Snorty Horses and a New Camera

I had to go and buy myself a new camera this week. A few weeks ago, when I had my unscheduled dismount from Dressy in the Vivian, I apparently deposited more then just my backside in the shrubbery. I had my little digital camera in my pocket too. And I came home without it. I guess I forgot to zip up the pocket.

The new camera is very small. It is a 16MP still camera and also does HD video. So of course I had to give it a bit of a test run. So here is a video of the horses being turned out into the pasture this afternoon.

And in case you are wondering how I fell off the damn horse…. have a look  She’s the tall, black, snorty one with her tail flagged . I think she needs to be ridden a bit more actually. She is just feeling WAY too good.


New Standardbred… Ares Gold

Here’s a quick photo of the new Standardbred that’s just come in…


Ares will be looking for a good, permanent home in the near future. He is 11 years old. Raced for a couple of years and has been out to pasture for a year or two. He was not broke to harness until he was five, and never really showed any speed. I think he won a little over $4,000 in his career, so he didn’t pay his own way. He’s sound, with very clean legs. His trainer seems to have been quite fond of him, which is why he kept him for a while after retirement.

I don’t know a lot about his personality yet, as he’s just arrived. But I do know that he’s a very friendly guy. It’s tough to get a photo of him because he follows me like a puppy around the round pen.  I’ll start doing some basic ground work with him in the next couple of days to prepare him for backing.

Blooming Foxy

When I was crewing at the ride this past weekend, I happened to look up towards the gate and noticed a beautiful glossy black horse going out on trail. It took me a moment to recognize her. It was my little darling Foxy.

Back when I worked as a Standardbred groom, one of my charges was Foxy Baronessa. She was a pacing filly by Rambaran. Black, dainty, and rather timid. She didn’t have a lot of talent, and as the least experienced groom in the barn, I got the “worst” horses. Always the fillies with no talent. They were sensitive and sort of withdrawn when I got them. So I babied them. And Foxy ADORED being babied. She gave me kisses when I arrived in the morning, and nipped me in a jealous snit if I groomed another horse in front of her stall. She turned into quite a little princess with me, though was always shy of strangers.

Like many Standardbreds, Foxy was remarkably steady-minded. One time, I had her on the cross-ties (rickety ties held together with bits of wire and binder twine) at the barn door. So she was standing with her head and neck outside, and body inside while I hooked up the jog cart. It was winter and there was a lot of snow on the roof. There was a whoosh, and Foxy suddenly reared up about a foot – just a little baby rear – and I looked up to see her head and neck covered in crusty wet snow. The entire roofload of snow had landed on her. She looked pretty concerned. But stood while I brushed the remainder off her. She settled right away, and I jumped on the cart and we headed out for our usual half hour jog. I was totally impressed that a three year old fit racehorse would stand so well in a situation like that.

In harness, she looked completely misplaced. She was only 14.3hh, with an Arab-type head. Pacers are generally fairly unbending, since the pace itself requires that they stiffen/hollow their back muscles, raise their heads and rock from side to side. Foxy definitely paced (and racked… and slow-gaited… and trotted and cantered for that matter), but she also tucked her nose, arched her neck, and flexed around corners. The trainer used to call her “that damned rubber-necked filly”. It got in the way of her racing career, since she would turn her head and neck during a race, but would drift outward anyway. Frustrated her drivers no end.

Anyhow, Foxy washed out as a racehorse and I got the okay to try to market her as a riding horse. I’d had the perfect person in mind for Foxy for months before that. A longtime rider who had been in a serious accident that shattered her ankle. She was told never to ride again, and had to give up riding her lovely but spooky Arab mare. She was still determined to ride though. This is someone who is very soft and gentle with her horses. Possibly even too gentle for some horses. Perfect for Foxy though. If there was ever a horse who needed to be adored, it was Foxy.

First though, I figured I’d better back the filly. So I brought my tack from home and worked with her. She was a bit alarmed when I stood up on a bucket beside her, but otherwise was very accommodating. I had someone lead her up and down the barn aisle (long barn… 40 stalls or so) with me on her back. Then I rode her by myself up and down the barn. She felt like a dressage horse. Tucked herself into a frame. Bent beautifully at the end of the barn. Stayed quiet and balanced. Soft as butter.

Her destiny came to see her later that day. Watched her do her dressage pony routine. And fell in love with her, thank goodness. Foxy has blossomed in her new career. She’s gotten a little taller. Filled out. Developed some presence.

Because of her ankle, her owner can’t ride as far or as fast as she used to. But Foxy takes good care of her and carried her to her 3000 mile award. Foxy only has a little over 150 miles. But they have been important miles.

Foxy’s mileage page

Here’s a photo of Foxy from a couple of years ago…

You Have to Take Care of Yourself Too… Not Just Your Horse

I spent the day yesterday pit crewing Misha and Diego in their second fifty. It was HOT out there. That horse looked awesome all day. Even while Misha was threatening to make dogfood out of him after he bucked her off on her tailbone. They rode with Emma and Zillary all day, and finished together in 5th and 6th place.

Shortly afterwards, Misha started throwing up. Sunstroke and dehydration, not to mention pain from the bruised tailbone. She threw up all the way home in the truck, and I drove her home from there in her car so her husband could take her into the hospital (she was adamant that she had to go to the hospital where her Dad works). She was admitted last night so they could get IV fluids into her.

Diego looked like he hadn’t done a thing after the ride was done. He actually looked reasonably cool all day. And he still looks like he hasn’t done a thing. It topped out at 35C yesterday, with a baking sun. Maximum humidity was 94. Dressy would’ve dropped in her tracks out there, and King wouldn’t have been a whole lot better I suspect. So it’s good I didn’t decide to ride.


Helmet cam of Jefferson Forest Ride

Put together a new helmet cam video. This is King and I in the Jefferson Forest on Saturday.

We had a lovely ride, and he was very forward and free-moving. We did 13 miles and he was moving well for the entire ride. The last minute or two of the video is towards the end of the ride, and he was still cruising along happily.

The next day though, we had another muscle cramping incident. So he’s not sorted out quite yet.





Harold Won!

Our big crazy chestnut boy won today. Handy Harold in the 10th race at Woodbine. Here’s the video replay:

He was obnoxious before he went over to the paddock from what I hear. Bucking and rearing in his stall. Trying to kick the walls down. Full of his own magnificence.

And the horse that ran third is my old pal Sammy (aka Stolonboy). Also a crazy chestnut. Sammy is the horse who liked to throw his jolly ball at hotwalkers and at baby horses (two year olds new to the track) to see them spook.


Gotta Love a Smart Horse

King felt really good today. We did a short six mile ride around the home trails, and he was strong and forward the whole time. Much more like his old self.

And I have to say, sometimes I really REALLY appreciate my horse. While King can be quite an obnoxious demon when it strikes his fancy, he is unusually reliable in a crisis. Today, I made a major navigation error. Going into an overgrown forest trail from an open field, I had my sunglasses on, and didn’t see that I was going into the wrong spot. There was an old page wire fence falling down, and we walked straight into it. King fell right down on his face, and had both front legs caught up in it. He jumped up, with me yelling “WHOA! Stand!”. And bless his soul…. he stood. I kept repeating myself, and he cocked his head sideways and looked down at the fence while carefully extracting one foot at a time. Then he took one step back from the wire and stood waiting for me to tell him what to do next. We backed up and carefully turned back to the field. I had a quick look and saw a number of very small cuts, but nothing that looked too dangerous. His sweat must have made them all sting though, because he kept stopping all the way home to rub at them with his nose. And he sure enjoyed his bath when we got back. I think it must have felt good to get the salt washed out of the cuts. He looks fine. None of the cuts are punctures. Just shallow cuts that had pretty much stopped bleeding withing a couple of minutes. And I don’t see any swelling coming up so far.

I love a smart horse. And I especially love MY smart horse! Too bad I’m not as smart as he is 🙂





Long Slow Ride

I took King out today for a long slow ride. I was feeling pretty down actually. There’s been another death in my family. This one was an accident… lightning strike. So the news was quite a shock. It felt sort of weird to go out riding. But at least it was a good way to be alone with my thoughts for a while.

We went down to the Jefferson Forest and poked around those trails for a while. And on the way back I did a little exploring to find some trail that kept us off the roadside for about a quarter mile. I really hate riding along the road. It’s so close to Toronto, and the drivers are all so clueless about horses. Sometimes big truck mirrors go whipping past about a foot from my shoulder. All it would take is for a bird to flap up in front of him, or a bit of garbage to spook him, and I could have a very close encounter with either the mirror or the whole damn truck. So the less I’m on roads the better I like it.

We did a little over 12 miles. He didn’t have any cramps, though we did go slow. But I’m cautiously hopeful that he’s improving.


Tales of Glory

All three foals have attached themselves to Twister (Reno’s foster uncle) at this point. The two broodmares have abandoned their children to him and spend a lot of time off grazing on their own. Esmerelda likes to nibble at his withers, while Al and Reno scamper around him playing. Reno sometimes gets a bit anxious when he can’t even get to Twister because Al and Esmerelda are in the way.

The farrier came today, and Reno had his feet trimmed for the first time. Twister came over to check things out… “Here now… what are you doing to that kid? Don’t be hurting my boy!”

Linda says she overheard Twister telling them stories of his past glory. Yesterday he was Napoleon’s favorite charger. Committing acts of heroism on the battlefield, and then being cheered by adoring crowds lining the streets in his victory march. Today he told them that he had won the Triple Crown. As a three year old AND as a four year old. All the kids listened wide-eyed and credulous “REALLY Uncle Twister? You are so AMAZING! We think you are the coolest guy ever”. Twister nods and humbly agrees “Indeed. Very true.” Linda says that as long as the kids are entertained… who is she to contradict his tales of glory?

Standardbred Coming In for Adoption

I don’t have a lot of information yet. But I just had a call about a 10 year old Standardbred gelding who is coming off the track. He’ll be arriving here in the next couple of weeks. All I can say so far is that he’s tall (16+hh), black, and very quiet. He’ll be looking for a riding horse home. I will back him once he gets here, so he will have extremely basic training. However, like all off-track Standardbreds he will be well broke to drive and should be very easy to transition into a riding horse. Standardbreds are typically steady, willing, and amiable.

If anyone is interested and could offer a good, permanent home, email me at Even if this is not the right horse for you… I get Standardbreds off the track fairly regularly whose owners do not want to send them to auction or to be buggy horses and would like them to have nice homes after racing.

*Update: He’s arriving Thursday or Friday. And the location is southern Ontario. Just north of Toronto. I have a truck and trailer, and could deliver him within a couple of hundred kilometers.