Tough Day

Apr
2012
02

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB, Training

Its started out good and went well for a while, when it took the bad turn it was a landslide. Defeated is the word id use to describe how I feel today and I’ve only felt this way with my pretty pony when I was  dealing with the hoof abscess after the time she kicked me. With out getting into too much detail, I’m sure it was all my fault but I need to regroup, my happy go lucky training attitude needs to be adjusted and I need to be tougher, more consistent and find a new way inside to Jezebel that works for us both. I cant be someone im not and I cant expect her to be the horse she isnt, in fact the horse she is is what I feel in love with. We just need a new way to work together.  I’m taking a horse break for a few days to think about this. Just as there are times Jezebel needs to just be a horse, I think I need a few days to just be a girl.

Its funny because I was telling one of the ladies at my barn early on in the day how I wasn’t experiencing many of the ottb issues I’ve been reading that so many others were experiencing and I chalked it up to good luck. I guess I jinxed myself.

Happy Trails

Mar
2012
29

posted by on Barn tales, Life with Jezebel, OTTB

A good day for a ride

It was a beautiful day even though a thunder storm was predicted, it wasn’t expect for quite some time and the sun was bright and shinny. I thought it would be a good day to introduce Miss Jezebel to the trail. She loves to look out towards the trail and the tree line whenever we walk by the entrance, its almost as if shes trying to get me to take her there. Mentally willing me to take her out and explore the trail. I thought better of it until I knew she had brakes. The day was beautiful and I thought what the hell, it’s as good a day as any I’ll just go out for 5 or 10 minutes see how she does. I spoke to a friend at the barn and she gave me the low down on which direction would be better for a 10 minute out and back.

Into the woods we go?

I tacked up my girl, lead her to the trail entrance, mounted via the mounting block and she immediately freaked out. Nooooooo not the trail! She was snorting and spooky and not willing to go anywhere near the trail. I managed to stay on even with all her weaving and bobbing  but i’m sure it looked a fright. Good thing the vet showed up just at that moment and got to witness my ordeal. Nothing like looking like a fool in front of others!  I decided to walk her back and forth in front of the trail entrance then let her stand and just look over the fence, she wasn’t happy about it but she did calm down some. Back and forth, look over the fence and back and forth and look over the fence. We did this for about 10 minutes, then I dismounted and walked her though the entrance and she again freaked out. Not as bad as when I was on her but she did not want to cross a mud puddle. Noooooooo not the mud puddle! I tried to ease her up to it, she would get about 2 feet, snort and balk. Good times. So I just stood there with her and let her get used to the big scary mud puddle. When she was clam (but still wouldn’t cross it) I went back to the barn. I figured we’d end on a good note. On the way back to the barn my never spooky horse thought the drain on the street was scary, the drain she passes everyday with out even a glance. When she saw the tractor, yanno the one she sees every day two times as it drives up the barn aisle after the stalls have been mucked, yeah  it might as well been a flying spaghetti monster. Nope wasn’t gong to walk past that. I had to walk her around the whole barn and take her into the indoor ring though the other side of the property.

REALLY scary mud hole

Once inside the ring she was more like herself though she was not my calm sweet pretty filly who always tries so hard for me. She was a prancy, dancy distracted beast. We just walk/halted for about 10 minutes until they had to pull the hay truck inside because it had begun to rain. The storm was arriving and I was pretty much over my disaster of a day.

Later my vet said that it was probably the weather that had caused her to freak out so bad, that the pressure had dropped a lot. Maybe that was the source of her super freak out, who’s to say I don’t know. I do know I will be spending lots of time hand walking my girl, treats in pocket out on the trail. Shes a very bright and pretty resilient girl. It’s only a matter of time before I get her out there enjoying the trail. I know she wants to go explore the world with me, I can see it in her eyes.

Saddle Sore

Mar
2012
21

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB, Saddles and tack

My saddle looks something like this only more wear,lots more

I own a rather nice saddle. It’s a Lovatt and Ricketts close contact. I used it on my previous horse for years. I bought it off a women who had barely used it, she was focusing on dressage and didn’t need it. She was also going though a divorce and looking to make some fast cash before her husband made her account for her assets. I bought it from the trunk of her car for under 100 bucks. I was lucky, it fit my horse like a glove. I never had any issues with saddle fit. Once I no longer had a horse I put my saddle in storage with my parents.

When I was in the market for a my new OTTB I asked my parents to ship me my saddle. Getting them to comply was a challenge in its self but eventually they did ship it but not until after I had bought a cheap little starter saddle to use in the interim. I figured I could always use it as a second saddle or donate it. I would find a use for it. It didn’t really fit my horse well but it wasn’t horrible though I wouldn’t want to do any serious riding in it. When my L & R saddle showed up I wasn’t thrilled with the shape it was in. It needed to be cleaned and though there were no major repairs needed the leather wasn’t in the best shape. It had been moved around and re stored at some point over the years, all my other tack had gone missing while in storage as well. After putting my  trusted L & R on my horses back it was apparent it was a worse fit then my cheapo no name temporary saddle. I cant even see this saddle being worked to fit, it was so far off, not even with the most skilled saddle fitter.

El Cheapo!

So I went on the hunt for a saddle fitter, knowing that in all likelihood a new saddle would be in my future. I asked a couple people at my barn and  I got two names of people who were skilled with good reputations. I called them booth and had varying degrees of success with phone calls. One was helpful, nice, informative and put me at ease right away, letting me know that he could provide for me the service I was looking for. The other was unpleasant and gruffly stated they were not accepting new clients for a while maybe May they couldn’t be sure when. Umm yeah awesome, guess who I’m going with. Yeah the guy who wants my business and made the efforts in my 5 minute phone call. He’s more expensive and is further away from me but I’ll pay the travel charges to deal with a nicer person who wants my business. It never ceases to amaze me how many people in business lack the basic skills of business. I will almost always pay more, do more, drive further what ever it takes to deal with people who have basic business skills and want to work with me then deal with people however talented, lack basic customer service skills and act as if me paying them for a service is them doing me some huge favor.

Oh and I am looking forward to embarking on my new adventure in saddle fitting and saddle purchase land.

Mud Hole

Mar
2012
20

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB

Pretty!

I’ve been told by After The Races the rescue and rehabilitation group I got Jezebel Though that she was a very clean horse, that she pretty much never rolled and all the months she was with them, they never saw her dirty. She continued this for quite some time … until the other day.

As I was driving up the road toward the horse farm past the back field I could see happy horses grazing in the sun. Shinny and pretty except for one. Mine. Who was caked in mud. As I was getting my grooming supplies out of my tack room, ladies at the barn were asking me “is that your horse all covered with mud out in the back field?” Yes, yes it was.  I hiked to go get her and she really stood out, she was the only horse covered in mud but only on one side. it was inches thick, i was told later that somewhere in the back field is a mud hole where the local flock of geese mud bathe. Well  local geese and my horse it seems.

Jezebel doesn’t much like any kind of curry comb. I have to show her every brush before I use it and she always bristles when I get to her mid section. I actually think she’s ticklish. So getting this caked on thick mud off her was quite the challenge. I just worked on the places the saddle would go and figured I’d wash the rest off after our ride. Which I did, spending more time at the barn that day then I had planned. Oh well, could have been worse, could have been both sides!

Halt who goes there

Mar
2012
18

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB, Training

Treats?.. Yes please

I’ve been starting slow with riding my ex racer. I spent the first couple weeks just getting to know her and letting her get to know me. Of course I had the hoof abscess to help me along with that. My adorable filly’s manners were some what lacking. I chalked that up to a few things.

1. Shes only just barley 4 years old

2. She’s a racehorse and sometimes acts like one

3. I’m a walking treat factory

I am compliant in her sometimes bad manners or rather sometimes no manners. She’s improving and I’m working on trying to have her earn her treats instead of just giving them out like the treat factory I am. I admit it I spoil her, I spoil my dog and my boyfriend too so I will always have this issue to deal with as its just kinda part of who I am.

When I first rode her we basically walked in both directions and did a little trot. She was responsive to me and tried real hard to understand what I was asking of her though it was clear to me she really didn’t know much.  I was pretty pleased with the first ride. The second ride was in the out door area. Lots of distractions for her and she was distracted. We did a little walk trot and this is when the realization sunk in. This horse had no brakes. She didn’t know the cues for halting. After the second ride I started to think about how I was going to get my horse to stop.

I decided to walk her into walls. I would walk her into walls and when I asked her to stop right before the wall I would use over exaggerated cues. I would settle back into my seat, pull back on the reins and verbally ask her for a ho. (I don’t say whoa I say ho, its a habit I picked up a long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away) I rode her a few more times just hacking about in the indoor and outdoor arenas so we could get a feel for each other and honestly I was saddle sore as hell, it had been a long time since I was on a horse and I needed to build up to it I’m sure as much as she did.

After the first ride.. no brakes

The other day we began our wall walking adventure. It was a quiet day at the barn, it was almost as if i had the whole place to myself. A rarity for sure. I walked her into the arena walls, back and forth, all the way up and all the way down the arena each time right before we’d get to the wall I would pull back on the reins settle back in my seat and say ho. It took two passes before the light bulb went off with her and she began to stop at each request. I moved on to asking her for a halt not only before the wall but half way to the wall. She complied. I stopped walking into walls and started going around the ring in both directions randomly asking her for halts. She complied. By george I think shes got it. We moved on to the trot. I quickly learned that walls were needed at this new gait. So we started the process again only this time at the trot. I’d say she got it about 60% of the time. Not bad for one days work! I went back the next day to make sure are new ability to halt sunk in. I started out in the walk and hot damn if she didn’t do it every time it was asked of her! This time I added in “back up” occasionally. Though she throws her head she will back up for me and she halted, every, single time at the walk. She improved at the trot as well, though not 100% of the time shes definitely improved.

I couldn’t have been more pleased with how fast my girl picked up her new ability to halt. I was besides myself with excitement and much praise for her. She’s a smart girl and wants to please, almost as much as she wants the peppermints always in my pockets.

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB

I can haz hose pleze?

Oh the wash stall. No anything but the wash stall! Its really not that bad but hey it ain’t that good. At my barn the wash stall is the hub of activity. It’s used for vet visits, farrier visits, tacking up and it kinda feels like the kitchen at a dinner party, the place where everyone ends up and congregates. It also has a strange echo to it. Horses cant tell where the nosies are coming from and there is no real eye line to any other horses while they are standing in the wash stall. Some do well in it, others… do not. My filly is none to fond of the wash stall. She will go in, but shes fidgety and fussy, she will either align herself to one wall or the other, shes not comfortable in there and lets me know that.

Unfortunately when she came up lame with the abscess I had only had her with me for a few days so when she was fussy in the wash stall I chalked it up to the sore hoof and all the wrapping and unwrapping. Yeah well that may have been part of it but really she just doesn’t feel comfortable in the wash stall. I have since started doing all I could with her in the isles (grooming, tacking up etc) she’s much happier, she stands like a champ in the cross ties in the isle and besides really not liking the girth tacking her up is easy peasy. As long as we are in the isle.

Handled it like a champ!

I decided to try to make the wash stall a happy place for her, currently its a place full of treats and neck scratches and lots of praise and love. We go in, cross tie and then I make it a fun, tasty treat kinda place and then we leave. So far its working, so the other day when it was unseasonably warm out here on the other side of the earth (I mean the east coast) after our ride I decided to wash her down, in the actual wash stall. I of course was apprehensive. We un tacked in the isle and then in the wash stall we went and I broke out the hose. Warm water at first on her feets and she took it it well then as I slowly cooled down the water I began to rinse her down and hot damn if she wasn’t happy about her wash down. I gave her the hose to drink out of and she eagerly accepted it, slurping down  the cool water and playing with the water with her ever wandering lips.  I swear she was trying to blow bubbles! When I took the hose away to continue her rinse off she would start to paw the ground when she wanted the hose back to her face for more horse water amusement time. She was loving the water and having a good old time in the wash stall and I was tickled freaking pink that my plan was starting to work. Its all about the little victories.

HBO Shuts down Luck

Mar
2012
15

posted by on OTTB

I’m not anti horse racing. I go the the track once in a while, I watch racing on TV more then most people, I love thoroughbreds. Their speed, heart and power and never thought I’d own one of my own. I am however happy as all hell that HBO finally shut down their production of “Luck” A drama series that is filmed at the Santa Anita Race Track, which was the track I went to when I lived in LA. The deaths of Three thoroughbreds caused the cancellation and shut down of the series. Two deaths happened during the shooting of the pilot and third happened just two days ago during an episode for the second season. The second season was ordered just after the pilot aired and rushed to production because it needed to coordinate with the track for filming.

Great Jockey, Good Actor

Maybe they should have waited to order more episodes, as its been clear for a while the ratings were pretty weak. True the horses were beautiful but the story was slow, the characters were abundant and totally unsympathetic in every way and Nick Nolte was at his all time worst. The scripts often had people assigning human narratives and emotions to horses and worst of all horses died in the making. Which is a terrible, thing. The only positive about the show itself was  it was nicely filmed and that Gary Stevens can actually act and act well.  I cant see how the racing business would be behind this show, it sure doesn’t make them look good. I can find very little chatter about this show in horse forums and ottb message boards and groups, but lets face it horses don’t just die walking back to the paddock. Who was handling these animals? Who after the first two deaths would allow their animals to be used by this production? Who was looking out for the thoroughbreds? In this case it looks like no one, so I’m happy it was shut down. Those beautiful animals that work so hard for us deserved better then to be sacrificed on the alter of mediocre TV.

UPDATE 2/19/12: From the AHA statement on the HBO Show “Luck”

“We have worked for more than 70 years to ensure the proper treatment of animals in film, and will now follow up with HBO to find out the disposition of the horses in the Luck barn and ensure that they are retired properly.”

This is very interesting. It seems as if Luck owned the horses they were using on set, which would explain a lot. They weren’t beholden to owners/trainers etc. Any trainers, handlers they had would have been taking their orders from HBO/LUCK themselves. This also could lend credence to the argument that they were using horses unfit for racing. I hope the AHA gets a group like “CANTER” (I know they have CA chapters) involved to help re-home these beautiful animals.

http://www.americanhumanefilmtv.org/reviews/luck/

http://www.canterusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&layout=blog&id=34&Itemid=53

First time farrier

Mar
2012
14

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB

curouisty and the racehorse

I was nervous as hell, it was time for the first farrier visit for my lovely filly. I was told she stood for the farrier but knowing how fidgety she is and how agitated she gets in the wash stall I was sure she was going to be a handful and as a result I was nervous. I had picked out a farrier I liked. I liked her website, her philosophy but most of all I liked how she worked. I had watched her work on another horse and she was skillful and happy enough to talk to me about he life as a farrier. Plus it’s always a bonus for me when I can support women in non traditional roles and a women farrier .. well, that’s the definition of non traditional.

I had told my new farrier that my girl gets nervous in the wash stall and that id like to avoid her being worked in there. As I’ve mentioned before the wash stalls at my barn are not only the hub of all action but they are used for vet visits, farrier visits and tacking up. during my abscess adventure I learned that Jezebel and the wash stall were not sympatico. When the time came we decided since its was a trim and not shoes (so far I’m lucky with her remaining barefoot) that she would trim her in the arena with a rope halter and tied to the farrier. I was informed that my energy needed to be calm as to not infected my horse with my nervous energy.

Pedi

Jezebel stood for the farrier, I was so thrilled! She did chew on the lead rope and un-tuck my farrier shirt with her ever wandering lips but she stood and didn’t complain and got her pedicure. I suppose I was nervous for no reason. Maybe I should trust in my girl a little more seems to me when the chips are down she does the right thing more often than she doesn’t.

New Friends

Mar
2012
13

posted by on Barn tales, Life with Jezebel, OTTB

Best Friends Forever

Things are so different here then in California. For example, turn out. It’s not something that’s done in the heart of Los Angeles. There its pretty much stall boarding only. I did for some time have my previous mare in an “in and out”. A stall with a little extra out door area attached but that’s as close to turn out as it got. Here in Maryland turnout is the norm. Horses spend half to more then half of their time out in a filed with other horses. In the winter then come in at night, in the summer when its hot they come in during the day and when the weather permits ( spring and fall) they are out 24/7 at least that’s how its done at the farm I chose though there is varying degrees of this at other places I looked into.

Jezebel really wanted to be out with the other horses, at first she was introduced to the herd via a small adjoining filed. That’s where she met Katie (a stocky and lovely quarter horse mare also new to the farm) soon to be her best friend. Katie was nursing some sore feet and her and Jezebel spent some time together in the small turn out together until Jezebel came up lame with the aforementioned abscess. Then Jezebel was put on stall rest which she detested. I would come every day to change her hoof wrap and walk her around the farm letting her graze and introducing her to the herd over the fence. She begged me to let her go out with the other horses, but had to refuse her until her hoof was healed.

Jezebel would often nuzzle Katie over the fence. Katie had since been let out with the herd but hadn’t ventured out to the back field and was spending all her time at the gate even when the rest of the herd was all in the back filed grazing and playing halter tag. Eventually Jezebel’s hoof was well enough to return her to the turn out. A decision was made just to put her out with the herd and see how it went because she so badly wanted to be with them. I opened the gate and put her in the filed with Katie the gate lurker. The two horses were happy to be together, it didn’t take but 5 minutes before Jezebel was wondering towards the back field. To get there they have to go though the chute, a small easement behind a large house on the farm. I was told it takes some horses a week or more to even find the chute. Not Jezebel with Katie in tow, the two went straight for the chute and quickly went out of sight behind the house.

When I next saw them they were galloping from behind the house in the back filed though patches of grazing horses who payed little attention to them. On the way they picked up one more horse in their galloping adventure and the three of them weaved in and out of the other horses. It warmed my heart to see her so happy with the herd and it solidified her bond with Katie her new BFF

Three days in

Mar
2012
10

posted by on Life with Jezebel, OTTB

Just looking at this picture is costing me money

Three days in and Miss Jezebel came up lame. Her hind left was causing her much discomfort and pain. She was walking broken legged. I took her digital pulse. I could feel it. Damn. I put her on stall rest, my barn manager gave her some butte and we hoped for a bruise. It wasn’t to be, the next day she was still lame so the vet was called in. It was in fact an abscess. Less then a week with my ex racer and I was already calling in the vet. Welcome back to horse ownership to me! My vet was able to find the track, he poked the abscess and I started the process of draining, soaking and wrapping her hoof. She hated it, she felt better as soon as the hoof was poked and the abscess was draining and she did not want to tolerate any soaking or wrapping.

It doesnt look pretty but it stayed on

On day two she cow kicked me. She made contact, a couple inches higher and she would have dislocated my knee. On day three I tranquilized her to do the wrap, her metabolism was so high (oh racehorses) that it did pretty much nothing. She tried to kick me again but I was faster then her and she missed. Day four it was just a struggle to get the old wrap off and the new one on. Wrapping my pretty little lovable brats hoof was turning into the hardest thing I’ve ever done. She hated being on stall rest, she hated being restricted, she was fussy and very agitated. She wasn’t lame anymore, her hoof wasn’t causing her any pain or discomfort, I was just keeping her hoof clean at this point. So I made a decision. I had to balance her health, with her happiness, not to mention my sanity and safety. I decided to let her go out with the herd and stop wrapping her hoof. Just to keep it as clean as I could with her being turned out every day. If my plan backfired then I would call in the vet again and start the process all over. I crossed my fingers…So far… I’m in the clear.