Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Event Plans For March

March begins tomorrow and I have big plans for it.

But before I go into my plans,  I must show all of you this!  Finally!  Someone wrote about Ollie!!  A Quirky Gelding Eases Grief. Finally Ollie's story is out there!  He's always been overshadowed by Jag but now that War Horse is out and the Oscars have been awarded (so bummed that War Horse didn't get any), we can move onward! 

I've been having many fairly good rides with Ollie lately.  Something seems to have clicked for me as well as him.  I think a light bulb went off when I was watching the videos from the Retired Racehorse Training Program.   Each trainer put up their own videos and made comments on their blog posts.  They were so helpful for me.  I could find a little of Ollie in each horse and then see how the various trainers worked with that characteristic.  I loved it! 

I'm probably one of a few fortunate people who know what a race horse's life is like at the track.  My work as a photographer in the industry and my many friends in the industry allows me a window to how the horses are taken care of.  Having that knowledge helps me in understanding my horse. Thankfully someone saw the value in knowing a typical race horse's routine.  Robin Coblyn, owner of Four X The Trouble saw it and is putting together a video with this kind of information to help OTTB owners who don't know what life is like for a race horse at the track.  Here is a promotional video which gives you an idea of what their videos will contain:

The videos will also contain information about retraining an OTTB which is probably along the lines of what we saw during the RRTP challenge. It's all good information and will be a great asset for many OTTB owners including myself!

But let's get back to me shall we?  Ollie and I are doing well as I mentioned.  Part of it is that I don't over react to him being him.  He anticipates things and he may go into canter when I didn't ask but rather than me instantly disapproving and getting tense, I keep my cool, go along with it and ease him back into the gait I wanted.  Keeping my cool helps in keeping Ollie's cool!  It was an "Ah Ha!" moment for which I'm embarrassed to admit didn't click for me earlier!   Ollie is an EXTREMELY sensitive soul and he feeds off of my feelings like no horse I've ever been around.  Therefore it's important that I keep my good naturedness about me when I'm around him.  Since I'm conscious of this now, we've had really good rides!   I'm also working on breathing.  I find that I stop breathing the second Ollie gets wound up.  If I keep breathing and breath deeply, that it settles us both down!  Crazy - I know. 

March is a bit slow for photography which means it's great for riding.  I can give Ollie all the time he needs and we can have fun with our work.  There are two horse shows coming up and a clinic.  I was planning on going to the final Snowbird Show for the season at the Horse Park over St. Patty's Day weekend but I've changed my plans.   That same weekend has a clinician, James Houston, coming into town.  I've decided that going to a clinic would be a better bang for our buck at this stage.  It'd give Ollie the road trip he needs and the experience in a new environment as well as the two of us getting expert help from a first class dressage instructor!  Seems like a fun opportunity and the organizers have assured this insecure middle aged woman that we'll fit right in.  I could also use the running martingale which I still need for safety at times.  Here is a link to another blogger who had high praise for James Houston Clinics:  Excellent Clinic Ride Today  I'm looking forward to it!

Then at the end of the month is the Paul Frazer Memorial Combined Test and Dressage Show at the Kentucky Horse Park.  The Jockey Club is supporting an OTTB division with their Thoroughbred Incentive Program at this show where we could win a prize!  Woo hoo!  But really - I just want to support all the OTTB efforts I can.  I love my OTTB's! 

So that's my plans for March.  Should be fun!  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Overall The Report Is Happy

I've been having some great "moving in the right direction" rides with Ollie lately.  We both seem to be more settled although we still have our moments. 

I think the key has been to work with him consistently even if it's only for a short period of time in a day.  I'm also working on keeping his attention on our work.  He has a quick mind so this part has been difficult but thanks to the videos in the Retired Racehorse Training Project I've been able to get some good ideas!  I LOVE Brazilian Wedding!  Just saying..  It may be a gray thing.

At any rate, I feel like Ollie is learning to trust me more and we're moving forward.  I'm ready for a lesson so we can continue to keep this up!  Don't worry, I've contacted Julie for a lesson in the very near future.

In the meantime, here are some photos which will demonstrate the ugly, the bad and the good!

I kinda like this photo.    We both look relaxed and I'm asking him to leg yield on our circle and he's doing it! 
Can you see what is so GLARINGLY wrong in this photo?   There's alot wrong but there's one thing that is GLARINGLY wrong.  I'm a trier.  I'll keep trying to improve.  LOL! Now if I could only stop bracing my left leg...

We look cute going over the trot poles.  Although I've got my lean going on along with that darned braced left leg.  ARGH!

I like this too because Ollie looks so great although my position isn't the best.  I have a good horse!

The beginning of a tense moment over the "trot" poles.

Ollie - Canter?  Really?

Another view of our inadvertent canter over the poles.
But we regrouped and relaxed again.

He has the best facial expressions
 Photos and videos of yourself are good as long as you take them in the right way.  I absolutely cringe when I see myself.  I mean c'mon!   I know I have a seat like this ;) 

But alas, when I see those photos of myself, the proverbial 2x4 hits me in the head and I realize how much work I need to do.  But I don't get down about it!  I'm having a good time trying to reach my riding goals and I can clearly see that I'm not stressing out my happy go lucky horse.  He's a very good boy.

We'll post more about our progress!  I think this year could be a break through for us...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Be Still My Heart

Toby with Heather Carlin aboard.  Heather is a student at the University of Kentucky who needed a horse fix.  She recently was accepted into an internship with Hagyard Veterinary program.  Congrats Heather!
"Wow what a heart murmur!"  My heart sank.  Straight to my stomach.  Those words came from my new vet. 

I had Dr. Jennifer Fiener come out to check my boys out for their health certificates and pull coggins.  In Kentucky, in order to move your horse ANYWHERE, you must have both a coggins and a health cert.  In Michigan, only the coggins was necessary.  Health certificates were only needed if you crossed state lines.  So my boys were getting both so I could possibly take both to a show or two.

Dr. Jennifer Fiener of Hagyard came out at the recommendation of the other boarders.  She's terrific!  But when she said "Wow!  What a heart murmur!"  Well let's just say I didn't know what to think!  She made me listen to Toby's heart.  It sounded like "badoom REEEEE  badoom badoom REEEEE."   Instinctively I wanted to grab some WD40 for his heart valve!  Doesn't WD40 and duct tape fix everything?! 

Dr. Jen was entirely too interested in the sound for my comfort level.   I was in an unknown area of equine care.  Quickly, (because she must have seen my OMG expression on my face) she said that it's not a big deal.  She felt that he's had a heart murmur for a long time and that he's gotten on well with it.  For what I'm doing with him - which is not much at all - he's just fine.  She did say that it was only important that I was aware of it and didn't push exercise levels to things he's can't really handle.  No chance of that happening.  I only hope to take Toby to a small dressage show and compete at the low levels.  I think keeping him active will do him well at the age of 22 and he can keep Ollie company (read "babysit"). 

After the initial shock of the heart murmur, Toby checked out just fine.  He needs his teeth floated, as I expected and otherwise was just great!  Ollie was the picture of health.  Even his teeth seem to be good which surprised me.  

I was very pleased with the professionalism and horse sense that Dr. Jen has.  I feel privileged to have her as a vet!  I also think it's cool that I can get a vet from a place like Hagyard!  Way cool after living in rural northern Michigan.  I had great vets there too but there's a ton of good vets here in Lexington.  It's a bit of a culture shock for me to have so many choices. 

My boys have been doing really well and all I'll say is that I'm busting with pride over Ollie and how I'm riding Ollie these days but I think I will leave that post for another day.