I am an incredibly fortunate equestrienne. I have two very lovely horses to ride (as well as a superb retiree and a couple ponies). I get to keep these creatures at home in the lovely barn we built for them and on grassy pastures on a few acres that are incredibly close to the downtown of one of the fastest growing cities in the United States. Yet I find myself constantly “shoulding”. What do I mean by “shoulding”? I should ride more. I should show more. I should go to more clinics. I should put on more fly spray. I should body clip. I should, I should, I should, I should. Sometimes I get overwhelmed with shoulding and just don’t. At all.
Jaguar enjoying some winter sunshine. His days of my shoulding are mostly behind him, other than the occasional questioning of some kind of geriatric horse maintenance.
Having a full-time job. Taking care of dogs/horses/cats/goats/chickens/ponies/donkey. Keeping up a small acreage. Curating relationships with friends and family. It all takes resources, all of which are finite. The biggest one being time. The second biggest one being cash. And those two things drive a lot of what shoulds happen and which ones don’t. The part that I struggle with the most with my shoulding is the why.
I’ve lived far too much of my life doing things because (I thought) other people thought that I should. Buying clothes I didn’t really like because someone else said they were cute. Overextending myself socially because I didn’t want to say no and hurt someone’s feelings. Going on trips that may have not been in the best interest of our budget because I didn’t want to miss out on anything. It’s only taken about 4 decades, but my self-awareness is finally maturing.
One of my biggest “should” struggles in a photo.
My greatest should struggle right now is Coco. What should I do with Coco?! ??????? !!!!!!!!!!!! She’s nine this year. I’ve had her at home for 8.5 of those nine years. If you had asked me when Coco was four what I thought she’d be doing when she was nine, I’d have told you showing in the Adult or Amateur/Owner hunters. The reality is that she’s only been to a couple rated horse shows and I’ve still never jumped a 3′ course of jumps on any horse, much less her. There are myriad reasons why we aren’t further along, but I find myself questioning my path forward with this horse ALL THE TIME.
My greatest mistake with Coco 5 years ago was not putting her in more precarious situations sooner. I should have taken her on trail rides, gone to more local shows, and just gotten her out and about. She is the “fanciest” horse I’ve ever had so I was nervous about “ruining” her, which is dumb. I’m a good rider and I don’t ask my horses to do stupid things. I was never going to ruin her by riding her like I rode all the baby horses that came before her, all of which have gone on to wonderful careers under saddle in various jobs. I’m getting her out and about now and it’s going really well. Her first few trail rides were comical (she was NOT getting her pretty hooves WET, OMG. But she will cross water just fine now) but she’s gained a ton of confidence.
I should show her at rated shows, but I just don’t feel it yet. My two primary resource challenges make me question biting the bullet and entering a show every time I get serious about doing an entry. I want her to foxhunt and hopefully will get her out this fall with hounds to see what she thinks. But there is always a little voice in my head that tells me I’m wasting a really nice horse so I should sell her to someone who will tap that potential. My dream of all dreams would be for her to be equally good at showing AND fox hunting. Serious shoulding going on here.
This horse has pretty much found his calling in the hunt field. And he loves him a photographer to cheese for!
Simon is a much easier should. His shoulds are more about body clipping (ugh). Fly sheets. Pulling his mane. And other banal shoulds that won’t remarkably change his future, just his day-to-day existence. Sometimes I think I should show him, but it would also be dumb to show him when I SHOULD be showing Coco. This past hunt season went really well for Simon. He was fit. He stayed sound. He got better and better all season. It’s easy to forget that he’s only 7 and (hopefully) has many years ahead of him to hunt and trail ride and maybe even go to some horse shows. I don’t feel the pressure that I should be doing anything different with Simon, and that makes him more fun for me to ride. Which is dumb.
At the end of the day, all a horse wants to do is eat grass and be safe. They don’t care about their potential. They don’t care if they win or lose. They don’t care if they have a show record or not. They don’t care how big are the jumps. They don’t care about any of it, unless they are hungry or scared.
I continue to struggle with my shoulding, but am getting better at prioritising things for myself, my family and my animals. No one can make these choices for me and at the end of the day, no one other than Boot City really cares in the long run. I regularly remind myself of this when I start shoulding and it helps me make better choices.
We are a full week into August; AKA my least favourite month in Texas. This is always the month when I question my sanity in moving here. Which is a bit ironic considering the only times I visited prior to moving to Fort Worth were in August. I shouldn’t complain too much since June and July were actually fairly nice as far as weather goes. I (always) wish we had gotten more rain, but the temperatures were not awful.
I’m fairly certain I’ve gone on more trail rides since March than I have gone on in one year ever in my life previously and I’m not mad about it! It’s been really good for my horses to get out and about. Simon even finally let me open and close a gate while mounted! He’s nearly perfect most days, but for some reason has remained apprehensive and even a bit fearful about opening and closing gates. I went trail riding on a family’s place outside of Waco a couple weeks ago and we finally conquered the task!
Here we are after completing our mission. Simon is still a bit unsure about the gate possibly attacking him. I’m proud as can be and Quila is in a constant state of supervision. Photo credit to our trail riding buddy and Chincoteague Pony co-owner.
Today’s post is very cat and Simon centric. Sunday Silence showed up at the barn this past weekend with a fat cheek! He had a fat cheek a few weeks previously. I presume he’s getting in fights with his cat friends. We had a cat with a somewhat similar fat cheek a few years ago and it was some disgusting larvae parasite thing, so I was REAL glad when the swelling had gone down the next day. Yes, my cats are named after racehorses.
Sunday with his fat cheek. He’s a sweet kitty who was rescued by a friend from the Weatherford Shelter this past spring.
And here we have MORE SIMON! Last weekend we went trail riding with a bunch of our OTTB friends. I dearly love trail riding with this group. Our horses all get along. They keep a similar pace. We can change spots in order 10 times and none of the horses get upset. We got a tiny bit lost and ended up off the trail for a bit, but we found our way and had a delightful ride.
Simon nearly ALWAYS has his ears forward during trail rides. He’s so cute.
And, last but not least, is my Work From Home Administrative Assistant. She doesn’t work very hard and she sheds quite a bit, but she’s sure cute! I may have to write her up for spending so much time napping in sunny places, though.
Pardon my dusty trim and nose prints on the window. She slept like that for at least 6 hours!
I foresee more trail riding this weekend. It’s going to be stupid hot, though, so we won’t be out too long. Hopefully we will have some updates on Gene this weekend. He’s eating well and becoming friendly so that is good news! Happy weekend, y’all!
I’m not adamantly on team shoes or team barefoot (for horses, I’m definitely team shoes for humans), but I do see the benefit in pulling a horse’s shoes off when he isn’t working hard to allow his feet to adapt to life without shoes. This can strengthen the hoof wall and some research indicates that barefoot trimming can help horses who have underrun heels (a common problem amongst off track Thoroughbreds). One research article even indicated that a shod horse going barefoot for even a few weeks led to a hoof with characteristics that are known to improve soundness
Jaguar has been without shoes since his retirement, with the only exception being when he tore his hoof from the sole up to the coronet band and required a bar shoe while it grew out. Coco cannot be without shoes because she has a slight club foot and needs to support of the shoe. Simon requires at least front shoes during hunt season for no reason other than he’s tender footed on rocks. He’s got lovely hooves, especially for an off-track Thoroughbred, but his soles have always been quite sensitive. Hunt season generally goes from November to March so he’s shod from September to April. 5 months hasn’t been long enough the past 2 summers for him to be barefoot and have his hooves actually acclimate to being barefoot.
Enter coronapocolypse. Hunt season ended prematurely (early March) and the trips I had planned to go hunting outside of Texas also were canceled. This could be the PERFECT summer for Simon’s feet to really acclimate to being barefoot! I had my farrier pull his shoes on March 21. Typical for Simon he was quite sore for a few weeks. Our property is fairly rocky and he noticeably avoided the rocky areas. I put Seashore Acres Sole Paint on his feet every evening when he came in for the night to help build toughness in his soles. By late April he was starting to seem a bit better.
A very handsome and barefoot Simon after a ride. He’s quite wild.
In May we went trail riding with friends a couple times and on one particular ride his feet took quite a beating on some very rocky ground and I felt like a big jerk! I knew I couldn’t continue to go on trail rides and not offer his feet at least some sort of protection.
Enter, hoof boots. I listen to a daily podcast called Horses in the Morning and there is a monthly episode about Endurance riding. I’ve never really wanted to try Endurance riding, but I really enjoy the episodes and one of the sponsors is Renegade Hoof Boots. I’ve heard for years how great these boots are for endurance rides and how easy they are to put on the horse, so I thought maybe this could be a solution to protecting Simon’s feet while allowing him to remain barefoot for the summer. So, I ordered a 2 boots! I measured his hooves according to the detailed description on the website and selected some black ones (I’m a hunter after all, no crazy colours for me!) in his size. They come in singles, which I could see being nice if you had a horse with different sized feet (like Coco).
Simon is quite tolerant of all the things, but I wasn’t sure how he’d react to his new hoof boots. He can be a bit klutzy so I was worried the hoof boots would make that worse which might scare him, but I was pleasantly surprised. I tried them on him and they seemed to fit great and were VERY easy to get on and adjust to his hooves. The directions were straightforward and simple. They definitely aren’t going to win him any show hunter cool kid points (and are probably dangerous for jumping), but they aren’t offensive.
Simon trying on his new kicks for the very first time.
For the first ride we just walked and trotted a tiny bit around the property. I specifically took him to a few extra rocky places so he’d know he could walk over those rocks and nary a rock would bother his tootsies (well, at least the front ones). He did great and I could tell he started to figure out that his feet were in fact protected and he got braver about walking right through rocky areas that he usually avoids. The only minor issue that he seemed to have was overreaching and clipping the boots with his hind feet. I posted in a Facebook group after that ride and got advice to go ahead and use bell boots the next time he wears them, which makes sense since he usually needs bell boots with his regular shoes.
Another photo because he’s cute and likes his picture taken.
A few days after that first ride the Renegades made their maiden voyage on a trail ride, but this time with bell boots. It had rained quite a lot the night before the trail ride so the trails were very muddy and I was a bit concerned the mud might suck the boots off his feet. The only issue he had with the boots all day was at the beginning of the ride he spooked at a fawn that jumped up and went running through the trees. He pivoted away on his front feet when he spooked which seemed to cause one of the boots to twist around his hoof. I got off, straightened the boot back, and adjusted it quite a bit tighter than it had been. And let me tell you that mounting block (or in this case tree stump) training is very important when you are out on a trail ride and have to get on a 16.2h horse with no real mounting block. We rode about 8 miles the rest of the morning and the boots were perfect! We went through lots of water and mud and grass and they stayed on perfectly. The trail was quite rocky in a few places so I was glad he had good hoof protection. We are officially now hoof boot devotees.
We are off and running on all the trail rides for the rest of the summer, or at least until it gets unbearably hot in Texas! I highly recommend the Renegades both for riding a barefoot horse as well as having around in case your horse pulls a shoe. These things are tough and they fit really well.
The picture doesn’t quite do it justice, but there is a large beaver dam on the creek that Simon is looking at. It’s nice to see so much green grass in late June!
Hi! It’s great to “see” you again! I took a REAL long hiatus from blogging. In short, I lost my mojo. I struggle a little bit with blogging because it seems inherently selfish. WHO CARES what I do, where I go, how I ride, when I ride, where I shop, what are my opinions, etc?! However, I’m a journaler. I have kept a journal nearly as long as I could write and I find it cathartic to write things out. My journaling activity really slowed down after I got married and “real” life started. Then I started blogging in 2014 and it felt right, mostly. I look back on many posts and they seem a bit contrived and superficial. I’ve struggled my entire life caring way too much about “what other people think” and this showed up in my blog. The voice often doesn’t sound like me.
I’m restarting BSBC (this acronym is pretty funny to me because I am Human Resources Manager professionally and I administer medical insurance plans and frequently refer to BCBS which is Blue Cross Blue Shield. I’m likely the only person who thinks this is funny) not because I think anyone gives a hoot about the things listed previously, but because I’m never going to write a book and I find it fascinating to read about other people. It only seems fair to share my own story as I enjoy reading the stories of other bloggers and to scratch the itch of journaling. I’m here to document my life experience, thoughts, maybe some opinions, and whatever else for no reason other than to be able to go back and read it myself and to perhaps share something that is beneficial to someone someday.
The world is a bit upside down right now, so in many ways it seems like a horrible time to restart. I feel like I should have something profound to say or share about the Black Lives Matter movement, and I don’t. Other than that I’m aware of the privilege I have because I’m white and I’m determined to be an anti-racist and an ally. In that same vein, I haven’t (at least yet, I’m knocking on wood over here) been negatively affected by the coronapocolypse pandemic. I’m incredibly lucky to be in Texas where we had a TREMENDOUSLY strong economy going into the pandemic and so far has stayed fairly strong during the otherwise turbulent economic situation. I’m also fortunate to live on a few acres, so even when we were staying at home, we had plenty of space and things to do to never feel cabin fever. Boot City and I do our best to stay away from people and when we are in public we wear facemasks and thus far we have remained healthy.
So here is my re-start. I turned 40 the day Governor Abbott announced the Stay at Home order for Texas. I’ve been happily married for 15 years. We don’t have human offspring, by choice. I’ve had and ridden horses my entire life. I currently own 4 horses, 3 are at home and 1 is leased out to a lovely teenager. I have WAY too many dogs. WAY too many. 9 in the permanent collection and 1 foster. I also have 6 cats, 10 goats, 9 chickens, a pony and a donkey. I’m going to keep the “I” perspective, even though a lot of this is “we”, but let’s be honest. Boot City probably wouldn’t even have a fish if he had never married me. I’m going to tell my story and hope that someone else is entertained, learns something, feels camaraderie, gets a laugh, whatever it is that my sharing can bring to the world, and even better if I make a new friend. This won’t be an exclusively horse focused blog either, although that is a big part of my life. I don’t know of many other writers out there like me. Kind of middle aged (it really is so weird to write that!), married when youngish, no kids (on purpose), fulfilling (but not crazy demanding) career, and a hobby that is very resource intensive both from a financial and time commitment perspective.
I hope that as I blog more consistently I am more able to interact with readers. I’m tired of the social media interaction that feels so contrived and brief. It’s a great way to connect, but not really the best place to nurture relationships. And if you are reading this, I’d love feedback! Even if it’s just to say “hey, I read this!”
I’ll leave with my current favourite photograph, from Caroline Vaughn. She took this at the Opening Meet for Brazos Valley Hounds last November. I’ve had a lot of wonderful horses over the years and while Simon is only 6, he’s proving to be a pretty strong contender for my “heart horse”. Until next time my friends.
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 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!
Y’all. I have purchased about 4 Christmas gifts and didn’t do cards yet. #christmas2017fail Oh well. I still love you all and wish you a VERY Merry Christmas!
It rained a couple inches this week so I kept the horses up for a few days to allow the pasture to recover a bit. Simon took full advantage of the mud to pursue a new hair color. Or to become a mud monster.
Jaguar came out of his stall quite lame yesterday and scared me half to death that he was foundering. My kind neighbor gave him some bute while I was at work and I packed his feet last night. It seems to be more of a sore feet from the rain issue than founder. This is Jaguar with his hoof pack booties on in festive green. He seemed much better this morning and it’s raining again so all horses are in the barn for a couple more days.
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!
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).