Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Horse Porn

I came home from my business trip to find all my 4-leggeds to be happy and in good health. It was a nice relief although the dog and cat can become clingy for about the next 24 hours. I don't mind.

On my way back home I had a several hour layover at the Minneapolis Airport with my computer and a book. I got online and some inexplicable power took over my hands and I typed in http://www.canterusa.org/
This, my friends, is a "horse porn" site. It is porn simply because 1) it's addictive and 2) I probably shouldn't be looking. All these lovely former race horses looking for new homes and careers. CANTER isn't the only place for this, there is the Fingerlakes Thoroughbred Adoption Program, LongRun, Bits and Bytes, the list goes on and on.

I didn't think I wanted to look at other horses for awhile but I have found that I have a huge gaping hole in my life without Jaguar Hope. With only one horse and that one needing my attention only a few times a week, I have found that I'm going crazy without a project.

So I started looking. My criteria is simple. I want a thoroughbred that is a by product of the racing industry. One that would be a good dressage prospect. This is a tough time of year to be looking because the racing season has just begun but you never know...

Fingerlakes had a couple cuties. Meet Unjammed. He's a big black young thoroughbred that has never raced. He has some possibilities but then again, his coloring is an awful lot like Jag's and I'm not too sure I can go there.

Fingerlakes also has this cutie - Testament. I just L-O-V-E how Testament moves in his video. He really likes to hike his hocks at the trot just like someone else I used to ride... He's very cute.

Then I checked out CANTER-IL's trainer listings and came across this cool dude named Delivered From Evil. He's a 16 hand 3 yr old, sound but too slow for racing. I like his coloring and build.

There is another horse that may cause me to road trip over to Rochester, NY for the weekend. His name is Awe. He's a big (17 hands) black (dark bay) dude. He had a pretty darn good career racing too. His name came up on the Alex Brown Racing Forum.
With Awe, Testament and Unjammed all in the Rochester area, it may make it worth my while to check them out.

Maybe one of them will call out to me or maybe that one hasn't found me yet. We will see.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Travel Fears

Last night I packed for a business trip and started to worry. It's always been a fear of mine that I would be gone when one of my 4-leggeds had an emergency. My work has me travelling often across the U.S. and now that my kids are all senior citizens I worry about them even more. Right now I'm particularly sensitive. I just can't take much more heartbreak.

So I conducted a family meeting, told my 12 year old Golden Retriever, Palmer, to behave, eat when he should (he tends to be a nervous eater when I'm away but could stand to lose some weight) and to be otherwise a good boy for my neighbors who adore him.

i have such a sad face

Then I talked to Pita, my 13 year old pastel calico. She's usually clingy when I return from a trip. She and Palmer are secretly friends but they don't want that publicized. She has rarely been a problem unless her routine is upended then she'll yowl until she drives you crazy:

really i'm a calico

Both told me they would be on their best behavior but will miss me. I think they sense my grief so they've been particularly good lately.

Then, and yes you can call me crazy, I drove out to the barn to talk to soon-to-be 20 year old Toby. I gave him strict instructions to stop rough housing, eat all his grain and hay and to otherwise be on his best behavior. I've always worried about him and his antics. He really enjoys rough housing with his paddock buddies - sigh...

toby and beamorethe antagonistwatcha doingtoby

He has a lot of personality.

Toby looked at me took the couple carrots I offered and otherwise was wondering what was my problem. He gave me that "I'm fine! Quit worrying! and while you're at it will you be a scratching post" look.

We will be fine.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Claiming Game

Each night lately, I wake up around 3am and can't get back to sleep. I toss and turn and annoy the cat with my restlessness. Last night while I tossed and turned I started to think about a couple people I know who are waiting to get their special Off Track Thoroughbred.

One of them is a girl I don't know that well at all. She wrote on my facebook page that she was inspired by me and Jaguar Hope. She waits patiently and cheers on a horse named Pay Attention. Pay Attention has earned over $500,000 and his owners are now running him in lowly $4,000 claimers at Penn National. He's on The Top Bunk List, a list of race horses who have earned over $500,000 and are now running in $5,000 claiming races or lower. She attends his races and brings him carrots and apples. He's an absolutely lovely animal.

He will be racing this Saturday. Let's hope he will run safely, not be claimed and be retired afterwards to this lovely woman who is so devoted to him.

Then my thoughts wandered over to a dear friend of mine who, since the time I've known her, has told the world she wants to have Ballast when he is retired. Yesterday, 8 year old Ballast, winner of several Grade III turf races, was running in a $50,000 claiming race at Gulfstream Park. Sadly, he was claimed and will no longer be training with Graham Motion. My friend and I are friends with most everyone at Herringswell Stables (Graham Motion's stable) and cheer on their horses and visit them with multiple bags of carrots in tow. Ballast was always high on our list, along with Better Than Bonds, Shake the Bank (now retired), Independent George, Icabad Crane, Rebellion and his royalty Better Talk Now, just to name a few. Ballast running in a claiming race left me wondering, "why would Ballast's owner put him in the claiming ranks? Hasn't he proven himself?"

Ballast (IRE)

Ballast at Fair Hill

Although claiming is part of the sport, I feel strongly that it hurts horses such as Ballast and Pay Attention. Typically, horses on their way down get jumped around from owner to owner each trying to squeeze out what they can financially from the horse. Sadly, many very successful horses, such as Brave Miner, Mighty Beau, and Sky Diamond don't make it to retirement. This, in my opinion, is a huge black eye for the sport. These horses deserve to be retired with dignity and not end up at low level tracks in low level claimers. They should be celebrated.

I was lucky with Jaguar Hope. He had a great owner during his racing days. He wanted to retire him sound and give him the opportunity to have a second career with me. For that, I'm so grateful. Although our time was cut short, Jaguar Hope had the life of Riley being my dressage project and love of my life. Thank you Dr. Gorham for caring for the horses and being a good representative for the sport. I'll always be grateful to you.

Looks like Ballast may have some good dressage moves! :)


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Moving Forward

One week ago today, I was riding Jag and we were having a spitting contest over who was in charge of the turns to the right.

So much has happened since then. But one thing I was determined to do was to keep moving forward - as difficult as it may be to do without my partner in crime, friend and comedian. Betsy has been incredibly kind and understanding. She just said, "I'm here to help you do whatever you are ready to do." I said I have to keep riding, keep focused on my riding. It gives me something constructive to think about because I just can't stop thinking about Jaguar Hope.

Lucky for me I've got my Peas and Carrots guy. Toby, otherwise known as Nannies Rio in his racing days, is such a sweet personality. He is fondly referred to as "the nose picker" and trust me it IS a term of endearment. He tries for me, is willing, and has a lot of personality. Today began with getting him out of his stall. You see, Toby likes to snooze in his stall with his big butt facing the stall door. So when you open up the door you are greeted with a pile of poop and big blanketed behind. It immediately put a smile on my face. Ahh! My nose picker.

I got him groomed and ready for the lesson. We went through our stretching exercises which are especially important for an older horse. Betsy and I chatted about him and what we can do to strengthen his back and hind end along with getting him good supplements to help his joints.

The lesson wasn't anything structured. I had asked Betsy to be the photographer for the day just to prove that I was "back in the saddle again". Toby started out with his big long neck way up in the air. It cracked me up because his neck and body are so much longer than Jag's but they were both the same height at the withers (16.2 hands). Toby wears a blanket 4" longer than Jag. He's just a big lanky guy with a neck that looks like a runway when you ride him:

having fun with toby

And once he was warmed up he started to give me the flex I was looking for:


He put a smile on my face and Toby seemed so proud to be working. We took it easy on him and we will slowly get him back into shape. He may not have the flash and presence that Jaguar Hope had but he's a willing soul with good movement and a big heart.

Today was a tough day emotionally but I felt good that I tackled my emotions head on and kept moving forward.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More "25 Things About Me" And Then Some

Jag's 25 things seemed to give everyone some insight into his personality but it was only 25 things and there was so much more. So I decided to share with you another 25 things but I couldn't keep it to only 25. So the following is his "More 25 Things" and then some:

1. You liked to nuzzle my hair and neck while I buckled your blanket;

2. You had a loud jealous whinny every time you saw me at Toby’s stall;

3. You had a loud impatient whinny when you heard me enter the barn. (I’m going to really miss that);

4. You’d give me all your feet easily for picking EXCEPT your front right. I’d be asking for the right and you were giving me the left. You’re such a comedian;

5. You always got the most out of your rolls;

The Joy of Rolling

6. You tried to bite the cross ties when I used the firm brush on you;

7. You tried to bite the cross ties when I tightened your girth no matter how slowly I did it;

8. You loved to go into Starlets empty stall after our lesson to clean up her leftover grain and crib on the wall hung feeder while I paid Betsy;

9. You threatened to bite me during the chiropractic sessions but you were all show;

10. You loved it when I used the curry on the underside of your neck and you’d raise your head up, tilt it and make funny faces with your lips when I hit a good spot;

11. You liked to be scratched on the crest of your neck just under your mane;

12. After scratching your mane you would shake your neck and head to mess your mane up;

the head neck shake

13. Whenever I was about to ride you, "IT" came out and got hard – VERY EMBARRASSING!

14. You were very flexible – like gumby!

bet he can't do this

15. You could communicate your likes and dislikes the easiest of any horse I’ve been around;

16. You would wrap your head and neck around me and check out my pockets for treats before you would let me put on your halter;

17. You perfected your impersonation of Hannibal Lector;

Hannibal Lector

18. You had the softest nose I’ve ever touched on a horse.

19. You had strong opinions

20. You had a really thick mane and tail

21. You could crib through any anti cribbing device;

i can still crib

22. Your mane would never stay on just one side;

23. You enjoyed baths and drinking out of the hose while holding the end with your teeth;

24. You were a “hot house flower” and hated to go out on cold days;

will the snow end

25. You liked most any flavor and kind of treat but especially the soft peppermints;

26. I could never completely get rid of that skin crud on your back legs;

27. You had a 3 inch long jagged scar down just above your sock on your back left leg from something during your racing days. No hair would ever grow there. But the crud would!

28. Your neck always cracked and popped when we did your stretching exercises. Both directions;

29. You learned to enjoy a good tail pull;

30. You always stood quietly for the farrier, and vets but not the chiropractor (see previous 25 Things) but you enjoyed the chiropractic treatments the most;

31. You had a girl friend who sadly moved out of town;

Jag and Lili

32. You were always a great listener with one ear on me at all times;

my ears on you

33. You had the most rhythmic, smoothest, well balanced canter I’ve ever experienced;

34. You were the youngest member of my 4-legged family (Toby in a couple weeks will be 20, Pita the cat is 13, Palmer the golden is 12);

35. You told me every time I saw you that I was special.

And then for one great glimpse into his personality I recommend you watch this video I made about one of our riding lessons. At the time I thought I was being really cheesey showing everyone our "pre shot routine" (to borrow a golf term) as we prepared for the lesson but now I watch it over and over again. My favorite part is the close up of him eating the carrot which I snuck him. It makes me want to reach out and touch that ultra soft nose one more time...

Friday, March 20, 2009

A Final Farewell

Today I had to say my own goodbye. A private goodbye between me and Jag. I didn't want anyone else around. I left Jag a yellow rose and a few of his favorite peppermints. I actually hope the deer he was so mesmerized by will enjoy the treats. I know the wild turkeys that would frequent his paddock and scare his big patooty off won't.

goodbye rose

I had my private time with him. Said my final goodbye and headed over to visit Toby.

I took the Tobster out of his stall and proceeded to scrub the dried up mud that covered his neck and head and legs. We are in the middle of mud season and thankfully he was blanketed! Toby and I went through our routine and then I took him out for a nibble on some grass - granted it hasn't begun to grow here at the 45th parallel. But he seemed so happy. Then he told me, "Miss Wendy, you'll be ok. I'm still here for you."

i'm here for ya miss wendy

Thank you Toby.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

They're so Fragile. They're so Strong.

They're so fragile. They're so strong.

One minute he was walking the fenceline waiting to come in and the next he's standing in the middle of his paddock on three legs. The fourth leg looking nothing like the source of power it once possessed only moments earlier. He didn't move from that spot.

I was called at home and told he broke a leg and that both our vets were called and someone would be there soon. Please come out as quick as I could.

I don't know why but my instinct had me call my sister to drive me. I was hysterical and babbling on the phone. She dropped everything to get me. I was sobbing for the entire 15 minute ride. I knew what was about to transpire.

Jag was always very special to me. Right from the moment I saw him at the track, I told my friend, "That is the most beautiful horse I've EVER seen!" and started to take photos...

Jaguar Hope

Jaguar Hope

One thing leads to another and he's retired from racing and taking on a new life as my horse. And what a time we had.

jag in the snow9

But last night, as I stood by him waiting for the vet to arrive, I was thinking of just how majestic he looked gazing off towards the barn. Even injured, he carried himself with such pride and dignity. I'll never forget that nor will I forget how calm he was munching on the peppermints I offered. His favorites - the ones that are soft in the middle. He showed no signs of stress, no anxiety, not a drop of sweat. Just pure dignity.

jag profile

They're so fragile. They're so strong...

I'll miss you big man

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Frog In A Well

I came home from my lesson today thinking about my overall progress with riding Jag since we started in training. We had taken 2 steps forward, then one step back - the proverbial "Frog in a well." Now we are back to moving forward again but it's still not to the point where I think (wish?) we should be. I need patience.

In a nut shell, we are still arguing over leaving the wall and turning to the right. There's only a couple places in the arena where he seems to enjoy mocking me. It used to be he'd ignore my aids at any place in the arena. I guess we are making progress.
After last weeks lesson his feet still seemed sore so I gave him a few days off and didn't ride him again until Sunday. In the meantime, I focused on being clearer with my aids and had Toby to help me with this. It seems to have helped. By the time I rode Jag I was ready to do turns in any direction. So I thought I'd keep his mind active and worked on never going in a straight line in the arena. We were constantly circling and changing directions to keep him guessing as to what we were going to do next. It was a good exercise and did help him pay attention to me and my aids rather than concoct some game to play with me. I repeated this the next day and then we had our lesson. Each time I rode him, we were better and better. Soon the turns will be easy!

The bottom line is that Jag isn't respecting my aids. He views me as that human with treats and fun times off his back. On his back, he's doing whatever he wants to do because he can with me. He knows I'm not an olympic level rider and is taking full advantage of my lack of high quality skills. I've become Rodney Dangerfield to him! So I'm on a mission to get his respect back and him working with me. With Betsy's help we will get there.

But in the meantime, while I'm struggling, I'm learning a lot. For starters I'm much better with asking Jag to turn. Fewer mixed messages being sent. I'm still not perfect but I'm much better! I also had a couple "ah ha" moments understanding better what Betsy is asking me to do particularly with using the reins together to keep Jag's shoulders in between them and straight.

I'm happy I'm improving my riding skills and in the meantime, I'll get Jag's respect back. I'm that frog in the well and not about to quit climbing that wall!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

We're Like Peas And Carrots

Dapple Happy Guy

Toby, aka Nannies Rio, is the best. He's my confidence-building-been-there-done-that-man. Riding him is like sitting down in an old familiar favorite chair. As Forest Gump would say "We're like peas and carrots".

Toby came to me in a round about way. For 12 years I had been away from horses to focus on my career in the golf administration world. My niece was into horses and showing in the hunter/jumper world. She was with my old trainer, Cindy Orr-Petherbridge, for several years. Then she lost interest but couldn't bare to lose Toby. My other niece, the younger sister, took a slight interest so I helped her learn to ride with Toby. Toby isn't exactly a horse for a beginner rider to get on. He's particular, wants to test you and once in awhile likes to let his inner-thoroughbred out. My young niece wasn't ready for that. So she lost interest in him too.

The deal was, I was to care for him until they sold him. Soon after this arrangement was made, he developed a noticeable limp. It turned into an abscess in his front right hoof. It broke and two weeks later he abscessed again. We knew there was something more serious going on. Off to Michigan State University we went. The only problem is that Toby doesn't like to trailer ever since he was at a previous boarding stable. It's a mystery but we assume he had a bad experience when he was sent to that stable. So one of the other horses in the barn had to go for the "road trip" just to keep Toby company. Toby was very well behaved for the 3 1/2 hour trip down.

After many x-rays it was revealed that Toby had a bad case of white line disease. His front right hoof had about 1/4 of it resected, as much as the doctor felt we could remove without compromising the support of the hoof wall. From that point I was to take a copper sulfate solution and squirt it inbetween the inner and outer hoofwall so it could kill the bacteria in hidden areas. Then I packed the area with cotton and wrapped it with elastikon tape to keep it clean. It was important that everything was breathable. We also made a special shoe with a very long and wide clip to protect the debrided area.


It took a long time to treat and regrow his outer hoof wall but now he has incredibly good/strong hooves. The best he's probably ever had! MSU had recommended I use Dr. Ric Redden's Biotin 100 as a supplement. There are many supplements with Biotin but you cannot buy anything with this strength of Biotin. I swear by this stuff!

Once Toby began his treatment, I asked my sister if I could have him and take on his treatment and bills. It was a done deal. So now I was back into horses and building a strong bond with a big goofy ex racer.

Toby got better, albeit slowly, and I ended up riding him all the time. He enjoyed going on the trails with our friends although at first it was a BIG challenge. He was convinced there were monsters everywhere. We have several Paso Fino's at our barn so we put him into the "Paso Sandwich". One friend on her Paso Fino in front, one friend on her Paso Fino in back and Toby in the middle jigging away. Eventually his jigging stopped and he would only start it up again once we reached this one big sand dune. He loves to run up the dune, then parade around like a peacock at the top. I tell him he just won the race and feed his ego. He seems so satisfied with himself after that. Keep in mind, we avoided this dune until he seemed used to going out on the trails.

I began to notice that riding Toby as much as I wanted was a little tough on his joints. He had a life at the track, then a life in the hunter/jumper world. I had hoped to get him back into jumping but then I realized his joints and his disposition called for true retirement. He was just worn out from his years of working. Now he's all about fun and friends.

watcha doing

And being my fun guy to ride!

toby and post jump

Toby and I have many stories and adventures together. We are two very good old friends. So when I'm feeling down about my riding with Jag, all I need to do is get on Toby. Quickly I realize I'm a very capable rider and I have the proper abilities and tools to get Jag to turn right!

Me on Paladine and ponying Toby

Thank goodness for the Old School Masters!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

My Sassy Man

my sassy man

My lesson today was a good one. It was good because I was so bad.
So, what did I learn?

1) never expect to have the same horse on any given day;
2) it may be more difficult to ride a grumpy horse;
3) the arena wall is actually a vortex that sucks my horse to it;
4) if he really wanted me off he could easily do it.

Let's start in order:
1) never expect to have the same horse on any given day: Yes, I rode Jag again. But today he was "grumpy. " His feet were trimmed on Saturday and they were trimmed a tad bit too short for his comfort level. So he was a little bit sore, not so much that I couldn't ride him but definitely too much that I didn't ride him at much more than a slow trot to mostly a walk. So he was sore and grumpy. This is the key ingredient to instigate "yanking my chain" and having a short fuse.

2) it may be more difficult to ride a grumpy horse: As you may know we've been having issues turning to the right lately. Today it was REALLY BAD! especially when we discuss point 1...

3) The arena wall is actually a vortex that sucks my horse to it: I never knew this existed but there is some magical force that makes it near to impossible to get my horse off the rail when you want to turn to the right! It's a vortex!! and when you asked him to get off the wall you received point 2 (grumpy horse).

4) if he really wanted me off he could easily do it: Let me first begin by thanking the owner of the facility for the kick boards. They were utilized to the max and I'm even more grateful that they are on a slant. That way, Jag couldn't smoosh my leg into the wall like he really desired. So then he tried to kick at my leg which was asking him to do something (such as turn to the right). He tried and tried to get at my legs when I would put pressure on him, then when he didn't get my leg he went after the kick boards. HARD! Then when that didn't get his desired result he threw a real tantrum and bucked. I stayed on. Mostly because he didn't really want to get me off. He just wanted to let me know he wasn't a happy guy. I got the message.

The majority of the problem came from me. I was annoying the heck out of him. My signals I was giving him would once in awhile get crossed and he lost confidence in me. He wasn't his usual forgiving self which I chalk up to his discomfort and grumpiness.

As for me, I found myself, when things weren't going exactly to plan, trying to steer him like a car! Hello?! Horses do not have steering wheels! Keep your hands level and don't try to turn right with your hands in the 10 and 4 position on a clock. Also, I have to let him know where to go. I want him to go right so I need to set up a road block to the left and offer right as the way to go. I would end up holding that right rein too tight and not giving enough. Betsy was a genius in getting me to offer up the right to Jag. She had me ask then pat him on the neck with my right hand. By patting him, I'm releasing the right rein thus giving him the avenue to go right! So it was "ask, pat, ask, pat, ask, pat" every time we went around a corner to the right. This also helped to settle him down when he became really grumpy. So that was all good!

But for whatever reason, we could turn to the right all day long as long as we were not sucked in by the vortex! Damn that vortex! I don't get it. This is a horse that really hasn't done much arena work so he has no excuse to be rail spoiled. I have a plan... My mission is to work on smaller circles, making them bigger and bigger until we are using the full arena and are next to the walls again. That will be one of the things I focus on this week when we ride.

In the meantime I hope my horse will feel better as his hooves grow out. I imagine it's like cutting your fingernails too short. Eventually the nail will grow out enough so the discomfort goes away. I have a feeling once he's feeling better we will have a better time of things. It sure couldn't get much worse...

Now if I could only delete those images in my mind of the two of us in a show going through what we did today...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Letter to Jag

Dear Jag,

I've been trying really hard to communicate with you about our turns to the right. Sometimes we seem to do it right. In fact, tonight we seemed to be communicating a little better. Not great but better. So I thought if I showed you this picture that you'd understand the concept of bending a little bit better. Just reverse this illustration for our turns to the right...

Just so you know, I'm doing all of the above but you won't follow my queues! C'mon big guy! Work with me!
Tomorrow, Miss Betsy will be there to help us out. Hey, is she our relationship counsellor??
Love ya,
Miss Wendy

Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Basics of Bending

Jag and I have started with our lessons a few months ago. We started with the basic of basics. For Jag that meant we were working on rounding his frame. In layman's terms it means he's to distribute more weight to his hind end, raise up his back and subsequently his neck will arch with a lovely long stretch out and down. To achieve this I have to get him to bend from my inside leg, squeeze and release with my inside hand and hold steady with the outside rein and outside leg for support. What was interesting to me at first was realizing that it's not the pulling back of the rein that will cause the desired reaction, it is the releasing of the rein which gets the horse to stretch out and down along with the inside leg. The squeezing of my hands on the rein is me asking him to do it and the release gives him the opportunity to give it. My leg gives him the bend and suppling of the rest of the body. That's a lot going on! Needless to say we work on it all the time.

Here is a video I made from our lesson several weeks ago. It's pretty cheesey but it was eye opening to me to see the difference in my horse from when I rode him and when Betsy rode him!! You can clearly see Jag carrying himself and reaching underneath himself with his hind legs much better.

Going to the right is Jag's "bad direction." Typically he will lean on your right leg and his shoulder falls towards the middle of the arena. Here is a photo that shows him doing just that at the canter:

canter bad direction

It's not a whole lot of fun to ride when he starts in on that. Ironically, we worked on this issue and now he is doing the opposite! He is over flexing and not obedient to the outside aids. A couple nights ago, I called Betsy up lamenting his new behavior. He would be bent like a pretzel (it felt like) to turn to the right but he kept going straight until either a) I stopped him or b) we ran into something. We ran into the mounting block several times and we have many marks on the wall where we ran into it. I felt like we were a truck that had a tire blow out and lost all steering capabilities. Jag's a clever guy and he was totally taking advantage of me. After the telephone consultation with Betsy, I was better prepared for his antics. I started to prepare much further ahead for the turn, I kept him more straight underneath me rather than bending him to the inside - I'd get him overbent - and eureka! We were able to turn to the right again!

Here's Betsy working him to the right. He was trying his antics on her too:


and after some time she was able to steer him with no rein contact!!

steering wheel not needed

One thing about Jag, he's an excellent student! And as soon as he does something right we are always quick to praise him with a pat on the neck and a kind word:

good boy

The pat may not seem like much but boy does he respond well to it. He works hard to please and enjoys learning.

What do you think of his bling?

hows the bling

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

My Encounter With Morgan Horses

This past week I headed to the east coast for a business trip which curtailed my riding lesson for the week. Happily, it turned out that my friend (and owner of the barn where I board my horses in northern Michigan) was going to be in the same area to visit her show horse in training. I extended my stay a day so I could see her Morgan horse.

The Morgan show world is something completely different than anything I've been to before. To put it in layman's terms, the horses I'm experienced with are the "jocks" of the equine world. They excel on the track, in team sports, and in field competitions (think racing, polo, and eventing). The Morgan horse, in my view, would be an equivalent to, say, an irish dancer. Beautiful and graceful to the eye accomplished by incredible athletic ability. They make it look effortless when they raise their legs up so high and the cadence of their steps along with a still upper body.

So off I went to visit Boardmoor which is owned and operated by Mike Goebig and Dwayne Knowles. They have a beautiful facility set on top of a hill in the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. The weather was iffy and gloomy which presented a challenge for my camera when shooting indoors with poor lighting.


Above is a photo of the stallion Astronomicallee. He had an injury as a yearling and never made it to the show ring. However, he has sired many successful horses such as Get Busy who seems to have a sense of humor and chose to do the "down dog" yoga position rather than going into the desired park position:

equine yoga
Get Busy

The Broadmoor has had great success with many of their horses. Here is a short video of the 2006 World Championships with Mike Goebig riding the stallion Stand And Deliver:

Needless to say, it was an honor to visit and meet these movers and shakers (human and equine) in the Morgan show world.

A riding clinic was being conducted which is another reason why my friend came out. She referred to it as riding "boot camp" and seemed to have an endless supply of ibuprofen for the weekend. The owners of many of the horses were there for "boot camp" and were put through the paces to improve their riding for the upcoming show season. Some seemed to have an easier time of it...

happy horse happy girl

than others...

hanging on

But most importantly everyone had fun! Including my friend on her horse MSV Genuine Risk:

MSV Genuine Risk and stacey

I won't even attempt to explain anything about what they were working on except to say that much of what I'm learning in dressage is similar in saddle seat riding. Good basics are good basics for most disciplines!

Here is a short video clip of my friend riding her young horse for the first time in a double bridle! Kudos to her for a nice job:

And finally, I want to say that I have discovered where carousel horses came from - the Morgan Show World! I hope I get to visit again soon.

carousel horse