Monday, December 29, 2014

Moving

Cupid moved to a new pasture, still at the same facility just on the other side.  I knew this might be hard for him since he is so attached to Bruno, so before the move my sister came out and we took Bruno and Cupid on a little trail ride together.  We went on a busy road for a little bit, and both horses were really good despite the cars, motorcycles, and RVs zooming by.  Cupid was startled by one car, and Bruno got scared by an invisible bush monster, but for young thoroughbreds they were both super.

Cupid is in a transition paddock adjacent to his new pasture so he can meet the new horses across the fence.  He was curious about his new neighbors, he is friendly and likes everyone.  I think he will get along with them, there is just one Fresian that is only turned out during the day that is a bit of a bully.  Hopefully Cupid will just stay away from him.
 

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Curious George

Cupid is a very curious horse (or maybe just very hungry).  He likes to investigate everything.  He even likes to dumpster dive!
He is also very friendly.  He seems to like all horses (even if they don't like him) and people.  Some of the very young lesson students wanted to say hi to him in the pasture, and he was very patient.
After a few somewhat rough rides where we couldn't get the left lead canter, we got it (after a few attempts) last night.  So far I haven't found anything that works consistently.  He on occasion gets it wrong going to the right (so does pick up the left lead the wrong way), but usually the right is good.  Otherwise his training is going along very smoothly.  He leg-yields quite nicely now.  I ordered a Myler comfort snaffle I want to try on him.  I've tried several different bits - plain dee snaffle, copper full cheek snaffle, snaffle with copper rollers, and a double jointed snaffle.  I didn't see much difference amongst these, we'll see if he likes the Myler.



Friday, December 12, 2014

Storm

We had a major storm hit our area yesterday - 50 mph winds and over 6 inches of rain in 24 hours.  I was very worried about Cupid being outside.  He was bundled up in his warm blanket with neckpiece, and a fleece cooler underneath for extra warmth.  The stable did a great job monitoring things and keeping us informed.  Luckily everyone was okay and there was no major damage.  One tree fell down, but luckily not near the horses, and some of the roofing was blown off.  I went out to see Cupid first thing tomorrow and he was standing at the gate looking surprisingly clean and dry, and no worse for the wear.  He just wanted his food! 
video

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Cupid was lame on Tuesday - he seemed a bit sluggish at the walk but when I asked him to trot he had a slight head bob.  I realized there was a little heat and swelling in his right front leg so I called it quits, gave him a little bute and the next day off.  By Thursday, Thanksgiving, he seemed fine so we went on an easy ride around the property bareback with just his halter and lead tied into reins.  He is not the most comfortable bareback horse, but it is fun to do every once in a while!  We also worked on going down the one trail he seems scared of.  At first I thought it was the electric fence, but I'm not sure.  The path goes downhill and there are bushes on either side.  I used lots of treats and pats to encourage him to walk down.  Hopefully a few more times and he won't be scared anymore.
On Friday I did another ride around the property, this time fully attired with saddle and bridle.  We didn't go towards the scary trail.  We finished up our ride in the arena, where Cupid decided today he only wanted to canter on his left lead, which he normally doesn't like.  On Saturday we worked a little more on our canter leads and did much better.

Saturday and Sunday it was cold and rainy, so I put Cupid's new extra warm (mid-weight) blanket and neck cover on.  Maybe he felt a little silly but I feel better about him being out in the rain if he's more covered.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Rainy Weekend

On Saturday we had a very steady rain all morning.  I felt bad for Cupid being out there, but him and Bruno didn't seem too upset they just wanted their food. 
It cleared up in the afternoon and we went for a ride.  Unfortunately I couldn't get Cupid to pick up his left lead.  I don't canter him every ride yet, usually only about twice a week.  It was a little discouraging because the last few times he got it right away.  I decided to give up on that for the day, but we had a great right lead canter twice around the large arena.  Cantering an ex-racehorse is a lot of fun!  I've never gone full speed on him, he doesn't try to race, but he has kind of a bounding canter.
Sunday the weather was much nicer, so we went for a little trail ride.  There were a few muddy spots where Cupid was sliding around, but he was a very good boy.  We went out to a pretty busy road where several motorcycles passed by but he was not concerned about them.



Monday, November 17, 2014

Haircut

Well I haven't posted recently because not much new has happened, and now it's pretty much always dark when I get to the barn so it's hard to take pictures!  Cupid got clipped for the winter. Since he lives outside I asked for a bib clip, just the underside of the neck and chest.  Well I wasn't there and the groomer had slightly different ideas.  I'm not even sure what this clip is.  Oh well. 
Cupid is progressing slowly but surely.  I had been riding him in a plain dee-ring snaffle since I got him, since that is what he was used to.  I experimented with a double-jointed oval link snaffle.  I'm not sure it made a difference.  I may also try a happy mouth.  I'm not really worried about brakes, just want something he is soft and relaxed in.


Friday, November 7, 2014

Advanced Training

My instructor got on Cupid for part of our lesson this week.  Cupid was a little confused, he's only had me and my sister ride him the last few months and we ride pretty similar.  I tightened his girth by the mounting block as usual, then handed him over to my trainer and he watched me walk away like, what's going on?!?  My trainer wanted to establish more contact than what I generally do.  By the end of a half hour he looked much more comfortable with her.  Then I got back on and we continued to work on bending and balancing.

I tried to take some pictures, but in the covered arena at night with a cell phone they don't turn out too well!



Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Winter blues

I know it's not really winter yet, but it sure does feel like it!  It rained last Friday and Saturday, and then we set the clock back on Sunday so now it's pretty much dark by the time I leave work.  Luckily we have the nice lighted, covered arena but bringing Cupid in from the pasture is no fun in the dark.  I think I need to get a headlamp. I got Cupid a new blanket, which is thicker and has a neck piece.  Thankfully it hasn't been that cold yet but at least we're prepared.  Here he is after I brought him in after a little rain.

Despite the change in weather Cupid has been very well behaved and progressing nicely with his training.  He is still a lot more stiff to the left, but is starting to bend a little.  We are also getting the canter leads correct the majority of the time, though the left is still harder.

Cupid is maintaining pretty good weight.  He is a little skinny at the ribs and his belly is a little round, but overall for a growing young thoroughbred he looks pretty good.  He really enjoys his grain, but he makes a mess!  He likes to stick his nose in the pan and shove the grain out, but he cleans it up in the end.  When he is done he often picks his feed tub up and holds it in his mouth and waves it towards me, like he's asking for a refill!  I haven't been able to catch that on film yet.



Thursday, October 30, 2014

Quick Update

Cupid's training and our lessons are going smoothly.  His flexibility is increasing, though he still braces against rein pressure a little bit and still has a harder time traveling left.  But he is moving out in a nice swinging walk and uses his hind end well at the trot.  We are also working on a slow trot (not collected yet), but my sitting trot needs some work.  Canter leads are a work in progress.  He gets the right a little more consistently, but can something get them wrong both directions.  His attitude is great during our training sessions, even though sometimes he is a little confused.  He is very focused even when there are lots of other horses cantering and jumping around him. 

We've had our two lessons this week, so today hopefully I can take him for a little trail ride around the property.  It is getting dark very early, and this weekend it will get even worst with daylight savings time.  Plus it is supposed to rain tomorrow.  I hate winter!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Learning to Yield

Cupid is progressing well, but still needs to work on yielding to pressure.  He bends his neck around if we are at a halt, but somehow it doesn't translate when we are moving.  So I'm still working on it with a leading rein, riding all sorts of circles and serpentines and crazy patterns.  We are doing a little leg yielding, and it is okay going towards the right but not as good to the left.  I've been riding with very light contact, but now the trainer wants to see me ask for more.  He doesn't do anything bad, but kind of resists it and braces his neck.  So I am slowly introducing side reins.  I tried them out very loose today. 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Fun with Noodles

Cupid has been doing well. He still has a harder time bending to the left, but we are working on it and also learning a little leg yielding. This weekend I decided we needed a little break from the arena so we did a little desensitization training. Cupid is not really bothered by anything. He walked straight through plastic bottles strewn on the ground, walked over a garbage bag, and through the pool noodles. He doesn't like it if I walk through the noodles and they snap back towards him, he flinches a little but that's all. He didn't mind me waving a noodle around him or touching him with it.


 Last week Cupid was having a little problem being away from his pasture buddy, Bruno. One day when Bruno was taken out he got a little panicky and started running around frantically calling. I wasn't there, I've never seen him do this. Another boarder told me she thought Cupid was down at the water and didn't see Bruno leave so maybe that's why. One of the other horses that used to live in the pasture moved recently, so maybe he thought Bruno was gone for good too. Then a few times when I was riding him he called out to his friends. Luckily he doesn't get too distracted or acts up, just a little whinnying. The last few days he didn't have this problem. But Bruno and Cupid are best friends, and even eat out of the same bucket.
On Sunday I cantered on Cupid for the first time since his injury. He still does not understand leads, so we'll keep working on that but it felt really good. He has a very nice canter, smooth but covers a lot of ground. After he canters he gets a little pep in his step and likes to trot pretty fast, but settles down pretty quick.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Back to School

Cupid has been doing very well so his work load is gradually increasing. We are now having two lessons per week with our trainer. We have been focusing on getting him to bend and yield, as well as making sure he is moving forward and stepping underneath himself. He is still a little confused about what I'm asking him, but he is trying hard to figure it out. He is very mellow and doesn't mind if there are lots of other horses cantering and going over jumps around him. The weather has been quite warm, but the days are getting shorter. I wasn't sure how much coat Cupid grow his first winter out, but he became very fuzzy practically overnight. Pictures to follow!

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Chiro visit

Cupid has his follow-up visit with the chiropractor, and she was very happy with his progress.  She watched him trot on the longe line, then told me to ask him to canter.  I've actually never cantered him on the longe before, but he stayed on his circle and had a very nice smooth canter going.  A little unbalanced, and didn't get the correct leads right away but I was very happy.  Cupid has a sore spot on his neck, lower back, and a little in his left hind but noticeable improvement from last time.  Our instructions are to step up the conditioning a little, doing more caveletti and a little cantering on non-consecutive days.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Frog Prince

Last weekend I was grooming at a horse show and didn't get out to see Cupid until the evenings.  On Saturday I noticed his nose felt a little rough, but he had just eaten his grain so I thought he was just messy.  By Sunday evening his entire muzzle was covered in rough bumps.  I thought he had an allergic reaction so I gave him benedryl, but it seems like it might be warts or some sort of rash.  I haven't seen any nettle or poison oak in the pasture but maybe there is some.  Poor Cupid!  At least it does not seem to be itchy or uncomfortable. 
Between the horse show, the rash, and some work events Cupid has had a slightly reduced work schedule the last week.  I try to ride him outside when I can because the slopes are good for him and to prevent boredom, but it's getting harder to do since the days are getting shorter.  Cupid will on occasion call out to his friends, but so far he has been fantastic.  He walks by tarp piles, rustling bushes, and wildlife without any hesitation.  I thought the biggest challenge would be keeping him from trying to eat everything because he can get a little pushy with that when I'm leading him, but he seems to know he's not supposed to graze when I'm riding him. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Mist Trail

All day I had been looking forward to taking Cupid on a conditioning ride on gentle slopes around the farm, so even though the sun was setting and it was a little drizzly I decided to go ahead anyways.  The Mist Trail is actually a great hike in Yosemite where you get misted by the waterfalls, but this was kind of similar.  I didn't count on the sun going down as fast as it did (it wasn't even 8pm, I hate that the long days of summer are gone!), so midway through our ride it got really dark.  Luckily there are some lights around the property, and I've been around enough during the daylight I knew the way and trusted Cupid to do the rest.  He was great, he never hesitated or stumbled!  He is such a good boy.  We saw some deer.  Once Cupid is a little stronger I look forward to doing some more trails with him!

This picture is not great, but indicates the poor visibility during my ride!  It was actually worse without the camera flash. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Saddle Up

Cupid has been progressing nicely in his rehab, I am very happy with how he's been looking. We are now alternating riding days with longing. It was a very busy weekend. On Saturday a rep from Stubben came out to check our saddle fit. Unfortunately my Stubben saddle is not a good fit for him, it is too wide. The rep was very helpful in explaining what to look for in fit. For now my Crosby saddle will be okay (with additional shims), and maybe next year we will look for a new saddle. The Stubben Portos we tried out was very nice! On Sunday my sister came out and rode Cupid, after we had a riding lesson. Cupid has not been ridden by anyone other than me since I got him, but he was a good boy.
 
Cupid also got a visit from the barley grass guy. He grows hydroponic sprouts which are supposed to be very nutritious for horses, and gave Cupid some samples. I don't know about the health benefits, but Cupid seemed to enjoy eating it!
Yesterday was a longe day. We working in the sand arena outside, which is a little deeper than the covered arena but Cupid seemed comfortable walking and trotting around. Today I plan on riding around the property. There are some nice gentle hills that will be good for his conditioning.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Bareback trail ride!

I think Cupid and I are both getting a little bored with longing. I try to make it more interesting by varying the size and location of the circle, laying down ground poles/cavaletti, putting out cones, and making gates with the jump fillers but... it's still longing. So on Saturday I cut our longe session short and hopped on Cupid's back. He was just wearing his halter and I made reins out of the longe line. We walked around the arena doing some big figure-8s, and walk-halt-walk transitions. He was perfect! The next day I walked him up and down a little trail, then popped on him again bareback with just a halter and reins and rode on the paths around the barn. We passed by some people walking a dog, a tarp-covered pile of shavings, and horse paddocks and he didn't bat an eye. Cupid is such a good boy! Another boarder joined us for part of our ride and couldn't believe what a well-behaved 3 year old he is. I'm very happy with the progress he's making. We will probably start alternating longe and ride days. Yay!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Dentist

Last Friday Cupid had to go to the dentist.  (Rather, the dentist came to him.)  I thought he was just going to have his teeth floated, but the dentist said he has a loose baby tooth that would be best to just extract.  I couldn't watch, but there was some blood.  Poor Cupid! The dentist said in a week the new tooth will be grown out enough that it will barely be noticeable.  He had a little bit of abrasions on his inner cheeks, so hopefully he will be more comfortable now.  Otherwise everything looked good, the dentist just commented that he has kind of a small mouth. 


Cupid got an extra day off on Saturday because I felt bad for him.  On Sunday we resumed longing.  I set out a cavaletti (on the smallest side) and used the jump fillers to make some gates and things for him to go through to make the longing slightly more interesting.  He looked good!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Turnout

After being confined to a stall for nearly 6 weeks, Cupid was finally allowed to be turned out.  He seemed to know when I was leading him towards the pasture gate, even though we walked by there often the past few weeks that he would actually get to go through.  I told him he needs to take it easy to avoid re-injuring himself.  He listen for about a minute, then cantered off!  I was worried, but he looked very happy.  He settled down pretty quickly, and decided to take a big dust bath instead.
video
For the time being Cupid gets turned out during the day and spends the night in a stall.  Eventually he will be out overnight as well.  I haven't ridden him yet since his lameness, but have been longing him (on a very big circle) 10 minutes each side five days a week.  This week we will increase to 12 minutes.  Even though I am eager to ride him, I don't want to rush it and let him build strength without my added weight.  But I am definitely looking forward to it!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Rehab

Cupid has been looking better each day on the longe line!  He is up to 10 mins/side at a walk and trot.  I keep his circles very big to lessen the stress.  The first day he bucked and tried to canter, and I wasn't sure if he was in pain or excited.  The second day he did the same thing, but in the other direction.  But he's been behaving well since then.  I plan to longe his with a saddle on a few times, then substitute some rides for longing.  He also started his joint supplement, MSM.  I read that it can make some horses spooky, I hope it will not have that affect on him!
I tested pulling Cupid's mane and he didn't seem to care.  I feel a little bad doing it, but if we end up showing someday he'll have to get used to it.
It's hard to take pictures when I'm longing, so instead here is one of Cupid admiring himself in the mirror.  What a handsome boy!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Adjustment

Last week a chiropractor came out to adjust Cupid.  She gave him a thorough examination before starting the work, taking a lot of time to analyze his movement.  Cupid was very well-behaved, but bucked when asked to canter on the lunge because it hurt him.  The chiropractor adjusted his problem areas, primarily his neck and pelvis.  She said that, despite the current problem, Cupid is actually in quite good shape considering his race record.  She also complemented his sweet temperament.  As long as he is not lame I can start lunging and riding him at the walk and trot, no cantering for a while.  Gradually we will add hills and cavaletti to strengthen him.  So, I am cautiously optimistic and looking forward to riding Cupid again!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Bath Time

Not much new to report with Cupid.  He is still on stall rest but is looking and feeling very good.  We've had a few walks where he decided it would be fun to jump up and kick out his hind legs, then try to run off.  He also misses being rolling in the dirt, so during his walk I let him get down and roll.  He found a very dusty spot, so I decided to give him a bath afterwards.  He is very good about baths.

A chiropractor is coming out for Cupid later this week.  Hopefully that will help make him more comfortable and he can be back out in pasture soon!
  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Boredom relief

Cupid has been a very good patient during his recovery, but he is starting to act a little more restless.  I thought he might enjoy having some toys to play with.  I didn't want to wait to order something online and have it shipped, and the tack stores in the area have a pretty limited selection and even more limited hours, so I tried the local pet store instead.  I found a jolly ball to hang in his stall, and a large Kong.  Worth a shot.  I put some pellets in the Kong and he loves to nose it around and find the treats!
video

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Still Recuperating

Cupid has been on stall rest for 10 days, and is looking a lot better.  Still short striding a bit on the affected leg, but if you didn't know to look for it you would hardly notice.  The vet recommended continued stall rest and to start gradually increasing his walks, on flat surface only and no deep footing.  I go out before and after work every week day and am there pretty much all day on the weekends.  Cupid is a very good patient.  He learned to beg for treats by tilting his head sideways.  One of the boarders told me another horse a few stalls down does the same so he may have learned it from him.
We go visit his old pastures buddies along the fence.  I hope they don't forget Cupid and he doesn't get hazed again when he goes back out, we had just finally gotten over that when Cupid got injured!  Here's Cupid (on the right) with his big brother/twin Bruno.


Thursday, July 31, 2014

Xrays, stall rest

Cupid was x-rayed on Tuesday.  The good news was no fracture or bone cyst.  The bad news is we still don't know why he is lame!  The vet still believes the problem is coming from the stifle.  The recommendation was to put him on stall rest for about 10 days and see where he's at and decide if ultrasounds are needed.  Cupid is a pretty good patient, he doesn't mind being in the stall but then is a little pushy when I bring him out he sometimes doesn't want to stand still.  I've been going out in the morning and after work to let him out to graze and very minimal walk.  Unfortunately it gets pretty warm in the stall during the day.  I need to get him a salt lick, and maybe a stall toy.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Lame :(

After my great lesson with Cupid last week, I was really excited to keep building on it.  Unfortunately the following day he was totally lame on his left hind leg.  He wasn't lifting it all the way and the toe was dragging on the ground.  There was no swelling, heat, or tenderness anywhere.  At first I thought maybe his foot was bruised, since he got trimmed the day before the sole was more exposed.  But it looked more like it was coming from the stifle.  At first I thought the stifle was just locked, after doing a bit of reading online I tried backing him up to see if that would unlock it but it didn't help.  The vet came out today and also suspected the stifle was the cause but he could not determine what specifically the issue was.  The options were to either put him on stall rest and see if there's any improvement in about 2 weeks, or more diagnostics.  I opted to have xrays done so the vet will be back tomorrow.  I'd rather know for sure what the cause of the problem is, and then have a better idea how to treat it.  So fingers crossed we figure it out tomorrow, and it isn't anything serious!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Steering

Our main focus right now is working on improving Cupid's steering. He is used to training on a nice wide racetrack where he doesn't have to do circles or change directions much. I've been using the jumps in the arena to weave around - hopefully this also makes our sessions more interesting for Cupid. Last night I laid a tarp out in the arena and rode over it at a walk and trot, which Cupid does perfectly. We still need to work on our canter leads. He doesn't seem to favor one lead over the other, but gets it wrong on both sides quite often! I got a new bridle for Cupid which has a padded crownpiece, brow band, and nose band. He has very thin skin (unfortunately is getting blanket rub on his shoulder) so hopefully this is more comfortable for him. We are still saddle shopping which is getting frustrating. I need to get someone to take some pictures of me riding! In the meantime here is one of Cupid napping after lunch with his buddy Lance looking out for him, and one in his turnout blanket. He lives close to the coast, even though it is summer it can get pretty chilly in the evening.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lesson Horse

Cupid and I had our first lesson with our trainer today. I wasn't planning on doing lessons yet, so we can get to know each other without that added pressure, but we were short on school horses. I told me trainer I wasn't sure if I was ready, and it was kind of like bringing a guy home to meet your parents on a third date. She laughed and said she's already ridden Cupid (when we first tried him out) so she knows what he can do. I was still a little reluctant but tacked him up. I must have been nervous because I put a saddle pad on upside down - whoops! The lesson went pretty well. Cupid was very good, we worked on smooth halt/walk/trot transitions and shortening and lengthening the stride at a trot and he is much more in tune to my seat then I expected. We also went over ground poles. At the end of the lesson we had our first canter. Altough we missed the lead the first time on each side (at least he's not one-sided, right??) it was fun and he has a really bounding, rocking-horse canter.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Saddle up!

After giving Cupid a few weeks to unwind after racing, I decided we were ready to slowly ease into riding! First I needed to fit him for a saddle, so he will be comfortable and not start his training on a bad note. Lucky for me a saddle fitter was coming out to the barn. I picked up a saddle on trial, but unfortunately it doesn't work for Cupid. Luckily one of my trainer's schooling saddles is a pretty good fit, so I can use that until I find one.
We had our first ride on Saturday, just at a walk and doing walk-halt-walk transitions. Cupid was very good! Although he does not know how to do circles very well I thought he was pretty responsive to rein and leg aids for an OTTB. He whinnied a few times but stayed calm and listened. We kept it short, about 15 minutes, for the first time. No pictures since there wasn't anyone there who can take them for me. I was going to ride again on Sunday but it was so hot I decided to just groom him and let him take it easy.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Lunging, Take 2

Over the weekend one of my instructors, who practices natural horsemanship, spent a little time playing with Cupid in the indoor arena. She was amazed that a three year old would be so unfazed about walking over a tarp or having a stick with a plastic bag tied to the end waved around him. Cupid is very easy going and doesn't seem to be bothered by much, except on occasion does not like being away from his pasture mates. He was being lazy and did not want to trot on the lead though. After my unsuccessful first attempt at lunging, I have to admit I thought about giving up. I can live with my horse not being able to lunge as long as he rides okay. :p But I did try again. The second time I just clipped the lunge line to his halter. I'm not sure what I did different, but it went a lot better. The circle was more of a blob but Cupid walked and trotted around me both directions. When I asked him to "whoa" he did, and though he would turn slightly in towards me he did not walk in, but he looked like he would rather stand in the middle with me! When Cupid was trotting around me he suddenly seemed like a grown-up horse not a baby. A very handsome horse at that! Since Cupid is pastured with other horses I feel bad about taking him out while they are eating their hay, since the other horses will eat his share while he's out. But it takes them a really long time, over 2 hours, to finish the hay! I went out later than usual last night so he would be done with his hay, but it got darker a little earlier than I expected. I did a brief lunging session in the covered arena (which has lights). I think Cupid was a little more on edge than usual but he was very well-behaved. It was totally dark by the time I took him back to the pasture. Since it was a bit chilly and misty I put his new waterproof turnout sheet on for the first time.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Lunging

Though he still gets an occasional new bite, Cupid is pretty well aclimated to his new home and herd. During his second week I started only coming out once a day instead of twice. Cupid is a very easy-going horse, almost lazy. He is very good being tied now. When I walk him he will occasionally whinny to his buddies but does not appear anxious. On Thursday I decided to try lunging him. I don't think he's every been lunged before. I put a snaffle bridle on him (borrowed, I still need to get one). For his first time I decided not to add any more tack. Since our round pen is very deep I decided to go to the regular arena instead. I started by leading him around in a circle and then slowly moved away from him. It was slow going as he stopped or followed me. I tried to use the correct body language to move him but he was confused and I don't think I was assertive enough as he just wanted to turn in towards me. He is not at all phased by the whip and ignored it even as I tapped his rump. I tried leading him again and moving away slowly, and when he did a few circles I praised him and changed direction. It was the same to the other direction (plus he had to stop to pee too, which is pretty funny because he stretches his front legs way out in front and his hind legs several feet back and is about half his normal height!) I'll have to think of something different to try next time.
On Friday I had my riding lesson on a school horse, then played with Cupid. We walked on a trail which is parallel to the road and adjacent to it at one point, and he was very well-behaved and not concerned about the cars. He whinnied once on the way back but did not rush. We practiced "whoa" (he has to stand still on a loose lead until I ask him to move) and "walk". I think his back may be sore, the last few days when I brushed him he drops his back in certain spots. I don't know if it's from racing and something he did in the paddock. Unfortunately I missed the horse chiropractor who just came out to the barn, but next time I'll add Cupid to the list.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Weekend

During the weekend I was able to spend all da Saturday and Sunday with Cupid, well in between doing the barn chores I do in exchange for my lessons. On Saturday we worked on ground manners and learning "whoa" and "walk." We also worked on standing tied. He does not like to stand still, either while being led or when tied. Previously I think he was only tied in his stall, not to a hitching post, so I wasn't sure what he would do and took it very easy only loosely tying him for very short amounts of time. But then I realized that though he moves around he doesn't pull back or do anything too bad, so it's probably better for him to be tied for longer and just get used to it. I also introduced him to cross ties. We went through them during his walks the last few days and I stopped and had him stand in the spot without actually being tied the first few times. Then I tried attaching the cross ties. He was pretty good, he took a few steps forward and a few steps backwards but didn't panic. On Saturday he also got a bath. He has very thin skin and didn't seem to like the water hitting him very much and picks up his legs if I put the water there. Sunday morning I went out to the stable and saw Cupid's right hind leg was quite swollen. Poor baby, I don't know what he did during the night to get hurt. I cold hose his leg, which he didn't really like very much and didn't want to stand and kept picking up the leg. But there was a giant puddle in the wash rack and he walked right in and stood in the puddle no problem. Then I put him in a stall with an ice boot on. We did this several times throughout the day. He was a very good patient and snoozed during most of the day. His neighbor, who was also inside because of an injury, was not happy to be in the stall instead of turned out and spend most of the day either whinnying, pawing/banging on the door, or flinging his blankets off the bar outside the stall.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Cupid's first week

Cupid arrived at his new home, a boarding stable about 15 minutes from my house, on a Monday night after about a two hour trailer ride.  He was looking around a lot, but did not act up.  There was a box stall ready for him with lots of shavings and a pile of hay.  He laid down in the shavings within about 10 minutes and enjoyed his dinner.  I noticed that the latch on the door did not have a safety chain and was concerned because Cupid likes to play with things, so I tied it with baling twine for extra reinforcement.  He also was chewing the cross tie hanging next to the stall so I took it down before he chewed it apart and we get into trouble our first day! 
Cupid spent his first full day in the stall, and seemed pretty relaxed.  I came out in the morning to check on him before work, and then came back after work.  In the evening it was time to introduce Cupid to his new pasture mates: Legend, a huge older Hanoverian gelding; Bruno, also an ex-racehorse; and Bo, a young Oldenburg gelding.  Cupid is very friendly and likes other horses so cautiously walked up to the other horses.  When they came to him he lowered his head and made his "I'm just a baby not a threat" face.  ("A baby horse coming up with their head low and stretched out, clacking their teeth is not trying to bite or be aggressive. It is showing respect and asking to be allowed in close to make friends." - http://thinklikeahorse.org/index-3.html#1)  
Cupid's new home is a lot colder and foggier then where he came from.  I was worried about him being cold and thought he may need a blanket.  I measured him as 68".  This is very small!  My friend who boards a large pony at the same barn thought I messed up because the pony is 72", but though Cupid is a bit taller than the pony his back is indeed shorter.  My trainer let me borrow a blanket, but it was too big and came off him.  I felt bad because it was probably scary for him when it was hanging off him half off.  Sorry Cupid!  I ordered a new blanket in the correct size and should have it next week.

During the first week I came out every morning and evening to spend time with Cupid, just grooming him and walking him around the property and turning him out in the evening.  On Thursday he got a pretty good bite mark on his side.  It's hard to stand back and let him get hurt but I know it's part of the process of him joining a new herd.  


 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Bringing home Cupid

When Dee passed away in May 2013, I didn't think I could ever love another horse. I had Dee for 18 years, and we were a great team and the best of friends. We used to go on long trail rides, horse shows, and pony club meetings. Then as she got older we would just go on walks and I scratched the itchy spot on her belly. When she was gone, I thought I was done with horses for good. Indeed for the next several months I kept busy with work and school and trained for a 50k race, until one day I realized I missed riding. I started taking lessons twice a week and enjoyed riding several different horses and learning different things from each. There were days when I had either a very good ride, or a bad one, and I couldn't help but think how it would be if I rode Dee that day and I cried with how much I missed her. I reminisced a lot, I'm sure some of the other people at the barn are sick of hearing my stories about Dee. Then one day I just felt like I'm ready for a new horse of my own. Dee can never be replaced and I still miss her, but I was ready to make new memories and try to give another horse the best life I can.
DD One Bar ("Dee") 1985-2013 Enjoy the green meadows without pain my friend.

I started looking at horses for sale online. I found a nice 9 year old gelding that sounded good, so I forwarded the ad to my trainer. She was excited and said let's go see him. I found a few other ads that sounded promising and she got a few leads as well. Our first visit was to a thoroughbred farm to look at a four year old gelding who was too slow to even make it to the racetrack. The owner said she had a few other horses available as well. The second horse she brought out was a little 3 year old gelding who actually had won a race as well as placed second and third a few times. The owner said he always tried hard but she didn't think he would be able to move up much, and he raced two weeks ago but she thought he should move on to a non-racing home. This little guy was more interested in standing next to us and giving nuzzles than running around the arena. We got him to run enough that my trainer could see he had nice movement so we asked if we could ride him. I groomed him in his stall and he was very behaved even when I touched his belly and picked up all four feet. He nuzzled me and just wanted to snuggle. The horse had never worn a regular english saddle but was not bothered when I placed it on his back. My trainer got on him first and walked, trotted, and cantered both directions. He got the correct canter lead on each side. Then it was my turn. I tried not to feel too nervous. Jockeys usually get boosted up while the horse is being led at a walk, so he was not used to standing next to a mounting block and my trainer held his head while I got on. We set off at a walk, and it felt smooth. He was not used to leg aids and just ignored my heels. At least it did not make him run or jump! We did a nice smooth trot, and I directed him in some big circles and serpentines and direction changes. This was all new and confusing to him but he was calm and cooperative. I liked him, though wasn't sure if I was ready for such a green horse. I thanked the owner and went off to see the next horse. Over the next few days I went and saw several horses. I liked most of them, and thought about what the next few months as well as long term possibilities would look like with each horse and thought about how difficult it would be to choose. But there was only one that I always smiled when I thought about him, and I realized I showed several people (non-horsey people who probably thought I was nuts) his picture saying I might buy this horse. So I realized I had already made my decision, I wanted the little three year old gelding!
I called his owner and told her I wanted to have a vet look at the horse and if everything looked okay I was ready to buy him! I asked my sister to come with me, in case it got too overwhelming. A horse is a huge commitment, and for a moment it was almost too much to handle and I wanted to run away. When I finally got him back to the boarding stable I finally took a deep breath and was happy. I decided to call my horse Cupid because he is a sweetheart and was born on Valentine's Day. This blog will serve as a memoir of my journey with Cupid, as he changes from racehorse to riding horse and hopefully one day a hunter-jumper show horse.