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February 15, Second Ride

Recently my fuse was running short for unrelated reasons, and as a result my wording was less than eloquent when I praised my friend for all her hard work and fabulous riding ability with her new horse.  Due to this, it wasn't well perceived, and while initially I thought "what gives?!" it served as a reminder of how defensive we often become - and rightly so! We work so hard with our horses, and put forth copious amounts of effort to improve upon our skills and advance together with our equine partners. We should feel proud and as such, defensive when people discredit our accomplishments.  Naturally, it would only be a matter of time before I became reminded of this defensiveness.  This reminder came today, after my second ride on Kai.

adfkjsdlfkjsdalfjd SO CUTE *squee*
As I previously mentioned in my last blog post, the weather is fabulous right now. I mean.. It's February.. in North Western Alberta.... Normally at this time we're 3 feet deep in snow and 'enjoying' the ever-so-lovely -40C days, slowly slipping deeper and deeper into depression and alcoholism as we impatiently wait for spring.  As the warm rays of the sun danced through the window nearest my desk at work, I found myself pondering life and all that it has to offer.  I quickly snapped back into reality and realized it should simply be illegal to work on such a gorgeous day.  This, coupled with work being incredibly slow, I put the office phone on call forwarded and set off outside to work with Kai to pick up where I left off with her yesterday.

Yesterday, I gave her a short lunge in a halter for the 3rd day in a row.  Following our past lunging sessions, I took to schooling her briefly at the mounting block.  Last month, she made it evident that she has no experience with the mounting block or standing quietly while being mounted and while it's nothing to be shocked about, it gave us something 'simple' to work on.  Following our first (and most recent) ride, I left her untouched for nearly 3 weeks due to poor, but typical, weather and as a result, this and everything else was left untreated.  Regardless, this week we accomplished standing quietly and calmly at the mounting block while I flopped around  bareback in a halter again and again, and yesterday we progressed to standing still once their was weight on her back (hence the flopping on and off).  Much to my surprise, I couldn't get my leg over her butt to actually get up on her, HA!  I felt absolute defeat and total frustration as a result... but such is life.  

Ignore like... everything gross, and just admire her cuteness and how good she looks in Pink!

Today, given my failure yesterday, I was determined to prove something to myself.  And so, I'm writing this from a hospital bed. Or at least, that's how most stories that start like that end.  Much to my surprise, I had a lovely ride on Kai!  

As I had touched on in my last blog post, I suddenly feel totally 'normal' again around horses. I went through a long, exhausting and drawn out stage where I had suddenly developed a fear or lack of comfort around horses, even ones I was familiar with.  However, just as fast as it came on, it seems to have disappeared.  I feel totally at ease; relaxed and motivated.  Perhaps this time off has given me time to reflect on what truly drives me, or perhaps i'll never know where I found my beloved lady-testes; the very same ones I thought had been lost forever.  Never the less, I did the unthinkable and without any supervision (idiot) or ground help (idiot x2), I rode Kai... but in my defense I did text my neighbour to let her know what I was doing, and that if she hadn't heard from me by a certain time, to call an Ambulance and come rescue me.  I later found out her phone was turned off all day, so that was useless.  Still, had I not told someone I probably would have gotten a first class ticket to lawn dart stardom.

Honestly, Kai has been an entirely different horse all week.  It's quite eerie really, but after those 3 weeks of being totally untouched, she has completely changed.  She's still an asshole, don't get me wrong, but she's so quiet. Chill. Easy going... and LAZY.  I had also mentioned in my last Blog Post that after her Chiropractor appointment and Kidney Flush treatment, she has knocked off a lot of her bad behavior under saddle (such as the incredibly insane bucking for example) has ceased and while she still has plenty of sass, she's so different to work with.. but that being said, i'm finding she's much more 'track broke' than I thought.  I was under the impression she was broke much like a 'regular horse' as her previous owner said, however she literally feels like she's never been ridden - which is incredible for a horse who's coming up on their 3rd year under saddle....

So I brought her up to the mounting block after a short lunge session, and I mounted. She stood fabulously and waited for my cue to walk on. Well, sort of....... I couldn't make her walk. Damn it!  I kept at her, and her only initial response to my leg and cluck cue was to tuck her nose to her chest with her ears pinned in confusion and frustration.  Just like any other horse, I rewarded her for thinking in the right direction.  At the slightest feeling of her shifting her weight to take a step forward, she got a 'good girl' and scratch on the neck, but I kept my legs on until she took the step.  This went on for what felt like forever, but really it was about half a circle.  We were attempting to track on the right rein, and due to her still being quite sticky sticky, I opted to change directions knowing that the left is her 'familiar direction'.  Now, you might be questioning my sanity, but this is where it rings true; if you have no idea about racing, race training or have no support from someone who is familiar with it, it's really tough to re train an OTTB because most riders wouldn't think to go left to 'un stick' them..  As soon as I turned her left and began tracking on a circle, she walked out happily.  I played a little with leg pressure and some walk/halt transitions.  She halted wonderfully, and I was thoroughly impressed with her desire to halt mostly by stilling my seat and using my voice.  She did not reef on the reins, she did not duck BTV or throw her head up in disapproval.  She stood stock still until I asked her to walk on and voila - she understood my walk-on cue.  In hind sight, it's very plausible that she has never been asked to walk on with leg.  Ridiculous you might say? Absolutely, but most often riders are given a leg-up while the race horse is held and then lead off the first few steps, or they simply follow another horse.  By then, they're moving forward and excited to get out onto the track so it's not much of an issue.  It's entirely possible she was just testing me, but I like to keep my options open and always give her the benefit of the doubt.

One thing i'm sure of, she steers like a drunk giraffe, and no matter which direction we travel, she leans on the right leg.  Picking up a rein is like picking up a 50lb bag of rocks, and she feels incredibly green and behind the aids, but this is all things we can overcome whether she goes back to the track this year or not, and i'm so happy with her!

I'm not going to do a formal review yet, but the pad in the pictures is an Anky Technical pad.  After a few more uses, I will blog a review about it!

My main squeeze - still alive, fuzzy, fat and adorable!


  1. catching up on your blog - i've happened across it a couple times over time but am finally getting up to date. Kai is adorable - sounds like things are already starting to go well and settle into a routine with her!

  2. Aw thank you Emma! Thank you, honestly I know it's recommended to give OTTB's time off to slow their mind down and I thought in just playing with ground work we were doing that, but I didn't hardly even look at her for 3 weeks (bad mama!), and she's done a total 180. She's a totally different horse, it's remarkable. I'm really enjoying her, and it helps that I suddenly found my confidence again!


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