Handy Harold Won!

Handy Harold, our big crazy chestnut won his race in style today. From last to first in a 1 1/8 mile race at Woodbine. Here is the video replay…


Harry is out of our big handsome mare, Annie. She was euthanized last summer after having foundered a couple of years earlier. She was a fast but crazy racehorse herself, and a better broodmare even than she was a racehorse. She had a miscarriage with one of her pregnancies and went septic which is what caused the founder. We babied her along for a few years, but last summer the coffin bone dropped through her sole again and we had to let her go.

Because we had a horse racing tonight, Linda and I did the evening feed. The last couple of nights, when the boss was bringing in Al (Bernice’s foal who was weaned a week and a half ago), there were some chaotic moments. One night I watched, trying not to laugh hysterically, as Big Al towed the boss (who is taller than a jockey… but not by a lot) so fast that he looked like he was taking giant moon steps. And last night, Al escaped completely and went cavorting wildly around the courtyard with his little baby tail flipped over his back. Linda was here for that display. Sadly, I missed it. Anyway, we were a bit concerned that Al might repeat that performance tonight. So I put his little lead rope on him and had a few words with him before we went out the gate. And kept his little head cranked around in front of me with an elbow braced into the side of his neck. He did walk all the way to the arena reasonably politely. Though I definitely was using a bit of leverage to maintain his position. I don’t think we were halfway to the arena before I realized that Linda was already chortling with victory. She was planning out the text message she was going to send down to the crew at the track about how “the girls” had no trouble at all with the little hellion colt that the boss can’t hold on to. I am pretty sure that he is going to endure a bit of good-natured ribbing in the morning. Certainly Linda will be taking no pity on him.

Al (also a big, crazy, chestnut) reminds me a great deal of big crazy Harry. Which will be no bad thing as long as he can run like Harry too!


Little Boys, Big Boys, Playing in the Field

This morning at work, we put the yearling boys in with the two year old boys in order to make room for the upcoming weaning event with this year’s babies. So I took a few pictures of the joyful chaos.

Freeman and Winchester are our yearlings. Freeman is a bay with crooked (though noticeably less crooked lately) legs and lovely floating movement. Hopefully the movement will make up for the crookedness. Winchester is a gorgeous chestnut with a narrow blaze. He’s going to be a looker… like his mama.

Monster and William are the two year olds. They are both bays. Monster is a “plain” bay. Though plain is not the word that comes to mind looking at him. He’s a beauty. A very very tall beauty. 16.2hh at the withers. 16.3hh behind. William is somewhere between 15.2 and 16hh I imagine. He’s very nicely built, but has a bit of his mama’s head. Which is… well a bit oddly shaped. Some call it… “exotic”. But I kinda think it’s just… bumpy 🙂  Never mind though, if he can move like his mama. And at the speed his mama moved on the track… He’ll be quite sufficiently beautiful 🙂

Vegas Ran Yesterday

Vegas had a good race yesterday in the first at Woodbine. A mile and a sixteenth Maiden Allowance. He led all the way, looking really strong but faded a bit at the end and was caught.  Vegas was Freckles’ colt by Pleasant Tap. A year younger than Parker. So another of Reno’s (the orphan) older brothers.

He’s got a totally different personality from Parker. Vegas saunters into the paddock at Woodbine and ambles around looking at the people. Wondering if any of them have snacks. He’s big and kind of lazy. Looks like a big old police horse, not a racehorse. But he’s powerful and very hard to hold once he’s on the track.


Parker Raced Well Last Night

Parker raced last night at Woodbine. He had a very good race and finished third. There was a massive thunderstorm while he was in the paddock and he ended up walking for a very long time before they finally went to the post. Since he is not the most patient of horses, he did amazingly well. Though he did leap around a bit when some of the worst booms went off. Here’s his race (his name is Danish Spirit).


Vegas Raced The Other Night

Vegas is Reno’s big brother (by Pleasant Tap). He’s a big goof, and has taken a long time to mature. He’s raced a couple of times before, but never seemed to figure out what his job was. So although he didn’t win this race, everyone was very very happy with him. He placed a good strong third.


After the race, he pulled up and started looking around in a bit of a panic, ears flipping around madly… “where’s my people? I don’t see any of my people here!” When Harri (his groom, who Vegas adores) called out to him, he heaved a great sigh of relief “Thank GOD you’re here Harri! I ran very far and very fast and I thought I was lost!”



Parker WON!!

Well FINALLY! Parker (Danish Spirit) won. This is his first win. Here’s the video replay….


Parker is out of the lovely mare we lost earlier this year, Freckles. Which makes him Reno’s (the orphan foal) older brother. And he’s the most like her in personality. Sweet, kind, and very high energy. He also has her beautiful face. Although he’s a bright flashy chestnut with a flaxen mane and tail and Freck was a bay.



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…

Simply Hilarious

Here is some video of Oliver (Simply Hilarious). He’s one of our ex-racehorses. By Crown Attorney, and out of our stakes-placed mare Exclusive Affair.


He came off the track a couple of years ago, and was for sale for a long time. No one even came to look at him, much less buy him. He’s a smart, brave, athletic horse. Very sane. And perfectly sound.

So I twisted my dressage coach’s arm to get her to take him. She’s been working with him for a couple of months now, and I think he’s looking terrific. So if anyone is looking for a classy TB as a jumper or a three-day event prospect, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with her.

Oliver’s older brother, Casey Cobalt (also out of Exclusive) is doing very well as a competitive dressage horse.

Let’s Be Friends

Reno and Twister are now being turned out with Bernice and Al. Bernice is something of an obsessive mama mare, so it’s been very stressful for her. She is spending all her time trying to control Al’s desire to be friends with Reno. Al is NOT a co-operative child (I call him the Demon Spawn – he makes Reno look like an angel). And Reno is completely fascinated with Al. He slips sideways, sort of crab-like towards Al, all the while trying to look innocent and not attract Bernice’s attention. Once she notices him, she tries to get in between them and herd Al away, while making faces at Reno, who makes baby faces (opening his mouth and sort of flapping it at her – it’s a submissive baby gesture.. as in “please don’t kill me, I’m just a cute little baby!”) but only moves a few steps away before starting the sneak approach again. So obviously Bernice is failing to intimidate Reno as much as she’d like.

Photos by sky king’s girl

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2011-06-06, posted with vodpod

And speaking of not intimidating… Twister has shown some remarkable grit in dealing with Bernice’s craziness. He is very obsessive about food (the boss has dubbed him “that gluttonous little bastard”), so he grazes obliviously in the midst of Bernice’s posturing. She tried very hard to intimidate him in the beginning, but Twister just continued to eat and ignored her pinned ears and threatening hind end. Just carried on chewing. Eventually though, he got tired of it all and marched over to Bernice and Al in the corner of the paddock. She spun around, trying to protect her kid, and Twister just stood and stared her down “Listen lady… I have no interest in your kid. I want to eat my grass. How about you leave me alone, and I’ll leave YOU alone?” Bernice finally just stopped threatening, and Twister ambled away to his patch of grass, satisfied that his point had been made. A day or two later, he was over by the gate, having a drink of water. Linda was standing there watching. Bernice was grazing some distance away, and Al decided to run over to Twister. She panicked and tore after him at top speed, just barely intercepting him at the very last moment. Linda, of course, was very concerned about the little black (borrowed!) horse with the freight train bearing down upon him. However, Twister, unaware of WHY Bernice was charging at him like an enraged bull, had reached his breaking point. He screamed like a stallion, pinned his ears flat, and double barrelled Bernice right in the rib cage. Loud enough that Linda could hear it echo. Then he double barrelled her again, just to make sure she got the point… “All I have is ONE simple rule Lady!!!” Linda saw it close up, but still couldn’t believe her eyes. She has stopped worrying about Twister at all now. He can definitely hold his own and then some. Reno saw all the excitement, and came right over to investigate. Then he saw Linda with the bottles, and squeezed right in between him and the gate to have his snack. Twister didn’t turn a hair. Just finished having his drink of water.

Since then, Reno has discovered that there is a safe zone near Twister. If Bernice chases him, he can scamper back to Twister and Bernice will NOT follow into range of Twister. It’s quite funny really. Twister is little (14.3hh), and has always been quite amiable and non-confrontational with other horses. And Bernice is perhaps 16.2? She comes from an entire family of bossy dominant sisters, and Bernice is quite a strong minded mare. Hard to believe Twister faced her down successfully.