Archive for May, 2008
So, it’s been pretty quiet here recently- since the “Oh My God, he’s WAAAY too quiet, this is suspicious!” vetting, there hasn’t been much for us to do. Klondike has had some time to himself, awaiting new shoes (on hinds) and his new home (he will be leaving us soon). And there’s only so many “hey, look how amazing he looks now!” posts I can do. Which leaves me to write a little bit about other awesome CANTER horses.
Allie dragged me, kicking and screaming, to one of the farms where the thoroughbreds convalesce and get into trouble after they’re done racing (and before they are put back to work). It’s sort of like a therapy session- no where else in the known universe are so many beings so excited to see you. They jostle and beg for attention, demanding scratches, love, and things to play with.
First up is Mikey. Mikey is a rock star of a thoroughbred, who broke a sesamoid and went on to win that race. Now, he’s fat and sassy (and looking awfully sound). To the point where the farm managers have put a muzzle on him so that he doesn’t appear to be pregnant with twins.
Mikey is a love, and immediately knows when people are there to see him. He’s also fortunate to be in a turnout group of mostly not CANTER ponies, so he gets all the attention when there are visitors. Last night, he was thinking he was pretty lucky, as there were two of us, one to scratch each side of his neck.
The next field over, however, is a different story. That’s where we meet Truckee and Bid, who are both class clowns and completely convinced they deserve ALL the attention, ALL the time. As soon as they realized we were walking in the field, they made a beeline for us, Truckee (the bay) in the lead.
I’m not sure if they really, really love people, or they’re just bored with standing around stuffing themselves with some of the best grass I’ve ever seen in Maryland, but it seems they are very amused by us, and are perfectly willing to follow us all over the field. In any case, they are particularly fascinated by anything we might have with us- whether it’s a camera, or in this case, a random thing I found on the ground that appears to belong to one of the grazing muzzles. The Thing was promptly removed from my possession so that they could play a game of keep away with it.
In addition to stealing stuff for games, one of Bid’s other favorite activities is simply to make sure he is getting all the available love at all times. See that pretty bay with the blaze (aka “Punch”)? Two seconds earlier, I had been giving him attention. But as soon as Bid realized he was not the center of attention, and there was a camera, he wasted no time in marching over and somehow obtaining the scratching hand for himself. He managed this several times, either trying to deprive his herdmates of scratchins, or simply trying to get more camera time. He’s like an equine Lindsay Lohan (except in better weight, with a more natural looking tan).
I’m pretty sure Truckee and Bid are the biggest Equine clowns I’ve ever seen. I’ve been joking about turning my horse into a trick horse, and starting a Travelling Circus for Not-Entirely-Useful Equines, and I’m pretty sure these guys can do the comedy act. No real training necessary, as all they need are a few props, and a few people to chase around for attention. I’m thinking this can be a HUGE moneymaking opportunity, so investors? Call me.
The other horses seem sort of amused by the antics of the clowns. Not as aggressive about courting attention, they are content to wait their turn, hoping that the clowns will be done monopolozing us soon. Which they’re not, of course- they never are.
I also got to meet for the first time a very sweet horse named Whisper. He is here for some convalescence- a while back he hurt himself pretty badly on the track- a fracture in a hind leg- and through CANTER was adopted to someone who loved him very much. Of course, life has a way of throwing curveballs, and because of a particularly nasty one, Whisper has come back to CANTER.
This guy may be the polar opposite of the two attention hungry fools profiled earlier. He’s a more quiet type- if he were a person, you might say he’s the introspective kid, who is sort of shy but also sort of wants to be in the “in crowd” at the same time. For a while he sort of stood on the fringes, watching the love fest going on, before we went over and started loving on him too.
When you do approach him, he has a very quiet demeanor- he doesn’t beg for attention or demand it, he just stands quietly and enjoys it. He seems very kind, the kind of horse you would run to when you’re having a bad day, because he would just stand with you and let you lean on him (and he may even lean back, just a little).
Though he’s a different color (and breed, ha!), there’s something about him that reminds me of the scene from “The Black Stallion” where the Black is simply standing at the window, looking out at the rain. Everything in that scene has that quiet, composed feel to it- not truly sad, but just introspective.
It might just be that he’s not really integrated with the larger group yet and it’s still a new environment for him, but being around him sort of puts me in that mood too.
It’s pretty fascinating, really, how different and unique each horse is from the other. Whisper might be my favorite right now, just because his mood matched mine, but it’s impossible not to get a great sense of joy from watching the antics of the clowns, too. Some people have said the CANTER horses are really lucky (and in truth, they are. Do you SEE that grass?!?), but I think really we’re the lucky ones, because we get to be around them.
I need to make it a point to get out there more…
I don’t have much to say today really- the vetting apparently went about as expected, but it looks like nothing that won’t be helped by rear shoes and some time to grow better feet.
But there is some amusement to be had, as well. Though I missed the vetting, getting there only after the fact, I was treated to a re-telling, and it makes me giggle like mad to learn the vet was very suspicious of Klondike because he was “too quiet.” While I believe a blood test for “forbidden substances” should be a part of any pre-purchase exam, knowing SuperKid like I do, it just amuses me to no end that a vet would be suspicious he was drugged.
Apparently, five year old Thoroughbreds are supposed to be just a little crazier when there are thunderstorms approaching, and Klondike missed the memo.
In any case, it looks like the redheaded superstar will be on his way to a new home in a few weeks, where his Royal Awesomeness will have the very best of everything, from the sounds of things.
You know what “horseman’s law” is, right?
- The day before the big show, horse loses a shoe, goes lame
- The biggest show of the year, the one you’ve been point chasing for months to get to, is the show where your breeches WILL rip, exposing your entire rear for the world to see. Probably over the first jump of your first class.
- The morning of the big portrait photo shoot, horsie will have obtained several mysterious cuts and bruises
- Your horse may be piaffe-ing his heart out, wonderfully engaged, round, and beautiful- think “tens” on the scoring scale. But the second you say, “hey! look at my awesome horse” he will get a bug up his bum and start bucking just as everyone turns and looks.
I could go on, there are lots of these. It’s just The Way of The Horse, and is something most of us accepted long ago. Why do I bring this up? Because Klondike is getting vetted for a potential new owner this afternoon. A-HA! You know what’s coming next, right?
Purely because he is getting vetted today, he came up a little… um, “off” yesterday. Hinky. Hitch in the old getalong, in the right hind. Fortunately, Potential Buyer seems well acquainted with Horseman’s Law, and is going through with the vetting after being informed. Yay!
Or… not-so-yay… I can’t figure out how I feel. Obviously it will be a big sense of happiness that Kloninator finds his forever home, with someone who thinks he’s awesome and fun and will do right by him forever. But I’m going to miss the little troublemaker. He’s my dude. His happy little smiling face has helped me a lot in recent weeks, when I feel like I’m going to lose my mind over my own awesome pony and his issues.
So last night may have been our last little brief ride. I used a halter and some lead ropes, because he’d just had his teeth done yesterday, and his mouth was probably feeling a little funny. We didn’t do much, only enough to figure out where the hitch is coming from, really, but it was enjoyable anyway. He’s just got such a great attitude about stuff, until it came time to trot on the gravel in front of people, so they could figure out what was up- it only took a couple times of that for him to start getting cranky, but I can’t say I blame him.
Afterwards we did our usual stretch-for-cookies session, and then I gave him a little massage. Note to Potential Buyer: he likes the “percussion” thing, you know, where you bang the edge of your hands up and down the back quickly? Yeah, that feels really, really good, apparently. :)
So Klondike has been gifted with a little time off lately- one of his feet was apparently a little bruised, plus we were busy. Which sounds sort of insane, considering there are three people all vying for saddle time with the Kloninator, but somehow happened anyway. So last night, I took a look around, and seeing as the weather was nice and it had taken a 24 hour break from raining, I thought a nice easy trail mosey was in order.
It was immediately clear that a certain redhead horse was really craving some attention. He came up to me pretty eagerly, and he was super happy about his grooming session- leaning into the curry comb, stretching his top lip out in enjoyment, and at one point nearly falling over in the attempt to help me reach a certain spot on his hip. On the not so great side, the spot he was trying to help me “get” seems to have some hives or something. I don’t think it’s too much of an issue, especially since I have a whole trunk full of various grooming and skin products to choose from, but it has made his skin a little more sensitive than normal in spots.
We saddled up and went out for our mosey… did I mention he’d had some time off? Basically since my last writing. And we went out alone, to boot. So I shouldn’t have been too surprised when he actually spooked at something. Of course, as usual, Klondike’s “dramatic spook” might best be described as a “flinch”- he sort of jumped, and moved his feet up and down a little, but I think he actually only moved a few inches off his path.
We continued on, pretty uneventfully for the most part, and I have to give him credit- he was energetic, happy to be out, and feeling his oats a little, and I was insistent on riding the whole way in half seat without stirrups. I think he associates that with “whee! go!” but really I just wanted to make the most of a short mosey, seeing as I’m getting out of shape (earlier yesterday morning I had done the “sunrise at old hilltop” tour at Pimlico, and got to ride the equicizer. I lasted… I think 45 seconds? Which is sort of pathetic, really, so I decided to do as much as I could to work those thighs any time I might be on a horse. Even if not doing ringwork. I give this new attitude towards riding maybe a week, before I give up. But this is all besides the point). Klondike put up with this remarkably well, although I’m pretty sure he was annoyed at it, thinking, “come on lady, either we’re relaxing and puttering around, or we should be doing something FUN!!!”
As we came out of the woods into a lovely field, he finally told me that he really thought it was time for some fun. Which meant a mad dash for freedom- at a slow trot. Silly SuperKid, this is not how you take off! He came back to the walk pretty quickly, but then decided he really meant it, he wanted to go! So he tried again, but this time at the world’s slowest canter. And then… then… he… (I almost feel like I shouldn’t say this publicly)… I think he bucked. Not the rodeo style buck, but the “whee!!!” kind that horses do when they’re really, really happy when you first turn them out.
Again, I feel like I shouldn’t even say it was a buck- I know, you’re all out there saying, “what are you talking about? I thought he was the awesomest most bombproof trail horse ever?!??” Well, I still think he is- he was just so happy, and it was like he couldn’t resist.
And of course, some of you are wondering why I said “I think” he bucked. And the reason is- it didn’t really feel like anything. But I saw his head go down and his feet come off the ground, so I think he was trying, but it rode kind of like his jumps do, where you don’t really feel anything and don’t get jostled around at all. Even my weak, equicized, jello-legs had no difficulty hanging on. And he was so easy to stop that it really almost doesn’t count.
He’s a killer, that Klondike. There were no further incidents on the way back to the barn, but I’m thinking someone needs more exercise. He so wanted to be exuberant, yet it was so … uneventful when he tried. I kind of had to laugh, he’s just so goofy and silly that I couldn’t help but enjoy it, even when he was being a little bit “bad.” When we were back in the barn for the post ride stretch’n'groom session, he kept giving me the “I’m so cute, give me cookies!” face, and of course I couldn’t resist. He totally has me in his back pocket… if he had pockets, anyway.
Ever since Klondike arrived, we’ve all marvelled at his seemingly bombproof nature. Deer in the forest? No big deal. Flapping sheets of plastic? Not worth worrying about. Jumps, mud, cars, other vehicles, the horse-eating tipped over garbage cans ALL the other horses spook at? All of these things were barely worth the flick of an ear. Klondike was the perfect example of the most steadfast kind of horse there is.
But yesterday, I finally found something he’s not so sure about. Some may not understand why this fills me with glee, but it’s nice to find at least one normal hairy-eyeball equine response… Klondike is so good about most stuff that I can’t help but sometimes regard him as abnormal or super-horselike. With this little chink in his bomproof armor, I’m reminded that he is at heart a pretty normal dude.
So what’s the chink? Flyspray. Now, I’m sure he’s been flysprayed before, and hasn’t had a problem with it- but this may have been the first official flyspraying of the year, and sometimes they forget that they were fine with the flyspray a few months ago- I know my horse does (not just flyspray, but blankets/sheets are always new and terrifying, even when he was totally used to them only a few months before).
Of course, I should mention here that Klondike’s response to stuff he’s not sure about is to tense up, widen his eyes, and try to stare the offending thing down. Like he’s saying to that plastic spray bottle, “dude, I’m way bigger than you, and can crush you!” As the spray actually hits his body, he has the typical “ack, what is that??!?!?” sort of response. None of this is actually bad- he doesn’t freak out, or anything, and I think most horses seem to have that response to spray bottles at some point.
So I finally got my chance to actually get Klondike used to something. My first chance to give reassuring pats and tell him he was such a good booooiee for putting up with something a little frightening. I started by spraying said bottle in the air in front of him. The sound put him on edge but it was no real problem. Then I moved to the lower legs, and moved up. I stopped when I got to a part of his body he was clearly uncomfortable with, and then went back to somewhere he’d already had sprayed. That’s the way I approach a lot of things- spray, clipping, hosing- I like to retreat back to where the horse is comfortable and never take him too far out of his comfort zone.
After a very brief ride, I brought out the bottle again, and got most of his body. He seemed a little upset but never moved, and he was appropriately rewarded for his tolerance of this ghastly procedure. I am sure that over the next few days, he’ll be as bored with flyspray as he is with everything else, because he’s smart like that.
So I went out to visit Klon in the field yesterday (Deirdre has dibs on weekend riding, and he may be sold, so I figured I’d just love on him a little bit).
Giving him a once over, I realized that he’s changed. A lot. There is muscle and fat over his shoulderblades, muscle on his neck, and he is… shiny. Really shiny, actually. Which in part can be attributed to spring shedding, but I also like to think the Ultimate Finish had something to do with it, too. And not only that, but his feet are very different too- his front feet are actually in “front foot” formed shoes, after only one shoeing cycle. The flares on his hind feet are drastically reduced, and his soles are developing some depth and shape.
To contrast, here’s how he looked the first day I hopped on him. Weedy and moth-eaten might be the best description. I know it’s hard to compare the two photographs, since in one he;s tacked up, and in the other he’s grazing, but looking at him in person it’s a pretty amazing transformation. He has a glow about him now, and appears much more balanced and powerful. His movement is more fluid, and he’s got a bit of confidence.
It’s just sort of amazing to me how only a short time of consistency and good grooming (heh) can make such a huge difference. It’s not like he looked bad when he came here, but now he’s starting to look downright… stunning :) If I hadn’t seen the “in between” I’d almost think it was a different horse.
Hmm, it’s been a while since we’ve added anything to Klondike’s blog, and that is largely because we took a trip to Rolex. While we were gone, Deirdre was going to take Kloninator to his Fisher Price My First Horse Show. Unfortunately, Klondike showed his super psychic horse powers by promptly throwing a shoe as soon as he sensed anything was out of the ordinary. He now has been repaired, and will be re-shown to the lovely woman who came to try him last week.
Since I don’t have much to say about SuperKid, having only seen him for about a half hour last night while he got his pedicure (and by the way, his feet look MUCH more normal- he is now wearing actual front-patterned shoes in front, and his hind flares are greatly reduced), I figured I’d say a few things about our trip to Rolex.
Firstly, some thank-yous. In honor of the retirement of Winsome Adante, one of the greatest eventers of all time, SmartPak has made a fantastic donation of supplements to CANTER midatlantic, which is greatly appreciated and has us all very, very excited. They even announced this during “Dan’s” official retirement ceremony in the main ring at the Kentucky Horse Park, right before the show jumping on Sunday. What an awesome company- I’ve sung their praises before, due to excellent products and customer service, but this is seriously fantastic. What a great company!
Also deserving of mention? The lovely Magic Cushion man. Allie stumbled onto this product a while ago and has decided it is the very best thing around for packing abscessed or sore feet. Since they were selling it at Rolex, she figured on picking up a tub, seeing as many of the CANTER horses have been experiencing hoof issues lately and it would be a good thing to have on hand. Upon hearing who the product would be used for, CANTER was gifted a large tub of Magic Cushion- a very, very kind gesture for which we are very grateful. And so, I have to give them a shout out, and say if anyone hasn’t used this stuff yet, it’s totally worth having in the barn. And it even comes in “single serving” pods with the perfect amount to pack one hoof.
As for the event itself, one of the really cool things about going to Rolex is that it is a showcase of what washed-up ex-racehorses are really capable of. Almost every horse in the event is a thoroughbred, several of them origiunally purchased for obscenely low prices, to boot.
To the left, “Neville Bardos,” a flashy little horse who tied for ninth place after all three phases. Fancy and flashy, right? This here beauty was purchased for a whopping $800 after a not so great racing career.
His other horse, “Ying Yang Yo,” from what I hear, has a similar story. Both are now some of the best top level competitors in the sport of eventing.
To the right, is “Brandenburg’s Joshua,” not only an ex-racing thoroughbred, but one originally found on the backside of Charles Town racetrack, the track where CANTER does the majority of horse listings. Joshua came in fourth at Rolex.
So… the main point here is that you can find really, really good things in interesting places. Seeing these horses go made me wonder how many horses that find themselves on CANTER listings might be capable of the same sort of success, given the opportunity. Hopefully, we will have these kinds of success stories to share about horses that went through CANTER’s hands- several “graduates” are certainly working on it, anyway. Till next time…