Tuesday, October 09, 2007

For Those Who Have Never Seen Wobester

This is Toby, the Now Wonder Horse
I really don't have many good pics of him in competition, except for this one at second level.

And for those of you who do not know any of the story:
Toby is a 16.1 hand American Thoroughbred. He was slated to be a race horse as his dad was a premier stakes winner in New Jersey. I first saw him as a yearling frolicking in the paddock and told the owner if they ever wanted to sell him to please let me know.

A year later, they decided to get out of racing and in short order, I was able to buy Toby. His registered name is Arts Ruler and his stable name was then Pete. Needless to say, I changed that to To Be Or Not To Be at a friend's suggestion.

When I got him, Toby had been sat on, but had no training beyond some lunging. I spent the remainder of his 2 year old year longlining him. I had a young girl do some of the basic backing for me and she was amazed at how well trained he was once she was in the saddle. The longlining had taught him almost all he needed to know.

We had some rocky moments. Things started off well, but eventually, I did have to send him for about two weeks to my trainer in Massachusetts for some "attitude" adjusments. From then on, it was nearly clear sailing.

I skipped a few levels, moved quickly up to fourth level and worked our way through Prix St Georges, and ended at Intermediare I. Show ring success was moderate, but I don't have aspirations to be and Olympic contender, so I was just pleased to have trained him that far.

As he worked in the upper levels, he would periodically show signs of soreness in his hocks. His conformation is "level" in front, making it a chore for him to really carry himself in an elevated frame. I finally decided it would be better for him to retire from competition at the upper levels so he could be a happy sound horse for many years to come.

A friend rode him for a while, showing him at the lower levels, and when she moved away, Tucker began to take up most of my attention, so Toby became my "fun" horse.

Now, he has proven himself to be a true schoolmaster. He will do nearly all the upper level movements easily in a lower level frame, including some very nice tempi changes/three strides and two strides. His lateral work is a cinch and, as I have noted, he is extremely sensitive to the aids.

One of my greatest pleasures is to know that now, at age 17, nearly 18--I can hardly believe it--he feels wonderfully sound and doesn't seem to have any stiffness in his body. I would love it if he could reach a healthy advanced age with that soundness. To me, that would be a great achievement. I would like to think correct athletic work acutually enhances a horse's soundness and perhaps Toby can be proof of that--and proof that what I have done with him was right.

My vet calls him "The Prince" for his stable manners. He really is a sweetie and a lovely horse to work around. He does crib, but I just ignore it, although, as I've noted, I am trying the ulcer medication.


  1. What a lovely boy :), that certainly is testament to good training when you still have a sound, happy and willing horse in their late teens and beyond.

    That is something I like so much in Podhajsky's book, that he had nearly all his horses from remount to the end of their carreer, and they were all working soundly to an advanced age, esspecially some of the Lippizaners working into their 30's!!

    Always very interesting to read about peoples past experience.

  2. Wonderfull story Jean.

    Long life to Toby. You must be very proud of him and yourself.

    From young unbroken horse to Prix Saint George, it is an achievement!

  3. That's a great chest for a TB Jean! And I never realised that he was chestnut. What a smart boy.


  4. Ah he sounds and looks fab..you look so happy in that picture!;)

    I pictured a bay for some reason so was suprised he's chestnut too.

  5. Anna got in before me with the reference to the Spanish riding school - I have read elsewhere that that's why they keep their horses going so long ....