LOVE this OTTB!
Bunny participated in our pursuit to give the vets as much of our money as possible this month. We thought she had a rotten tooth, but turns out it was just a random abscess. She did get her teeth cleaned and a few removed, but the abscess was likely from a spider bite or something like that. It popped on the outside and is oozy now. Super gross.
I’m excited for a fun weekend with my girlfriends. I hope your weekend is wonderful and if you are in the great white north that your snow starts melting! Spring starts next week!
First off, I took zero pictures. I had no idea what to expect from a 3yo OTTB on hundreds of open acres for the first time and carrying my phone seemed like a recipe for disaster. I also didn’t have a safe way to tote it around since it is giant and I only had breeches pockets.
Some of Boot City’s family recently bought some property outside of Waco so horsey bestie and I headed down with our OTTB’s and her adorbs Welsh Cob mare to hit the trails with the fam and a neighbor. I was a bit apprehensive how he would behave as Simon had “come to life” on our last ride at home and went so far is to attempt to buck a couple times. Simon has a very level topline so it doesn’t take much for him to put his head down and let ‘er buck. Thankfully he’s quite lazy and very gangly so his attempts so far have just been entertaining. We also cantered for the first time since January on that ride. It is amazing how a horse that is SO awkward at the walk and trot can have such a lovely and balanced canter. Nevermind that you must ride EVERY stride or he will just stop. #lazyOTTB
Suffice it to say that he was a rock star on his first trail ride. It was the perfect environment for him and we couldn’t have dreamed up a better first experience. The company was calm and quiet, which was important to me for his first few outings. I want him to be comfortable with his pals on the trail and not be worried about any of them running away from the group or running up on the group. Once he is comfortable just ambling along a few times we will move up to trying some speed and taking forays away from the other horses.
On this ride he crossed a concrete creek bridge. Saw a few deer. Heard gunshots (it is dove hunting season in Texas) in near range for about 20 or 30 minutes. Rode through a group of cattle with calves. A couple birds flew out of cover when we rode by, but not big noisy birds. The property is lovely and has some nice roads throughout so we stuck to the paths. He never wanted to go faster other than speeding up his walk, but he wasn’t his completely slow ambling lazy self. He also stood tied to the trailer like a gentleman with his two girlfriends while we had lunch.
The laziest and sweetest OTTB!
We will be back down for another ride in the next few weeks, that is for sure! I might even get brave and take Sterling sometime to see if perhaps he does better on trail rides if he’s in a small group or even alone since he’s a hot mess in big groups. Many thanks to horsey bestie for coming along and bringing an extra horse and to Boot City’s family for hosting us and providing a yummy lunch!
Boot City and I both took some time off work this week to get some stuff done around the farm. Usually when we do this we get distracted and hardly accomplish anything on our to do list, but we did really well this time! Lots of gates built, arena sand delivered and some purging of Boot City’s metal collection.
Little Mickey is quite the snuggler. He has no idea that he only weighs about 5lb. He acts like he is a 70lb pack leader! So funny!
Casey is spoiled and gets 24/7 turnout, mostly because he is so well behaved and not a fat kid. He often has chicken buddies while he grazes during the day and the other horses are in their stalls.
Simon. Just because he is a lovebug and so cute.
It has become somewhat of a tradition for one of my hunt friends to host a gymkhana the weekend before the 4th of July. We were blessed with moderately cooler temps this year and had much fun!
I got a truck load of sand for my “arena” and the dogs and horses took full advantage of the sand pile. There was much dog wrastling and horses rolling!
It is never easy to see them go, but its time for these boys to move on. Boot City took them to the goat sale this morning. I always tell myself that they end up in a home similar to ours and get good lives.
I couldn’t for the life of me find a live feed Saturday night, but I can tell you that McCraken won his first race back since the Kentucky Derby!
The very official proof of McCraken’s win. A screenshot from my iCellular of the Churchill Downs website.
The Paulick Report did a nice write-up about the race. You can click on the link to read all about it, but in a nutshell McCraken started somewhat poorly, held steady then zoomed up to win!
The jockey was Brian Hernandez,Jr. who also rode him the Kentucky Derby.
Since he started at the back of the field, he got pretty dirty!
McCraken is by the same sire as Simon; Ghostzapper. I did a pedigree post a while back about Simon.You can read more here.
I think they look alike in the eye. I haven’t studied McCraken’s conformation so can’t really comment on their similarities there, but he is definitely MUCH faster than Simon!
Handsome, and very LAZY, Simon.
The same day McCraken won the Matt Winn, I had to ride Simon with a dressage whip just to get him to trot! Just because they are bred to run, doesn’t necessarily mean they want to run! But we sure are enjoying cheering for Simon’s brother, literally from another mother!
My name is Tara and I love horses. Supposedly that is the first step to recovery, right?! I can’t imagine my life without these divine creatures playing a major role and am so grateful I have the means and the support of Boot City to have them. People often compare the hobby of horseback riding to playing sports or golfing or other “similar” activities, but there is one glaring difference. If you own or lease a horse you are responsible for the care and well being of an 800+ pound animal 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 52 weeks per year. It is kind of like marriage; you take a vow to care for them in sickness and in health.
So far 2017 has had it’s fair share of “sickness”, mostly in the form of injuries. Right, Sterling?
We like to selfie while on stall rest. Again.
Simon tried to pull his hoof off of his leg this spring, but miraculously was never lame. The injury looked really bad and made me kind of nervous so I haven’t been riding him. I want to let the hoof grow out more and he is really just a baby so the time off is fine.
Simon trying on a hunt bridle to prepare for what we hope will be his future career!
Jaguar is kicking it retirement-style. His hurt leg is noticeably off, but he’s happy as a clam out in his pasture with his buddies. He even trots and canters sometimes! I thought he’d be annoyed at being retired, but he’s taken to it pretty well. He still bosses everyone around, including the neighbor horses.
The handsomest 24 year old, grandson of Doc Bar, past AQHYA World Championship qualifying reiner, retired fox hunter, there ever was!
Coco (so far) is one of my “in health” horses currently. She has had PLENTY of “in sickness” over the past few years so she deserves it! We will make our way to a few more horse shows this summer as Sterling convalesces. Miles, miles and more miles are my goals for Coco this year.
Hanging out in her giant stall at the horse show. My favorite thing about Texas Rose Horse Park are the huge permanent stalls. It is so nice for the bigger hunter/jumper horses to not be stuck is some tiny 10×10 or even 12×12.
Last, but certainly not least, Casey has been the VERY best step-in hunt/whipper-in horse I could have asked for! He was a perfect gentleman all hunt season, enjoyed a few trail rides and now is FOR SALE! The plan had been to take him back to Montana, but Mom thinks it would be best for him to stay in Texas and have a busier job with someone who will appreciate him. Casey is one of those horses that you can truly grab out of the pasture, jump on and go and there is no drama. I know because we did just that 2 weekends ago. He hadn’t been ridden since March and I hopped on (with no lunge) and he trotted and cantered around like he was ridden yesterday. And he’s only FIVE! He’s got SO MANY great years ahead of him! So, you should buy him, or at least tell your friends to buy him. For reals.
Poor Casey’s biological clock stayed on Montana seasons so he didn’t start shedding his winter coat until JUNE! When he would get hot and it was wet, well, he would roll in the mud to cool off.
No, horses are not just a “hobby”. I can’t put them in a closet and forget about them until the next time I want to “play”. They are my lifestyle and I love every second!
The wind huffed and puffed and tried to blow our house down last night! Thankfully it appears that the only damage incurred was a few branches strewn about and a tarp that tried to blow away. The power was out for a few hours, but came on just as I left for work. Yay for the house and tack room having AC today!
We need to name this goat. He’s a whether and is pretty silly. He enjoys helping unload hay.
I built my cinder block container gardens a few years ago. We usually grow some squash or some onions or whatever, but since we started doing Blue Apron a couple years ago we don’t really need to grow our own stuff. When I was outside last weekend I saw a hummingbird and it motivated me to plant some flowers. I snagged these at the feed store on Sunday. The donkey has eaten a few of the pink flowers, but the chickens have left them alone. The taller pink and orange ones are Lantana and should get pretty big. If they live, that is.
Simon has the prettiest face. Such a sweet boy.
The horses are always curious when we put out the hammock. They walk by and pretend like they aren’t staring at it and somewhat terrified.
Happy weekend! Do you have any fun plans? I have my fingers, toes, legs, arms and whatever other appendage will cross crossed in hopes of RAIN! It is much too dry right now.