Riding in Adverse Conditions

One of the very first rides that I took King to was called the Thames River Valley Ride. Now, I can be a bit thick sometimes, but really this was not one of my more stellar moments – because it somehow never occurred to me (even given the watery hints in the ride name), that we might have to cross water.

A few miles down the trail, we came around a corner and discovered a rocky creek across the trail. It wasn’t wide, or deep. But the footing was a bit scary looking. I had no clue if King would cross. I asked the woman riding with me if her (older) horse crossed water. She had no idea, but asked him to go forward. But, he refused quite adamantly. So I held my breath and asked King to step forward and look at the water. Luckily, it turned out that King liked water a lot. He had a drink and then picked his way through carefully, but quite confidently. And since that first day, King has always been happy to ford streams, rivers, and wade into lakes. But really that was just sheer luck, and I knew it. He could just as easily been that horse next to us who refused. I felt quite stupid about it, and from then on have tried to expose King to as much as possible at home, so he is not exposed to things for the first time at a competition.

Which brings me to this blog post…

It’s a really good discussion on exposing your horse to the actual conditions you might encounter at a competition, before you get to the competition. Cold, wind, rain, mud, etc.

Patching a Quarter Crack

Ran across this interesting video of a racetrack farrier patching a quarter crack in a hoof. It shows quite a lot of detail. I’ve seen the procedure done, but never quite this close up before.

I ran across it in a blog post about a barefoot endurance horse that had a hole in the hoof, and they applied a slightly modifed version of that patch. Be interesting to see if it holds up on a hoof that has more expansion happening than the shod racehorse.


Flavonoids In The Diet Of Endurance Horses

This looks interesting.

The Inclusion Of Flavonoids In The Diet Of Endurance Horses – Dr Greg Clark
The health benefits of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables in the human diet have long been established. More recently, however, trials undertaken in New Zealand with endurance horses have revealed a new and exciting role for a particular group of fruit-derived compounds in the training, performance and recovery of competitive horses.

Read the full article….

The Queen of the Universe

Here’s a slideshow of Dressy Gal, my Standardbred mare. Black horses are often difficult to photograph well. But Dressy seems to be a bit more photogenic than most. Maybe it’s because she’s so remarkably shiny all the time. I’d love to take the credit and say it’s all the great care I give her. But really, she always looks like that.

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Wicked Handsome

I figured out a way to post a slideshow from my album of old photos of King. Isn’t he a handsome boy?

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Sky King, posted with vodpod


Jasper at Woodbine

Here’s Jasper, out on the track at Woodbine. He’s the big grey. That’s Lacey next to him. She’s not a small horse (probably 16hh at least), so that should give some sense of Jasper’s size.

Jasper (With Any Luck), the bay next to him is Lacey (Exclusive Romance)

Ex-Racehorses Starve as Charity Fails in Mission to Care for Them – NYTimes.com

Here’s an appalling story…

Ex-Racehorses Starve as Charity Fails in Mission to Care for Them – NYTimes.com.

One of the largest private organizations in the world dedicated to caring for former racehorses has been so slow or delinquent in paying for the upkeep of the more than 1,000 horses under its care that scores have wound up starved and neglected, some fatally, according to interviews and inspection reports….. read more….


Queen Dot

Queen Dot

It’s been pointed out to me that I’ve missed profiling a very important horse. Possibly THE most important horse, depending on your perspective (ie. whether you are or are not Corinne).

Queen Dot raced 56 times between 1990 and 1994. She won 12 races, with 10 seconds, and 7 third place finishes. Total earnings were over $90,000. My boss was her trainer. And her groom was Corinne. Dottie was one of those mildly nutty horses who required a goat (named Natasha) as company. She was (and still is) quite severely claustrophobic, but Corinne loved her dearly despite the neuroses (or possibly because of them). Dottie was claimed by a big thoroughbred breeder in her last race and sent to be a broodmare. Which I have no doubt broke Corinne’s heart.

Many years later, when Dot was retired from broodmare duty, Corinne bought her for a dollar and brought her to the farm to retire her. Dot’s only job now is just to be her crazy self. She is, as the boss says “crazy like a fox”. She watches gates like a hawk, and manages to escape with amazing regularity. She goes nowhere… just gallivants around the courtyard, chortling with glee. She gets special treatment at feed time… we never close her stall door. She goes in to eat, then ambles up and down the aisle waiting for the other mares to finish. When I come back to let them all out after breakfast, Dottie inspects my hands and my pockets for interesting tidbits, presents her neck for a scratch, then escorts me to the end of the barn before heading out to get to the hay before the others.

She’s a grey (now white of course), and I have no doubt that back in the day she was a stunner. Especially since she was probably CLEAN, which she works hard now to prevent.  She is still a handsome old mare, and, even at 24, moves like a young horse with quite a good turn of speed when she joins the other mares on their regular romps around the pasture.

She loves mud, like most grey horses (except King!)

Ice, Mud, and Spring Run Off

I’ve been feeling very guilty for not riding much over the last couple of weeks. The footing looked kind of yucky, and I just didn’t feel too motivated. So today I yanked up my bootstraps and took King across the road, figuring that we could just go slow and be careful in any slippery or soggy spots.

Well, yuck. Ugh. And double yuck. The footing is horrible. It alternates between sheets of wet, slippery ice, and bogs of wet, sucking muck. With the additional treat of some pretty deep run-off water washing across the trail in a few spots.

I guess my procrastination was valid. No riding for a few more days. I am really itching to get going with King. He was coming along so well after working through all the snow this winter. I could feel how much stronger he was getting. Now we’re at a total standstill.

I probably ought to get a load of sand put in my round pen, so I could at least do some schooling in there during mud season. Even the footing in there is impossible. The soil around here is heavy clay.

Cat In a Supervisory Position

Dusty... head butting me in the nose

We have a cat at work. Actually we have several. But really, there are barn cats… and then there’s Dusty. He greets me in the morning, squalling at the top of his lungs for his breakfast. He’s louder than the horses. He must be fed first. After breakfast, he trots around after me, keeping a careful eye on everything I do. And yells at me if I get too far ahead of him. I must be kept within view and earshot at all times. He rides the wheelbarrow (as long as the contents are not too icky). Hunts for mice and rats and chipmunks (we have remarkably stupid chipmunks at work… one tried to eat some catfood out of the dish next to Dusty one day. Last thing he ever did.)

When Linda comes to help turn out horses, she sometimes stops at Tim Horton’s for coffee, and a tea for me. Dusty LOVES teatime. We both sit, and Dusty swarms us. He sits on Linda’s head. Purrs while he sticks his nose in her ear (he is sure she likes it despite the squawking). Then he comes over and bonks my nose with his forehead a few times. Then back to Linda again.

While I’m cleaning stalls, Dusty twines around the pitchfork trying to get me to pick him up. If that doesn’t work he reaches up and pats me. “Hello? Human slave? PICK ME UP!”

Dusty... demanding that I pick him up

The funny thing is that Dusty was a stray. He was absolutely terrified of people two years ago. He and his brother Rufus just appeared one day, skulking around in the shadows; skinny, bedraggled, half grown kittens, looking for food. Neither would allow people anywhere near. But they were starving. Eventually Rufus got a bit friendlier, but Dusty not so much.

Then one day Dusty hurt his hind foot. It swelled up and he was obviously hurting. So Linda tried to catch him to get him to the vet. When she got hold of him, he struggled so violently that she had to go to the hospital to treat all the wounds he’d inflicted on her. He was taken to the vet, where they had to amputate one of his toes (they also removed the pesky boy parts while they were at it). When Dusty came home, he had to be quarantined for weeks (the hospital had reported the “animal attack”). So he was kept in the tack room in a big dog crate. By the time he was released from that crate, he’d decided that people were born to serve him. And that he was born to supervise us all. Which he’s been doing ever since.

Dusty... watching me carefully so that I don't get out of his sight