Also brief update since I haven't been around much (though I doubt enough of you remember me well enough to wonder where I've been)! I'm back in Texas, doing some contract riding for my old coach when she needs it, riding a little mare named Lacey (Belgian/QH) for her owners as well as their other horses when they're out of town and I'm not helping them at shows, plus now I have my new girl. :)
Yesterday (April 9th) I bought a new project horse, a 5 y/o (as of March 9th) Thoroughbred mare I've decided to call "Annie". She's really a sweetheart, retired sound from racing only because of some issues the owner was having with the trainer (non-horsey in nature, but the owner just decided to pull both his horses from that trainer and sell them). She's about 16 hh, I haven't sticked her yet so I can't be totally sure. I've also never ridden her, haha. When I went to take a look at her last week I was just very impressed with her overall balanced build and her very laid back, level-headed personality. She hasn't been handled much in the 7-8 weeks she's been off the track. Literally just thrown out in the back 40 with her gelding buddy. She's bright and very curious. Already follows me around her little solitary paddock that I put her in yesterday, comes up to be haltered, etc.
She needs some farrier attention (pretty badly for her front feet, actually) so my farrier is coming out later this week to take a look at her feet for me and do some work on her. If I had nail pullers I'd pull off her left front (the only shoe she has on anymore) because it's just so loose. I've tried with some pliers, but I don't want to get it crooked and have her step on a loose nail I can't pull out, so I'm just going to leave it. She's been really quiet in her little area, just walking around and eating, occasionally whinnying to the other horses, so I'm not super worried about it. I've done some basic groundwork with her so far; moving off pressure on her forequarters and hindquarters, backing up, walking calmly next to me and stopping when I stop, etc. She picked up the pressure thing VERY quickly. Was a little confused the first time I asked her (I started hindquarters) so I moved up to her forequarters and she got it, then when I moved back to her hind end she just stepped over like a pro. Anyway, I'm sure you're all sick of reading. So, pictures!
Well she's seriously been blowing my mind with her awesome attitude.
Now that her feet are feeling 100% I took several days to just work on groundwork and lunging with her; getting her accustomed to moving away from pressure etc. She's also out with the rest of the horses and the transition was a fairly seamless one. I'm hoping to start slowly adding some grain into her diet as she really does need the weight, especially since I'm starting to make her work. She's been doing quite well with her groundwork, has walked over tarps and everything without batting an eye. A little stiff moving off the right (not surprising, really, since she raced for a few years) but we'll just keep working on that.
Today I hopped on her for the first time since I got her a week and a half ago and she was really good, especially considering it was mid-50's, windy and raining! Definitely will have to play with her bit choice, as she seemed pretty fussy with the egg-butt french link I have on her right now. I might go to a full cheek and if she's still iffy I may go with something softer, like a Nathe. We'll see! She walked, trotted, and cantered both directions today and even picked up her right lead correctly the first time. It was a little rushed, but I'm not looking for perfect right now, just want to see what I have to work with.
Once she started relaxing a little her stride opened up more in the trot which I'm definitely excited about. It's been pretty choppy on the lunge; a combination of lack of balance and muscle I'm sure. Her canter is going to be lovely when she starts coming over her back!
"Always be yourself. Unless you can be a unicorn. Then, always be a unicorn."
I would recommend some rice bran for her diet to keep her less hot and to keep her off the "grain sugar high" OTTB's have. Also, if the french link doesn't work you may want to consider a baucher bit. The bit stays steady in the mouth, and offers cheek pressure when needed. (Contrary to many beliefs, it does NOT have poll pressure and is considered a snaffle.) Good luck with her, she is gorgeous!
Intermediate Rider~Learning Equitation and English Pleasure~Interested in Eventing A horse will tell you everything you need to know about him, if you listen. -Winston Churchill