Monday, June 19, 2006

With a Capital "T"

I Should Have Called Him "Trouble"

My aunt, who lives next door, nicknames Tucker (Doitright Tobe) "Trouble." This is mostly because, as a young rambunctious horse, he is always stirring up some kind of action out the in pasture behind her house. Today, the nickname fit too perfectly.

When I went out to feed this afternoon, I found the metal gate that closes PJ's stall off from the aisle of the barn lying outside his stall under the run-in, with a horse shoe lying on top of it.

Don't ask.

I don't have an answer.

Obviously, it was Tucker's shoe, neatly pulled off his right front hoof. Of course, I have him entered in a show on Tuesday. Of course, I was getting ready to go to a dinner party. Of course the gate was bent to the point of being unsuable. Of course Tucker looked quite pleased with himself, although I must admit he did seem at least a little wary when I picked up the bent gate to see if I could rehang it.

He never ceases to amaze me with finding ways to get into mischief. Bad enough that he should have taken the gate out of the hinge rings holding it up, but to pull off his shoe?????

So now, the temperature is soaring into the 90's, I have to leave him in his stall all day so he doesn't break his hoof up before I can get the shoe back on. I put in an emergency call to my wonderful farrier, but I haven't yet heard back. If worse comes to worse, I can get the shoe put back on at the horse show.

Times like this I guess my aunt it right. Is should have called him "Trouble."

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Starring PJ's Folly

PJ's Folly In the Show Ring

PJ's Folly competing in FEI dressage. I believe this is a Prix St. Georges test.

Always a bit nervous in the show ring, PJ never did quite show his full talent to the judges. He had an amazing trot with a huge extension. Surprisingly, for a Thoroughbred, his canter was a bit flat and lacking rhythm. Still he did super changes and had a ground covering stride.

I purchased PJ when he was five as a replacement for another lovely young horse, Sudden Impulse (Idaboy) I had lost to colic surgery. PJ's temperament was touchy at first and he would even attack people in the stall. I soon realized it was likely he had had some bad handling on the track, so I simply ignored him and used considerable patience to convince him people were really OK.

At first, training PJ was a challenge. He'd be good one day and bad the next. Equine acupuncture was a brand new discovery at that time and I was lucky enough to have one of the first practitioners in our area. After his first treatment, PJ was a changed horse. Apparently, his body and muscles were so sore he just could not do the work I was asking. Regular acupuncture and later chiropractic treatments kept him content as we continued to train and compete.

PJ retired as a moderately successfull Intermediare I horse. We never quite mastered passage and piaffe under saddle, but in hand PJ would offer a really engaged piaffe. Had I been a better trainer, he may have gone to Grand Prix as he had lovely changes and a wonderful trot. Tension often blocked his extensions in the ring, but his extended trot on the trail was so big, every other horse we ever rode with had to gallop to keep up. His schooled canter was a bit flat, but when he galloped he had huge strides. It is a complete mystery to me that whoever trained him for the track had not discovered the power of his gaits.

Now, some unsoundness issues related to old track issues keep PJ mostly rettired in my back yard. We still take short trail rides now and again, enjoying the State Park behind my house and looking for mud puddles to play in. (Any ride in water with PJ can guarantee a soggy rider. My first horse, Russell R, taught PJ how to paw in the water and he hasn't forgotten a single stroke.)

Now a closet cuddler who still will act tough in the presence of witnesses, PJ loves "chinnies" when I just stand with him scratching his chin and lips. One of my friends who'd know PJ from when I first got him saw him after many years a month or so ago. She said she'd never seen him looking so happy.

What a great legacy for a special horse who deserves a happy home after so many years of trying to please.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Let's Meet The Boys

Toby and PJ grazing in the pasture.
Fly sheets are the order of the day as
summertime hits New Jersey.

PJ's Folly is a bright bay gelding, born in 1980. He raced few times with on third place finish. From the Midwest, he was bred out of Your Host's line and looks a lot like his famous granddad. With large bone, he doesn't look like the typical racing Thoroughbred but rather like a good solid warmblood. I guess his bowed tendon ended his racing career, but I will never know the full story.

PJ refuses to talk about that. As far as he's concerned, his real life began with me. A replacement for a horse I lost to colic surgery, PJ became mine when he was five years old. We've been together ever since. Now retired, PJ competed through FEI Intermediare I with moderate success.

To Be Or Not To Be was registered with the Jockey Club as Art's Ruler. He is the son of Pappa Riccio a noted New Jersey stallion. A bright chestnut, he resembles his father but is a bit smaller at 16.1 h. I purchased him as a two year old when his owners decided to get out of the racing business, so he never set foot on a race track.

The boss of the herd, Toby is very opinionated but also very kind. My vet calls him "the prince" because he is always so gentle and easy to handle. He is very athletic under saddle but also spooky about strange noises. Riding him is always a bit of an adventure. Toby also competed through Intermediare I, but some of the upper level collection was difficult for him. He's still sound but semi-retired to trail rides and lower level work. He has proven a super teacher for riders who want to hone their dressage skills.

Doitright Tobe began life as a racing prospect but he was born with a severe club foot. His mother's owner took him to Purdue University Vet School to have his check ligament cut to correct the defect. The surgery was an amazing success. Today, it's almost impossible to see any sign of clubbing in his left front. Of course, I have a wonderful farrier to shoe him.

Nicknamed Tucker, this boy is a dark mahogany bay standing now at 16.3 h. He came to me out of pure luck. I was browsing the Internet, found the Cross Sabers horse adoption site and saw Tucker's picture. At that time he was just a yearling. Something about him intrigued me and when the agency had an adoption special his fee was lowered, I applied to adopt him. The first time I ever saw him in person was when he was unloaded from the trailer after a long haul to New Jersey from West Virginia.

Still silly at times, Tucker is a very intelligent, sensitive and eager learner. We've had a few problems learning to settle in the warmup ring at shows, but in the competition arena, he is proving a more than able fellow. I am hoping he'll have a bright future and eventually compete at the upper levels. Currently he's still working at First Level , but I think by the year's end he will move up to second.

Tucker posing for a picture before a ride. Not the safest approach to tying a horse, but rescue was right nearby in case of trouble.

The saddle is an Ansur Carlton, a treeless dressage saddle. Now if we could only wake Tucker up.......