Silly Geldings, Full of Wisdom.

Ink and I in 2009 :).

When I first got Reason, he was a bit of an over sized baby.  I say that with the best intentions of course.  When I got Ink he was, almost, a veteran racehorse.  Retiring at the rip old age of 6 with 29 starts under his belt.  He was a wise 6 year old.  I looked at him in awe.  Yes, Ink was a tough big guy.  I still saw a teddy bear, a gentle soul, no matter what anyone said.

When I brought him home, he stayed in a stall with attached paddock.  During feeding time he would pin his ears and sometimes charge the door.  You could not mess with him during feeding time.  Even when the people around me were a little bit more than concerned with his abrupt and occasional aggressive behavior, to me I could see fairly easily the horse he was.

Ink looking pleased with himself as he shows me how he can hold his own lead rope now.

Ink’s very direct, very particular behavior was something I loved and appreciated most about him.  I respected the fact that he didn’t like grooming, but eventually won him over when I discovered his favorite sweet spot.  On his belly, by his belly button, you could scratch him and he’d stretch his neck out, purse his upper lip, lift his leg and stand there until your arm got tired.  Needless to say, I got some good laughs during our time together.  He was one cool guy.

Ink (1999-2010) snoozing in his hoof-crafted bed he made at the end of his paddock in 2009.

Ink was also very direct with people.  He saw right through them and I’d always recognize why he didn’t care for certain people.  If he liked you, I’d like you too.  I trusted his judgement.  If you were scared, mean, or negative, you’d get a dose full of the same in return, when dealing with him.  He was like a window into people and it was easy for me to see through.  He was my protector as was I his.

'Hey you!"

But then there is Reason.  He’s more of the artistic horse rather than the businessman (with heart I might add) that Ink was.  He’s flashy and always likes to be the center of attention.  He’s fun and he’s silly.

Yesterday I went to blanket the horses during the evening.  Luckily I made it before the rain came down enough to dampen their coats enough, preventing them from getting to wear their attire.  I put Reason’s cooler on to help him dry from the bits of rain that hit his coat, as we were inside the ‘pony cottage’.  I laid the cooler over his back, lengthening it out.  As I situated the side, Reason took hold of the loose front flap and began to creatively, pull it over in front of his chest.  Although I should have quickly went to fasten it just in case, I couldn’t help but stand there for a moment and watch as this very smart horse, tried make an effort to fasten up his own blanket.  It was hilarious!  Those little moments are part of what makes horses so much fun.  I’ve always been told how much personality, heart and intelligence Thoroughbreds have.  I’ve now experienced that and can say it’s something that will make me keep coming back to this breed (along with other things) time after time.

One beautiful animal.
"I loves my blankies!"

Silence the World.

When the air is chilly and wind picks up and my pasture horse has enjoyed a grazing solitude for a few days, I know what I’m in for when I get to the “farm.”  Today was no different.  I’ve ridden Reason in the rain and particularly the wind.  Fast, blustery, normally would think twice about going out in, wind.  You might be thinking, just because they’re OTTB’s that you’ll be in for one hellofaride when you mount up? I don’t just say that to enhance what stereotypes exist; I say that because I’ve had people look in amazement how my horses have stood quietly when a tractor is vrooming around, or starts up, or when the wind is blowing because they did expect something different.  This could be thanks to the race track, to the environment and the way horses are handled and this is one thing I enjoy about these Off Track Thoroughbreds.  There is no reason to fret the wind.  I haven’t spent time in the paddocks, stables, shedrows or anything to say what things are like back there.  But I’m pretty sure those handlers are definitely not the kind you commonly see at your average boarding facility.  You know, the kind who decide today will just be a grooming day because the storm be rolling in?  Nothing wrong with that FYI.  Just I like horses who I can do that kind of stuff with.  And that is reason #I LOST COUNT as to why I enjoy these horses.

Today Reason was characteristically fired up.  When things get tough, the tough get going and moving we do.  In the saddle, it’s the same thing.  Press on, lets go to work buddy.  I haven’t worked with Reason enough, at least under saddle to really get to work but I do remember working with Ink and I knew it was my job to tell him where, tell him how and give him a good reason why to listen to me.  That good reason was because I was worth his trust.  He was safer with me.  I’d keep the world at bay.  And in turn he’d be there with me.

Stay quiet, stay collected and stay confident.  I’m learning this with Reason.  Heck, what am I not learning with Reason?  That would be a very,very small list.  When I rode Ink I knew that when it doubt, business out.  Ride, ride like you mean it, have somewhere to go.  Make it worth both of your efforts.  Say, “lets go,” and ride with commitment.  I loved that every time I said “go” Ink was there and was ready.  Whatever chaos or crazy world was happening around us, I knew once we clicked in got to work, the world was silenced.

When I watch Reason react to the wind and cold, I think, what can be done with all that energy and all that YEE-HAW.  To collect it up and to bottle it up to be used; there is much potential there.  When I ask and I ask right, he’ll bring it to the table and we’ll ride on it.  Rock on buddy.

For now I’m on the ground, waiting until I mount up again, wind and wild, to ride that fresh, hot, OTTB who can silence a world of chaos.

A Date with Destiny.

Reason has a date.  He is headed on a trip in April and I’m hoping this will be an opportunity to really get down to business about what’s going on with him.  Whether the blog has allowed everyone a look into what’s been happening or not, I know one thing is evident: the up and down road we’ve been traveling.  The road to resolution has been a long one, but a road I was (and am) willing to travel, no matter what.  I’ve explored many ideas about what’s been going on with my horse.  To say I’m slightly frustrated (not with Reason) is an understatement.  I’m bummed.  I’m really happy and excited to get even that much closer to some resolution.  But at the same time, I’m just bummed to have to seek such a distant solution.  But you know, I think there’s more going on here than what’s blatantly obvious.  My mistakes (damn you mistakes that I hate making sometimes) have taught me yet again some things I need to learn.  Even if it’s the hard way.

Reason has a date with potential solution (or a more clear picture).  Listen to your horse. No matter what, listen to your horse and what your horse is telling you.

 

Trying to Make Walking Fun.

ImageThanks to the rain (and boy did we need it) the pasture was no longer dry for riding.  Reason huddled under the shelter during most of the storm.  He’s not into mud, water, puddles, rain etc.  He is the sensitive type and I do love that about him.  He also needs exercise on a consistent basis or else it’s aerobatics on the schedule.  I love that about him too.  I wish I could exercise him more.  That brings me back to the rain. 

Days later, once the rain passed, Reason finally emerges from the confines of his ‘house’ to explore the pasture with Errika who will weather the rain for a good grazing.  Finally he moves his legs enough to get some energy out, but not enough that when I finally get to him, areobatics are on the schedule.  I took Reason out for a walk down the driveway and he reared and jumped around letting some steam out.  The dogs next door made him unusually upset further on.  The first day of some type of controlled exercise, after days of not doing anything, is always spent just getting the energy out.  I only ask as much as I think I can ask, while making a positive impact.  Which means, being careful of how much to ask, when it comes to doing any type of training which requires his full attention.

Today the pasture was dry enough to actually do a little bit more than slow and steady ground work.  I actually got on Reason and we spent a little while walking.  I rode him in his halter and he was good.  But we just walked.  Seriously, walking, seriously?  Boring, especially when you’re on a Thoroughbred.

But this is all good for Reason.  Even just boring old walking.  Because even walking can be educational and structual. 

By far my most favorited part of today was wrapping my arms around his head when I dismounted, giving him tons of kisses and being proud of the good, boring, walk we had.  🙂

The Mysterious ‘Challenge’

Yesterday I ponied Reason off of Errika.  In her usual self, Errika was a bit more excited at the idea than Reason was.  Who is the young horse here?  It was questionable at times.  Reason was great and enjoyed doing the ponying, but got bored quickly, so I added in ground work, ground tying and other things all from Errika’s back which was fun and also got Errika to relax as well.

I have some other news to share, but I’m waiting to share it.  All I can say is that for the past year and almost a half out of the near two years I’ve owned Reason I’ve been confronted with some interesting ‘challenges.’

Reason and I haven’t done much in the way of training under saddle since I began doing more than tack walking during bringing him back under saddle since he bowed at the track.  We’ve dabbled, but nothing ever stuck.  We had help, but nothing went the way it was supposed to.  In the beginning I was confronted with many ideas from various people as to what it could have been, what could be going on.  Maybe it was me?  Maybe it was tack?  Maybe it was..something else?  I had professionals address him mostly from the training side.  Maybe because he was an OTTB and that immediately brought up training concerns in people’s eyes?  I took in opinions and thoughts on what exactly what may have been going on.  I took in my abilities, my lack of abilities, anything and tried to determine the source.  To the no, frustrating, pull-my-hair-out, avail.

I remember when Reason would rear under saddle.  I remember how it felt.  It wasn’t to be bad it was to get me off and I knew exactly why.  He was in pain.  But I couldn’t pin-point the pain.  I tried other saddles, I tried different saddles (Dressage, close contact, western, even bareback, with and without a pad).  Nothing worked.  Nothing changed.  I rode in a halter, noticed a change but still, something was off. 

I remember watching Reason in the round pen, flipping a biscuit.  He would rear, buck, kick, roll and paw frantically.  This wasn’t right.  Someone told me that to them it appeared he needed to just run.  Maybe?  But no, it wasn’t that.  Although maybe a symptom of sorts, it was not the source.  The behavior he was exhibiting was not that.  It was abnormal to a healthy, happy horse, which he clearly was not.  Sometimes when I was with him in the round pen, watching him and trying to figure out what to do, I felt as though he was checking out into flight or fight mode and I was just an object that he sometimes didn’t see as he made his way all over the round pen trying to, what appeared to be, get rid of whatever was bothering him.  At times I felt my safety was a concern and that threw more sticks in the spokes as far as theories.  But again, that was not it.  Reason would rear up, head between his legs, and strike out, as if something was irritating him related to his head.  Over and over again theories, ideas, but no answers.  No real answers.

I now think I know what is going on and that my gut and hunch was right all along.  Obviously there is a somewhat long road ahead towards resolving this mysterious challenge (to me) that has been plaguing Reason and I’s progress but nevertheless the thought of a resolution to all this, is exciting.  More on that later, but for now, I just wanted to give an update.

 

Third View

I watched him cross the field, his stride even, steady and sure.  The sun was bright, the sky was clear and the warmth of the day enveloped my skin.  For some reason, I turned and stopped, while making my way towards my initial destination.  I observed quietly from a distance, just watching.  Taking in the moment and realizing there was so much that could be explained without any words.  My eyes wondered to the right, noticing then that I wasn’t the only one observing him.

The dark horse stood silently.  Still as a windless summers day.  I watched his gaze stay right on him.  He inched closer, thinking of walking towards him, but instead, stopped and just waited.  Who’s to say what was going on in the dark horses head.  I’m not sure, but I think it had something to do what was going on in mine.

Horses are honest.  It is one of the first exciting things that I came across when I owned my first horse and later owned my first ex-racehorse.  There is just something about that experience that went above and beyond my expectations.  I was excited to be confronted with myself.  I wanted to be confronted.  To really learn and experience everything for everything it was, I needed to be.  And when I was confronted, I learned truly what honesty meant and truly what facing yourself really meant.  I learned to be open with myself.  To look in before looking out.  Many people say I can be quiet.  Well, at times I am.  I observe.  I watch, listen and pay attention to every single detail as I’m sub-consciously sizing someone up.  Exactly what my horses have done to me.  And it’s all what I experience during that process that determines where I go from there.

What Ink had done for me later was hone my listening skills.  I paid attention to myself and paid attention to him.  I learned to listen to small details.  I applied this, without even knowing it as times, to people.  I began to become more insightful.

Before Ink came along, I remember a particular day.  No rain but there was sun.  It was Winter, but tailing close to Spring.  I was nervous, had butterflies in my stomach, but felt like it was right.  I had never experienced this type of feeling, although I had first dates before.  Everything moved in a very certain rhythm.  I was comfortable and I immediately trusted this person.

**

Steady, sure and balanced.  Reason looked at him with absolute trust and respect.  It was mutual.  It had always been.  There was honesty and there always had been.  I’ve watched this person learn and take in new ideas, new ways of thinking and experience some of the things I have when owning horses.  He now reads books, he writes with desire, he’s compassionate and insightful, he’s learned to listen more closely and he’s learned to observe.  Even though there have been many great things about him, he’s grown even more in great ways.  Horses had something to do with that.  Just as they have with me.

Watching Reason and how he interacts with this person and vice versa, has given me a different view.  A new perspective.  I’ve always been the one interacting, but now I’m an observer from afar but yet up close.  Maybe this is something I’ve been needing to learn and experience.  Everything happens for a Reason.  That is for sure.  And whatever reason that may be, I’m here to take it in.

Semi-Wordless, Thursday.

It’s not Wednesday, but I am somewhat wordless.  Nothing much going on due to rain.  Reason did get himself into some sort of trouble recently and acquired some ugly wounds, but thankfully it appears nothing other than superficial.  No known fencing monsters to be found, so I’m left theorizing about what happened.  Although I can’t really formulate a theory not finding any clues and such..

I took this photo today of Reason as the stormy clouds began to part and fade away.  Our day was spent cleaning and treating the wounds and me getting a good laugh out of his impeccable table manners – Eating scoops of grain out of the large spoon I use to stir the grain mash with.  When I’d turn away he’d be standing behind me and would toss his head up and down until I turned around to “feed” him.  Spoon-fed Thoroughbred.  One of his many life pleasures and talents ;).