Archive for June, 2008

A horse of a different color

note from carrotplease: yesterday we said goodbye to Klondike.  He didn’t make it easy- when I got to the barn he was laying down taking a snooze, and let me come in for some snuggles.  I love it when horses let you do that, even if it’s not pony club approved.  There were a few tears, but also some smiles, because he’s going somewhere where he’ll be loved and appreciated for the very special guy he is.  The following is from his new person, Mary.

 

In 1988 I purchased a two-year-old, range bred horse of unknown lineage for $325.  It was the best investment I have ever made.  We named the youngster Charlie Brown, because of a horse of a different color would have a different name.

Charlie was an early Christmas gift for my husband, who didn’t ride.  He was bought in response to my husband’s birthday gift to me… an acetylene welding torch set.  No, I’m not making this up; and yes, I’m still married to him.  My husband didn’t utilize his gift very often, so Charlie and I partnered for many great rides as he became a solid part of our family.

More recently Charlie suffered two bouts of EPM.  He went through four rounds of Marquis, many hours of TTouch, and an 8-month total rest after each episode.  We had slowly, slowly worked back to four-mile rides of w/t/c.  In November Charlie suffered a surgical colic and was euthanized.

So started what has become an epic search for a new horse.  As luck would have it, there were no horses for sale near me that met my criteria.  In six months I test rode 27 horses, in three states, and spent hours following leads from friends, equine magazines, and websites.  This search has made me a more knowledgeable horsewoman, and a better rider.

During this search I saw the gamut from lame to untrained, laid-back to hot, and honest to all out liar.  I’ll spare you the stories of the not-so-great owners or horses.  There WERE three horses that seemed healthy and sane that I considered, but did not purchase.  I just didn’t click with the horse or his personality.  CANTER’s Indy Wolf was one such horse.  Indy did nothing wrong in his test ride; he just wasn’t the perfect match for life.  He might be just right for you.

A few of you may be asking, “27 horses?  You couldn’t find a horse after riding 2, 4, or 10 horses?  Just WHAT were you looking for, a wonder horse?”   Well, in a sense, yes.  I was looking for the right temperament that I can live with for the next 25 years.  To me a horse is a partner, a friend, and a part of the family.  Why do people justify keeping a dog for life, but not a horse?  Some will call this naiveté; I call it a different outlook on life.

Enter CANTER Mid-Atlantic and Kid Klondike.  They waited patiently for me.  I was given the time to make two test rides, then take a few days to make a decision.  They did not try to push the sale, didn’t hurry the decision, and didn’t try to hide anything about the horse.  How refreshing to get honesty instead of stories. 

There is just something about Klondike that I get along with.  I can’t explain it, it’s just there.  After an iffy vetting, I was willing to wait for him to grow hoof, get shoes, and prove his soundness.  I believe in Klondike, and brought him home this morning.  I can’t replace Charlie Brown, but I have a wonderful new horse of a different color.

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June 23, 2008 at 5:55 am Leave a comment

A long long goodbye

Klondike's beautiful faceThis is the hard part.  But it’s also the fun part, and the weepy part and the hopeful part.  As we all know Mr. K is going to toodle off to his new home shortly, to someone who I’m certain will love him for life.  I mean, how could you not?  I’ll admit there is a sad hush over the barn lately with lots of people admitting they may have just fallen for the cutest of Klondikes.

Because our time with the Kid is shortened, we’re taking advantage of every moment we have.  Last night I sat and watched Kelly hack around the ring and pop over a few jumps.  It made me happy, and it made Klondike happy.

I’ll let Kelly discuss her ride, but I just wanted to tell the world that I will miss this horse so very much.

June 18, 2008 at 10:20 am 2 comments

Extreme Makeover, Horse Edition

So remember this?  Of course you do- how could anyone forget?  This was, I think, my second ride on the Kloninator, when he was still fuzzy and motheaten, a little underweight, and totally not a fan of that “bit” thing.

His stride was a bit short, and “forward” and “quick” meant the same thing to him.  Fortunately he was enormously fun to ride, and adorable, so we forgave him. 

So now here we are, a few months later, and a few short days from saying “See ya, dude, it’s been fun!” and we finally have some photographic proof of the changes.

 So here is SuperKid and how he looked last night.   Not only is he shiny (sorry, I get distracted by shiny things), but he has a neck!  And he’s not gaping at the bit (too much), and he’s going forward without being quick.  Hasn’t he gotten gorgeous?

And here’s that pretty boy canter.  It’s mostly the same as before- you can still comfortably ride that canter all day long.  But now it’s got a little more oomph.  The feeling of the “sewing machine” that he used to have is long gone- he flows forward and out now, not so much up and down.  Klondike’s canter = heaven.  It always did, really, but now it’s even more so.

OK, so this probably isn’t the BEST example in the world of his awesomeness, but still.  Isn’t he adorable?  That’s the log with the ditch under it, so it’s a little scary.  The last time we did this, we had a lead and I was riding better.  This time, he had to put up with my insecurity a little bit, but he went, and it was fun.  I will say New Klondike has a bit more “jump” than the old one.  Remind me to work on the chicken elbows.

  Whee! Ditches are fun!  I’m including this one just because he’s completely adorable.  It’s also an exercise in why photos can help fix riding.  I have no idea what’s going on with my legs there- the right one seems to be in a somewhat normal place, but the left has swung back and I’m standing on my toe.  Lovely.  I live to make George Morris proud, can you tell?  At least I am “well turned out for schooling,” right?

This was also his first time cantering jumps, and cantering the ditch.  We’d always just hopped nice and easy over things from a trot.  He feels a little bit disorganized some times, and if I don’t keep it together he “tells” on me (we did have some rather non-dramatic run outs last night, ha!).

But man he’s cute. A big huge bucket of cute, really. 

June 18, 2008 at 10:00 am 1 comment

Horseman’s Law, Part II

Your best rides will be your last rides…  At least that’s what always seems to happen to me.  Just when the horse is scheduled to sell, or your lease is up, that is when everything really starts to click and come together.

Once again, Klondike proves no exception.  The last few weeks there’s been no real riding.  He’s been for a few walks, but with the recently lost shoes, and little bit of hitch he had at the vetting, he really hasn’t had to do anything for a little while.  And to add to that, he got switched to regular board, and now has to sit in a stall during the day (to make room for another CANTER pony who’s on field board… see Woody’s blog!).  And today, a round of severe thunderstorms meant the horses didn’t even get out for night turnout as usual.

And of course, when we tested his new four wheel drive yesterday, he was really, really happy:

So when I got there to climb aboard today, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I think I expected rusty and a little goofy, from not having done anything in a while.  What I got was something else entirely- absolutely the best ride I’ve ever had on Klondike in a ring.

He started out as usual, a little short strided and complaining about the bit, but soon enough he started to settle, and not only had he “given” to the bit but he had also figured out how to do that while also going forward.  Suddenly a had a horse who I could easily keep straight and move side to side off my leg.  And he looked like a million dollars- a few times I found myself staring at our reflection in the mirror, sort of amazed that this was the same horse we started playing with a few months ago.

He was rounding and reaching through the neck, and when he does that, he looks so elegant and classy- not “cute” like normal but “fancy” instead.

I worked him fairly hard, as far as ringwork goes.  I asked a lot of him, working towards staying “connected” through transitions, and moving laterally just a little bit.  I’m honestly not sure where this horse came from, this was probably twice as good as our last bit of ringwork, which was weeks ago.

His canter also has improved- it’s still every bit as comfortable as it was, but it seems more forward.  Not in a “fast” way, but in the “covering more ground” way.  Instead of taking a few sewing machine strides, he was flowing forward easily, and it felt like we were actually going somewhere. 

It figures that we would have such a wonderful ride right before he’s scheduled to leave, doesn’t it?

June 16, 2008 at 8:38 pm Leave a comment


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