Friday, March 27, 2009

Let It Snow!

Dear Joe,

This snow stuff is for the birds. How could you send me to Colorado? I thought you loved me.

Red Avenue

Well the snow came and now we have to wait for it to melt. Snow depth at our house ranges from 0-15" thanks to the wind so it's hard to say how much we got.

Enjoy the video of Red's first snow. Once it's was on the ground he doesn't care about it, but when it's falling he's not a fan.

Additional pictures from the snow can be seen here!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Some Videos

I have a few video's of Red posted online at Youtube. They always mute my videos eventually, so enjoy the music while it's there, if at all...

This video highlights Red's first 24 hours at his new home (sorry, sound gone already):

This video is showing 2 of Red's races in the past:

We are forecast to get some snow on Thursday. We need the water badly, so let's hope we get a few inches. It will put a damper on the work for a day or two, but Red will enjoy it :)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What a Great Day!!!

Well Red and I had a great day yesterday!! He was such a good boy. I hadn’t worked with him in 2 days, so before I did anything, I let him run and kick and buck around his field for a little bit. Every horse loves a good turn out, he had a blast! He was snorting and had his tail up prancing around. He got tired pretty fast though and when I set the lunge whip down, he'd look at me all cute then drop his head and lick and come over to me for love. He's such a sweetheart.

So I tried something new with him and put his bridle and saddle on yesterday for lunging! He had no problems with the bridle, that was our first go at that, he took the bit right away and kept his head down low. He is well behaved and has pretty good manners! So I put his halter over the bridle and we lunged a while. He has the walk in both directions down. He is always a little closer to me when I am between him and the shed (aka ‘the food’) and he pulls a little when he's between me and the shed, so I'm working on keeping a nice even circle. I don't let him pull on the shed side, I keep him paying attention to me and I keep his head from moving out, and he has the whip pointed at his shoulder on the close side. By the end of the day it got a lot better.

We spent a lot of time working on the trot too yesterday in the counter clockwise direction. When he got to where the shed is in the circle, he stopped and faced me. So I just kept asking him to move forward and pick up the trot again, over and over, and eventually he started not stopping! It took a lot of work to keep him going, but I got about 5 good trot circles out of him at the end where I really had to push him through the one spot, but he did it and he did it well!

We then worked on the clockwise direction and that went well too. His balance isn't quite there but he's figuring it out. Again I had to really push him by the shed, but he went after a while and I got a few circles in a row that way too! And he did it all with the saddle and bridle and he didn't care about them at all, which makes me feel great about riding him soon.

I wanted to ride him for the first time last weekend, but the weather wasn’t cooperating. Getting on my OTTB that just turned 6 for the first time in 30 mph winds doesn’t sound like the smartest of ideas!

We worked again this evening and he was full of himself! He was even cantering on the lunge line. I don’t want him to get wild, I want him to learn to listen and be calm on the lunge. He tripped once and it was the funniest thing, he got embarrassed and he bucked and kicked out! My silly proud horse…

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Lunging Continues...

Thanks to a sick puppy, it's been a while since I've been able to update this journal. We changed her food and her tummy has been upset ever since. We've got it under control now though.

I'm continuing to lunge Red on a daily basis every day after work. The first time I lunged him I think it was beginners luck because we haven't been able to trot like that since, but he does go both directions now with no problem where the first time, I couldn't get him to take one step in a clockwise direction.

Almost all of the work is being done at the walk until he understands that he has to stay out on the circle until I say he's done. He can change directions when I say it is time to. When we stop, he has to stay out on the circle until I come to him. He is doing really well and every day he goes twice as far before stopping as he did the day before. He isn't quite ready to trot or canter yet, though yesterday I asked for the trot and he did a complete circle and I was very happy with that.

Yesterday I also lunged him with the saddle on for the first time! I put it on once before and walked him around and he didn't care. My goal is to get on him for the first time tomorrow, Sunday, and just walk around. I think he's ready for that and I'm hoping he won't care!

My friend Kristina came over and saw him this week. Just like everyone that meets Red, she adored him. She said he was the most affectionate horse she's ever met. I have to agree. She is letting me borrow a bunch of tack until I get everything I need for Red which is greatly appreciated. She could see what a gentle loving curious horse he is. We both think I've got a good eventer on my hands!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Our First Time on the Trail

Yesterday, I took Red for a short walk along the riding trail so he could see the sights. He has been stuck in his pasture for a week now (which isn't small, he's needed time to adjust) but it was time he get to see some new scenery and for me to see how he would react. Nothing phased him, tarps, tractor parts, etc.... except the 5 dogs that came out of nowhere and jumped up against the fence all barking. He hopped to the side over that one and about into my lap, but after seeing what it was, he didn't care anymore. Heck they scared me too! Sneaky buggers.

So when we got back home after walking a little over a half mile, I decided to lunge him again. I decided to do it away from the fence, in the exact middle of the pasture, because I wanted him to learn by listening to me rather than other influences (a fence line, etc). The walk is great, he has no problem with that. He will walk around and around forever if I let him. It takes a little more to ask for the trot. Yesterday (and the time before when I used the fence as a guide) I was joking saying I got just as much exercise has him trying to stay behind him and keep him going forward. I stay behind his shoulder and drag the whip behind him until he starts to break then I give the whip a little crack, and he goes again. We haven't really cantered on the lunge yet. When I first start sometimes he will canter a few strides, but he comes right back down. He doesn't do anything crazy either, no bucking, no acting up.

The first day we tried to lunge he did stop a lot and face me, so I would move further behind him and he would go forward right away. Then came praise praise praise. He'd do another lap or two and stop and look at me. Again, get behind him, he goes forward, praise praise praise! So yesterday, away from the fence, I got him to do about 5-6 laps before he'd stop and look at me. Again, position myself behind him, he'd go forward, praise praise praise.

I feel part of the reason he was stopping and looking at me was because he doesn't know his "circle", he doesn't understand keeping light contact, so he'd get too far away and the lunge line would pull on his halter and he'd take that as "stop" or "face me". Yesterday he did a much better job of keeping light contact the entire time so he didn't stop as much.

This is all being done counter-clockwise. Clockwise is another story. He doesn't even know his body can go that way. I try to get him to do it at a walk and it takes him forever to get away from my body, to actually be a few feet away from me. Then he pulls a figure-8 and goes the other way hahahaha. You can see his has no balance, no feel for his body in the other direction. No confidence. He doesn't know how to bend that way.

I think he's understanding the lunge line better now, and hopefully tonight I will be able to feel like yes, he really gets it (counter-clockwise that is). Once I feel like he has a good understanding of the concept, then we will apply that clockwise. One step at a time. He really pays attention to what you tell him, he listens and tries to please.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

It's Warming Up!

The forecast for the next week has temps in the 70's. I hope the warm weather holds out for a while because I'd love to work with Red a lot in the coming days. It made it to 59 today, but it felt a lot nicer than that.

I gave Red another neck bath with the MicroTek shampoo. I really want that stuff to clear up. I know it takes time, but he's been washed 3 times in a week (twice with the special shampoo) so I hope to be seeing an improvement here soon. He's not a big fan of baths yet and I'm sure the cold water isn't helping. He will stand for anything except a bath.

I also bought a detangler (show sheen) spray because his tail is a tangled mess. After his bath I let him loose to roll and he did. Then I brought him back to work on that tail of his. He stood during that just fine, no problems, and his tail is beautiful and tangle free (until he find the tumbleweeds again).

It's a lazy sleepy Saturday. Pics are of Red taking a nap today on the west side of his pasture. Kristina is going to let me borrow her Wintec saddle and a spare bridle so I may even get around to tacking him up and taking him for a walk while the weather is nice. We'll see!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Our First Lunge

Yesterday I decided to see if Red knew how to lunge. He has been feeling good and acting happy and healthy, so I feel like he's ready. He has been getting a little naughty with me at feeding time and I decided that it would be good for him to do a little work. I put his halter on and went back for the lunge line. When I was in the shed I heard him cantering away to the other side of the field. I open the door and of course, he was gone. When I opened the door he came right back. I think he was just feeling good.

So we walked over to the corner of the pasture so half of the circle would have fence to guide him around and keep him from running out. We started clockwise and he was clueless. So I decided to see how he did counter-clockwise and sure enough, he kinda knew what was going on! He would canter a loop or two really fast, then stop and look at me. I got him to finally relax and he got a nice trot for a circle or two at a time. Eventually when he got to the side with no fence, he would try to run out, which would pull on his halter, he'd stop, spin around, and look at me. It took a lot of work to keep him moving forward, I really had to stay behind him and ask and ask him to keep moving forward. About half the time he stopped and looked at me.

I realized he'll need some cavaletti's on the ground or something to keep him in on the side with no fence, so I decided to call it a day. He was very good for his first go at it in who knows how long, if ever! When I would ask him to stop and come into the center, all he wanted was love. I could see he was really trying hard to understand what I was asking him to do and he never got frustrated. I think he's a smart boy. When we were done, he also just stood with me for several minutes with no problem which he hasn't shown me he can do yet. So work is very good for him. I think he needs a job, something to do, and I think he is able to relax better after doing something.

Until next time!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Red's First Snow

Well we woke up to a big surprise today, a few inches of snow on the ground! I'm pretty sure Red was born, raised, and lived his entire life in Northern California, so I don't know if he's ever seen snow or at least this much. He rolled around in it a few times but didn't really seem to care. It all melted off by the afternoon and the last third of the day was beautiful.

He is being a bit of a pill in that he will only eat his alfalfa, he has no interest in the grass hay. It's not bad, he just likes the alfalfa better and refuses to eat the grass. But that's ok, he'll eat it when he gets hungry. He also is starting to pin his ears back and act like he wants to bite if I hang around after he gets the alfalfa, like to put his blanket on. Today he got a touch in the nose and a "no" and he looked at me like a kid with his hand in the cookie jar. They all test you.

After the sun came out, it warmed up, and the snow melted. After work, I decided to go spend some time with Red and see what else he knew and what else he would let me do. I didn't think I had a place to tie him to and I remembered the fence post that holds our gate has a 4x4 wood post in it! So he was tied there and he didn't care or move. I brushed him and he really relaxed. He dropped his head, his eyes got heavy, and his breathing slowed. I brushed his mane and tail with no problem. I asked for all 4 feet and he picked them right up. I cleaned them and held them up for a while with no problem. After that, we went for a walk and did 2 laps around the paddock. He really seemed happy and relaxed!

When we were done, I opened the shed to get him some treats and more hay. I put the hay in his trof and as I come back around, he literally hopped up into the shed! Our tiny shed! I prayed that he wouldn't break the floor boards and I snuck in next to him and stood on the hay and said, "no boy, you need to get out" (like he'd understand me) and he actually slowly backed out, very calm, like a pro.

Everyday I love this guy more and more. He is fearless, lovable, and patient. I can't wait until I start working with him after we've bonded more because I think he's going to be a blast to work with!

Our first day

I got a whopping 6 hours of sleep on Saturday night. As soon as the sun was up, I jumped out of bed and ran to the window to see my new horse, to see what he looked like in the light. He was standing in the corner of his paddock by the mini's, his new best friends. I grabbed a carrot and walked over to him and he came right over to me. It appears he was treated well in the past because he doesn't seem to have people issues. He is super sweet.

I wanted to see how much messing with him I could do. Would he pick up his feet? Could I brush him? How is he with his ears? Eyes? Nostrils? Nothing phased him, he passed with flying colors. Some of this may be because he is tired after the long trip, but if that's the case, then at least he doesn't get pissy. On a scale from 1-10, this guy is an 8 when it comes to being affectionate.

My neighbor to the west turned out her horses in their arena so they could see Red. He acted like a mare when her OTTB gelding came over to see him. Silly boys. They ran up and down the fence line a few times, but Red never got too excited. He did his floaty extended trot and cantered a bit, but that was all. It's probably just him being tired, because he seems pretty mellow.

Later that morning, Ryan and I stood out in the field with Red. He came right over to us again and just "hung out". Ryan started scratching his neck and that was the beginning of the end for Red! He used Ryan as his scratching post for a good 10 minutes, and he loved every minute of it. So much for him being my horse!

When it warmed up to about 60, I felt it was time for a bath. He has mud caked on all 4 legs and under his stomach. He also has something funky on his neck. He has patches of hair missing, and the hair around those patches is scabby. The patches are also raised, so he has bald bumps on his neck.

They looked a little like a fungus to me at first. My neighbor said she thought it was lice. Either could be true. I thought, a bath will do him good.

He did great for the 1st 10 minutes. He stood there like a champ while I washed his neck. I don't think he knows how to tie, and I'm not about to find out by trying it out on my vinyl fence. He started to get bored so I went and got him a flake of alfalfa to nibble on. Now I was able to get mud off the legs, and 10 minutes later he's bored again. So we go for a short walk and he is pawing at the ground and I knew he wanted to roll, but no no, we're not going to do that, you can when I'm done. But apparently that was only a minor suggestion and he went down anyway. I stood there thinking, "Please don't get tangled up in the lead rope that is STILL attached to you."

Well he gets up from rolling and takes off, he is gone like the wind. Lead rope still attached. So now I'm just hoping he doesn't step on it and break his neck, and he doesn't. He did one lap around the shed and that was it. He had his fun. He let me catch him and back to the bath we went! He took it for a few more minutes and I decided enough was enough, I had pushed my luck with him already. So we went for a walk around the pasture to relax (not that he was worked up, a walk did him good) and on that walk he decided to roll again! Well this time I wasn't going to let him run off after. He tried, but I hung on tight and after a few seconds of trying to get away, he gave up. We finished our walk and then I decided to call it a day.

Monday, March 9, 2009

He arrived safe and sound!

Well he finally arrived! He got here a little after 10:00 pm on Saturday, March 7. The big rig trailer pulled up, opened the door, and I thought I was going to burst! I asked if I could walk up and see him and they said yes. I saw the white snip before anything, and then his eyes looking around wondering where he was. He had 3 trailer stalls to himself, basically a box. They said all he did was eat the entire trip which made me happy.

I put his halter on and walked him down the ramp. We stood in the driveway while he looked around. I wanted to estimate how tall he was on level ground (the concrete driveway) and my guess is he's 16.0 or 16.1 hh. He looked pretty skinny and looked like he had a small frame, but I still loved him instantly. We stood in the driveway for a bit as we looked each other over, and then it was time to get to his new paddock.

He dove into his hay right away and had no interest in his grain. He seemed very patient and not very frazzled after being on a trailer for 3 days straight. It was cold so I wanted to put his blanket on since he does not have a proper Colorado winter coat. He didn't care about the blanket at all. He didn't even flinch.
My neighbor to the east has a mini-pony and a mini-donkey, and Red was real interested in them. The mini's ran over and ran the fence line, and Red joined them bragging about how much faster he was. He went back to eating and I stood in the field with him for about another hour, until I couldn't feel my face anymore, then it was time for bed. I couldn't wait to see him in the morning.

More tomorrow....

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Welcome friends, family, and strangers! This is my first attempt at a blog, but I think this will be a fun project. Let me give you a little background. I have been around horses almost my entire life. I love them, they complete me. I just purchased an off the track Thoroughbred (OTTB) from TBFriends and he will arrive this weekend. This blog will give you all updates on our progress on a fairly regular basis.

The horse is Red Avenue, a 2003 TB gelding. He raced, but not very well, which is why I now have him. My goals for him in the future are to be a nice eventing horse or a hunter/jumper. He left California today and he should arrive this weekend. I have to admit I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas Day to arrive!

Getting him here has not been all fun and games though. I have to start out by giving you a warning when it comes to transporting your horse. This was my first long distance transport experience. I looked up several haulers, got lots of quotes, did some background research, and picked one based upon the time of transport and price quoted. I'll skip all of the painful details, but the hauler was paid and never showed up. They have vanished off the face of the earth. My money is gone.

In my post-scam research I have found there are 3 companies involved in this scam: Total Equine Services, We Haul Horses, and Double S Transport. Please please please avoid these guys. If you find a hauler you think you want to book, check out and look at customer comments before you book. Also, do not give a dime to anyone until your horse has been at least picked up, no matter what "deal" or "savings" they offer you to pay before. If they can't make the trip without your couple hundred dollars, you don't want them touching your horse, and you need to find a more stable, reliable company.

But back to the good happy news, Red Avenue is on his way! I will post again when he arrives and as I slowly start to work with him and see his personality... err... horseality, I will let you know what I have learned! The plan is to work on bonding and building a trusting relationship between the two of us before we do any work. Then I will introduce some work on the lunge line, add a surcingle and side reins, the saddle, and I hope to be riding soon (but I'm not going to rush anything). Until next time...