Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Already?

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! I was lucky enough to have spent the long weekend in Lexington, Kentucky. And had the opportunity to shoot some great races at Churchill Downs as well as see my first Fox Hunt! It was fantastic!

And for those camera buffs out there, I got to shoot with a really cool lens - a canon 500mm...

As you can see, it's about as big as me.

But now I'm back home in northern Michigan and taking care of my boys - Toby and Hola. Betsy came out to give Hola a work. He hadn't been ridden in a week and was on his toes for Betsy. She walked and walked him until he settled down and relaxed. Then she went to work.

Hola has a tendency to drop his right shoulder when travelling to the right. Since he doesn't understand many aids yet, Betsy worked on getting him to figure out that her inside leg pressure will cease when he doesn't drop his shoulder and is balanced. She worked and worked on it until it clicked with him. Then he proceeded to behave like a dog that has just learned a new trick. He wanted to show everyone his new fancy trick.

One thing I've noticed about Hola during this retraining process is how much he thinks about things. The entire time Betsy was working with him, his ears were flicking back and forth and he was constantly chewing the bit and creating huge foam balls that were falling from his mouth. He seems to enjoy the intellectual challenges we are giving him. The best is seeing how hard he is trying and the triumph when he figures it out. He just seems to bust with pride.

Right now the retraining is going in baby steps but once we get a good foundation down for him, he should move along fairly well. Now if we could only get him to relax right away and not jump to the conclusion that because there is a rider on his back that he needs to go fast...


  1. The "there's a rider on my back so I must go fast" is "trackspeak" and will go away when Hola figures out he isn't on the track anymore. Once he is part of a steady, several rides a week, consistent work schedule, he'll "get it." Some horses get it quicker than others, but this is just part of the retraining program that all OTTBs must go through. In my (limited) experience with OTTBs, it appears to be easier for horses that did not particularly LIKE racing to learn their "new rate of speed" rather quickly. If a horse raced and either did well or didn't mind racing, that lesson takes a bit longer.

    A horse "thinking about things" is also very good. My guy is a thinker, too. He concentrates VERY hard on what he is being asked to do, and when I hear him grinding on the bit from time to time, I know he is very focused and "on the job."

    This is why I LOVE the OTTB because each one is SO full of "try," and they eventually figure out that this NEW job is going to be really a really GOOD one, so much easier and more rewarding than that "track gig" they did for awhile. ;oD

    (Did you have an assistant to help you with that lens? I believe you have a series of pictures of photographers with all their cameras and lenses strapped/hanging from their bodies. Strength builders, all that equipment ;o)

  2. I know that Hola will get used to life off the track eventually and will stand like a gentleman at the mounting block. I make him stand after mounting too. But when he starts a gait he always seems to put a lot of enthusiasm into it. I love it when he's enthusiastic at the walk and truly do not want him to lose that. He has a FABULOUS walk!!

    He's coming along very well and is such a good worker bee. He's so much happier when he has a job. And the more I work him, the more relaxed he becomes. So that's my plan. Work him even if it's not necessarily strenuous.