A few weeks ago, Ken was out at the farm doing dental work on two of my horses, and he gave me a brief update on Forrest. Apparently, my dear Fufu is getting very fat and sassy from all of his time off, and is still on the market. But he is happy, and that is all that matters.
On a slightly different note...
My latest blog, Hoosier Paddy, is finally up and the first post is published! You can find it by clicking here or by going to the direct link: http://hoosier-paddy.blogspot.com/
I will be giving semi-regular updates about his training, shows and his day-to-day life. Stay tuned for more!
Monday, December 26, 2011
|Forrest back at Farmstead|
and checking out his new
neighbor, a Hanoverian
stallion named "Raf."
None of that happened.
I was reminded a few days ago by one of my friends that if you want to make God laugh, you should tell Him your plans. In this past year, I've learned that nothing else is more true. Of course, I should have learned this lesson long ago. I've made plenty of "big plans," only to have something completely unexpected happen: I was going to do a one-star on my Irish horse, Stormy, by the age of 16. When he suffered an injury and was out for that season, my new goal was to take a friend's horse, known as Ollie (another "redhead" that I've mentioned in a previous entry) to his first prelim, but instead he was sold before we got the chance. I thought that my former best friend, Sarah, and I would stay close our entire lives, but I haven't spoken a single word to her in almost four years.
My New Years resolution for 2012 is to have a little more faith, and not make any "big plans." My mother getting stepped on by Forrest and spending my entire summer caring for her was not part of the "big plan." My old event horse, Stormy, coming out of retirement at the age of fourteen and going better than ever was not part of the "big plan." And neither was a dark bay weanling named Padraig who is now vacating Forrest's old stall, and he is the best thing that has happened to me all year--planned or otherwise. I still miss Forrest every day, but I'm sure that everything is going to work out just fine.
Padraig is not the only silver lining to Forrest's departure. I also must say that I feel extremely proud of myself for what I did manage to accomplish in my time with Forrest... He went from being spooky and herd sour to hacking out alone and (mostly) behaving himself. He learned to stand tied instead of rearing up, flipping over and running away. Instead of spooking at even the sight of water in the distance, he will now not only walk through water but stand in it quietly. He also is a perfect gentleman loading and travelling in the trailer. Not to mention the leaps and bounds in his training under saddle, especially in the dressage phase.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|Forrest enjoying "brunch" in|
his paddock, with his friends,
Hercules and Stormy.
Ken was out at the farm this past Monday, and while he was giving injections he informed me that Forrest is on the market. As in, for sale. While I have to say I always thought that this day might come, it is still a little bit of a shock. I guess it's like that quote from the movie, Forrest Gump.
"Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get."
|Forrest and Hercules...|
A typical afternoon in the
paddock at River Bend.
I love Forrest with all my heart. He will always be one of my all-time favorite horses in the world. The bond I have with him is a special one, and I can't compare it to one that I have with any other horse in the world. He means everything to me, and I am heartbroken. Taking him back to Farmstead for Ken to sell will be devastating.
|Forrest is always the first to pop|
his head out and say "good morning."
There is a silver lining to this relatively short and depressing post... I am buying a new horse!
Last weekend, my mom, my sister Elizabeth, and my dog Remy all hopped in the car and drove to New York to meet a Connemara/TB weanling named Padraig, who (pending a pre-purchase exam) will be the star of an all-new blogging experience. Stay tuned.
I will probably have a final update after taking Forrest home, and after that I am uncertain about the future of this blog. Maybe Forrest will sell to someone I know and I can continue to give regular updates about the goings on in his life, or that will be the end. Either way, it's been a fun ride.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
|My mother's scar from her accident in|
June, with me leading Forrest in the
background, in the same place it happened.
In June, my mother got stepped on (yes, by Forrest) during a freak unloading accident. It was not anyone's fault--including Forrest's--but it did take a toll on both my life and my mother's life. I know it sounds cliche, but my mom is the glue that holds my family together. She is the fuel that keeps the machine that is my crazy family running. While she was laid up in bed all summer, I had the housework, the errand running, food preparing (I am not the greatest cook in the world... and I'm not going to lie, we had a lot of take out this summer) my younger sister and my father and our assortment of dogs to take care of... Never mind 7 horses and the barn chores. So, as I've said before, my summer did not go according to plan at all and I am fighting to get back into some sort of routine.
But now life is slowly returning to normal.
Yesterday was a big day in the life of Forrest. First of all, we started out the day with my mare, Edna, having a particularly scary choking episode. I already have two chokers in the barn that get soupy feed(ahem... Forrest may or may not be one of them, and the other is--ironically enough--the only other chestnut in the barn. Pattern?) I thought Edna was dying. My mom thought Edna was dying. I have never seen a horse throw itself down, spin around in its stall while striking out, get down on its knees or hack up phlegmy-looking goo, along with blood--all because it's choking. When Beau and Forrest choked, they coughed out whatever was lodged in their throat and that was the end of it. And Edna is the one horse I have that doesn't have any health or soundness-related baggage. She's the healthiest, sturdiest thing in the barn. Once again, I was sure she was dying. So I called Pat, who is the wonderful woman who works in the office at Farmstead, and she sent Ken out right away. Edna's episode was over by the time Dr. Ken arrived, and he said that her lungs--and everything else--was in perfect condition and not to worry, that she probably had gotten a brier or small stick out of the hay and that she'd be fine. The upside to this craziness was that Forrest got to see his dad.
Now before I go further, let me just warn you that I'm one of those people that likes to think that MY horses love ME the best. It was hard to send Halo home for the winter and transition from being totally in charge of her feed, turnout schedule and time under saddle to letting her owner, Leanna, take her back over at least until next spring/summer and do nothing more than give her the occasional lesson. Which I am totally fine with--with school and my own horses coming along, I was grateful for the break from having ANOTHER horse to ride and work with. And I was thrilled that my sister's retired reining/dressage/eventing/trail horse, "Beau," who spent the summer at Leanna's barn keeping her other horse company, got to come home. Beau is a grumpy old man and very, very cute in a naughty chestnut pony sort of way. The thing I have a hard time with is Halo nuzzling Leanna's cheek and looking to her for treats or the occasional ear scratch. I like to believe that I have a special bond with Halo, because of our experience sort of growing up together. I have memories of braiding yellow flowers into her mane and playing with her in the big paddock at our farm when she was a foal. And I know that Halo and I will always have that experience, but it still--to be quite frank--sucks. So, when I saw Forrest's face light up when he saw Ken walk into the barn yesterday, I wanted to cry.
Forrest was orphaned as a foal and raised by a nurse mare. I believe this makes him sort of socially awkward, around both people and horses. He seems confused about who or what he is. I think that this contributes to his lack of ground manners, his problems making friends with other horses and his lack of natural horse instincts. When he was at Farmstead, he loathed practically everyone there except for Ken. And Ken loved him. When I first brought Forrest home with me, a few days later I had to haul another horse in to the clinic for x-rays, and he confessed that he almost came back to get Forrest because he missed him. He said, "I looked out at the pasture this morning and thought, 'Where's my big red horse?'" But he knew Forrest would be happier at my house, with the outdoor schooling ring, the jump field and another huge Thoroughbred gelding to be his playmate, versus being at Farmstead where he had an outdoor ring that we could sometimes use when horses weren't being turned out there, a 50x50 indoor that gets boring really fast--especially for a left-brained extrovert like our dear Fufu--and a grouchy broodmare and a retired dressage horse for playmates.
So, while Forrest might be happier living here, it was blatantly obvious yesterday that he still misses Ken. The usual ears-pinned, teeth-bared, "don't mess with me" face that Forrest usually puts on anytime someone who isn't me comes into the barn melted as soon as he saw Ken walk in. If horses could smile, Forrest would've been grinning ear to ear. And Ken looked like any other proud dad when I told him how great Forrest had been doing. And, really, he has been stellar. His flatwork has made a complete one-eighty from where it was even a month ago. That awkward, lopey, sideways right-lead canter that has plagued us all summer has turned into a lovely, lofty, easily adjustable joy to ride. Over jumps he is much more rideable and his scope feels infinite. He remains one of the most naturally talented horses I've ever sat on. But it was hard to watch Forrest snuggle up to Ken.
I like that my two top horses, Forrest and Stormy, are definitely not overly friendly. Edna, Beau, and the two ponies--Comet and Cupid--will come up to just about anyone. Even Hercules, who can be a little shy, makes friends quickly. Stormy and Forrest are extremely picky about who they socialize with, and that makes me feel extremely special. I think that event horses should have a special bond with their riders simply because of the difficulty and danger in our sport. But no matter how jealous it makes me (or how ridiculous my jealousy is) I get that Ken and Forrest will always have a special bond too, and that's okay... Especially since seeing Ken for 20 minutes left Forrest in a cheerful mood for the rest of the day, which worked to my advantage.
After Ken left, Forrest's big day continued. First, he got his tail, bridle path, and chin clipped with REAL CLIPPERS! Not scissors, CLIPPERS. As sensitive as he is, I was thinking that clipping might be a huge ordeal--now I have hope that he will let me at least trace clip him this winter, if need be.
Then, Forrest and I had one of our best schools to date. I trotted him over ground poles and he trotted over the scary blue tarp (part of my fake hillbilly liverpool) that he wouldn't even go within ten feet of when he first came home. Now he loves it. We're going to try making it a jump today and see how that goes.
To end Forrest's big day, I walked him down to the lower paddock where a small pond (glorified mud puddle) has formed. Forrest, notorious for having "water issues" (not promising for a prospective eventer) was reluctant at first. I've had him down to the creek at our farm, but never in "real water." It only took one apple-scented cookie for him to say, "Yes, I absolultey will walk through this shallow pond with you." Which makes me think that this "water issue" of his is not fear-based, but merely stubborn chestnut Thoroughbred syndrome. We are officially once more on our way, one mud puddle at a time.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
|Forrest and his BFF, "Hercules," both|
cribbing on a stall guard. *Note Forrest's
"fugly gold turnout bell boots*
Forrests favorite things…
4. Lady Gaga (who he loves listening to while he's being groomed or bathed)
5. His breakfast
6. His dinner
7. Octavia, his favorite barn cat
9. His best friend, Hercules
10. Vetrolin baths
Forrest’s (least) favorite things…
2. His crib collar
3. Standing still
4. Anything that comes in a spray bottle
5. Horse flies
6. The farrier
7. The vet
8. Tinkerbell, his least favorite barn cat
9. His best friend Hercules’s love interest, Edna
10. Non-Vetrolin baths
I hope you've enjoyed this basically nonsensical entry. The next one will be much more serious, I can assure you.
Thursday, September 1, 2011
For example, Forrest's dressage was fabulous in June and now is a sight to behold. At the beginning of the summer he was jumping beautifully and now he is literally dragging me to the fences and leaping over tiny cross rails like they're maximum height four-star corners. My other horses all have similar stories... Edna was schooling piaffes and pirouettes at the beginning of the summer, and she has barely been ridden in a month because of a hoof abscess. Stormy has been plagued with soundness issues (per usual) and Hercules also had hoof problems... Even the super-sound wonder pony, Halo, was like riding a roller coaster this summer with all the ups and downs in her training. If it weren't for Linda Heiny, the always entertaining and inspiring blogs from Sinead Halpin (little girl, big chestnut horse... you can see why I love her) from Chronicle of the Horse--and, of course, my adorable redheaded stepchild's crazy awesome jumping form--I would be curled in a ball in the corner of the tack room, crying and rocking back and forth.
So, now that the whining is over, on to the upswing!
I truly believe that life is like a huge spinning wheel... It goes up, up, up, and then it rolls down. Then it goes up again... You get the idea.
While in Florida, I re-read one of my all-time favorite books, In Service to the Horse, and was reminded of why I do what I do, day in and day out. The thing about the sport that I choose to do is that there are always going to be ups and downs, but what it comes down to at the end of the day is the partnership you have with your equine counterpart. On the way home from my week at our family's condo on Siesta Key, I drug my mother, sister and boyfriend (who loves horses, but knows next to nothing about them) through Ocala. It was as I was driving down the old familiar back roads of this place that I called home less than a year ago that I came to the realization that this was where I wanted to be, and what I wanted to do, no matter how hard it was or how long it took to get there.
I get homesick for Ocala on a daily basis, which I'm sure my friends and family get tired of hearing me say. I miss living in a town where everyone lives and breathes horses, where they cherish this awesome animal and have so much respect for the equestrian world. But, when I walked out to the barn upon arriving back home in Indiana and Forrest and Hercules came galloping up to the paddock gate to greet me, this ultra-cliche phrase came to my mind...
"Home is where your horse is."
Anyone who has ever been exposed to horse culture at all has, I'm sure, heard or seen this phrase a hundred times. But, like most cliches, it is so true. As much as I would so much rather be in Aiken, or Middleburg, or Ocala, I belong here with my horses. And, at the end of the day, my life isn't about a summer that should've been spent competing when it was in fact spent caring for my injured mother, or the fact that Forrest just can't seem to sit back on his hindquarters in the right lead canter, or that I haven't had a proper jump school in months... It's about me and Forrest on this road together, no matter how long and winding it seems.
So for now we're just going to enjoy ourselves, care less about results and more about the experience we gain getting there. We're just going to sit back, relax, and enjoy watching Burghley via the Internet this weekend.
Thursday, June 30, 2011
|Forrest and playing with |
his new boredum beater..
The ice tub!
A few weeks ago, my lovely mare "Edna" (I know, I know... Edna wouldn't have been my first pick of names either, but I believe its bad luck to change a horse's name so it's Edna now and will forever be Edna--tangent over) who has never taken a lame step in her life walked out of her stall with a swollen ankle. After a trip to see Dr. Ken at Farmstead, it was determined that she had a sprained splint. Tendons and ligaments were fine, bones unbroken. While this was not the end of the world, it was still a pain to have to deal with and I had a week of stall rest, icing, cold hosing, sweating, wrapping and hand grazing to look forward to. Luckily, Edna is a super star--by far the best horse to work with in the barn--and she stands perfectly still in a muck tub of ice and doesn't get stir crazy when she's on stall rest. Still, between Edna and my Irish horse, "Stormy" sidelined while recovering from a hoof abscess, both of my most experienced horses were out for the time being.
But everything was okay, because I had two beautiful geldings and a lovely little mare to ride! Until Wednesday, when Hercules came up lame with a hoof problem.
So it was down to Forrest and a Morgan mare named "Halo," another green horse in my string owned by a family friend who sent her to me to ride. And, despite Edna, Stormy and Hercules all being sidelined temporarily, my spirits were high because Wednesday (June 22nd) I had a dressage lesson with the redheaded step child (ie, Forrest) at Half-Halt Farm with my dressage coach, Linda Heiny.
Let me just take a moment to say that if you ever in your life have the opportunity to ride with Linda, DO IT. I do not believe in "miracle workers" per se, but having said that Linda is by far one of the most brilliant instructors I have ever had the pleasure to work with. She's right on par with the likes of Leslie Law and Dorothy Crowell (my other two coaches) in my book, and she never ceases to amaze, inspire and educate me with her knowledge and coaching methods. She understands event horses better than any dressage rider I've ever taken lessons from and reads each horse as an individual. Her creativity, perseverance and belief in me and my horses (especially Forrest, who is not the easiest of horses to have faith in) has helped me numerous times and I cannot praise her highly enough.
So my weekly Wednesday lesson with Linda was fantastic, as usual. Forrest progressed in leaps and bounds--literally, at some moments--and he gave Linda and I both glimpses of what he could potentially be one day. It was like Forrest's early birthday present to me, giving me such a wonderful ride and reminding me why I love this sport so much.
Then Thursday, since it was my birthday (I turned the big 21+1) all of the horses got a day off and I got Mexican food and domestic beer. Then, on Friday morning, Forrest came in from the paddock with a fat ankle... I'm assuming this was the second part of my birthday present from Forrest, and one that I did not appreciate nearly as much as a fabulous dressage lesson.
|Halo, the Mighty Morgan|
This upcoming week will be full of hacking, mini trot sets and dressage lessons with Halo, the Mighty Morgan (and, apparently, the soundest horse in the world). Fingers crossed, we'll avoid any future tragedies and by my next post things will be back to their relative normality. Until then, I'll be stallside, watching Forrest in Toy Land and playing doctor--or vet, rather.