Archive for March, 2008


One of the things I always find interesting with TBs is the canter.  Because in the US, they race counter-clockwise, there is a big assumption made that they are generally stronger on their left lead.  So much so, that if  you ask on any interwebz bulletin board, it’s one of the first things people say about Thoroughbreds: “oh, it’ll be really hard to teach the right lead!”

What most people forget (or don’t know in the first place), is that TBs generally race on both leads.  Right on the straightaways, then switch to left for the turns.  While my experience is somewhat limited, I did ride a fair number of track rejects just starting their reintroduction to work, and out of about a dozen of those, only one actually was better at the left lead.  Most of them wanted to pick up the right, unless you really gunned them into it in a very dramatic way (the kind of thing that would make George Morris faint).

Klondike proves there’s something to my experience.  Deirdre rode him all weekend, and on Saturday decided to try him at the canter.   So, here is videographic evidence that racehorses often actually prefer the right lead:

He did eventually get it right, though:

In addition to giggling and “wheee!”ing around the ring, there was other actual work done as well.  To give him something to think about and focus on, Deirdre made  a little “course” of ground poles, which were crossed at a walk and trot.  Klondike has no problem with this, though occasionally he’d try to jump a ground pole (afterwards looking very pleased with himself).  Apologies for shaky video, my horse was trying to help:

It’s still a fact that Klon needs to get more educated about actually moving off the leg- he just doesn’t seem to understand it.  He gets that a little squeeze means “go,” but he does not necessarily grasp the idea that he can also move sideways from it, or move his shoulders or hips from it.  He’s getting a little better, but needs some work.  I think our next ride will be nothing but “how to move off the leg,” rather than any aerobic type work.

After his ring work, Klon went for a walk with us in the woods, and actually led.  I know, the almost six year old draft cross should have been the one giving the flighty newcomer a lead, but Klon may actually be more reliable/relaxed out in the woods.  🙂


March 30, 2008 at 5:13 pm 3 comments

Feeling the Oats

I came to the realization today that someone is feeling really good. Klondike can be a little nosy, because he knows he’s adorable (I mean really, just look at that face!), and he knows everyone else thinks he’s adorable too. Normally, this state of cuteness results in a certain orange horse receiving all sorts of yummy food items or scratches or attention.

As he’s gotten more brave in the field, pushing the other horses around a little bit and taking up a social position other than “wuss,” he seems to be getting just a little more cheeky around people too. Yesterday when I took the crossties off to put his bridle on, he just started walking. Hey, I’m untied! Let’s go! He’s done that before, but usually uses the freedom to investigate whatever is near him, rather than just start walking away. When I corrected him and made him back up, he seemed almost offended, like he couldn’t imagine what on Earth was wrong with me that I would want to stand still once the ties were released.

Getting on him, I had to crack a smile. It’s very obvious he’s turned a corner, from the “ho hum” sort of relaxed horse to the “la la la I feel goooood!” horse.  A different diet and shoes, apparently, have him feeling like a rock star. The last time I rode, he was pretty worn out after only a few circuits of the ring. Last night? Not so much. There was energy, there was forward, and there was… bad horse behavior?

Of course, it’s all relative. “Bad horse” to Klondike is, “I don’t really want to play, I’m going to… SHAKE MY HEAD! YES, I’m going to SHAKE IT!” So it’s sort of like his version of “resistance” is doing the cha-cha. I can cha-cha, no problem, it’s an easy dance. I learned it in about ten minutes in that “ballroom dance” class in high school (we could choose what we did in gym, and really, ballroom dance seemed a way better option than flag football, seeing as the real football team’s quarterback was in my class and got irritated when we nerds showcased our lack of hand-eye coordination and complete athletic disability).

Once we got past the cha-cha stage of our ride (which basically was just leg, and a “no, we’re not stopping or dancing right now, we’re trotting, thanks”) , I had to laugh at Klondike’s lack of coordination. Riding him in the ring is sort of like riding in a car with an unlicensed teenager. He just has very little concept of cruise control, so he gets a little fast, then he slows waaaay down, in a sort of start-stop fashion that’s very similar to the first time I drove and didn’t have a feel for the gas or brake. He especially likes to slow waaaay down right next to the ingate (well, that’s where the people are, who might pay attention to him!), then start zooming down the long side.

On the plus side, he’s getting much more receptive to the idea of travelling in a straight line, and keeping his shoulders and hips on the same path while circling. Since he’s getting so much better about the straightening of his body (and listening to leg to move over or help align things), I don’t think it will take us long to figure out how to keep a consistent pace- he’s nothing if not very smart. Kind of a stinker sometimes, but smart.

March 28, 2008 at 8:33 am 1 comment

Poo Happens

This is a cross-post from my own personal blog, but it involves the cutest of Kids, Mr. Klondike.

Yesterday my own horse Tuck had a minor choke episode, and I ran out to the field to give him some IV medication and hang out until he felt better. Running made me tired, and so did digging around in poor Tucks neck for his giant Jugular vein with a tiny needle (is his skin made of plastic??)…so I laid down right there in the pasture.
Laying down, or doing anything “unusual” in a field of horses can have some funny reactions from the residents.

Tuck was confused at first.

and walked around to get a better look

Soon the other horses in the pasture were interested in what was happening–(click for video)

Here is Klondike with his terrible haircut that yours truly gave him. I’d call him a very “Social” animal….he likes to get close:


Really, really, Really…..Close.

Extra, Super, Fantasti-duper Close….

He also thought that shoes and legs in the air were worth investigating.

But just barely interesting….

Remember kids, I’m laying down here. I hear my faithful readers saying “Hey, is laying down among horse feet safe?” And the answer is no. No it is not. But you see, I live on the edge, people. You cannot stop this train. Fear does not exist in my world. I am FEARLESS in the face of horse feet.
Ok, so none of that is true. I just thought it was funny watching the horses watching me. And you know, funny trumps dangerous every time.

You know what it does not trump? It does not trump Poo in the hair.

Sometimes Poo just happens.

*sidenote, as Kelly mentioned, Klondike got his shoes on, so he’s ready to rock and roll!

March 28, 2008 at 8:14 am Leave a comment

A Guided tour of… feet!

So, to continue from last time, I have some lovely photographs of Klondike’s feet to share.  Not all of them, unfortunately my camera was running out of steam, but a couple to get across the general idea of what I mentioned the last time.

foot1.jpgHere we have the view of the bottom of Klondike’s left front.  It’s probably the most special of his feet, for several reasons.  One, note that the tip of the foot, the part that looks like the toe, is actually completely off the centerline of the rest of his foot- just look at the way his frog points, and draw a line from there.  from there, the hoof wall is fairly straight, rather than round, until you get back to the quarters, where the curvature is rather dramatic.  Now, keep in mind I’m not an expert on hooves, and tend to describe things as being “warped” or “smooshed looking.” 

Because of his recent hoof sensitivity, Klondike did receive front shoes yesterday (sorry, no pics. oops!).  The shoe that went on the above foot took the farrier almost an hour to shape.  Not only was there extensive shaping, she had to use a hind shoe on the front, because it better matched the odd shape of this hoof.  So now he has a somewhat warped shape shoe to go with his warped shape hoof. 

With shoes on both front feet, he should be feeling much better.  In addition, they should help the foot grow a little more wall, with room left for expansion and lots of heel support. 

His back feet, though… still look a little odd.  It will take a little while to get these flares under control- without much to work with, the farrier doesn’t want to just wack them off all at once.  Though this should improve pretty quickly with attention, I had to show them off, as that may be one of the biggest I’ve seen in a while.  (note: the shiny stuff is keratex, which should hopefully help with the softness of his feet that the farrier noted, along with super awesome nutrition, of course.)

I’m actually sort of excited, hoping that in a few months we have some really spectacular “after” pics to share. 🙂  Also, if anyone is kind of interested in hoofcare related stuff, I stumbled onto this great blog today, and there’s tons of interesting stuff there.

Until next time… here’s a pic of Klondike with one of his newly adopted people:


Doesn’t he look like he’s smiling? 

March 26, 2008 at 7:59 pm 1 comment

The One Stereotype…

Unfortunately, at the moment, Klondike does actually “fit” one of those not-so-great stereotypes about Thoroughbreds.  Namely, that they have awful feet.  Of course, the stereotype usually goes that they have horrible feet no matter what and will need shoes, etc, etc, ad nauseum.  Klondike’s feet though, probably will get better and be fine over time, they naturally seem to have good shape, and with a little more frequent care (and diet changes- he is now being pumped full of good stuff like Buckeye Ultimate Finish, and some yummy forage stuff, and many carrots) they will probably be just fine.

But he’s still a little bit footsore after his last trim, which is kind of upsetting.  Looking under his foot, there’s not much depth to the sole, and the frog is sort of pancaked and ill-defined.  On the plus side, though, his heels are nice and healthy, not pinched or contracted like many horses.  His hind feet also show some pretty big flares that couldn’t be totally corrected in one trim. 

For now, a little horsey-aspirin and some keratex are on the menu (OK, so menu is the wrong word, I think actually consuming keratex would not only kill you, but preserve the body for a hundred years).

So, what to do when you have a slightly footsore horse you don’t want to take on trail rides?  You spoil, you groom, and you work on kid-proofing.  I figure kid-proof horses are the best kind, and seeing as I’m basically a 12 year old in a 29 year old body, I know how to do this.  I spent about ten minutes yesterday kid-torturing Klondike, and he seems to love it.  I can braid his forelock, I can drape myself over his neck while cooing at him, and I can pull on his tail.  I figure twelve year old horse-mad kids love to comb tails, so being used to that might be a good thing.  He even puts up with singing and yelling pretty well, though it’s pretty clear he thinks I’m nuts. 

Klondike has also progressed on a social level over the last few weeks- at first, he was the wuss of his turnout group.  The other horses easily kept him away from the hay (or the run-in shed when it rained).  Most days, Klondike was easily picked out from afar because he was the one at the far end of the field by himself.  Over the weekend, though, he started sticking up for himself, and is now seen with the other horses, and even sharing hay.  So that’s good news, as we no longer have to feel sorry for him every time we look out into the field. 

 More photos soon, forgot to upload them.  Oops.

March 24, 2008 at 8:23 am Leave a comment

Add “Tornado” to the Not-Scary List

Once again, I go up to find Klondike to see he has mostly removed himself from his blanket.  In a way, it was impressive that he was so unconcerned, seeing as it was blowing and flapping around him in 40 mph winds.  Heavy winds are always fun when it comes to horses- they can’t hear well, so they’re jumpier.  They can’t see movement well, so they’re jumpier.  And they can’t smell very well, so (you guessed it) they’re jumpier.

Except maybe for Klondike- who has spent enough time outside that it would apparently take a category 5 hurricane to even get him to flick an ear.

 The first big test came on the way into the barn, where there was a large piece of flapping plastic that even terrified me.  No joke, it seemed to have a life of its own.  But Klon?  That picture you see on the right? It took me ten minutes of posing to get it.  Large pieces of flapping plastic? Check. 

In fact, I’m pretty sure he was rolling his eyes at me as I attempted to get a photo of “worried redhead Thoroughbred conquers his fear of loose blowing objects.”  Actually… what I should have done was said just that, so I could share a story about my training prowess, and how I whispered to this terrified little baby that it would all be OK.  It’s a bit late for that I guess… next time, though, I’ll be sure to make myself sound really, really awesome.

To the left, you can see the ridiculous haircut he got the other day.  He’s totally ashamed, can’t you tell?  Fortunately, the shaving of part of his neck has not really decreased the amount of hair coming off him, so we had another enjoyable grooming session that put at least three pounds of hair on the ground (much to his satisfaction). 

After grooming came big windy day test number two- the indoor arena on a windy day.  It generally sounds as though a plane is landing on your head on a day like this, so it can be a little overwhelming.  Klondike, however, was a little more worried about the country music someone had put on the radio. 

And the mirrors- he is totally fascinated with himself.  At first, he tried to kick his reflection’s butt, pinning his ears and trying to act tough.  That didn’t work, and his reflection simply did it right back.  A little flustered, he decided that ignoring his doppelganger would be a better policy, and off to work we went.

Riding wise, it’s sort of hard to do much right now- he needs some more fitness, and after his hoof trimming the other day he seems slightly foot sore.  So we worked on some very basic stuff, learning to keep all the body parts aligned, and moving off my leg to the side, not just forward.  He did a little mini-turn on the forehand, and then mastered the art of backing up.  We trotted a little, and he stretched down and forward very nicely, and when he does- he starts to look elegant (rather than just, say, skinny necked and hairy).

He has also been introduced to the concept of stretching.  I’m pretty sure he’s more flexible than he lets on, it’s just that he doesn’t really see the point.  Yes, he says, I see that the carrot is over there.  But I’m way cute and I know you’ll eventually give it to me no matter what…

March 20, 2008 at 8:31 pm 1 comment

Sugar…doodeedooeedoodooo…honey honey..

Sunshine AdmiralDo you like my singing?

You don’t? Thats ok, Klondike didn’t either, but I cannot stop singing little songs to his adorable face whenever i’m around him. The most recent one is Sugar Sugar by the Archies. Klondike obliges my crazy, but looks at me like a crazy person.

Last night was foot trimming time. Being out in the field, Klondikes feet were a bit unbalanced, and so began the rebalance and eventual shoe-application up front. He had some hoof wall break off, so shoes were not a great idea last night, but we’ll get them on in a few weeks. When his foot was stretched up on the stand, he thought it was great fun to ruffle through the farriers hair which was adorable to see. He’s an affectionate, attention-seeking little guy for sure, which Jessica told me time and again, but i’d not really spent hands-on time with him before.

He really enjoys coming into the barn, and especially enjoys sticking his nose in every container hanging in the aisleway.

Last night also started clipapalooza for the Kloninator, which he was very much un-phased by. I only had the little clippers handy (I was feeling too lazy to walk the 100 yards to the trailer to get the other pair–laziest.person.ever)

Tonight he’ll get ridden by someone at the barn who fell in love with him after I stuck her up there for a trail ride on Sunday. He was, as usual, perfect. I do believe she’s smitten. Too bad she already owns a spoiled horse 🙂

Photo: random shot of Sunshine Admiral until we get more Klondike pics!

March 19, 2008 at 1:58 pm Leave a comment

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