Monday, December 17, 2018

New Year, New Horse!

The Once-in-a-Lifetime Lease comes to an end
The Missy lease didn't really go to plan. She developed cellulitis in her left hind shortly after she arrived at the farm and it was a problem for much of the fall. Evidently she had gotten cellulitis in that leg previously and recurring cellulitis is a bitch to clear up.

We managed to compete in 2 preliminaries at New Jersey and Radnor, but I never got the hang of riding her on the flat. No matter how many lessons I had; no matter how many times Dan and Kaitlin rode her first - I could never get on and accomplish any quality flatwork. It was beyond frustrating. And Dan and Kaitlin tried everything to help us out! (Missy went beautifully for them - I clearly lacked the necessary skills for this caliber of horse).

Jumping was definitely more fun than the dressage and it was great to have the opportunity to jump a couple of prelim courses on a horse who is totally confident, educated and experienced. In the end, though, it was clear Missy and I weren't going to develop a partnership that would allow me to do more than bop around prelim and, with her leg problems, I decided not to extend the lease.

Still in love with that Leo
After Missy went back home, I took Leo to a novice starter trial at Plantation Field and had an absolute blast! Throughout the Missy lease, I continued to ride Leo and jump him weekly. Never over novice height and often times with no martingale, sometimes no flash. I kept everything super easy and straight forward, sometimes adding some angles depending on what exercise was set up. He never refused anything and stayed super confident.

When I took him to Plantation, he hadn't been xc since that disastrous schooling at Windurra that led to his retirement. I wasn't entirely sure what he was going to do but he was awesome! I did ace him for dressage and he completed his walk movements. A huge victory for us!  For the jumping, he was super confident. Everything was so easy for him and I think he actually enjoyed himself. There was no pressure. Nothing hard. It was one of the best days I've ever had with him.

Gotta keep writing that story of mine...
Dan, Kaitlin and I started talking about next steps for me. Do I buy a horse now? Or wait 'til Spring and save up some more money? Dan looked around and found a few horses he liked so we started shopping. I tried 2 horses in PA and then we spent a day in Virginia where I tried 5 horses. We were looking for brain over athleticism.

  • Horse #1 - 6 yr TB gelding. A little fresh and tense in the back but a super fun jumper. Dan said no. 
  • Horse #2 - 3 yr old TB. I really did not like this horse. Not settled in the bridle and hated the bit. Fresh off the track but I didn't like the feel or demeanor.
  • Horse #3 - 8 yr warmblood cross. Super fun to ride but crossed with a quarter horse. Likely not going to be a good galloper
  • Horse #4 -  4 yr TB mare. Cute and sweet. Solid flat and jumping. Fun to ride but Dan was so-so on her
  • Horse #5 - 6 yr TB gelding. Long legs, great canter, more educated, decent jumper. Also fun to ride. Competed in one BN combined test and xc schooled.
  • Horse #6 - 4 yr TB gelding. couple rides off the track. Super good brain and amazing canter. jumped him over a box and I liked him. 
  • Horse #7 - 4 yr TB mare. Really great foundation. Great canter. Impressive xc video. But a cribber. Dan's favorite

For me, I was torn between Horse #5 and Horse #6. Both bays. Both leggy, short coupled, great canters. Both very sensible horses. The four-year old had virtually no post-track training. The 6 year old had a solid 6 months with a pro in Virginia who retrains a lot of OTTBs: Katie Hasse at Deerfield Sport Horses. I really liked the 4 yr old, but on the drive home Dan made the point that the 6 year was much closer to being competition ready and I could be competing this spring. Not the case with the 4 year old. So I decided to vet Horse #5. Turtle.

Turtle passed the vet with clean x-rays and high remarks on his demeanor. I bought him. Here he is!

Turtle - Summer 2018

Turtle - Summer 2018

Leo checking out Turtle

Turtle before our first ride at Hermitage

Turtle after our very first ride at Deerfield Sport Horses, Middleburg, VA

Leo will stay with me in PA this winter. We're relocating to a barn with an indoor so I can ride more easily. Turtle will go with Clasing Equestrian to Aiken to start his education! I've only had one ride on him at Hermitage and it was in the cold, wind, dark night under the one lone light we have in the outdoor arena. He was great. One squeal and attempt to be playful but went to work and wasn't spooky. I'm really excited about this guy! I thought I wouldn't like starting all over at the beginning again, but it turns out I do like starting at the beginning again! Can't wait for the adventure!


  1. Yay! I'm glad you've found a horse to start again with. I hope that Turtle (LOVE the name) works out well for you and learns how to be a super star eventer with you!

  2. ooooh yay congratulations!!! i'm sorry things didn't quite work with Missy but this sounds like a seriously awesome opportunity! i love that you shopped so carefully for brain too -- some things you just can't trainer for, ya know? selfishly i'm hoping Turtle will inspire you to post updates on his progress more often lol ;)

    also i'm so glad you're finding ways to have that pure and uncomplicated fun with Leo!