The broodmares and the fillies at work all live out together with a lovely big run in shelter. But we do bring them in twice a day for meals. This morning when I let them in, some confusion ensued, and Loula went into a stall she doesn’t usually go in. It’s generally Dora’s stall. And Dora doesn’t really share nicely. So Dora started to go in after her. And Loula, alarmed, tried to charge back out at the same time Dora charged in.
Now, in order to picture this, you have to realize that both mares are in foal. And both are ENORMOUS. Not just “in foal” enormous, but fat enormous. Loula always was built like a brick you-know-what. And Dora has been eating like any ten normal horses since she’s been in foal. So she’s working on getting as wide as Loula. Neither mare is due until March or April. But they are like Mack trucks.
I’m not sure how wide that stall door is, but it’s not even close to as wide as those two mares combined. And so they got stuck. Really REALLY stuck. It looked like a cartoon clip… both mares with all four feet scrambling wildly trying to go forward. It probably took a good ten seconds before it occurred to either mare to back up. And even the backing up seemed to produce an audible POP when they finally got unstuck.
Neither mare was hurt, thank goodness. And once I realized that all was well, I burst out laughing. A complete failure of equine dignity….
Today was a very exciting day for me. Jasper had his first start at Woodbine. Jasper is a great big gorgeous grey. A son of Monarchos (Kentucky Derby winner in 2001… Monarchos had the second fastest time in Derby history… Secretariat ran it 2/5 of a second faster in 1973). Jasper’s mama was, of course, the late, lamented Freckles, who is also the dam of Reno (the orphan), Monster (my beloved), Vegas (big friendly doofus), and Parker (who is only second to Monster in my heart). So really all my favorite horses are out of Freckles. And she herself was a lovely, kind, classy mare.
When I first came to work at the farm, Jasper was just a scrawny little yearling. He was on stall rest due to a broken shoulder sustained at seven days old. No foal should ever have to be on stall rest. It’s truly torturous for both the foal and the mare. He was a big, strong, handsome fellow and really would have liked to be galloping around, raising hell. Instead he and his mother were cooped up on limited feed to keep them from getting too energetic (not that it worked so well) for months. Poor Freckles must have been desperately glad to be weaned from him. And in fact, from what I hear, she walked away from him and never looked back, never called, never showed the slightest sign of distress when that big day arrived 🙂
Jasper was always a longshot to become a racehorse at all, with that broken shoulder. He was a longshot to even be sound at all. Linda, his owner, used to say, over and over, “With any luck… he’ll get through this” (as she wrote out cheque after cheque for veterinary bills). So in the end, she named him “With Any Luck”. He recovered perfectly from that injury. Then this year he ended up with EPM and was treated (thank goodness) very quickly with the super expensive stuff (Marquis) and again recovered perfectly. So apparently, Jasper does come with a little bit of luck after all.
Anyway, I spent a lot of time with Jasper as he grew up (and UP… 17+hh now!). More than with the other foals from that year (Paris and Victoria). And did quite a bit of work on his manners, leading skills, longeing, etc. So I have a bit more of a sense of connection to Jasper than to the older racehorses. Which is why I was so excited today to see him run. I went down to Woodbine to watch this afternoon, and dragged along an entire cheering section too (Brooke, Jen, and Misha). As a show of faith, I bet $20 on him to show. As a first time starter, he wasn’t expected to win. And he didn’t. But oh my goodness… he looked fabulous out there!
He is the number 11 horse, so he started from the far outside. He came out of the gate well, and looked strong all the way around. First time starters are generally green and confused about what is happening. But he looked quite steady. If you watch the video, he’s very recognizable as the only grey and with a great big wide white blaze. He ran around 3rd/4th place most of the race, and held onto 3rd place at the finish. A very good beginning to his career. The jockey was quite pleased with him and commented that he’d be happy to ride him again.
If you hear really loud yelling as they cross the finish line, that’s probably all of us jumping up and down and screaming “Go JASPER!!!” in the background. I was so proud of him, I damn near burst into tears (I don’t even want to imagine what sort of ridiculous display I’ll present when Monster finally runs… yikes). And yes, I cashed my ticket for $52 in winnings.
Here he is after the race, looking not even slightly tired. Though he was definitely very VERY hungry…
So the little doofus has been at it again. Reno, the orphan foal that we bottle fed this past spring, has a bad little habit of flipping feed buckets with his nose. He really needs to be fed in a proper feed tub with multiple attachment points. But because he’s been in the arena with the other kids, we’ve been using rubber buckets hung by snaps to screw eyes.
A couple of days ago, in one of his overly enthusiastic flips, he caught his lower eyelid in a bucket snap. In his escape from the snap he ripped quite a good sized gash in the lid. None of us saw it happen, but it was obvious from the blood on the snap and the bucket what he’d done when I found him a few minutes later, eye swimming in blood.
He’s been on antibiotics for a couple of days, and the swelling has come down. The lid seems to be healing well, and the eye was not involved at all. So he’s in no danger of having his sight affected. We are washing the eye off twice a day with warm water and sterile gauze. He is really quite amazingly well behaved about that. He stands politely, with just the occasional mild flinch. He is possibly the most confident, unafraid horse I’ve ever met in my life. I don’t know if that’s all just orphan behaviour, or if he’s also a naturally confident guy. But it did seem, in the few hours before we lost his mama, that he was very confident even then. No sign of shyness or fear. He certainly doesn’t think people could or would ever hurt him.
Here is a photo of his eye today. I couldn’t bring myself to even take a photo of it before. It made me queasy to look at. And I’m not easy to unsettle. It’s looking much less horrible now though.
Our big crazy chestnut won today at Woodbine at a mile and half. Apparently he likes to go long. He looked good doing it too. Cruised along steadily like a big train, and cruised right by them all on the final turn.
Handy Harold is out of the late, lamented Annie (Elusive Affair). She’s the foundered mare that we nursed along for a couple of years after a bad bout of laminitis. She was euthanized last fall. Annie was a big crazy chestnut herself, and Harold has a lot of her mannerisms.
Of our three foals this year, the least well… likeable… has been Al. He’s a big handsome chestnut. But he was pretty much born snapping his little teeth (gums actually I guess) at any exposed skin within range. He has been trying to overpower us all since the first day. He rears, strikes, and bolts with glee at the least opportunity.
He was sort of gawky and awkward initially. But we figured he would come out looking reasonably okay eventually given his colour and size. It’s so hard to know when they are little just how they will turn out. Lately though, Al has been blossoming into quite a stunning looking colt.
Al’s mama is Bernice. She’s possibly the most beautiful mover I have ever seen in my entire life. Bernice can do things that absolutely defy the laws of physics. It’s visually stunning to watch her playing out in the field (which she does quite a bit… even in foal). But it’s sort of frightening to think about actually riding her.
When he was first born I really didn’t see a lot of Bernice in Al. But it’s starting to show now. He’s developing a long, stretchy, floaty way of going that is sometimes a little startling in a weanling. Every morning I think “wow! look at that gorgeous little demon”… just before he tries to run me over.
Lately Al does seem to have figured out that the humans really don’t like to be bitten. So he’s a lot more bearable than he used to be anyway. And he is definitely friendly. Loves to be scratched and is usually the first baby to come and see the people. It’d be nice if he learned to lead though. Rather than rearing up, and bolting off with humans in tow.
Al has grown bigger than either Esmerelda and Reno (who is not an insignificant size himself). Although Reno is absolutely the king of the kids. He’s vastly more confident that either Al or Esmerelda. Strangely… Reno seems to have absorbed some of Twister’s personality. Kind of an obnoxiously obtuse twerp. The other two kids have become quite dependent on Reno to take care of them. They even try to nurse from him on occasion. Much to Reno’s disgust.
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!
There was much pathetic crying at work today. The foals were weaned last night. Twister is in with the three of them in the arena. Al and Esmerelda have been calling to their mothers. Reno is a bit confused by all the chaos (being an orphan already). But he’s is also a little indignant that the other two have been nudging at him to see if he might make a good surrogate milk bar. He thinks that’s very rude and has taken to kicking to defend his honour.
I rode King and Dressy both this afternoon. King was very energetic again today. That makes three days in a row. Which is a hopeful sign. It is likely that he will still have bad days even if the diet does work… at least until the full six months is up. But I’m very cautiously starting to think there might be some actual improvement happening. His muscles feel a bit less tight in his hindquarters too.
Dressy has had a few days off since Seoul’s Corners. Today we did 7 miles at a moderately slow pace. We are working on slow/steady trotting. In the hopes that we can find a gear she can maintain all day. She’s naturally very fast. But she cannot maintain that speed over long distances without blowing herself out.
Her back was sore on Monday. I used King’s aussie saddle at Seoul’s. It’s really not the right fit for her. I can use the Barefoot, but that also gives her some problems (pressure points from the stirrup hangers – she has permanent white hairs from them). So I think for now I’m going to have to resort to alternating saddles again. Until I can find something that does fit her correctly anyway.
I also need to do some work on her feet. I think she has some deep seated thrush still going on. She’s been a bit tender footed lately. And the right front has some raggedy, grungy looking bits. I treated her last week with White Lightning and it looks a little better. But I think maybe that’s why her heels have been growing so fast lately.
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 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 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).