Monday, October 13, 2008


I wanted to place to journal my thoughts about training my horse beasties, and I decided that Myspace wasn't good for it. Most of my friends are bored to tears the moment I mention my horses. I don't know what that thing is that separates horse people from non-horse people, but it's really something. I know for myself I was obessessed with horses as soon as I was old enough to know what one was. My early bedrooms were covered with My Little Ponies and Barbie horses. I played horses with my best friend, Katie, and we would run down our streets neighing and galloping with each other. I wonder sometimes if wherever she is, Katie still dreams about soft noses and smooth muscles and that glorious smell all horse people know and love. Admit it, even if you hate it you also love it because it means there are horses somewhere close...

First let me take a minute to introduce myself and said beasties. My name is Anna. I'm a 32 year old mother of three boys ages 12, 8 and almost 3. I'm married and work a full time job in Human Resources so my riding time is limited but precious. The boys have shown more interest in the horses than I ever expected, although, some days friends are far more exciting than hanging at the barn. I had owned horses from the time I was about 12 until we bought our first house around 6 years ago. At that time I felt I had to make a decision between my new family, and house and paying board for my TB (Cody) that I honestly didn't have time to ride or enough money to care for as well as I wanted. He was healthy and a nice show horse (schooling jumpers) but not getting any attention so with the help and counsel of my trainer I decided it was time to sell him. I still wish I hadn't. I still think I owed him more than I was able to give him at the time but he went to a good home that he lived at until recently. Eventually, he was retired out in a pasture where I was able to drive by and check on him at times and my old trainer checked on him regularly but he just recently disappeared and I'm too afraid to stop and ask. My life, in the meantime, changed dramatically. I got a better job that pays well and I have more flexibility in my schedule. I also received a small inheritance to ensure I have some savings for my horse dreams. I realized that my new husband is the most wonderful and supportive man I could have hoped for, and he puts up with my long hours away from home with more grace than I know how to thank him for.

So, about six months ago I realized that I wasn't happy with a few things in my life. I no longer had anything I was passionate about. I was starting to do that thing where I only thought of myself as someone else's employee, wife or mother. I can't remember a time I didn't dream about riding, training, showing and caring for horses. I had always wanted to teach people to ride. I discussed it with my husband nervously. His mother owned horses so he is well aware of the amount of time they take. I was worried he would think he'd come second which is kind of how I think he felt as a kid with his mom sometimes. To my surprise he was more open to the idea than I thought he would be. He wants more than anything for me to be happy and to realize my dreams. So, I was off with a budget to buy a horse and a trailer. Yay!

I should now also mention my sister, Kim. She is not actually my sister but close enough to the real thing that it doesn't matter. My current profile pic includes her and it's fitting. We spend alot of time together. My dad and her mom started dating when she was 14 and I was 18. I had just gotten my TB as a four year old with about 90 days training when I met Kim. When I found out about a year later than I was pregnant (and single) I asked Kim to start helping me with Cody since I was out of comission. I taught her to ride English and how to deal with my very kooky horse. She's never worked with another trainer, but I think she's gotten quite good and she's brave as hell. Recently when I decided to get back into horses I asked her if she would help me again because with such a large family I knew I was going to need the assistance and motivation.

I board my three new horses at a smaller self-care family barn (yes, one turned into three somehow but we're making it work). I'm actually really happy I found this barn when I decided to start riding again. I work about 20 hours a month to cover some of my board and the people there are wonderful. I'm not missing the big show barn we were at before like I thought I would. I've been surprised at the horse market since I started back. I'm happy to be able to take advantage of the economy but so sad for all the suffering I've seen along the way to obtaining the three horses we ended up with. I personally helped take down a horse hoarder and I'll have to relate that story sometime, but I'll do it another day.

The horses and their stories:

Tax - Or Artaxman, was the first of the group. He's a son of the racehorse, Artax, who was pretty well known. He's 5, about 16.2 hands and dapple gray with a pure white mane and tail. Tax raced a couple of years and had, from what I can tell, a pretty typical claiming race career. I don't know much else about him other than I can tell he has a well healed quarter crack in one of his hooves. Maybe it ended his former career. If so, I'm glad that's all it was. He's a pretty typical TB...a bit steep in the shoulder, but hopefully nothing that will keep him from being a successful schooling jumper. I don't think he's ever going to be a grand prix horse, but he's sweet and beautiful and likes to jump. He was bought by a Mexican dressage trainer who'd worked at a hacienda when he was younger with some of the Haute Ecole instructors. He had a much softer style than many of the trainers I've met from Mexico and I respected his way with his animals. He had some wonderful AQHA reining horses and a couple of TB's he's bought from the track. He was working on their ground work and one of the other's he was working with could even Piaffe on the long reins. I wish I knew how to teach that stuff, but I don't ground drive well. Anyway, I chose Tax because he seemed to have a good mind and wasn't as explosive or athletic as the piaffe horse. I wanted to easy back into things. When I got Tax home I realized he's only ever been worked 1. at the track and 2. in a round pen. Also, he had no idea how to canter. It's all walk, trot and gallop like the demons from hell are chasing you with him. More updates on how far we've come later.

Promise - Or possibly Golden Rule if we ever get to show him. He's a super cute 14.3 hand, grade palomino paint. Kim's convinced he might have some Mustang blood. My sister and I had been working Tax together when we decided we might like another horse so we could do some trail riding together. I wanted something maybe the kids could show at some open shows. After seeing many horses in some of the most disgusting situations you can imagine we found Promise. He was owned by some old guys who obviously didn't give a hoot about him. They didn't even know his name. The barn was filthy. There were rope burns on his legs from when they were training him to get use to their ropes. He was so cute we couldn't leave him. He's great when you're on him. He doesn't spook and he's steady with nice movement. On the ground it's another matter. He's a worrier and pretty sure you're about to beat him if you move near him at all. We're working on helping him realize that we're nice and we're fair. There may be consequences but they aren't going to be life shattering, and only when you don't go with the program. We did discover he has a minor rotation of his coffin bone (1 mm) and he's cresty so I thought he may have EMS but after bloodwork he seems to be fine. He's been nothing but sound since we got him so hopefully it won't be a problem.

December - is also a OTTB but I can't read her tattoo to research her racing history. She's about 16 hands, 12 years old and a dainty flea bitten gray. She showed A level jumpers at Pebble Beach, CA last year and I think she did pretty well. I have a feeling she's a real packer and was owned by a 12 year old girl. Big Name Trainer had her hauled to a show near the end of last season and she got her leg caught on some kind of divider in the trailer. The hauler tried to detatch the divider and when it became unstable and she started thrashing. She basically laid her whole side open. Fortunately the laceration was all skin and no tendons or muscles. When she first did it they thought it was much worse than it ended up being. BNT wanted to put her down and just collect the insurance money but the barn kids all fundraised and had UC Davis patch her up. I got lucky and when the vet released her to go back to work the BNT who already had a new horse for his student with the "loss of use" insurance money decided to sell her cheap. I don't know if she'll go 5 feet or anything now but since I'm terrified of 3 feet I think she'll have a good home. She went dead lame between the time I bought her and the time I picked her up a day later. The BNT trimmed her feet himself to save some money and quicked her. Actually my farrier said that except for being EXTREMELY short it wasn't to bad of a job. At any rate her feet grew, she got new shoes and she's feeling much better. Not off at all now and just wants to canter along in her smooth wonderful canter. I think it seems even smoother when compared to the galloping maniac.

Now that I've practically written a book for my second post, I'm off. Almost barn time. I'll post some updates on how the training has gone with the troops soon.

1 comment:

buckpony said...

Hi, I found your blog through Mugwump Chronicles and just had to write. I, too, am a 30-something year old horse addict and a mother of 3 wonderful children and 3 horses (2 past abuse cases). We share so much in common, it is crazy. I'd love for you to come visit my blog at Pike Road Girl sometime -

I'm just now starting to read your blog; from the very the beginning. Can't wait to get caught up on everything! Hope you don't mind, I added myself as a follower of your blog. Happy riding!