Monday, April 21, 2014

update from boarding school.

George has been doing great at school. I got an email from his trainer that she's ridden him at the walk, trot and canter both directions in the arena. But she said he is pretty lazy so they are working on lengthening and stretching out. She said he's been doing everything she has asked of him.
But he was introduced to mirrors for the first time. When he was first introduced to them, she had hand walked him up to the mirrors, and he was curious. But when ridden past them, apparently he thinks there is another horse on the other side of the mirror. And he is not thrilled with that horse's presence. Each time she rode past he would pin his ears and bare his teeth. Which is just George, being George.
They are also working on manners. He is doing great in the cross ties, but he is learning not to try and bite people or pin his ears as they walk past. She has also noticed that he is pretty sensitive about grooming. Since she has switched to softer brushes he has become less fussy, and hasn't been as grumpy about grooming.
I saw him in passing yesterday, as we headed to the lake. He is in a pasture with a bunch of welsh ponies, he looks like a giant. We were going to stop and visit him on the way home, but ended up taking a different route. I am hoping to find some time this week where I can swing out and see him. I am also hoping to get a lesson on him.
So, so far so good. Let's hope he continues on learning and behaves himself!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ugly Duckling.

One of the cool things about OTTBs is that a lot of the time, their history is out there for you to find. Old race records, videos, pictures etc. George has tons of information about out there on the interweb. There are articles, youtube videos, and one of my favorite finds was the pictures that Wendy took and posted of him on her blog, From Race Horse to Showhorse. The pictures Wendy took, were the very first pictures I saw of my monster. But finding baby pictures seemed to be harder to come by. Everywhere I went seemed to lead to dead ends... until I contacted the Jockey Club.

A simple email, and about 45 minute wait, they had sent me his registration pictures! What a derpy looking baby. 

He was so dark as a baby, and quite honestly... an ugly duckling. I think he is so much cuter now that he is almost all white. He was also built very up hill as a baby. I did happen to stumble upon one of his professional yearling sale pictures, and a write up that said "Medium sized, strong, deep, solid colt. Slightly plain head and a little immature over topline, strong chest with deep shoulder and rib. Strong back and muscular hip and quarter. Toes out slightly both front, excellent mover, will improve a lot. 
This is a young looking, slightly immature, backward colt by the phenomenal sire, Cozzene, who has been one of the most consistent and successful sires for the last eight to ten years. He is an April 30th foal and will strengthen,mature and develop tremendously over the next six months." That little monster went on to sell at Keenland April yearling sale for $65,000. I had emailed someone at the barn that purchased him before selling him a year later for $160,000, and they remember him well. The gal I talked to said that he was a bit of a devil before they gelded him. I can believe that. She also told me that they had seen the article about us in the Paulick report and were thrilled he found his forever home. They extended an offer to me, that if for whatever reason  he needed a home, they would be happy to help find him one. It's so fantastic to hear that. George has been offered a home by so many people. And who knows, if training doesn't work out for me and George, I might have to reach out to these people.

George's Girlfriend.

George's trainer emailed me yesterday and let me know that she was only able to groom him on Saturday. Sunday was crazy busy for her but she was hoping to ride him Monday night. She said that he was wonderful in the cross ties for grooming but he has very sensitive skin like most TBs she's known. When she used a softer brush on him he was less crabby towards her. But she still had all her fingers so I count that as a win. 

I was looking at pictures on my phone and I realized that I forgot to introduce everyone to George's girlfriend. 
This picture was taken awhile ago. All of our snow melted last week, but according to the forecast, we are getting some more tonight.

Our Shetland pony, Princess Rainbow Sparkles, apparently decided that she no longer wanted to be kept separate from the geldings, and jumped her fence into their pasture. She had a snowbank that she used as a ramp, and apparently isn't the most skilled and graceful jumper, as she knocked down part of the fence. But she knew that she needed to be with her love.
The reason we had been keeping her separated from the geldings, is that Duke hated her. The first time we put them in the same pasture last summer, he tried to run her down, and I just didn't feel comfortable leaving her in there. But all last winter they were able to see each other and smell each other as they shared a fence line and waterer.  So she decided that spring time was the right time to join the herd. 
I noticed her in the pasture with the big boys one night as I took the dogs out. Sure enough she was there snuggled next to George. And thats how we realized she needed to be with her boys. Surprisingly enough, the one horse I thought she would get along famously with, Pistol, hates her guts. A horse that I've never seen pin his ears, kick out or stand up against another horse, the entire time I've known him, has been a jack ass towards her. Apparently he has a thing against little mares.
But not George. He loves her. They are almost always together, and they are quite the odd couple. When he goes for a walk, she follows along behind him and vice versa. He also keeps himself between her and the other boys at the feeder, and acts as her body guard. 

I just can't help but giggle every time I see them together. But I am happy they have each other. The original reason we got her was to be a companion to whoever stayed at home when the hubby and I went trail riding. I mean it's cheaper to feed a small horse than another full size horse, amiright? So it makes me happy that she is okay in the pasture with the boys. The other two are actually accepting of her now too, so it makes it easier on her now that her lover is gone. But I do think she is a bit sad that George is gone. But soon enough he will be home.

Monday, April 14, 2014

off to school.

Saturday was the big day for Geroge-ous. Apparently he knew something was up, and decided to play catch me if you can in the pasture. When he saw us hook up the trailer, I just knew there was going to be trouble. All of the monsters thought it meant they had to go to work, and didn't want to be caught. So about 5-10 minutes of walking around in circles, I was able to catch him when he decided he needed to poop. Caught you sucker!
Next up trailer loading. If any of you remember, last fall my husband worked all afternoon on training George to basically self load. Point at the trailer, and George would hop on up. Apparently winter was too long, and he forgot how to get into the trailer. A few more minutes of shenanigans and then he was loaded into the trailer. Screaming and crying to his buddies that were left at home. In hopes that maybe they would come rescue him. Nope. Sorry buddy, you are going to school!
We had to stop at the vet clinic to pick up a health certificate for him. In the 16 miles from home to the clinic, he managed to work himself up into a sweaty, fire breathing beast. When we unloaded him he was a mess, but the vet did his thing, and after a quick 10 minute visit with the vet, it was time to get him back into the trailer, which apparently, he had forgotten how to load again. a few more shenanigans, and we were loaded and on the road again.
Once we arrived at the trainer, i hopped out and went to find her while hubby unloaded the beast. He had calmed down and wasn't so sweaty this time. But he looked like a hag. I had him cleaned up the day before, but from the time I went to go get a light nylon sheet to put on him, to prevent him from getting dirty again, he found a nice mud pit to roll in. At that point I'd given up. It's spring in North Dakota. All horses are pretty disgusting, whatever. He will be fine. We brought him into the barn, and tucked him into a stall. Once in his stall he exhibited some behaviors I've never seen him do before. He started eating the wood wall of the stall, and then he started weaving and then he bobbed his head around. Once we gave him some hay, he settled right down. I'd seen those behaviors at the race track, but usually not all by the same horse. But anything George does, doesn't really surprise me. He is one of a kind.
I went over everything with the trainer, and filled out some paperwork. My husband told me that I kind of made George sound like a monster to the trainer and assistant barn manager. I went into detail about how when feeding him, you need to keep a sharp eye on him, as he can get aggressive, and to keep an eye on him in the stall because he might come after you. When grooming keep one eye on his mouth, it might come after you if he gets upset. Basically don't turn your back on him because he will try to eat you. Now was I grossly over exaggerating... yes. But I just don't want to get a call, text or email saying "your horse bit 'so and so' today! Why didn't you tell us he was like that?!" He's not as bad as I make him out to be. I mean he has his moments, but I haven't had any problems with him in a really long time. His connections at the track have told me that if he doesn't trust someone, he will be a holy terror to them as he can be a bully.
So hopefully his time at the trainer, he will learn all kinds of things. I'm not sure how long we are keeping him there, and we were going to play it by ear. I am hoping to hear today about how he was for her. Fingers crossed that he has been on his best behavior. I haven't gotten any calls saying 'get him the hell off this property' so I mean thats a good sign right?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

back to school, back to school.

I made the arrangements. George is going to the trainer on Saturday. Not sure how long he is going to be staying at said trainer as we are going to play it by ear. The trainer mostly works with Off Track TBs so I thinking this will be a good place for him. I told her all about George, and she is actually excited to meet him.
I had wanted to send George to the trainer last year. But the timing never seemed right. And the handful of times I actually rode him, he was fine. Clearly, Sunday’s incident was all rider error. I was able to stay on even after losing both of my stirrups, and through his bucking, dancing, cantering whatever the f he was doing, but I chose to bail because I was freaking out. Which clearly isn’t something that you should do. But I did it anyways, even though I knew better.  Generally that first ride of the year is not a good one for me. I wish I could have put my first ride on Pistol, but he’s been pretty wheezy since the weather warmed back up. I didn’t want to ride down the road. I wanted to putz around the yard or pasture to get my nerves worked out, and get the horses spring wiggles out. But we made the decision to go down the road. It started out well enough, but Duke started acting up, like he does, and then that threw gas on George’s fire to be a racehorse again. Last fall Duke acted up like he does (in almost the exact same spot), and George was fine. He was borderline perfect. When I stopped him so Duke could get over his demons, George just stood there like a statue. But it is spring. I hate spring riding. I shouldn’t have been out there.
With all of that being said, it really must sound like I don’t ever like to ride. That is completely false. I love riding. But I am one of those types of people that prefers working in the arena. I love taking lessons. I love showing (but hate grooming so showing isn’t really in the stars for me). I love clinics. But I am not a huge fan of trail riding. I do it because that is what people from around here do. I do enjoy it from time to time, but I do get nervous because my brain plays out so many scenarios of things that can go wrong.  If I’m on the right horse like Pistol or Piney (god I miss that horse) I can feel pretty comfortable out on the trail. But given an unfamiliar horse, it’s not so easy for my brain to shut down and enjoy the ride. I really need to go to one of those fear clinics I think. Yep, I will be looking to that.
I am feeling pretty crappy that I am sending George to the trainer. I feel like I am taking the easy way out. But I need to remind myself, that lots of people send their horses to the trainer. Or have a trainer that comes and works with their horses. With Piney I was boarding so I had access to trainers, lessons, an arena, and a whole slew of people to ride with and help me. Now I am basically on my own. I’m lucky that my first few rides on George went so smoothly considering we were basically just out there in the open on him. So I really need to stop being so damn hard on myself for sending him to a trainer. I don’t have the tools needed to train him and if anything I am just going to ruin him.

Ugh, my brain is awfully mean to me.  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

They say the hardest part about riding..

Is the ground. And they are absolutely correct. Broke my no fall streak today. And decided to make it a whammy of a fall.
The weather was beautiful, so hubby and I saddled up. It was the first ride of the year, and George was acting a bit fresh before I got him saddled up. We got on and headed down the road, everything was great, until hubby's horse was acting like his normal idiot self and started dancing and spinning. George lost it and started doing this weird canter bucking thing. (Ps when he was just cantering...he was super smooth!) and I stayed on as long as I could, even after I lost my stirrups, but I just couldn't stay on anymore and bailed off. Thank God I decided at the last minute to put on my helmet, but I wish I would have put my crash vest on. 
I'm waiting for the results of my  chest and knee X-rays. I really banged up my knee, and it's kinda hard to breath. Super fun. I feel like such an idiot for bailing off, but seriously, I felt like if I was to pull him back, he would have gone over on me. Probably not the case at all, but at the time that is where my brain was going.

Side note, George is going to a trainer next week!