Saturday, May 29, 2010

Seeing Results

It was a gorgeous Friday evening with temps is the low 70's and a very slight breeze. I had to take advantage and go ride my guys.

Toby was awesome. After more than a year of working him in dressage, he now flexes and becomes round when I ask and he's much better about holding that frame while we make our way around the arena. I can stretch him down and collect him up. It's a blast to ride him! His most difficult gait has been the canter. He seems to struggle with his long back and getting his hind end underneath him. It used to feel like he was about to buck when he tried. He doesn't do that anymore! He is much more balanced, more so to the left than to the right, and he can get his hind end underneath him as long as I help him out on the front end. He keeps getting better and better at it and I don't need to hold him up as much as I used to. Progress! I think his ability to canter better has come as a result of all our trot work. He's simply more balanced. I just love riding him and feeling/seeing these results.

Then I hopped on Ollie. I'm not sure what happened to the Ollie I once knew but this new Ollie is as calm as a cucumber. No more getting startled at the littlest thing, much less bit chewing and head tossing (as if removing an imaginary fly), and overall a very calm, almost lethargic, demeanor!

I rode Ollie in the treeless saddle which he seems to not mind at all. I just wish it had more support for me and wasn't so big. He marched around and the minute I hinted at "whoa" he would stop. Unusual for him. It's got to be the feed...

I was having some struggles getting him to become round and holding it like he does for Betsy. I also noticed that he was dragging his back legs in the ground a little when he moved. He seemed to move fine otherwise so I have just made a mental note of it. Stiffness? Laziness? (Can't believe I just used that word when discussing Ollie!) After riding Ollie around, who was also good about standing at the mounting block, I cooled him out and let him have a pick of grass before putting him in his stall for the evening. He seemed so sleepy to me.

I'm anxious to take a riding lesson on Ollie now. I need an outside eye to watch what I'm doing so I can be sure I'm sending him the right message. But I'm thrilled that he's not such a busy body! Maybe now we can get his focus and we can progress again with his training. If only my new saddle would get here...

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Style of Strides, Efficiency of Movement

I like to follow a mish-mash of blogs on the internet. I always enjoy seeing how other people view events and happenings in the equine world. So I came across this blog on horse racing which had written about a great race horse named General Quarters. General Quarters (GQ) ran in last year's Kentucky Derby and was the feel good story of the race. He's trained by a retired school principle who has GQ as his only horse.

GQ ran in the big turf race on Derby day this year and won. I shot that race. When I downloaded the photos I noticed that GQ has a peculiar action with his front legs, in particular his front right. GQ is the gray in the following photos:

He seems to have a paddling action to me. So my amateur racing opinion is that he has an easier time running on turf/synthetics because he has a swimmer-like action in his stride. Maybe that has nothing to do with anything but it just seems like he is not digging in as deep as other horses would with their straighter down into the surface style.

That of course got me to thinking about other styles of movement from various gaited horses and how those gaits had a purpose and an efficiency of movement for that purpose (Tennessee Walking Horses, Paso Finos, etc.).

GQ may not be a pretty runner but he sure can run fast!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

New Feed New Horse

We were practically doing high 5's after his lesson today. After one week of being on Tribute's Kalm and EZ feed, Ollie had done a 180 degree change in his behavior. No longer was he fussy when you got him to the mounting block, no longer was his back end trying to pass the front end at the trot, no longer did you have to worry about applying leg pressure to him.

We've concluded that he had a sore/sour stomach last week and probably in previous lessons. It seems this new feed is much more palatable for him. His poops are even better - good shape and not as wet. He's even gained a few pounds in the past week!

Betsy and I were both so excited! We did ride him in the treeless saddle so he couldn't complain about my other saddle. The result was that this was THE BEST riding session we've ever had with him. Right from the start he didn't fuss and he marched around listening intently to Betsy. When Betsy was done working him, he even stood still and she had to apply leg to make him walk for his cool out. We couldn't believe it!

We really like this horse! ;)

I love the reflection in the mirror with this shot:


and he was just so happy-go-lucky in his attitude:


and in this shot, I just liked how his tail looked with the back lighting. I shouldn't say it but he was trotting and pooping at the same time which explains his high back and tail... :0


I'm such a nut about my guy. LOVE HIM!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

"Tell Us What's Wrong Buddy!"

Yesterday was Ollie's lesson day. Toby has thrown a shoe so he's out of commission until it's repaired (a day or two).

Not every day is a great day with an OTTB. Ollie was a total nightmare. He was nice and quiet in the cross ties. Nothing raised any alarms while tacking him up. Then we went to the outdoor arena. He kept trying to out walk me so I made several halts on the way out. He wouldn't stand still for mounting and then when Betsy FINALLY got on him he wanted to zoom. We thought he was just a little full of it. But she couldn't get him to settle down at all. Eventually, he had worked himself into a lather, was cantering sideways and almost got himself to the point where he was not going to listen because he was in such a tizzy. Thankfully he didn't reach that point.

As soon as Betsy got him to stop, she dismounted and we checked to see what the problem was. We took off the saddle, felt down his spine and we couldn't find anything. We looked at him and said "Tell us what the problem is buddy!" He was washed out and he hadn't done hardly anything. Sadly, he didn't say a word to us...

SO - we are concluding it's the saddle. My old Albion saddle which I had padded up a ton. Looks like we will be doing lots of ground work until my new saddle arrives.

Also, I'm changing Ollie's feed to a low sugar, low starch feed with higher protein and fat (to keep weight on him). Hopefully this will help him focus and he can be more receptive to learning.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Post Preakness Blues

I had a great time at the Preakness. I feel more a part of the photography crew at the races, I got to meet some of my favorite "Flickr Friends" (Budmeister, Rock and Racehorses and Spruceton Spook) who are wonderful racing photographers, and I got to see my old friends in the Baltimore area (especially Maggie and Lydia who helped me get Ollie!).

I was hopeful for Super Saver but didn't think he'd be able to do it for the Preakness. I really liked how First Dude moved when I saw him gallop on Friday morning as well as Lookin At Lucky. I DIDN'T like how Caracortado galloped on Friday morning. He looked like he was stiff or something. We didn't see everyone gallop.

On Preakness day, I was preparing myself for a really busy afternoon. The first race I went out to shoot was the 6th race. I thought that it might be fun if I went over to shoot the clubhouse turn for one race and then go back to my station near the finish line for the rest of the day.

While I was waiting for the race, this is what came by on the track:


They were pretty imposing up close!

Once the Budweiser Clydesdales got off the track the race went off and Comedero (on the rail in pink and black) won


After that race, I wandered back over to my station near the finish line.

Matt and I were probably most excited by the horses winning in the undercard races. Claiborne Farm's horse, Blame (a horse we have many win pictures from his previous races) won again -


and the sprinter, Taqarub (tack-ah-roob) is owned by Shadwell. For us, it felt like the home team won when he came home first with Eibar Coa wearing the distinctive Shadwell blue and white silks in the Maryland Sprint:



And we were thrilled to see the Jonathan Sheppard trained, Rainbow View win her turf race in a tough one. She is one gutsy little horse with a gutsy rider in Julien Leparoux who was sore from his big spill the day before!



And then it was time for the big race to go off. It seemed that every photographer on the planet was out to get "the shot." The tension in the air was palable. I managed to get a tight shot of Lookin At Lucky as he entered the sunlight right at the finish line and a fist pump by his young jockey Martin Garcia...


First Dude and Ramon Dominguez (a jockey that rode Hola in a few races!) both look disappointed by not catching him at the finish although they put in a terrific fight.

Speaking of First Dude, doesn't he resemble Canoodler?

First Dude:



I won't be going to The Belmont race in 3 weeks. I have too much going on. So I won't be doing too much racing photography for awhile and that makes me sad. But this means I'll have more time for my two guys who both need to be put to work!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Preakness Weekend

Yesterday was Black-Eyed Susan Day and I had a good day shooting. So I'm going to just post some pics since I don't have too much time...

Morning works:






and around the backside were some happenings including the Budweiser Clydesdales


and Calvin Borel hanging out in the morning after morning works


and the Clydes doing a "meet and greet" for the crowd before the races began


and then the 4th race was a race with the ladies legend with all the jockey's being retired and hall of famer women jocks:




and then we had some big races such as the Skipat Stakes where Lights Off Annie won


and finally was the feature race of the day which was the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes which had a couple horses go down, jockeys came off and Acting Happy winning and everyone came out of the race in fairly good order. I believe Julien Leparoux broke some teeth but no other broken bones...




Diva Delite completely flipped over on the track and really is a dark bay and not a gray. Based on what I saw, the horse seemed to be moving fairly well and hopefully is nothing more than body sore after falling yesterday.

I'm off to get to work now. Will hope to post when I can!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

5/11/2010 lesson for Ollie

This is what it looks like...

It's actually darker right now at this exact moment. It seems to change hourly. As ugly as it looks, it feels so much better! I can wear my dansko clogs again!! But it'll be a little while before I get a pedicure. That would be excruciating!

Newsflash: Smooshed feet are an occupational hazard when you own horses.

Tonight Ollie had a lesson with Betsy. It's been a little while since he's had to really work. I've been working on him at the mounting block and that's about it.

So Ollie was a little bit grumpy when he had to actually do some work

and not enjoying being asked for things

But he came around and started to show his perky good looks...

and drool coming out of the mouth is always a good sign

But to be honest, it wasn't all that great of a lesson for him. He had his old saddle on with it padded up in a way the saddle fitter suggested. It fit him much better this way but I'm guessing it still wasn't super comfortable for him and he's the most sensitive horse I've ever been around. I KNOW that his back was not a problem, the chiropractor came out last night to adjust him and said he was considerably better. You could tell just because he'd stand fairly nicely for the doc! He just anticipated the rubber nail/anvil into his hip as a problem long before it made any contact... I guess it hurt him before but this time it didn't hurt much at all. So Ollie had no excuses except for his lack of work.

He's back on the weekly work tab with Betsy since I'll be around a little bit more often. I'm heading out for the Preakness weekend but will be back on Monday. And I won't be doing much traveling until I have to travel for my work in mid June.

It'll be nice to get Ollie back at it and for me to enjoy riding both my boys.

But be sure to look for my Preakness photos! :)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Spring in Northern Michigan

One day it's 80 and sunny. The next, you have a winter weather advisory! 2-5 inches of snow. I'm not kidding!

So today, I woke up to snow flurries (the 2-5 never transpired thankfully) and temps in the 30's. I kept thinking of all the young riders who would be getting their horses prepped for the first show for Stepping Stone Horse Shows. What a miserable day for them! Of course I had to go take photos...

I have a soft spot for little girls with their ponies. Maybe it's because I never had that opportunity, my family felt that horse camp for 2 weeks in the summer was enough.

So off I went -


and this young rider was very serious about her ride and her looks. She had to match and it had to be pink/purple...


She was not necessarily happy but her horse seemed fine!


but she won a blue ribbon and her outlook changed


and this young rider had her hands full and did a wonderful job. Seems her Clydesdale has the heart of a race horse and wanted to GO!


and I thought this was the coolest coloring on a horse!


Once I was sufficiently cold, I headed over to see my own guys who had to be cooped up in their stalls due to the inclement weather. They were happy to get out:


And Ollie was a piece of work!




But Toby will always be my regal man


Sadly, I was a bad mom to Toby today. I took Ollie out for a ride. I had opened up the barn doors to let some fresh air in. Toby has the end stall, next to that door. I rode Ollie for quite awhile and he was a rock star once I got on him. It took me a 1/2 hour to get on his back because of him moving backwards at the mounting block. I told him I had all day and eventually he became bored with the game. Ollie was a joy to ride once we got to it. In the meantime, the wind was howling into Toby's stall. By the time I got to Toby, he was shaking like a leaf! Literally shaking! I put a blanket on him, put him under our heat lamp and made him a hot bran mash. It did the trick. But wow! It was something to see my big guy shaking like that! I was moving all the time and didn't realize how chilling the wind was and it was a strong cold north wind. Poor guy!

When I left he was snug as a bug in a rug while munching on a flake of hay. Poor guy! I need to be more aware of the needs of my senior citizen!!

So while I messed up, I think I made up and am back on his list as a good mom. Which is a good thing for this weekend. Happy Mothers Day to all the Mom's who read this blog. Even if you're only a Mom to 4-leggeds like me!!