Hey yall!

Welcome! My blog is about 2/3 OTTB retraining and 1/3 newbie eventer (former hunt seat/equitation girl). Please follow along with my experiences, share insight, and enjoy!

Friday, November 18, 2011


Brant Gamma of Brant Gamma Photography came out to take photos of my horses this past May.  Here's some of my favorites!!! Thank you Brant, I love them! 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

November 13th

My Chickerbee and me :) 
Chick and I took advantage of "No Hunting on Sundays" to trail ride around the new property.  We have "no hunting/no trespassing" signs posted, but I just get nervous about it so I try to refrain from riding out there when hunting season is going on.  But today we went out to ride around and explore some more.  He was great and we had a really nice time finding new places to ride.  Its so crazy considering how incredibly spooky he was in his younger days. I am still hoping to bring him back for one more show season next year.  He's such  classy horse and he is LOVING being back in "training".

I rode Lego next and he was great! We rode for probably 40 minutes or so, cut short due to darkness in the hayfield today. We again did a gazillion circles both directions, transitioning, changing directions, etc.  I used my mom as our cone this evening so she could watch and critique.  She suggested when I am going to the left that I make my circle larger, as he was leaning in on my inside leg so much (and I simply could not get him to straighten up).  We did that and it was much better, I supposed he just isn't ready yet for the same size circle as on the right. We'll keep working on it though! Each time I changed directions he got a little better, maybe its starting to sink in?

I did some work on the collected sitting trot, which still confuses him and I can tell he isn't sure about it...but I try to stay very positive and as soon as he collects and relaxes I praise him a ton.  At the end of tons of trotting in circles I took him out into the field away from everything and worked on large shallow serpentines.  To my surprise he acted like he was actually understanding what I was asking with the change of bend! It was awesome! I did just enough of those and then we finished up and cooled out.

November 12th

Fuzzy Chick after our ride
Lego was great on Saturday-we stayed with our plan of taking a step back in our training to really reaffirm our foundation of bending.  I know its going to be a while before he's where I want us to be and I really need to focus on being patient with him!! He has these moments of awesomeness when I get so excited ad start planning the next show we are going to do and how great it will be...but I need to keep my head out of the clouds and focus on what needs to be done and what else I need to teach him...which is a lot!

I am planning on taking him on a trail ride with one of my old friends in a few weeks.  I have been taking Lego out of the pasture ring and riding him in the open hay fields to get him used to not being confined.  Usually he's really good, no problems.  Every once in a while though I think he sees all the grass stretched out in front of him and remembers his turf course racing days and just flips out in excitement.  He's getting better as I ask him to focus on smaller tasks while we walk and trot around to get used to things.  If I keep his mind working (which isn't difficult to do...I am positive he wouldn't be able to walk and chew gum at the same time if he were human), he does much better.

I used my sweet yellow lab as a cone and made her sit in the middle of our riding area so I could do TONS of circles around her to work on Lego's bending and flexibility.  After our warm up we probably did a large lap or so around the area in both directions at the trot then brought it in for about 5min each direction of 20-30-40meter cycles.  I intermixed transitions as well.  I tried to really focus on my own position to make sure I was being clear in asking for a bending horse.  I have found that he really responds well to a balanced seat, keeping weight in the outside stirrup and staying up tall.  Of course, all horses do, but I just wanted to include this in case a few years go by and I get another new OTTB and I forget that. ;)

I rode Chick as well around the farm...but he's so perfect I don't have to go in detail about it :)

November 9th

Wednesday was gorgeous so I took every advantage of the nice weather to ride the horses.  I rode Lego for about 45 minutes.  After our breakdown this weekend I decided I'd take a step back and go back to our foundation of building up flexibility and roundness through bending.  I decided not to canter him, but to instead work on circles and bending at the trot.  He is still definitely more stiff on the left side than the right.  I have to keep reminding myself that I shouldn't compare him to Chick.  Its like a parent who compares their children....it doesn't really work and most likely sets you up for trouble.  I need to work on comparing his progress to where we were instead.  What is good for Lego, not what Chick can do.
So on that note, we'll take a step back for a few weeks and reallllly focus hard on bending.

I also rode Chick, though not for long as I had to get to work :(

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 7th

Our streak is over. We had this great streak going where Lego has been sooooooooo great. Until Sunday. He suddenly forgot he had any knowledge of having a left lead...!?! Seriously. So that ride quickly spiraled into a different direction from where I was thinking and we ended up having a little "come to Jesus" meeting. I had planned on doing some flat work and then popping over a fence or two and working on stride adaptations. Once we started having trouble with the lead we worked on that for the whole rest of the time. It was verrrry difficult to keep my cool and stay focused on consistency. He definitely was pushing my buttons! It didn't help that he was still pretty pokey and I was tired from some of my gym workouts. We finally succeeded and I cooled him out.

Ride time: 1 hr 15min

I also rode Chick, and he was super awesome...as always! :) He and I rode for about an hour.

{Lego was confused about why he had on Chick's cooler}

Sunday, November 6, 2011


I've been riding most weekends and Wednesday's on Lego, and often on Chick too.  We've done lots of conditioning and still have been working on bending, stretching, and relaxing while still moving forward.  As expected, that seems to be the longest process.  Lego is doing so great though, he is so willing and really loves his new job.  I think he still is a bit confused about where his competition is though!! :)

He loves trotting over poles and I try to do that as often as I can.  We do tons of circles and lots of changes of direction.  A few weeks ago we had our first time jumping (well, technically he jumped over the poles the first time they appeared in front of him, but this time it was over an actual jump).  We set up a small crossrail and began with walking over it, trotting over it, and finally cantering over it. He is doing so well with it.

Here's a video from yesterday of us trotting poles, cantering both directions, and cantering over a crossrail. He was a bit pokey-tired from his workouts this week.  Enjoy!

lego11/5/11 from k Tice on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hooves :)

Sunday the 16th, I was photographing the CDCTA event in Madison, Virginia all day.  It was killing me to see the little jumps in baby beginner novice/intro divisions for cross country and show jumping, I was so wishing that I had Lego there to hop over them with me.  The last division was taking a while to finish so I was late getting out to the farm to ride.  As soon as I get there I ran out and jumped on Chick bareback.  We went for a trail ride while my sister and her dogs walked around with us.  It was sooo nice :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Super ride on Superhorse!

To anyone who has known the history/story of getting Lego, I couldn't figure out what to call him for a long time.  His racing name is Reel Legend, and I love that, but its a little long for a barn name.  His previous owner said they always just called him by his full name.  So I was able to come up with something a little shorter but it was hard! Jokingly I referred to him as Superhorse for probably four months before and after I got him.  Although we settled on Lego (my mom came up with that as a funny, shortened version of Legend), I still like referring to him as Superhorse when he's really good.

Anyway, tonight we clicked so well during our ride.  Despite the fact that while I was grooming him and tacking him up he fell asleep so when I went to put his bridle on and the bit went in his mouth he woke up all startled and confused like "Wait, what? When did this happen? How come you didn't warn me?!" It was hilarious.  So our ride was great, he was doing really well.  I decided to jump him a bit so we headed down to the crossrails.  He did so well, he is really trying to figure out what to do with himself.  He is very careful with his feet, and particular about where he puts them.  We trotted the jump a few times and he sometimes trotted over it and sometimes jumped it.  Right now, either way is fine with me as long as he continues balanced forward motion.  He does really well trotting in-cantering away from the fence.  We tried cantering over the jump and he did knock down one side of the crossrail, but when we did it again the other way he was fine.  He actually just cantered it and didn't jump it at all.  Not surprising when he is a 17.2+ hand horse and the cross rail is itty bitty!

He is coming along really well.  We still have a lot of work to do, but he's settling in to our routine and is working SOOO hard to figure out what I am asking of him.  I have probably never met/ridden a more eager to please horse.

Ride time: 55 min

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Awesome article by Allie Conrad

The Life-Or-Death Difference Between 35 And 36 Starts

Hey Byrn placed seventh in the 2008 Preakness and earned almost $340,000 in 36 starts. Photo by Deborah Tracy-Kral.
I have spent the last 24 hours speaking to multiple vets, lay-up farms, volunteers, stall managers and trainers about killing a famous racehorse. It is not the day I had picked out for myself.
A stakes winner and Preakness contender on three legs, with nobody to even spend the money on an X-ray to find out what the problem was, sat unknowing at the other end of my decision. Sometimes the weight of that can knock you flat down, sobbing into your pillow.
It is, as you can assume, as gut-wrenching a conversation as one could have—even for a horse I’ve never met, never laid eyes on, and had not owned for even 10 minutes. Truth be told, I find having these discussions even more disturbing with horses I’ve never met than with those I’ve known and loved. At least with the horses I have known, they’ve been treated with kindness, they’ve been fed carrots, and they’ve been loved. For some reason, this makes a decision a little bit easier.
We’ve had to euthanize lots of horses—when you rehabilitate injured racehorses in your spare time, it very sadly comes with the territory, as any group like mine can tell you. Catastrophic injuries, the odd colic and EPM cases are bound to happen when you take in more than 100 Thoroughbreds a year. As the owners and the people ultimately responsible for their happiness, sometimes you have to make those decisions.
The very worst though, are the cases where you are euthanizing a stunning, kind, forgiving, young animal because some combination of owner, vet and trainer decided to inject steroids into a joint to hide a small, manifesting problem rather than treating it, which allowed it to get worse. They make the active decision to ignore the warning signs of filling in a joint or “slight offness” and removing a small chip, or resting a minor fracture, and choose instead to mask the pain.
A small issue becomes a big, chronic one pretty darn fast when treated this way. The fact that people rely on the Thoroughbred stoicism to keep running and bringing home a paycheck makes me violent, as it would anybody who has loved a Thoroughbred. They will do what you ask of them, and they will do it despite the fact that they shouldn’t. It’s the famous Thoroughbred heart.
Just One More Race
Last year I got a call from a trainer who donates horses regularly to the program when they are non-competitive or come up with a little injury. He had a horse running in the claiming ranks who was bringing home a paycheck every time out—some days upwards of $20,000. The horse had come home from her last few races with some filling in an ankle, and it was discovered that she had arthritis forming in the joint. She was rested, injected with corticosteroids and run again. She brought home another paycheck.
This was the pivotal moment that separates the wheat from the chaff in the race world—this trainer called me and asked if we could take her, even though she was still running so well. The owner was pressuring him to inject the horse and run her again, and he knew that if he continued on this path, she would break down on the track or be used up so badly she would never have another career. She brought home nearly $10,000 with the simple injection—and no doubt she would bring home money each time they tapped (injected) and ran her.
For one very small, embarrassing moment, I understood why they did it. For me, and for most of the readers here, I’m imagining that “horse first” is the only way. But for just a moment, I got it—the allure of money. It’s just too easy. Thankfully for me and my ability to look at myself in the mirror, it was just a moment, and my conscience kicked in and said that we would absolutely take the horse and rest her and find her a home and banished such garbage from my brain.
Ocean (as we called her) ran 35 races before she arrived in our lush field of knee-high grass to recuperate. Thirty-six could have damaged her to the point that she would not heal with rest, or worse, it could have caused her to take a tragic step and break a leg, and kill herself or her jockey. Thankfully she was protected by the trainer who worked with her every day and knew the consequences of such actions.
Hey Byrn, the 2008 Holy Bull Stakes winner, Preakness contender, winner of just short of $340,000, and the subject of most of my last 24 hours of activity, ran that 36th race. I assure you he is not in any position to stand in a field of grass for the rest of his life. His fate is far, far more uncertain as his ankle actively collapses on itself.
I have met the most fantastic people on the racetrack. Most trainers are amazing, compassionate horse lovers who put the welfare of their charges so far above their own, it’s nearly embarrassing. They love nothing more than to show off their animals to passersby—shining with the effort of full-time attention and pampering. Their horses are happy, their ears are pricked, and they often are so spoiled that they act visibly offended when your hands fail to produce a carrot or peppermint. I love dispelling the myth that racehorses are mistreated as a whole, and in fact the care of my own animals (not too shabby if I say so myself!) pales in comparison to what a majority of horses at the racetrack are used to.
That said, racing is not unique in that, as in any horse industry, there are the people who don’t care. I am thankful that the number of these monsters is significantly less than the good guys, and I try to remember that on days like this.
The Changes We Need
I find it almost poetic that Hey Byrn was participating in the same Triple Crown races that sparked the 2008 Congressional hearings [5] to “encourage” the Thoroughbred industry to protect its animals and protect the betting public by setting up a central governing body and cleaning up rampant drug use. You may remember Big Brown and trainer Rick Dutrow in the center of the anabolic steroid issue, and the public outcry that followed. Individual racing jurisdictions went on to ban anabolic steroids, but as I testified at that same hearing, did nothing to curb the use of the drugs that were actually causing all of the lasting issues. Here we are three years later, and I am still putting down horses with ravaged joints because nothing has been done. 
If I were queen of the universe, or at least queen of the non-existent racing governing body, I would make it so that these people were no longer able to cripple horses in this manner—or any manner! As a horseman, I understand that “stuff happens,” and a horse can have a catastrophic, career or even life-ending injury with the best of care. But what I would stop, as queen, is the preventable damage caused by the conscious decisions by owners, trainers and veterinarians by repeated injections into a compromised joint for the sole purpose of masking injury, rather than therapeutically treating it. Joint injections certainly have their place as a therapeutic treatment, that’s not the issue here—blatant misuse of medication is the issue. That’s the ringer, isn’t it? These horses are injured over time, with the help of veterinarians.
I would stop this in two ways: First, amend the drug rules in each state to make it illegal to inject a joint with corticosteroids less than seven days out from race day. (Eliminating it 30 days out would be even better, but tough to test with today’s testing strategies.) The Pennsylvania Racing Commission has already put this in place. It would curb the masking ability of a therapeutic drug. Horses who were too unsound to run without injections 24 hours out would not make it to post parade.
The second thing I would do is change the claiming race [6] system to stop rewarding the people who want to dump lame horses. The way things work now, if someone claims a horse during a race, they own that horse the minute the starting gate opens. They own that horse if it breaks a leg, if it wins, or if it’s been abused by joint injections, or needs a surgery, or can’t breathe. Claiming needs to be changed to void claims for unsound or misrepresented horses so it can no longer be used as racing’s trash can.  Owners will remain responsible for horses they injure and not be able to dump them on other people and get paid for it in the process.
I’m not queen, unfortunately, but I do have a voice, and I do have inspiration with every horse I have to watch crumble to the ground in a dead heap because people let them down repeatedly.
Thirty-five races and a responsible trainer means that Ocean gets to live out her life happily having babies and going for trail rides. Thirty-six races with indifferent trainers, and Hey Byrn will likely not have that luxury.
Allie Conrad is executive director of CANTER Mid Atlantic, which provides retiring Thoroughbred racehorses with opportunities for new careers. Allie founded the organization in 1999 at Charles Town Racetrack (W.V.) after purchasing her beloved Thoroughbred Phinny, who had more than 60 starts at Charles Town, at the infamous New Holland Auction in Pennsylvania. A resident of Southern Pines, N.C., Allie also works full time as a project manager for a Washington, D.C., consulting firm. You can learn more about CANTER Mid Atlantic on their website, www.canterusa.org/midatlantic [7].

The past few months

Sorry I've been absent the last couple of months! Things have been a bit crazy, but great!

I've ridden Lego a lot, although he had off about two weeks in August with me going out of town and him then losing a shoe when I finally got back out there to ride him! Other than that, he's doing so well!

We have been working on transitions and bending.  Bending around turns are definitely still a struggle for him.  He is also pretty picky about where he puts his feet.  If the grass is a bit long, he doesn't really like to go through it smoothly.

Wednesday 9/28/11:
Rode 40 minutes

Saturday 10/1/11:
Rode 40 minutes

Simple change of lead across the diagonal

Sunday 10/2/11:

Rode 45 minutes
First time jumping! I had my mom out to help with our first adventure jumping (on purpose that is...he has jumped before, such as over a pole the first time we trotted it).
He was SO good.  More on that later hopefully!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Monday, August 1, 2011

New Additions!

My mom adopted two mini donkeys from a lady who had to move without them.  Meet "Blue" (incidentally in the purple halter) and "Icey" (blue halter).  Aren't they cute? A little (ok very) overweight, but that is being worked on!! They are very sweet and we will *hopefully* be able to train Icey as a therapy donkey! :o)


Starting August off right! I was able to ride both my boys this morning! I got up super early before I had to be at work so I could ride Lego.  I got out to the barn and Chick was looking at me with his cute little face and his pricked ears and gorgeous eyes saying "I'd like to work today please!" so I tacked him up and off we went. His coughing was MUCH better so we had a fantastic little ride :)

Lego was REALLY confused, however! He kept staring at us and walked the fence line as we rode around.  I then went to get him to tack him up after riding Chick and he played a little hard to get, which he never does.  Silly boy.  I grabbed some grass, fed it to Connor, and instantly Lego was interested again of course! So I rode him outside the pasture again which I've only done once before.  Last time I only walked him because he was pretty excited to be out of his "home turf". This time I was hoping he'd settle down a bit so I could work him more today!  He was being really good so I did some trot sets with him and he was being really great.  We worked on being bold around spooky stuff, not that it really sets him off but I just want to encourage that courageousness!   Towards the end of our trot sets he started getting a little wound up so we worked on halting and standing quietly as well.  He was really great today! :)

Sunday, July 31, 2011

7/30/11 Lunging

Because of the rain and how late it was, I was only able to lunge Lego last night.  He was absolutely fantastic though! Georgia had been sick this week (my sweet yellow lab) so I was only able to get out to the farm a couple times this week.  After the few days of not seeing him, I quickly noticed how muscular he is getting! I love it! He looked really great and really fit during his trotting sets.  He was also moving better in the circles.  Going to the left/counter clockwise he was great, the shape of the circles was consistent and smooth, he had a little up hill and down hill to conquer and he was well balanced.  His clockwise direction isn't nearly as put together.  I think some of it was he was getting tired and it was getting dark, so I'll have to remember to try that side first next time!!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Where have I been?!

Sorry for the lapse in posting! Its been a REALLY busy month! Ive been in a different state every weekend-travelling around for work.  Its been really fun but really exhausting!!

I was in Victor, New York for 5 days shooting the Stuart Horse Trials for Brant Gamma Photography.  It was a beautiful event!

Ive only been able to ride a few times since I've been back due to the excessive temperatures!!!!  Hopefully we'll get some relief soon and I'll be able to ride again!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011


I started off riding Chick today since I have had a pretty stressful couple of days after my WONDERFUL weekend in West Virginia with my best friend and her family.  I really wanted to go on a trail ride and explore more of our new acreage! We started our trip out and Chick was being a bit of a brat.  He's been coughing more (he has heaves that normally is really well managed) and has been more tenderfooted than normal despite him being very used to being barefoot.  We walked across the dam off the lake/pond and into the back field and explored a bit there before we hit the logging trails.  He was acting a little better although if there was the remote possibility he was stepping on so much as a pebble he was acting all tippy-toey.  I really need to get to the bottom of that.  We walked along and there were large puddles in the middle of the trail and although he resisted, I did convince him to walk through them.  Yey! Then there was thunder so we turned around eventually and went back home to the farm.  On the way back, he coughed really hard and I dropped my water bottle on the ground. Not wanting to litter, I decided to ride up the trail a bit to see if there was  place I could possibility use to get back on him.  I found an area that might work if he was willing so I gave it a try-hoping it wouldn't turn in to me having to walk the whole way back.  He was really good and stood so I count get back on just fine.  :)  Overall he was really good!

Then it rained and thundered and I had to wait until Lego was dry before I could ride him!  I was thinking I'd just lunge him, but I really wanted to do some work.  I hoped on him and it began thundering again.  Great. I decided we'd just do a little higher intensity since we wouldn't have as long.  We trotted up and down the pasture hills for 10 minutes with no walk breaks (which is tough since its so hilly).  I then let him walk a minute or so and began trotting him and cantering him in each direction up the hills.  I chanced it and asked him to canter by lifting up my hand since his head was down and he came up on the correct lead perfectly.  I think this could really help him figure out which lead I'd like him  to be on! Im really excited about this revelation of not "opening" my hand to lead him into the lead but to lift up just slightly.  Whoohoo.  That will also be better for eventually making the command more subtle. We rode for about 40 minutes until the thunder got closer and I cooled him out.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Never ever has this horse wanted anything to do with getting his feet wet.  He fell on the "never gonna happen" side of the spectrum.  However, in our trail rides lately he has expressed more interest in the water, particularly the ponds that we walk beside.  Willingly walking up toward the water's edge and sniffing.  He won't dare touch the water though.  Today on our trail ride was a different story.  We were celebrating the acquisition of additional acreage onto our farm and were riding along the edge of the new back field (or Backfield as my mom and step dad are calling it).  There were a couple of puddles and I figured I'd aim him at them and see what happened....much to my surprise-nothing! He walked right through and didn't even realize he was in water until about the 10th step!! :) Enjoy the video I shot of our 2nd pass through the puddle! :)

Im behind!


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Videos! :)

Here is a video of Lego cantering and Lego trotting poles that my mom so graciously took of us this weekend!

Video 1: Lego Cantering.

The first part is from today, and the second part (which looks wayyyyy darker than it actually was!) is from Saturday.  Enjoy!

Video 2: Lego trotting over poles.  :) 

Christmas List Started! :)

One of these awesome saddle pads is DEFINITELY on my Christmas List!!  OTTB Designs will also donate a portion of the sales to your favorite equine charity-how awesome!!!



Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Lego: I rode Lego today and boy was it warm!!! It was SO humid today!  I moved our ground poles up to the "riding area" and placed one of them oh so carefully on a two little hills so the middle part of the pole was about three inches above the ground.  The other pole was a canter stride in front of it.  I warmed him up and trotted around both directions for about 12-13 minutes.  He was doing really well on figure 8's and circles.  I gave him a little walk break and then picked up a trot going to the left again. I was hoping to really get him to move off of my inside leg to really set him up to get the correct lead. It definitely helped and we were able to get the correct lead and canter a few laps and circles.  He has such a great canter :)
I then figured I could reverse directions and do the same thing, only adding in the poles.  Not the brightest idea I've ever had.  This horse LOVES to canter...and go fast....and be speedy.
We changed direction and trotted towards the poles.  He has been doing SO well with trotting over them but he was a bit excited about cantering so he jumped the first one and then jumped the other one and cantered away.  No big deal, he did great and transitioned back down beautifully.  This is where we fell apart a bit.  The next time I picked up a trot he was already a bit crazy. he tucked his head down and was was doing the "i am about two seconds away from exploding" jig.  I tried to circle and work him through it, but......it didn't' help that much.  We went over the poles and he took giant leaps over them as if they were just obstacles in the way of him getting to go fast.  And he was fast.  But fortunately he listens and I  just circled and asked him for a transition which he gave me...eventually.
Oh OTTB's how we love the antics.
He was sooo amped up after that that I decided not to give in to his little meltdown and just walked him out.  We worked hard though...WALKING over the poles and turning circles and NOT breaking into a trot.  Once he was a little more calm I walked him over the first pole, then asked for a trot over the second.  He trotted it and then cantered away, but it was a good canter so I praised him thoroughly and then cooled him out.
Overall it was a good ride, but definitely the most challenging so far.  :)

Goal: raised poles, canter a little more-setting up better for lead success
Time: 50 minutes

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Let the awesome rides continue! I actually rode Chick first and then had dinner with my family and then went back out to ride Lego this evening. It was 9:00 on the dot when I got on and we were only really able to ride for 27 minutes. Lego was soooo good though! We walked up to the "riding area" and as I warmed up in 2-point he spooked at a bird (it was past dusk after all) but it wasn't too big of a deal. I realized I'd have to ride him more boldly and forward than I presently was if we were going to ride so late!! It really made me focus on sitting tall and back and riding him forward confidently. It worked really well. He was great the whole rest of the time and didn't look at a thing! He actually was circling and bending through the turns pretty well. The corners still need work, but the circles are getting MUCH better! I only trotted him for about 10 minutes before we went back down towards the barn to cool out by the flood lights. We worked there on turns and smaller circles :)

Chicky was good. He had been in a bad mood all day as reported by my mom so I rode him first to try to cheer him up. He was great. We just walked to warm up and then I had him do some leg yielding, haunches in, shoulder in, etc. He was really cute, probably thinking "after how many years you want me to remember how to do this??!!" :) But he did pretty well considering! I trotted him just a bit and then cooled him out.


Lego did GREAT tonight.  He was such a good boy.  We warmed up with 5 min of walking, then did 5 minutes of bending, circling, walking straight lines with a straight body (trickier than it seems sometimes).  We then did 5 minutes of trotting, lots of changes in direction, circles, figure 8's, etc.  He was great.  There is just one side of our "riding area" that he has a difficult time with good turns.  Its on the downhill part and its close to the "in gate" towards the barn.  I think all of those things add up to a loss of focus and a little loss of balance in our rhythm.  He was stretching a LOT which was awesome! :)

Goal: Conditioning, flexibility
Time: 40min

Chick stared at us out of his stall and watched Lego and I ride the whole time so I knew I needed (and very much wanted) to ride Chick too.  I tacked him up and it began sprinkling.  Great.  But it stopped so I had time to get a quick LSD workout in.  We just walked around the farm up and down hills, looking at stuff which in his previous life he was terrified of.  Including our family of Canada Geese who ran down to the pond (which we were standing right beside) and dramatically splashed into it right in front of him. Which of course perked my lab Georgia's ears and she took off and started splashing too.  Fortunately she knows better than to chase geese though! :)
Chick did great, we had a wonderful ride.  It amazes me how he can change my mood so much.  I wasn't in the greatest of moods when I got to the barn and while Lego did help it, Chick really changes it.  :) I love these guys and I am SO thankful for them!

Goal: LSD
Time: 20 min (due to light diminishing)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Lunging, Posing, and Cantering!!

I went to the barn after work on Tuesday since I knew we'd be doing formal portraits of the horses with Brant Gamma Photography early Wednesday morning. I wanted to make sure I'd have enough time to get the horses all groomed up for the photos so I decided to stay the night at the barn. I decided to lunge Lego, since I hadn't recently and tried to photograph the workout, but it was prettttty bad with the lighting....and holding the camera with one hand and the lunge line in the other... :)
We worked on speed self-regulation as I lunged him on a slight incline due to lighting. He was pretty good. I think it was helpful for him to have to figure it out and balance himself on the downhill portion. He was actually stretching pretty well to, which is something we've been missing a little of under saddle. We also increased the amount of time trotting just a little bit.

Time: 30 minutes
Goal: Speed regulation, balancing, conditioning

Today was our long awaited photo shoot with Brant. I have been working closely with Brant Gamma and Pete this spring/summer as a photographer at regional events. Brant's level of skill and talent is AMAZING and it has been such a privilege to work with her. I have learned SO much these past few months and am eager to continue learning and shooting for her. I had actually contacted her back in the fall about coming to take portraits of the horses this spring so we could have some really awesome shots of them. We finally got our stars aligned, and although she and Pete are leaving tomorrow to go to New York she took the time to come out today and do portraits of my guys. I am so very thankful. We had a great time and I am SO excited to see the results. The anticipation is already killing me! :)

Check out Brant's webiste at http://brantgamma.exposuremanager.com/g/
After our portraits I tacked up Lego to go ride. We decided to deck him out in orange and blue in honor of the University of Virginia baseball team making it to the College World Series. Go Hoos!
So Lego and I worked on conditioning mainly today.  We warmed up at a walk for 5 minutes, then trotted for 5 minutes.  I had read about some different exercises to do while conditioning and someone suggested riding a dressage test, just at whatever pace you want instead of changing gaits.  So I trotted a dressage test (novice A) changing directions and circling, etc.  It was a great way to work on bending through corners and circles while being pretty consistent on each side through changes of direction.  I then let him have a walk break before trotting again.  He is circling much better as I continue to focus on riding both sides of the horse (Ive apparently gotten a bit lazy thanks to Chick's ease of going).  The corners are still pretty rough though but there's definitely progress in the shape and balance of the circles.  At the end of the trot I asked him for a canter going to the right and he picked up his lead perfectly.  He has a nice big, smooth canter and Im so excited to develop it more.  We cantered for about a minute or a little less and then transitioned back down through the trot to a walk.  We changed directions and did the same thing.  He isn't as consistent about his lead on the left, but he was very good during the transitions.  I am amazed at how well he relaxes back down into a walk.  I remember with Chick it was always a jig more than a walk after we'd canter when I began his retraining.  I was able to let Lego relax into a free walk on the buckle rein for a few minutes before getting back into a medium/working walk to finish up and then cool down.  I am REALLY thrilled with how this  horse is going.  He's worked four of the last five days so I'll probably give him tomorrow and *maybe* friday off (mostly because I don't think I can make it out there after work on Friday).   I made it in to work early enough today that I could take a yoga class (with my favorite instructor) so I am super excited about that!

Time: 40 minutes
Goal: Conditioning (add in canter), suppleness

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fall 2010

In an effort to make this blogging thing a little easier on my part, I'll just update on what I was doing BEFORE this past spring and continue on from there. The only downside is that some of the photos from our first ride and first lunging sessions aren't on this computer so they'll have to wait, but I think I can edit them and put them in after I publish each post. Here are some photos from this past fall. Our rides typically were 20-30 minutes in length and I was lucky if I got to ride him 1-2x per month due to my crazy hectic schedule. We did just a little bit of trotting, not too much on bending yet.

Sunday, June 12, 2011



Happy Birthday Chick!



I rode Lego and Chick on Sunday. They were both really good.  Lego had a 40 min ride focused mainly on gaining flexibility and listening to my legs and seat.  We did a bit of trotting, but mostly just walking in circles, serpentines, changing directions, etc.

Chick and I just walked up and down the rolling pastures to work on base level conditioning.  Since he is a wee bit older, I don't want to risk stressing his legs out with conditioning, there's not time rush so we are taking it slowwww.   :)


Lego was great this evening.  The weather was perfect and he was in a great mood.  He really seems to be happier working :) 
We started out just warming up at a walk, lots of circles (noticing a trend here?).  After about 10min we began trotting nice large circles with a change of direction and a figure 8.  We trotted about 3.5minutes then took a short walk break and did it again.  He REALLY wanted to Canter after our fun we had last evening but I didn't want to encourage excitement during our rides so we kept it at a trot today.  We also did the ground poles again which we hadn't done in a few rides.  I typically ride those in 2-point and he was great.  His turns are getting much better as he responds to me riding both sides of the horse and shaping the circles. I had my wonderful mom take a few photos of us so we can see our progress! 

Ride time: 45min
Goal: The goal was to canter again, this time with smoother transitions, however he was pretty excited about going fast so we reinforced a steady pace at the trot instead.  :)

I rode Chick again this evening also, just for 30 minutes of walking up and down the pasture hills.  We did about 2 minutes of trotting.  He was super...as always :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011


I was able to get out to the farm to ride this evening in between thunderstorms.  We desperately need the rain, but its hard to coordinate riding with time off from work and good weather! I was able to wait the thundering/lightning out (and watch the Belmont) though. Around 7:15 I was up on Lego and we had a GREAT ride.  We warmed up with about 7minutes of walking...which it takes us a few minutes to walk to our "training area"...since we don't have a ring...yet. I actually prefer not having an arena most of the time, but sometimes it would be really nice to have one.  During our warming up we work on circles and bending through turns.  The circles get progressively more intricate, adding in some serpentines and things like that once we are warmed up.  Then we picked up a trot and trotted nice and straight (also a challenge) and bending through the turns.  This is where not have an arena comes in handy. I had read that George Morris has his equitation students sometimes ride in a field and he'll pick the shape of the riding area that day.  So for example, he might have them ride a square, a circle, oval, triangle, etc.  I have found myself implementing that same thing in the past with Chick and really liked it. With Chick I'd also move around my riding area.  At our old farm we had a flat area at the top of the pasture that was almost exactly the size/shape of a ring, but sometimes we'd go down and do our whole training ride at the bottom of the pasture where it was just slightly sloped.  I think it made us focus on balance, rhythm, and carrying ourselves a lot better than a flat space.
Anyway, while we were trotting I focused on riding a square then an oval, then a circle, etc.  on the long sides of the oval I'd throw in a few circles too. After a walk break we'd do the same thing again, only this time we trotted smaller circles and did changes of direction.  Lego was doing SO well tonight that I got really gutsy and decided we'd try cantering! This is the first time we've done it (intentionally anyway...).  I asked him with outside leg, inside rein which he was a little confused about, but after some clucking he picked up the right lead and we cantered the long side and through the turn of an oval.  Wow he has a big canter.  Its awesome though! I asked him to come back down to a trot and he did so beautifully.  We took a walk break and did the same thing on the other side.  I tried to do it so we were facing away from the barn and his friends each time :)   We cantered twice on each side and he did great. Im so excited about this horse! We finished with a few more bending exercises at the trot and then cooled out.

Total ride time: 30 min (due to storm)
Goal: Add more trotting for conditioning, work on straight-a-ways

I then rode Chick around the farm, I didn't want to overdo it since he had been lame 1.5 weeks ago so we just walked.  I did make him go up and down the long hills though! :) We went over to the pond/lake and he is expressing interest in it, even though I know he knows that I know that he hates water! :) I had him stand with just the tips of his hooves barely touching the water and just relaxed for a couple of minutes.  Georgia (my 3 year old yellow labrador retriever) was going crazy running around and jumping into the water, splashing around, then sprinting around us, then back in the water she'd go! We did some more hills and walking around (I challenged myself by riding in 2 point the whole time) and that was about it!

Total ride time: 30 minutes
Goal: Slow conditioning

Wednesday, June 8, 2011


I rode Lego this morning for about 30 minutes since it was so warm outside.  He was already sweaty by the time I tacked him up, but his HR & respirations were fine so I went ahead and did a light workout.  We worked mainly on corners, bending, and getting him more supple. Its going to be a long road to get him relaxed and flexible on both sides. His left side is much more stiff than his right. Since it was so warm, we mainly just worked at the walk.  Everything we are working on is transferrable to the faster gaits, and it just isn't worth risking heat illness at this point! We have *plenty* to work on while just walking!! :)
When we did do some trotting, we did big circles and I asked him to bend around the arc and he did the best he's ever done.  As soon as he gave into my cues, I praised him and we walked. He seems very responsive to my praises and pats :) I am trying to be very consistent about vocalization cues to him, both praises and prepping him for gait transitions.

Time: 30 min
Goal: Work on flexibility and getting more supple. (and survive the VERY warm weather)

Monday, June 6, 2011

First Post!

I've been feeling the need to blog about my journeys retraining my "Off Track Thoroughbreds (OTTB's)". I have three of these guys, and one sweet little polo pony mare who keeps them all in line.

Chick is my first horse, he's the one who started this whole thing.  He was three years old when we got him, and straight off the track *crazy*! I was young...my mom was hopeful and I think we were all a little insane.  What were we thinking? More on the boy later :)

We then had JoJo who was a retired fox hunter.  He was so beautiful and so kind.  He had a heart the size of the Titanic. A gorgeous flea bitten grey, he stood around 17.2 hands and had the most amazing mane and tail.  Mom and I would go on trail rides together, she would ride Joey and I'd ride Chick, those are some awesome memories.
Next we acquired Dixie, our little polo pony mare.  We hoped she'd be able to take Joey's place as a suitable horse for my mom to ride, but she just never was happy under saddle.  She wasn't treated the best as a polo pony and combined with her injuries, she just didn't quite make it to pleasure horse world. She is pretty fun though, and really cute.  Even if she doesn't like me all that much she is a great nanny for the babies. :) 
New Year's Day the year after we lost Joey, we got "My Friend Lumpy" whom I gave the stable name "Connor" to.  While I was working at Marion DuPont Scott Equine Medical Center near Washington D.C. I had a coworker mention that she has just rescued a horse from the racetrack that a friend of hers said was going to the slaughterhouse soon.  She showed me a photo and I agreed to come out and take a look.  One look is all I needed.  Connor was standing in the aisleway on a REALLY cold December night just as calm as could be.  He had THE cutest look on his face and was just so sweet.  I was hooked immediately!  You can find the rest of the story on the page labeled "Connor". 

I went to Grad school at Georgia Southern University near Savannah, GA.  I was riding on the IHSA equestrian team there and was really excited about getting back to retraining Connor.  Unfortunately that was not as fate would have it (again, look at Connor's page for more info).  I moved to Raleigh, North Carolina and began working as a veterinary technician in the Large Animal Hospital at NC State's vet school.  While there, I was working on a racehorse named Reel Legend who was there for soft tissue surgery.  The clinician assigned to his case mentioned that his owners were looking for a home for him since he could probably not race any longer.  I talked to them,  got to know the horse a little bit, and decided that I'd be interested.  After Lego's surgery they put him back in training to see if he would be able to take it but everyone involved decided it wouldn't be in in his best interest.  His owner was particularly devastated because he was one of her favorites and they had had him since he was a yearling.  I went down to pick him up in April and boarded him in Raleigh with me until I moved back to VA the following fall.  Now he's in our training program!