Maryland has finally been blessed with some nice weather and rain-free days, so I got a couple people together this weekend to head out to Adamstown to visit with the CANTER horses there. I had an actual plan, as we needed to get pictures of a couple available horses for their sale ads. Cecil and Whisper, mostly.
Cecil has had about a year off for his bowed tendon. His feet have gotten much more normal, and when we last visited, he free lunged looking very sound and happy. So I thought I’d throw the saddle up there and see how he did. Cecil is sort of a funny character- he’s a little bit snarky and likes you to know it, but I swear his eyes lit up when we started tacking him up. Not only that, but he stopped fidgeting, put his head down, and exhaled deeply, like it was the greatest possible thing in the world to be going back to work.
Usually they’re pretty good about being tacked up, but my expectation is always that they might try to walk in circles or object a little bit to the girth. Cecil was no problem. And when we walked him to the ring he had his head up and looked like he thought he was the champion of the known universe.
For first rides, the big thing is just to see how they react to very basic stuff. The mounting block, starting, stopping, turning, etc. For Cecil the big hurdle was the mounting block. He seemed to have an inkling of what it was for, but gave it the hairy eyeball and just wouldn’t quite get close enough for me to use it. I had to stand on it for a few minutes and walk him around it, sort of reeling him in until he was in a good spot. Then he stood (many don’t, as horses at the track are generally mounted while walking), and let me get on like he’d been doing that his whole life.
He spent a good deal of time checking out the mares in the next field, but within a few minutes we had verified that he goes (he totally seems to understand what leg is for), stops (easily!), and steers (very well, actually). I rode him around a little in both directions, just to get a feel for him. He feels pretty good- a little funky (thinking some shoes might be in order for real work) but the bow doesn’t seem to be bothering him a bit. My general impression is that he’ll be a really fun horse for somebody- he feels nice and solid underneath you, and even when looking around and checking things out does not feel even slightly spooky or jumpy. Hopefully we’ll get him out on a trail soon and see how he deals with the great outdoors.
After Cecil was done, it was Whisper’s turn. Whisper is the love of my life, so keep in mind that if anyone is interested in him, they must complete a psychological exam in addition to the regular application. I’m really serious- this horse has to go to someone REALLY special, because HE is that special. If anybody says anything bad about Whisper I might get violent. Just so’s you know.
In any case, this was Whisper’s second ride off the track (unless you count giving pony rides to a three year old girl, which he did while being fostered when he initially came off the track with a condylar fracture of a hind cannon bone). Last time, we went for a trail ride where he stepped over logs and went in the river like a pro, so I knew things would go pretty well.
Just like last time, he stood perfectly at the mounting block and didn’t walk off when I got up there. Easily passed the go/stop/turn test, and was happy to trot and even canter when I asked (Ok, the canter took a little cheerleading, and was slightly disorganized at first, but after a few strides developed into a very nice and comfortable canter). He got a little strange with contact a few times and twisted his head a little bit, but was otherwise completely wonderful.
Gosh he’s pretty. And so kind, too. Someone Very Special, are you out there?
In other news, Admiral is looking AMAZING these days. Adam was adopted out to a home that seemed to be pretty good. The application responses were fairly thorough and a local vet had signed off on it. But somewhere along the way, things went wrong. The folks who had him apparently didn’t know as much about feeding thoroughbreds as they thought, and Adam began to lose weight. Then he began to crib. The vet who handled their horses was not called for advice, despite assurances to the contrary, and he began to go very much downhill. CANTER re-possessed Admiral earlier this year – Jess took him to her farm in Delaware and began getting weight back on him- a big project since at that point pretty much all the bones were showing and he certainly wasn’t feeling well.
I didn’t want to write too much about this, because we like super duper happy posts here in CANTER-land, and also because I hate to admit publicly that a mistake might have been made. But thanks to the fact that we do check on our horses to see how they are doing, we caught him and he got a nice soft place to land.
Here he is shortly after getting back to Jess’s place:
Adam got back to Happy Horse Acres a few months ago, where his primary diet is… grass. Yep, that’s it. Grass, and maybe some hay, and maybe a handful of grain every so often so that he would enjoy coming in for the farrier and vet. And how does Adam look today?
Really, I had to flip his lip to be totally sure he was who I thought he was. His giant ankle is sort of a dead giveaway, but he looks so stunning I just wasn’t quite ready to believe it. He is fat, happy, and back to his old self. And really, it wasn’t *that* hard. He’s in this condition just from good grass. I’m not sure what his people (hate to call them that) were thinking, or how they were able to look at him and think everything was fine. And I’m really glad that everyone on our end followed their gut, and followed through for him.
Till next time…