Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Starting Over....Again

There has been a LOT of starting over going on at Southwind in the past year, but even though there are pretty good stories to tell, the only one I want to dwell on is about the young horse with No Sense of Urgency.

Biricchino ("Imp" in Italian),  or just B as we call him, came to my farm after a lackluster career at the track and basically having nothing else to do.  He had an ulcer on his eye and scars on his neck, but he was sweet and you could see he was going to be quite attractive.  It didn't take much more than a bath to see that was true - 4 years old, 16.2 at the withers 16.3 butt high, black with just enough white to make him flashy.

I don't know how many times I have told myself I didn't want to do a young horse again, but here I was totally excited to start another one, again.  His first trail ride ever he led, on the buckle, looking around at his new wide world.  He's never refused to go anywhere or do anything on a trail ride, it is his most favorite thing.  For that reason alone I knew he was special and worth seeing what else he could do.

Ordinarily, when I get a horse off the track, they get tossed into the field to unwind.  B ran in April of 2015, then was turned out until I got him in May.  He hung out with my horses doing some hacks while Toga was getting ready for Seneca and beyond.  But at some point, Toga cracked a splint bone but didn't present lame for some time after he did it.  By the time he limped, there was already some remodeling going on in the bone.  So Toga was put on stall rest, and stayed there for 4 months.  Grumpus was not happy about it as the left side of B's face will attest to...the only two stalls in the barn where the horses can touch are the two that B and Toga are in, so there is lots of snapping and biting.  A four year old and a grumpy competition horse side by side can be quite noisy.

Fast forward two months and B is an event horse.  He has competed in three unrecognized events, and earned ribbons in all of them.  Fairly good dressage, a couple rails, but always clean cross country.  So much better EVERY time he competes.  All that with a broken neck.  Yup, come to find out, those scars near his poll are from a horrible accident he was in as a foal.  Farther down his neck (C5 I think) the facet is mangled.  Explains a lot of his behavior when he throws his head up in the air, but so far it's been manageable.  When he is round and over his back, he seems very comfortable and flexible.  When he gets frustrated or pissy and throws his head in the air I think it hurts.  So we do a lot of work in draw reins and jump in a running martingale to keep him at least level.  Seems to be working!  We xrayed his neck it's not a pretty picture, but I will go month to month and see how much he can take.   So far he is getting better EVERY time out, and his weakest part is still his hind end.  Since he's still growing and really a baby, I am happy with every forward step he takes.  And he never takes a step back.

THAT is what I look for in any horse I want to work for.  Forward steps.  Moving ahead from where you left off.  To me, it shows a good work ethic, williingness, and brains.  Mr. B has the brains ten times over I would settle for in an OTTB.  If he can't handle the dressage as he moves up, he will still have so many options since he is amenable to whatever I throw at him.  What a good man.

So this weekend B will go to his first recognized event at Beginner Novice level, which honestly he is getting bored at already.  But hopefully we can finesse the canter transitions and show off his gorgeous trot, then jump around for fun.  He is a blast to ride and after this weekend will finally get his well deserved time off.  Toga will start back again.... his time off has been good for his body but not his brain.  He is a worker bee and VERY jealous.  The few times I have been on him he's been very obviously excited to be back in the picture.  Very sound and ready to roll. I am looking forward to next year with him hoping he will qualify for the AECs again.  The eventing Pirate will be back :)

I have always said that I think brains are the most important part of a project horse's package, and B is the perfect example.  So happy to do whatever, and when he figures it out, it's on to the next challenge.  Working through his physical problems are almost easy because he tells me when he can't do something, rather than tell me he won't.  What a pleasure...I sure do get to ride some really nice horses, and again I have a LOT to look forward to  :))