Thursday, March 11, 2010


I didn't have a lesson on Tuesday since I had to do a day trip for work. So I've been working with Hola often to prepare him for his next time with Betsy. There will be some improvement! At least that's the theory...

Yesterday I went to work Hola. The Gang of Merry Men's paddock has turned from slushy snow to ice and mud. Horrible footing. And in some spots, such as the gate area, the mud is so deep it nearly sucks your boots off. The horses are smart about the footing and walk carefully in the slick areas where the ice hasn't melted.

When I went out there, my two boys seemed to be the clever ones, hanging out in the driest spot of all, inside their run-in. Of course, they wouldn't come to me when I called them. I had to trudge through the mud and ice to get them . That is SO unlike Toby who LOVES to come running to me when he sees me. That is except when it's raining and he's inside the run-in. I guess the deep mud is similar to rain in his mind.

I brought them both in and cleaned them up. Then I set to work with Hola. I decided to longe him first with his draw reins before I would get up on him. He was fine while I was getting him ready except for a minor complaint when I tightened the girth (ears pinned, dirty look). Then I walked him out to the indoor arena. I asked him to walk and away he went. He tossed his nose up into the air and felt the draw reins, then he felt the fibers of the baling twine on him and his twitching increased. In no time at all, Hola looked like this:

He was trotting around in a big ugly trot, nose twitching into the air, hooves swinging out big time underneath him, going as fast as he could in a circle around me at the trot. I asked for him to walk by singing it to him in the way we always do. Amazingly, he settled down to a walk. I kept him walking for a bit but he'd get riled up again and start trotting and then look like this in no time.

Now I love Bill The Cat, but that's not what I want out of my horse when I work him. I removed the draw reins thinking he'd settle down but no. When asked to trot he'd get wound up again. He kinda looked like this but with a saddle, bridle and longe line attached:

Ollie shot with new Canon 1D Mark IV

Amazingly, he'd always settle down to a walk when asked. You have to realize I'm looking for any bright spot at this point. I was really getting discouraged. When I'm around my horses, I try to view the world through their eyes to figure out what they're trying to tell me. And it dawned on me that Hola had some pent up energy from not being able to yahoo outside in his paddock! I decided to end his work, untacked him, and let him loose in the arena to get "it" out of his system. He was as high as a kite! I went into the barn and grabbed Toby to join him. Toby was the same way. Toby practically pulled me to the arena so he could get his daily roll in (he wasn't able to with the mud) and then raced around with Ollie, bucking and farting the whole time. I'm grateful they get along so well.

I sat down in a chair to watch them and started to wonder if Hola would really be able to get to a horse show. He's gets wound up so easily. Then my other voice would tell me, "Wendy, remember how he was in cross ties? You didn't think you'd ever be able to cross tie him in the aisle and he's perfect in them now! Don't lose faith!"

So I'm trying really hard to keep the faith. Sometimes it's not so easy...


  1. It IS a matter of "keeping the faith" when dealing with horses, especially OTTBs. Every horse gets zippy in the kind of weather we've ALL experienced. You will see a change for the better (the "good old Hola") once the weather gets settled and the boys get worked regularly. Trust me on this.

    My OTTB is 16 and he still acts like an unbroke youngster at times. Does my heart good to see him feeling so good, but makes me really happy I'm not on his back at that particular moment ;o)

  2. Yes, we all have days like those (especially with the greenies!), and I think you did the right thing be recognizing that Hola was too full of spit and vinegar to focus and do any real work.
    And Like TBDancer mentioned about her oldie, my 23 year old horse Mac even had days where he thought he was a two year old back at the track! He could gallop and buck with the best of 'em.
    All in all, it sounds like pretty typical greenie OTTB behavior -- don't get discouraged!

  3. You mean he actually walked when you wanted him to? There's oodles of hope for this horse. (Plus, if you hate him, send him to me.)

    It was a good call on your part to turn him loose. I usually just turn my girls out in the arena before I even try to work them if they've been out of work for more than a couple days. (One is OTTB, the other is TB/Oldenburg).

  4. Ok everyone! Two words to describe his work today...


    I'm so geeked about it!!