Thursday, October 10, 2013

Doing What We Do Best

Rocking the Micklem
Fun day! C-rage's first personal bridle (ever) showed up and I was beyond excited to play with it. I found a steal on a used Micklem bridle, so I went that route for now. I've had one before, but for a totally different type and size of horse.

My initial impression was that this is the first time I've actually put something on his head that fit. I also think that he has a great face for it. I think they're kind of hit and miss stylistically, but Courage's long, narrow head takes the busyness of a figure eight or micklem really well.

Naturally, I threw on our super classy sparkle browband that I love. I even changed the bead string for fall. :-)

Looking good
We skipped the lunging and went straight to some basic flatwork. There is nothing magical about a new bridle--the little dude is still learning to go forward into contact, but we found a lovely compromise today.

Well... that is, he sort of started rooting the reins out of my hands and stretching down to the buckle while still trotting uphill. I'd like to find a middle ground, but this is better than going around like a giraffe, so I'll take it for now.

Like a little badass
And then we jumped!! Truth: we haven't jumped in probably a week just due to random stuff, so I was a little nervous headed to our first fence. It was a baby crossrail and I totally overrode it. He jumped the snot out of it and landed going forward. I had this tense moment of "OH NO HE'S GOING TO BUCK ME OFF" (random Izzy flashback), but he just cantered nicely.

I love this horse.

He's got this.
After that, we trotted around and popped over everything I'd left set in the arena. Baby x, bigger x, little vertical. I thought he might be a little wiggly or weird about it, but I swear he's already looking for his fences and saving my butt.

As you can see, he's also not that impressed by our baby x any more. Bugger is just cantering across it. I certainly don't want to scare him by moving up to quickly, but I think it's safe to say we can throw in some more verticals and bump the heights up a little bit.

Oh, and maybe add some complexity--baby grid, anyone? I'm getting excited.

Just the biggest vertical we've ever jumped
I'm trying to mix it up and keep his jumps busy so that decorations are never scary or surprising, but when you two-months-post-track OTTB is this awesome, it's hard to be concerned.

I mean, I'm not trying to brag, but I'm still surprised by how great the little man comes out, He's here to work, he wants to be the best at his job, and he gives me 110%, every single time. He certainly has an opinion and likes to mouth off, but at the end of the day, he wants me to be happy with him.

What more can I ask?

Challenge is ON!
Oh, and there's this. After JUMPING ALL THE THINGS, redheadlins and I two pointed around the arena and chatted. I was on a loopy rein, he was totally relaxed. Unfortunately, we don't have pictures of me leaning off his side to take pictures of Lins and her ride from a better angle.

Little man is a stud.

I guess I just don't understand when thoroughbreds get a bad reputation. Sure, there are stupid ones, but I've spent most of my riding life in the irons on one TB or another. They are the hardest working and most generous horses and they always want to please. I'm sure my experience is biased by riding awesome horses (since you can't all have a Cuna), but I'd take Cuna, Courage, or the OTTB I grew up on over any warmblood I've ever ridden any where. Thoughts? Crazy OTTBs out there to contradict me?


  1. Stampede has me pretty convinced that I don't want another full TB, although I see horses like Courage and wonder how I got unlucky, lol. I love my horse, don't get me wrong, but nothing about him is easy. He can be spooky, and it took us years to conquer riding outside of the ring, not freaking out about deer outside of the ring, and not killing me at the sight of horses looking cut in half by fences (that still freaks him out, and he stops and shakes his left knee). He used to grab the bit and run away with me down lines, especially coming home. He finds the weirdest injuries and issues (kissing spines, sleep deprivation, ripping his butt open on stall walls, breaking his tail, ulcers, cellulitis, I could go on...) and the pickiest eater I know (I drive an hour round trip for his grain instead of using barn provided stuff).
    I can't imagine who else would want him a lot of the time. He's taught me a lot about how a horse's upbringing effects them (he was not treated well), and how much a horse can be taught, and how important a correctly fitting saddle is. He helps me appreciate Phoenix (appendix paint), who has always been both easy and fun, for all of the awesome things he willingly did for me when I was younger. And when Stampede now does a good course (if only he wouldn't get crazy at shows...) or quietly canters around a field I know it was me who taught him. It was me who stood by him for those years of issues, saying something was wrong that no one could find until finally it was found. In the end he's just my horse. He's where he belongs, crazy as he is.

  2. Yea, I think the ones you get are exceptionally excellent lol. That grey OTTB mare we got for free was a royal PITA. I've never been happier to see a horse go. She was the pickiest eater, had horrible ground manners, was extremely aggressive with other horses, and just seemed to have a screw loose. She would get sassy under saddle and just start flinging and jumping around. Just put a sour taste in my mouth towards them. The ones that seem to be better behaving are the race trained but never raced or the racers that sucked and never won lol.

    But seriously seeing OTTBs like Laz and Courage make me reconsider my thoughts.

    But just like any of've got your nutcases and you've got your sane ones. I think OTTBs are just spotlighted because people think they can pinpoint the reason they are crazy ya know?

  3. Not crazy TB's, just opinionated ones. They tend to be very intelligent and when you get a strong willed one, like my Tucker, they can be difficult. There is almost always method to his madness.

    I love Courage's expression. He has a genuine enthusiasm for his work.

    Just a note here: I started jumping two of my horses with event trainers here in New Jersey. They were both totally green over fences. By the end of a one day clinic of perhaps two hours, in both cases, we were jumping about 3 '. I would much rather have started as you are doing, with cross rails and small challenges one at a time, but it did prove to me that I had underestimated my horses's abilities to get over a good sized fence without any experience. (Note #2 in one case we did it all in grids. The other?? Right out on the cross country course in Gladstone at the USET training center. Yikes!!)

    1. I've seen much more competent horsemen than myself move up a lot more quickly and do so in a safe, educational manner. I'd rather progress slower and enjoy the journey with him. We're in no hurry to get anywhere particular.

  4. I love the Micklem on him! His face is like Pennys...tiny and long. Looks lovely. Seems we have found a bunch of the good Tbs in the blogosphere.

  5. I've been on quirky TB's, but none that didn't have a TON of heart and try. Some of my favorite horses have been OTTB's, actually! Glad things are going so well with your dude. He is looking so great.

  6. Sounds like such an awesome ride. I think having a lot of "try" is so important!

    I've never had an OTTB (I was raised on QHs), but I do plan to get one one day. I think it will teach me a ton as a rider!

  7. C-Rage gets cuter in every post. Can't wait to see what great things you guys do!

  8. Honestly, I've never (rarely?) encountered a sane TB. But, then again, I haven't been around many, so maybe I just got a few bad apples. The more I see bloggers with Cunas and Courages and such, the more I have hope for the breed. But for now, I'm sticking to my Morgans :)

  9. My first horse is an OTTB that is wonderful. We go for solo trail rides, he has helped me learn a lot as a rider and conquer many issues. I think they're very smart and get bored easily which sometimes can get them into trouble, but you just have to learn what works for your particular TB.

  10. I've ridden six ottb's (so far). What I've found, is they are smart and have a strong sense of fairness, which means they don't tolerate selfish riders.

    Sure, there are nutty individuals in every breed, but what people call crazy in tbs, I think is a healthy sense of self respect.

  11. I of course LOVE OTTB's and by LOVE I mean LOVE the breed! Always have always will. Do they tend to be the easiest mounts? No. Far too intellgent to put up with an arse of a rider. They are very athletic so many won't be for the timid rider. But if you are indeed interested in putting in a hard days work they will match it ten fold. If you want to go out and kick some ass they will meet you and want it just as much as you. If you can be fair and forgiving you will get along just fine. I just like a breed with heart and they have it to spare.

  12. The first TB's I met weren't necessarily crazy, but certainly more energy and exuberance then most western trail riders are used to. That said I like crazy Arabs, so still not sure why I thought TB's were scarier, I think I had just seen poor representation until I started riding again. He looks adorable in the Micklem.

  13. Love him in the Micklem - he just looks good in everything. :D
    My first horse was an OTTB and you never would have known it. Heck, I forgot he was. But there's a couple at my barn that are more then high strung. One of them is nicknamed El Diablo, though he's getting better. And he's like 14. hehe. I think it's an individual thing.

  14. I think there are crazy horses of ALL breeds our there. I happen to have a lovely OTTB too so I have nothing bad to say. :)

  15. Obviously I love OTTB's too, they are amazing! That said, there are some nutty ones, but I have been around many more warmbloods with a screwloose!

  16. Now I am a big fan of TBs and have owned many but I love my WB too. If you are ever in FL come ride Poppy and she may just change your mind.

  17. No question - for me, all I want is an OTTB and I can't imagine owning anything else. I grew up in NJ riding many of them (that's all there were for H/J back then!) and never for a moment stopped to think that there was anything "wrong" with OTTBs, that people might object to. It wasn't until I started hanging out in horsey areas of the Internet that I discovered a lot of people think they're all crazy/bad/high-strung/etc.! Still just blows me away. I've only ever met one who was truly difficult (a chestnut mare, no less) but I'm convinced it was only because she hated being a hunter... she wound up being sold to a trail-riding home and was good as gold after that. Like I said, I never knew they were said to be different - they just "were" to me, and I continue to adore them. For me, TBs are the "only" horse.

  18. I agree- before I had a TB, I always heard that about them- that they were crazy etc. etc. No way. My boy wants to work SO HARD for me, just like yours. Perhaps the biggest thing is that, TBs generally like to work, and NEED to work- maybe people have trouble keeping them when they can only ride once or twice a week, and that's where the bad rep comes in from. Wiz definitely has to be kept in steady work, or he does get crazy. But if you want a partner and have the time to put into him, there's nothing better than a TB! :)

    Very cute little pictures- and the stretching down isn't such a bad thing at this stage! It's probably better, so he can start developing a top-line and such. Of course you don't want them just jerking the reins out of your hand and dragging you to the ground either- it's always a balancing act :\

  19. C-rage and Hemie are cut from the same cloth, and we are both very lucky indeed to have such awesome horses.

  20. A good horse is a good horse, regardless of their breedings.

  21. Yep, I'm making the weekly commenting rounds again. I always tell myself I'll get to my "Saved for Later" list when I get to my computer that night and it never happens. Anyway...

    I love the Micklem on him! He has the same head shape as Connor, straight and tapered, and the Micklem just wraps so nicely around their heads. They're going in the same bit right now, oddly enough, is yours a double or single-joint?

    1. I don't love it on most horses, but I think he really pulls it off. It's a double jointed baucher--french link. I love that it stays really still in his mouth and has such a clear action.

      I've also noticed that he's much happier in his work now than he was. He's quieter with his mouth and better in the contact. Hm. Bad news for the tack ho since there's no reason to buy more bridles, but good news for Courage.

  22. I will forever support the OTTB over WB even if mine was a little..cray the first 5 years I had him. Honestly my parent shad no business buying a 14yo an OTTB and his "perkiness" had EVERYTHING to do with my inability to figure out how to ride an OTTB with a little bit of energy! He's always been 110% willing to do absolutely anything I ask and has never been "crazy" on the ground or even in the saddle. Just exuberant. But he is nothing like C-rage was as a bebe OTTB. Took him a lot longer to figure out jumps and flatwork without falling over. But he is FOR SURE more sane than those crazy WBs and arabs. Gah.


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