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Archive for March, 2008

This day at the barn was so chock full of good stuff I don’t know where to start, I mean besides with that picture, cause if you have a picture like that you’d be insane not to lead with it. 

First, My mom came out to the barn with me, which ALWAYS makes me happy.  She’s the bees knees, AND she took pictures AND video.  She’s the bestest.

Second, I will update you on Woodford’s social status, for it has taken QUITE a turn.  It turns out Heather #1, the HEAD Heather, has decided that Woody is her boyfriend. 

Now, I understand that this is because she is in heat, and the second that she is not she will reject him like I was rejected by my 8th grade heart-throb (he asked me out on April Fool’s Day… I’m not kidding.  And to make it worse? I didn’t know he was.  Kidding that is).  But for the time being they are in love.  I almost had a heart attack when my mom and I pulled up to the barn and saw Woody in the run in.

Turns out there needn’t be any concern.

The mare is the dam of the other TB mare in the field.  She hurt her knee years ago when she got cast in her stall.  Woody sees past her handicap. 

The big grey is not all about The Woods just yet, but I now feel more comfortable that they’ll sort it all out… at least as long as Bunny stays in heat for the rest of her life.

When I brought him in and put him in his stall (and far from his girlfriend) he showed his ass a bit.  Circling in his stall, hollering, telling me the sky was falling.  So When I took him out, I had a chain on just in case.  Now I don’t know if it was BECAUSE of the chain or not, but as soon as I clicked the lead rope on, Woody settled right down as if to say “Oh, OK.  You’re here now so I’ll stop with the theatrics.”  He didn’t make another peep.

We then began the tacking up process which of course was completely non-eventful.  Woody does make faces though, which is totally funny.  Although you can see the tail end of a lip wiggle, this is not his funny face, this is his “Holy Crap I’m one cute pony” face.

Anyone who knows me knows that I HATE having my picture taken and I will hide behind anything available… Including Woody’s face.

Now We’ll get on with the riding.  My plan honestly was just to spend most of the ride working at the walk and start the bending process, and maybe trot a little bit. 

Yeah, Woods is an over achiever.  He was such a good soul not only did we walk, trot AND canter, but he Cantered on BOTH leads… and they were the CORRECT ones.  He was of course unbalanced and both ziggy and zaggy, and I am certain he’ll forget both leads and only cross canter or Tranter next week, but he was amazing TODAY!  The only way to show you is well, to show you!

We Mount, we trot about, we maybe even canter for the first time…

To the left, to the left The first Wooo you hear is when I almost ran over the cat in the very beginning (even after a couple of “KITTY!” exclamations), and the second one is when we almost ran into the fence.     Woody remained unfazed.

And to the right, to the right

I did stand still for a couple of pictures after our fabulous ride.

Psst… Woody, You’re Super-Cute

Psst... You're really cute

The Beach is THAT way!

I was just a little happy… Truthfully, I was happier than I’d been in quite some time.  Horses are amazing.

Happy 

He desperately needs a new bridle.  All my others (which I have finally found in pieces) are Ozzy sized… which was decidedly far from Cob, which is what Mr. Facesocute needs.  Something to shop for at Rolex!

And to end the day, because no one can anthropomorphisize like me, Woody and his girlfriend, a play in one act:

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Vidal Sassoon I am not

Today Woody and I continued, what was supposed to be, the beautification process.  Most of this involved more pulling of his mane.  I have come to a very important realization. 

Like plucking my eyebrows, I am not to be trusted when pulling a horse’s mane.  See, when I pluck my own eyebrows, I sort of space out and get hypnotized by the methodical de-hairing process.  One time a friend said to me “Lisa, did you pluck your eyebrows last night.”  I replied, “why yes, friend, I did.  Why do you ask?”  To which he replied “Because they’re FREAKING me out.”  And true enough, the look I’d given myself was of someone who was 1) very surprised, and 2) plucked their eyebrows with a deep seeded hatred for them.  It looked like I had one single hair traveling over my eyeball.

Pulling manes is not unlike this.  I pull, and i even up, and I pull and I space out and before I know it, my tolerant and mighty steed has a haircut that people in the military would look at and exclaim “Crap, that’s a short crop dude! Who thought that was a good idea?”

And today was no different.  I’m currently telling myself that once he’s given a good bath and his mane is clean it will fall in a less “My mom was drunk when she gave me this haircut in the dark” fashion.  Right?  That’s what’s going to happen, right?

I give you exhibit A

I’d say that it’s a work in progress, but I fear if I progress anymore he’ll have a hairline of one wispy hair that traverses down his neck.  (not unlike my eyebrows before i learned my lesson).  I will say that it is not QUITE as uneven as it looks, the wind was blowing pretty hard and … and… and….

Woody is still in his special classroom all by himself.  He has moments where he looks sound for all intents and purposes, and then later that day he’ll be lame at the walk.  Today was a good day so I put his bridle on and walked him to the ring to give him a looksy.  There was lots of looking, and a little snorting.  The ring has some XC jumps in the fence line.  One had fallen down only to leave it’s two tires leaning up against the fence post.  This was something something Woody was not so sure about. 

Woods pleased me with his reaction.  He snorted, backed up a step or two and then stood still.  I let him relax and slowly walked him forward towards the Tires of Terror.  When he got tense I’d stop for a minute and let him chill again (but not back up).  In about 1 minute he walked himself the final 5 feet up to the tires and sniffed them.  That I like.  I’d much rather a horse voice their displeasure but choose to check it out instead of run in the other direction.  No matter how long it takes, the want to move forward and check it out is ALWAYS a good thing.

Then I checked to see if he knew how to longe.  I don’t know if he has been taught before or not, but if he hasn’t then he’s a quick study.  Within about 2 minutes I had him walking on a 10-15 meter circle around me.  He was much better to the right than to the left, but the fact that I could get him around the circle at all was more than I was expecting.  He even trotted a step or two without dramatics.  He was a little off at the trot, but not too bad.  Woody, yet again, impresses me with his attitude.

After this he of course got a multitude of treats.  I really am creating a monster.

Then I gave him the aforementioned Hairdo and turned him back out in his paddock.  Woody has his own cat and she followed us to turn him out.  His first night on the farm this cute pusskit apparently slept in his stall with him.

I did get Woody to trot a bit in his paddock to see how he was moving.  Not sound, but not awful either.  Considering he wasn’t too hip about walking two days ago, I’d say he’s doing pretty well.  Here’s a video.

Getting Better

And here is why getting a video of Woody is difficult when I’m by myself . here’s the direct link.

So that was today.  If Woody’s moderately sound this week I’ll get on him and just work on walking WHILE bending.  It’s a tall order, but I think he can handle it.

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But i did (of course) take some more pictures when I went out to see His Gimpiness yesterday.  He’s still really sore, but remains in good spirits.  He has the sweetest attitude. 

So without further delay.

That Face!

 

And the only picture that comes close to a confo shot that I’ve gotten.  It’s hard to get a side shot when he’s constantly walking right for me. The mane is, obviously, a work in progress.

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In my first post, I believe I said Woods wasn’t very stoic.  In the spirit of honest journalism and in fairness to Woody, I must correct this falsehood.

When I got to the barn yesterday my friend told me that Woody was almost three legged when she brought him in that morning.  She picked out his foot and found a rock lodged in cleft of his frog.  I figured he’d be a little sore, and went out to the field to get him.  Now you tell me, how is this NOT the sweetest thing?

The cat was trying to serve as a distraction to keep Heather-squared and Ram away from us.  She failed in the long run… I had to let Woody go when all three cam stalking up and I really didn’t want to be in the midst of a melee.

So I finally collected The President of the AV club, and took his limping nuzzling self into the barn.  Luckily my (amazing) farrier was coming out that day anyway, so I figure if it was a bruise or even an abscess at least our timing was good.

And here is where the retraction comes in.  If Woody isn’t a stoic solid boy, I don’t know who is.  On the first day I met Woody he took a few REALLY off steps.  We figured he had stung himself and would work out of it.  Sure enough when I went to pick him up the next day he was sound and walking evenly.  Well, as is documented by these pictures, Woody had(s) an abscess that is almost as big as the entire sole of his foot (which my farrier informs me will eventually fall off… nice). 

Not only was Woody a total gentleman while Billy was poking and prodding and digging, but when it came tome to put the shoe (with pad) on, Woody was a total gentleman .  He twitched on the first hammer stroke, then put his head in my chest and stood rock solid.  Even Billy was impressed, and that’s not an easy feat.

A little prodding

A little poking

A little digging

And Voila!  A little bleeding.

Billy did his magic and Woody appreciated it.  We both decided he’d probably be off for about a week, and called it a day.  We also decided that Mr. Gimpy shouldn’t be put in a situation where he would have to make the horrible decision to

  1. Run away on his three good legs or
  2. Be eaten by The Heathers n’ Ram

So we left him in for the night.  My beau (who when at Tractor supply bought Woody TWO bags of treats because he “wasn’t sure which one Woody would like”) helped me tuck him in for the evening.

This morning I went out after taking my ridiculous dog Newman in to get his hairs cut.  I was greeted with a subdued whinny and a very ouchy stumble to the stall door.  Luckily My friend has a small (40x40ish) paddock where she’s going to let me keep him until he’s ready to run for his life again.  There is a LOVELY stallion at the Farm (A son of Fleetwood Mac) and while the electric keeps him from actually discussing topics of great importance with Woody, he does seem pleased to have someone nearby to lord over.

Here’s Woody in his special Classroom, He seems pretty happy with it:

Here’s a short video of “His Lameness” 

And Maybe, just MAYYYYBE you said to yourself when looking at those pictures “Self, is it me or does that OTTB has freshly shorn ear-holes.”  Well, if you did, you’re right.  I brought out my REAL clippers (Ozzy’s Bane as I have named them) and since he was so good with the crappy (but super quiet) “fisher-price my first clippers” I turned on him the other day, I thought I’d start getting him used to something a little more substantial.

I like to start out slowly with young guys, and my plan was just to turn them on and get them as close as I would tolerate while he stood quietly.  Yeah, Woody leaned into them and let me clip the inside and outside of his ears.  I also touched up his bridle path a bit more, but whoever clipped it last apparently was planning on taking him to an Arab show, so there’s about 3 inches that has some growing out to do.

Why There’s no Hair in them there ears!!! 

While I was very impressed, you can see that Woody is all Whatevs.  He doesn’t understand what the cookies were all about, but he was happy to get them (He liked both types of treats Matt bought him by the way, he’s a smart kid)

So for the next week, Woody and I will continue with the beautification and getting to know you process.  I don’t know what he could possible do to make me any more prematurely smitten.  He’s just what I needed.

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But the cool kids aren’t shoving him in lockers when they see him shuffling down the hall

He was standing relatively NEAR the gray by the time I got out into the field.  He even CHASED him!  Why the gray ran I have no idea, because he’s got at least 4 inches on him. I was pleased and prematurely thought “Well, maybe you’ve settled in more quickly than I had expected.”

This may be the case out in the field, however they will NOT let him into the run in.  This would not be SO much of an issue if it wasn’t raining today and if Woody hadn’t sparked my most deep seeded pang:  The struggle of the underdog.  Perhaps it is my own inner(who are we kidding) outer nerd, but there is NOTHING that makes my heart ache more than seeing a kind soul being rejected.

So I had to leave the barn, cause it was just TOO pitiful.  He was standing NEAR the run in with his butt to the rain.  Every once in a while he would look longingly at the three beasts in the nice dry (and hay filled) building…just long enough for one of the red-headed mares to make her ears completely disappear into her poll and inform him that maybe they didn’t throw him into a locker today, but there was still time for a swirly if he wasn’t careful.

Before I left I brought Woodford in out of the rain, began to teach him the bendy game with carrots, made him stand on the cross-ties for short periods of time without pawing (which is not a DIFFICULT feat, he doesn’t paw much at all, but it is a goal like any other) and put some conditioner in his gigantic tail (hey, if he’s going to be wet, he might as well be getting some deep conditioning done). 

When it was time to put him back out, The Heathers were waiting (OK, technically it’s two Heathers and a Ram Sweeny). 

If you think this was the most pitiful he looked today, you’d be wrong. 

It was after this that he attempted to join the cool kids in the run in.  I finally had to leave because I realized I looked like a crazy lady staring at my sweet nerdy horse stand in the rain like Duckie in Pretty in Pink.

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And if that action involves being nuzzled by an OTTB, all the better. 

It was the end of a long day when I pulled up to the barn to retrieve Sir Woodford of TrotSoHot.  Admittedly I was apprehensive for a lot of reasons.  It has only been three and a half months since I lost  My Ozzy, and that horse spoiled me.  I never had to worry for anything and had a couple of specific concerns regarding Mr. Woody:

  1. I was going to forget that not ALL horses allow you to do ridiculous things like tie them to unstable and/or unattached objects while you walk off spacey as you please to set fences.
  2. When I did something as noted in item #1, Woody would not be as forgiving or comatose as My Ozzy was.

I needn’t worry on either account.  I didn’t act like a 8 year old that should be thrown out of Pony Club, and Woody didn’t put a foot wrong.  I showed up at the farm after a job interview and he acted like he’d been grabbed out of fields by strangers and driven away with his whole life (which actually, maybe he had been…). 

He stood like a gentleman to be wrapped and marched on the trailer without pause.  Once on the trailer, he munched hay, and based on the movement during the 4 1/2 hour journey home, promptly fell asleep. 

I would never DREAM of any horse filling Ozzy’s shoes, but Woody was on his way to proving to me that finding a horse with a good brain and a kind soul wasn’t a once in a lifetime occurrence.

I arrived at his new home well after dark and we placed him in a stall for the night.  First I must thank my friend for his new home.  I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am.  I met her when I was president of B.R.E.A and her BEAUTIFUL farm is not 2 miles from my house.  She doesn’t normally take boarders, but agreed to take us on, and I couldn’t possibly be more thankful.

And this is why… Here is Woody’s new Home

I’ll admit to speeding on my 50 mile commute home today.  I was looking forward to going to the barn.

My friend told me Woody had had a moderately rough day.  His field mates were not so accepting, and Woody, even though he had 40 acres to avoid trouble in, was a little needy.  It apparently took a little bit for him to realize that not everyone was as unconditionally accepting and willing to make friends as he.

By the time I got there, he had segregated himself, but strangely enough he was in the 40 acre field and the other three heese were in the small paddock.

I feel safe here...

He seemed genuinely interested in me coming to get him.  I’ll admit, this face looking at me so earnestly made me smile larger than I had in quite some time

Save Me!

He actually shied at the other horses over the fence, this was as close as he’d get to the big gray; a rough day indeed.

I'm not so sure about you 

Today we did nothing but start the beautification process, which let’s be honest, is one of the most fun parts about getting a new horse.  He was curried and and brushed and scritched and I attempted to shorten his ridiculously thick mane.  I butchered it and told myself that it was too long to pull from the get-go.  I’ll clean it up this week. 

 He’s not real pleased with having his mane pulled, but like the clippers I introduced (and put to his bridle path and clipped his muzzle with), he was even tempered, correctable, and polite… green and not completely stoic, but moderately tolerant.

We then just took a little walk down the driveway, at the end of which are cows.  Woody was not pleased.  This will be something we work on later.  But as vexed as he obviously was, he was genuine and sane.  He’s good stuff.

I tried to take a picture of him after I had brushed him off… he wasn’t having any of it.  I’m slowly creating a monster, and by slowly I mean teaching him to appreciate carrots at a seemingly unrealistic pace.  Woody is all about some nuzzling and getting scritches.  Of course the fact that it was 50 degrees, about to storm, and windy as hell didn’t help.  He’s a good boy for standing still long enough to get this pitiful shot.

I’m not going to lie, turning him back out broke my heart a little.  He seemed a little clingy, like the kid that wont get out of the car when you try to drop him off at school.  That fear was unfortunately reinforced when the cavalry came back to shoo Woody into his place.

And the race went on

Things finally settled down, but not until after Woody played his own version of where’s Waldo.

 

This picture was just too much!

Make them leave me alone!

But things finally settled down

And Woody found his place, on the fringe.  He’s a smart boy and we have lots to teach each other.

We’ll spend the next couple of weeks getting to know each other and settling in.  My farrier is coming out on Thursday to get rid of those racing plates and CANTER’s Bourbon Cowboy and I will start moving on to the next parts of our lives.

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The Good Life

Fatty fieldAll of our CANTER horses start life out in the most relaxing way possible. They are brought to a 300 acre farm in Frederick Maryland directly from the racetrack and put into a stall to begin transitioning to the life of an outdoor horse.

First things first, all of our horses are quarantined and fecal tested. Thats the yucky part, the ponies would tell you. For the most part our donated horses arrive in excellent condition with good body weight. This will change over the coming weeks, depending on what drugs are in their system (More on this later). In this first week we also remove at the very least the hind shoes, and at times the fronts as well. Racehorses all run in “Toe Grabs” which can injure other horses and themselves quite severely.

Once our guys are giving the all-clear, they transition into a big paddock with large overhangs until they get the swing of things. At this farm, they only get grain the first week or two, and then transition to pasture and various types of hay.

We give our horses many weeks off, as we believe even the sound horses deserve a mental break. It is amazing the difference we see a month out in all of them.

Woody spent the last month of his life in a giant field with yummy alfalfa and a huge barn to hang out in out of the wind and rain. He had very few complaints. After looking at those pastures, Would you?

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