Monday, January 28, 2013

Home Sweet Home

I'm happy to report that the move went off without a hitch on Saturday. Kwik walked right onto the trailer, traveled well, and walked right off- no problems. The barn owner, L, led us to his temporary paddock (no friends just yet), and he walked right in, sniffed the water trough, took a bite of hay, and proceeded to roll- both sides!

I went out on Sunday planning to work Kwik in the round pen and then have a short flat school in the arena. As I was finishing up in the round pen, 3 of the gals were headed out onto the trails, and they asked if I wanted to join them. We rode for about an hour, and Kwik walked right over the bridges and through the water crossings like he had been there a million times, and we had a great time getting to know some of the boarders and their horses. I've got another trail ride scheduled for Saturday afternoon and a dressage lesson with P on Sunday morning. So far, I'm absolutely loving our new home, and I'm pretty sure Kwik does too!

New Friends!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

RRTP: 100 Day Challenge

 Have you all been keeping up with the Retired Racehorse Training Project 100 Day Challenge? I've been stalking the website daily, eagerly awaiting updates on the four "contestants." Declan's Moon, Gunport, Suave Jazz, and Alluring Punch, representing four Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred Farms, began their 100-Day training program on December 1 at Steuart Pittman's Dodon Farm Training Center in Dawsonville, MD. The aim of the 100-Day Challenge is to showcase the quality, versatility, and trainability of the Throughbreds produced by America's racing industry. Steuart has done an amazing job documenting each horse's progress, and his training videos are an invaluable insight into the process of retraining retired racers to become riding horses.

All four horses have blown me away with the progress they have made in just only 8 short weeks, but I am pulling for Suave Jazz. This guy may not be as fancy on the outside as the rest of the gang, but he has an amazing mind, and has proven, so far, to be the most trainable of the bunch. Suave Jazz, out of Suave Prospect, was born in Florida in 2003 and raced for 7 years, earning over $600,000. This horse is game for anything, and he reminds me of a certain 9-year-old Florida campaigner ;) Both Kwik and Jazz have Fortunate Prospect as a grandfather, and this is certainly where they both get their great minds and willingness to please.

I'm also really enjoying watching Declan. There are a lot of great references available for retraining OTTBs, but I feel like many of them don't talk about the bumps in the road we're all likely to experience. Declan is sassy, and when asked to move forward off the leg, he protests from time to time with a snarl, a buck, or a kick. It's certainly not sunshine and rainbows all of the time, and it was nice (and helpful!) to see a pro deal with these issues and watch the subsequent improvement.

Starting tomorrow, the horses will be on display at the Maryland Horse World Expo. Steuart says there is no way these guys and gals could possibly know they are ambassadors for their kind, but somehow they just seem to get it. Crossing my fingers for spectacular performances from all four of the kids!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Bring on 2013

I've really enjoyed reading everyone's goals for 2013, and it really got me thinking about what I'd like to accomplish this year with Kwik.

1. My number one goal for this year is to really get to know Kwik and lay the foundation for the bond I hope to create with him in the years to come. I'm definitely smitten, but I haven't spent near as much time with him in the four months I've had him as I'd like. Moving to Ashland will allow me to ride more often, and more importantly, spend quality with him. I can't wait!

2. I want to trail ride! Ashland has over 400 acres of beautiful trails, and I mean to explore every inch of them. By the end of the year, I hope Kwik will be a solid trail horse.

3. I want to be BRAVE. By the end of this year, I don't want to be nervous about cantering and galloping Kwik out in the open. He's never ever given me a reason to be anxious, but my bad experiences with Finn have really shaken my confidence. Trust isn't built over night, and my goal is to really trust Kwik and for him to trust me. I WILL be a completely different rider in 2014.

4. I want to get my dressage on. I met a boarder at Ashland's Christmas party (J) that owns a green OTTB mare. She had nothing but wonderful things to say about her dressage coach, P, and she invited me to watch her lesson the following weekend. I met and chatted with P, told her all about Kwik, and even got to watch her ride! P is a lovely rider, a very effective teacher, and overall just a very nice person. My first lesson is scheduled for February 3, and I'm really looking forward to working with her.

5. Taking a page from Klein and Mocha's mom over at The Jumping Percheron, I want to work our way through Ingrid and Reiner Klimke's Cavaletti: Schooling of Horse and Rider Over Ground Rails. I got the book from Santa for Christmas, and I think this kind of work will do wonders for the both of us.

6. I'll continue with Kwik's training over fences. Each time we jump, I'm amazed that this is all new to him. His honesty and willingness to please are what makes this horse so special. I'm hoping we can accomplish some 2' courses this year and begin schooling some of the small questions on our cross country course.

7. I want to ride in one of Ashland's small schooling shows. A combined test sometime this fall/winter will be our pie in the sky goal for this year.

Let's see how we do!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Interesting Ride

This Saturday I brought my tack out to the barn since I was dying to ride. I wasn't really sure where we'd be able to ride, but I figured I could at least doodle around in the pasture for a bit. After currying off the 200 lbs of mud caked on Kwik, I tacked up, and we walked up to the pasture. There wasn't anywhere really flat enough to lunge him for a bit first, so I just got right on (mistake #1 since he hadn't been ridden in over 2 weeks). There was a lot going on (mistake #2). Someone at the farm next door was making all kinds of noise with a backhoe, cars were whizzing by, the AT&T guy was tinkering with something along the fence line, and evening feeding had begun. Kwik was pretty good walking around initially, but he became a little more concerned about the goings on (probably because I was getting more and more nervous). All of a sudden he bucked 3 or 4 times. I was able to sit it out and bring him back into a walk. I walked him around the top of the pasture a few more times, hopped off, and walked back to the barn. Right before the neighbors began target shooting. Sheesh.

Now this random bucking thing is not new. If he hasn't been worked in a while, he will do a very strange "rocking horse" buck-like maneuver when I first ask for the canter (in either direction). It's not really a defiant "I want to remove you" buck. It's more of a "holy crap I'm really stiff and I need to get my body working right before you ask me to really work" buck. Once I get him under control, put back together, and ask again, he canters along like a perfect gentleman. Because this has happened a few times, I have made a point to lunge or free lunge him in a round pen first before riding after time off. Usually he will buck in each direction (with and without tack) and then settle in. Usually I don't have a problem riding him after lunging, and if I ride him again the same week, we don't have a problem (even without lunging first). I'm not going to worry too much right now since I'm not able to work him consistently in his temporary home. When we move on the 26th, he will go back into regular work, and I'm thinking this may help. Plus, he could really benefit from some chiropractic work, so I'll set that up when he's all settled in.

Even though we had some hiccups, it was fun to sit on my boy again. That, and I managed to stay on! Can't wait to ride for reals in a few weeks!

I swear I wasn't TRYING to buck you off!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

And the move went...

Actually it didn't go at all. I got a call a few days before I was scheduled to move Kwikster, and the BO told me there is a respiratory infection going around the barn. We decided it would be better to wait until the infection cleared out to move Kwik. In the meantime, H moved the horses over to her new barn, and Kwik went along to wait out the snotty noses. I'm not going to lie, I was so bummed! I was excited and anxious to make the move after the holiday, get settled, and get back to work. Oh well, waiting two more weeks is definitely better than exposing Kwik, and I'm so grateful to H for letting us hang around for the time being.

I spent the last week sick in bed and the previous week in Tennessee for Christmas with the family, so yesterday was the first time in two weeks I got to see my boy. I couldn't wait to give him his Christmas presents! I decided to wait on the Danzig Bros halter because Kwik desperately needed a new barn halter. He has a head that is hard to fit- too big for a full size, not quite big enough to fill out an oversize. I found a nice Duratec padded nylon halter from Schneider's on super sale, and I ordered a nice nameplate for it. I was really impressed with the halter, and the nameplate looks great! It's a bit big on him, but I think it will be better than constantly fighting with the smaller size. He also got a new turnout sheet. I decided on the Amigo 600D Hero Lite in Excalibur/Gunmetal/Aqua. He will only have one turnout buddy when we move, so hopefully the 600D will hold up. I think the 81 is a little big on him too, but I was worried the 78 would be too small.

My head is so big because my brain is so big.

No more dress up. Time for peppermints.
Our new temporary digs are very nice, but things are still in progress. Everyone's been so busy getting the new barn up and running that I don't think there has been much riding going on. We don't have an arena yet, and I'm not big on trail riding alone, so we may just do a lot of hand walking, grooming, and lunging until we move. Sigh... maybe I'll work on my photography skills in the meantime- these pics are awful!