Friday, April 26, 2013

What's In a Name?

Some days our OTTB's really live up to their name! 

Yesterday we assisted our neighbors in moving a group of cows and calves down the road to a new pasture.  Dale was mounted on a horse in training, barn name Columbus but his registered name is "Bold Roar" (Roar x Nellie's Crown by Crowning for you pedigree buffs).  Columbus has been in the program since last fall and knows his way around cows, but he learned a whole new lesson on this trip.

The most difficult part about the route we had these cattle on was the bridge that crosses the is an old wood plank structure and sits about 30-40 feet above the creek bed below.  But the worst part about this bridge is that it has no guard rails of any kind, just a roa-width of planks and a long drop to the creek below.  Needless to say, the cows were not terribly keen on making the crossing, which made for quite a lot of work for the riders.

The cows didn't want to walk up onto the bridge and the calves scattered as quail down the road shoulder. Our neighbor, Allen, was trying to "tail" a calf over the bridge, when the mama cow rushed in to claim her calf. Dale placed Columbus between the angry cow and Allen, with calf in tow, to keep Allen from being freight-trained. It was then that Dale found out the hard way that the cow wasn't bluffing, with his horse taking a charge from the cow right between the front legs. I think it scared Dale more than the horse!

Before they got everything sorted out, Columbus took a couple more charges to his flanks and face, created by someone else's miscreant cowdog getting into the fray. Even with an angry, bawling cow lobbing him right and left, he never lost his cool--which was a good thing as there was nowhere to escape to other than right off the side of the high bridge.

The rest of the ride went more smoothly, with the bold, in "Bold Roar's" name, clearly demonstrated.


The photos below show the same road and bridge during a cattle move last can't quite see the bridge (the trailer in the shot is on it), but you can see the depth of the channel it crosses in the first picture.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Neck Reining for OTTB's

So our first "Q and A" answer for Casey: Her question was "Is it difficult to re-train a horse to neck rain?"

It's no different than teaching it to any other breed of horse, but for some reason, a lot of people think a "race horse" is wired differently from other horses.

Teaching neck reining is a natural progression that can be broken down into simple elements, as any other skill a horse learns. A Thoroughbred coming out of race training is accustomed to direct rein cues from a snaffle bit, but is typically weak on responding to leg cues, as the shortened leg position of an exercise rider or jockey inhibits the use of leg as an aid. The horse has to learn to work off leg pressure, combined with direct rein, before he can move on to understanding rein pressure across his neck.


One problem we avoid is trying to retrain an OTTB that's in race fit condition. In our program, we try to turn a horse fresh off the track out for several months. This also helps freshen his attitude and get over any body soreness or hoof issues. It's difficult to train any horse that is on the muscle, as there is a window of time in any training session when the horse just tired enough to relax and learn, but not so tired his mind shuts down and he becomes resistant.

 Hope this helps and keep in mind, patience goes a long way toward obtaining results!