Friday, August 20, 2010

Part two

The ranch where I got Pinecone from is a 4,000 acre ranch in Western North Dakota. It is a place for Thoroughbreds to go after they are no longer wanted/usable by their owners and trainers. It is owned by the track vet at a track in Minnesota. The horses are allowed to spend a year out on pasture before they are available to be adopted out. But if the horse doesn’t find a home in that time he/she is allowed to stay as long as needed. Many of the horses come to the ranch with injuries. Some were too slow to race, or too scared. Some were never raced and some were seasoned pros who were just getting to old to keep racing.

Some of the horses on the ranch that weren't available for adoption yet or were personal riding horses of the owner.

It was the end of March when we made the voyage out to the ranch. I went with my boyfriend(now fiancé) and a friend from my barn who was looking for a horse too. We met the owner and he took us out to the pen with horses available for adoption. There were 40+ horses and one cow. The cow had been hiding when all the others were shipped out the last fall. It was amazing seeing all of those TBs together in one pen. They were all ages, sizes and colors but mostly dark bays. There were a handful of greys and one chestnut. The chestnut stood out like a sore thumb and he was tiny compared to all the other giant tbs.

I set out into the herd with my heart set on finding a young grey mare. I was intercepted by the chestnut gelding. He was very friendly and wouldn’t let me leave without petting him. I started walking and he started following me. I stopped he stopped. My fiancĂ© told me that I needed to take him home with me since he obviously was in love with me. I laughed and said “too bad we didn’t bring a 3 horse trailer so you could take him home!” He would have too! The grey mares were all munching on a round bale. They weren’t exactly what I had in mind. Plus they had bad attitudes towards me lol!

My little chestnut buddy! (picture my fiance took with his blackberry...he wanted this little guy)

My next “dream horse” I had in mind was a BIG solid bay mare. (I’m really not sure why I wanted a mare so bad). I had found one but she disappeared into the herd. I ended up finding another that seemed very sweet so I put a halter on her and led her up to the gate. I look over to see my friend and the owner trying to round up the horse that she wanted. She was a HUGE bay filly with a half-moon white marking on her face. That horse was full of life and raring to go! The opposite of the mare I had on my lead line haha. The owner asked me what my plans for my horse was and told me that she was sound but her knees were going to be funny looking (I am forgetting all of the technical things that he told me…) I decided that she wasn’t the horse for me. Good news for that mare though, she was adopted that very same day by a young girl and her mother!

So I took one more look at the herd of scruffy beasts, I saw a sad, sad sight. It was the chestnut gelding. He was all alone in a corner and had his head down looking defeated. My heart melted and I went up and put a halter on him and brought him to the gate. I asked what his story was. The owner told me that his name was Pine Bend and he had come to the track from Arizona. He was retired due to a suspensory ligament injury and that he was in such bad shape after his last race he couldn’t make it off the track by himself. The horse ambulance had to come and take him off. When he stepped off the trailer at the Ranch he was in very bad shape but was now sound and shouldn’t have any problems in the future. For some reason “Piney” had been there for 2 years. No one wanted to adopt him. The owner was completely puzzled as to why since he said that He was the sweetest most personable horse he’d ever fostered. I asked the owner if he’d be sound for dressage and maybe some jumping and he said “of course!” I had my new horse!!

My new horse!

Horses from the ranch come with some rules though 1) horses are never to be raced again 2) If the horse doesn’t work out for you, bring him back and we can find you another that suits you better. Just please don’t bring him to auction 3) the horses are either trained to race or not trained at all. So please don’t unload them from the trailer tonight and put a saddle on him and expect to ride. It’s going to take some work. 4) He (the owner) will be come and do his teeth and a check up on the horse for free in the next year. (he is one of the handful of vetarnarians in the united states who specializes in equine dentistry and has a custome mobile equine dental office made out of a horse trailer)

My friends mare getting her tattoo checked to find out who she was.

We brought the horses up to the trailer and just to be sure we had a safe loading experience he tranquilized both horses for us. A nice little cocktail to make the first leg of the trip easier.

Are we there yet?

Sleepy pony!

Quit taking pictures of me!
We said our good byes and I’m sure I said thank you one million times. And headed home. It was a long trip and we encountered ever type of weather imaginable. We got home about 10:30 pm and unloaded the new monsters. Pinecone hopped out easily, the mare…was a bit more of a handful. We lead them in through the arena and let them stretch their legs. The barn owner oohed and awed over them and we gave Pinecone his first treat…which was promptly spit out. He didn’t realize how awesome treats were yet.

We put him in his new stall and he kept his eyes glued to me. if I got to far from him he would call out to me and everyone would laugh.he’s a lover that’s for sure.

Since this is becoming a novel I'll save the rest of the story about the begining of our lives together in part 3.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What a great lesson!!

I had my first lesson in a really, really long time last night. Usually another girl from the barn and I take lessons together which is fun. We can watch and learn from the other and half way through our instructor has us switch horses so we can get a feel for different ones. But last night I was solo which was great. I had the whole arena to myself.

The Pinecone was fantastic and he worked so hard. My instructor is having me school with two dressage whips so I don’t have to worry about switching over every time we change direction (Especially helpful when doing serpentines!) We did LOTS of 20 meter circles at the trot. We would do a 20 meter circle at A then continue on the rail and do another at E, and another at C. when we got to M she had me go up into 2 point and really get him moving out into a bigger stride then we would continue doing circles at A, B and C.

My instructor said that Piney is probably the prettiest mover in her barn. She then caught herself and said “well ONE of the many pretty movers at in the barn”. She said that even when he is being his normal pokey, lazy self he just really over-tracks and has such fantastic movement.

The Coneman has trouble going to the left, undoubtedly from years of going to the right at high rates of speed. So he tends to drift off the rail when going to the left. We worked hard on keeping him there. Whenever he started to drift she told me to make a lot of noise with my inside foot to push him back to the rail. It WORKED! Hahaha. I guess I never really thought about doing that. I always tried to use my hands. That’s another thing I need to work on…shortening my reins…I always feel like I’m smothering him if I have short reins, I think that goes back to my old horse. If I had tight reins on him, he’d FLIP OUT, must have been a western pleasure thing. But she assured me that he was fine with shorter reins and that I have quiet enough hands so he wasn’t going to flip out.

We Then went on to do our Intro A and B tests. I think they were his best tests yet! Too bad we weren’t being tested!

Gosh I love that big red horse of mine! He really gave 110% yesterday. He is quite funny in that when we were trotting my instructor was cheering “YAY PINECONE!!” he picked up his pace and really covered some ground. He really likes having an audience cheer him on! That’s why my instructor thinks that if we bring him to a show next year he’ll probably totally blow me away. She thinks that if he is at a show and there are loud speakers, and an audience and people and horses all moving around him he will just get pumped up and have lots more energy in the ring. Guess we’ll have to wait and see!!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Thoroughbred Person

I am a proud owner of an OTTB. I, in all honesty never thought I’d ever be a thoroughbred person. It’s not that I didn’t want to be, it was that I never thought I’d be a good enough rider for one. I started taking riding lessons when I was 17 and have been around horses for about 11 years now. Quarter horses were the majority of what I rode and a few Arabians here and there. My experiences with Thoroughbreds came from the local race track. My first season working there was spent watching from above in one of the video towers on the back stretch. It was my job to film races. I loved how beautiful and athletic they were. The next year my friend was working there ponying horses and I came and hung out with her in the barn and in the paddock before races. I then got in touch with a trainer who was looking for a groom. It was my chance to be really up-close and personal with these amazing athletes. The first day I showed up before the sun came up and mucked stalls while avoiding being kicked, smooshed, and eaten. I then got to help administer ointments and medicines again avoiding being trampled to death. Feeding time included part of my shirt sleeve apparently. It was then time to groom for the race. it was like grooming the horses at the barn where my horse was kept except surprise, surprise these horses danced all over and tried to flatten me. I learned some weird grooming techniques though. They use lemon pledge instead of show sheen. It blew me away that they did that. But it worked, quite well. Also instead of hoof polish they had me apply automotive transmission fluid, it kept the dirt off and the hoof shiny. Weird. I never got to lead the horses to the paddock but I was their little goffer and had to make many sprints back to the area of the barn where his horses were kept grabbing things that had been forgotten. Then after the race and after photos and congratulatory handshakes and hugs the horse was handed over to me again. It would drag me up and down the aisles in my attempt to hot walk it until we could get to the wash stall. A quick bath then back to dragging me around the property until it was time to go back to the stall. That was usually how my days there went. The trainer asked me one day if I wanted to breeze his horses in the morning. (at that point in my life I was the same weight as a jockey…ahhh the good ol days!) The money was good but I wasn’t crazy enough to do that. I really wish I was a stronger and more confident rider back then. I’d LOVE to be able to breeze a horse on the track.

So that was my experience with TBs until last year when a 9 year old chestnut gelding stole my heart. My decision to get a TB was a scary one but the price was right in my range. Free. 2 days before we made our journey to pick him up I called the barn owner/my riding instructor and said “NO WAY am I going to get a Thoroughbred!! Danzig almost killed me!” Danzig was a young unraced TB from the same racehorse rehab home that I was traveling out to, to find my new horse. The barn owner calmed me down saying that he was just a bit full of himself and that when I got my horse she’d help me every step of the way. I still thought I was crazy the day we pulled up to the ranch.

Stay tuned for part 2!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Lazy bones

I rode last night. It went ok until we practiced our Intro A and B tests. He was starting to run of of steam and I knew he was, but the barn owner/my riding instructor came through the barn and asked if I wanted to practice the tests. The halts were pefectly square and right at X and our 20 meter circles were fabulous but everything else was horrible.I couldn't keep him at a nice consistant trot and his walk was really lazy and slow. going to the left is his difficult direction so near the end of our ride he was walking like a drunken idiot.   Pinecone is a bit out of shape as its been so horribly hot I don't want to ride. He gets so hot just standing in his stall with his fan on him.But it seems the weather has started to cool down the last few days. This spring he was doing so awesome since there was someone was working with him 6 days a week....but then heat wave. ugh I don't do well in the heat and humidity.
We have a schooling show at the barn over labor day weekend. So it looks like we better get our butts in gear. Of all the horses at the barn Pinecone is the least ready for the show. It's my fault and I know it. I just haven't gotten out there enough to work with him. He's pretty quick to remember things when we start working consistantly its just tough to get our heads back in the game. I plan on riding for a little bit tonight and tommorrow. If I can get my butt in the saddle at least 4 days a week I think we'll both be in a little better shape in a few weeks. It's tough when we are both lazy bones due to this heat!!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Bridle Shower

On Friday afternoon the girls from the barn threw me a “Bridle” shower since I’m getting married in a month. I have to say this was the greatest idea I’ve ever heard of! They had me "register" at Dover and I didn’t expect to get half of what I put on my wishlist. They got me everything on there! Well except for the $8,000 Hermes dressage saddle that I put on there as a joke. I took pictures but didn’t think they were really worth posting. But here is a rundown of what I got.

-white sheepskin dressage saddle pad

- Leather triple stiched halter

- 3 way lunge line set

- Sheepskin girth cover

- wintec slimline stirrup leathers

- Black dressage coat

- White dressage shirt

- White full seat breeches

- Helmet case

I was blown away that I got all of that stuff. They went above and beyond my expectations for the shower. I almost cried when I saw everything. I couldn’t have asked for a better shower. It really meant a lot to me because I’ve never really gotten anything new when it comes to horse stuff. I usually get stuff second hand (with exceptions of all my western tack). My saddle is used, my bridle and bit were used as were my saddle pads. I’ll get some pictures of my monster all dressed up in his new stuff tonight when I get to the barn. The problem with his new white pad though is that his socks look yellow in contrast to his ultra-bright saddle pad. Looks like a certain monster will be getting a bath soon!

I rode yesterday. The barn was a zoo. Everyone was taking lessons or riding yesterday so our ride was cut short due to too much traffic in the arena. It was perfectly fine with me since I’ll plan on riding tonight. The monster was fantastic as usual. He was a little stiff in the neck due to the fact he’s been inside for a week due to incredibly hot weather followed by way too much rain that flooded their turn out areas. But he’s such a good boy. Each ride is better than the last. I chickened out when the girls asked me if I wanted to try cantering him. I’m not sure why. It’s not like he’s going to blow up and carry me away. It’s kind of hard to actually convince him to canter. Once he is cantering though it’s awesome. He has a HUGE floaty canter but he falls out quickly. I’m probably crazy in my thinking that since he was a racehorse he associates running with getting hurt. So he doesn’t want to do it anymore. It’s kind of silly I’m sure but that’s just how my brain works!

Well that’s it for now. here are some crappy blackberry pictures of his new halter.
All I need now is a brass name plate!

I put his sheepskin noseband cover on it.

Friday, August 13, 2010


This is a blog about a horse. He’s not a grand prix dressage horse, nor did he cost me an entire year’s salary. He isn’t a fancy warmblood with a passport. He doesn’t have some strange disease that has me and every veterinarian across the country scratching their heads as to the cause. He will never go to the world equestrian games or any other world show. He’s doesn’t chase cattle, bad guys or barrels. He isn’t gaited, or painted. In fact he’s one of the most common colors of horses out there. He isn’t a rare and exotic breed and actually 37,000 foals a year are registered into his registry.
So you are probably wondering why is this horse so special? Meet Pine Bend or as I call him Pinecone.
He is a 16hh chestnut off track thoroughbred that adopted me in March of 2009. In my eyes, he’s the greatest horse I’ve ever met. Each time I ride him I wonder how I ever got so lucky. All the girls at the barn giggle when they see us together because he’s my biggest fan. He follows me around like a puppy and will fall asleep with his head in my lap. I’ll get into the story of how he found me on another day since it is sort of a long story. he’s the sweetest, calmest fellow I’ve ever met. He’s never taken off with me and he’s never dumped me on the ground. I’m not saying that he never will but, we are learning things together at the same pace. His sweet nature makes everyone he meets fall in love with him. When I see other people, especially children, riding him it makes me incredibly proud. He always takes care of his rider. I love him.
This blogs main focus will be ol Pinecone and updates on our progress as dressage wannabes. My riding instructor said that keeping a riding journal is a good idea so I’ll try to use this for that purpose. Sometimes I may vent about things in the equine world that tick me off or sometimes I’ll write about things that make me proud of the equestrian world. I LOVE learning about all things thoroughbred so I’ll post about interesting things I find. So that’s about it for my first post!