And even MORE happy!

OK, so I go for MONTHS without saying a thing, then post twice in two days.  My apologies!

But I was reading COTH today (again, I’m such an addict) and stumbled on another pretty happy ending for a track listed horse, though I don’t have a write up from her owner this time thought I would post something, since what I *DO* have is the mare’s original, and pretty awful, track photo.

A lot of people would overlook a gorgeous mare like this because frankly, it’s sort of hard to see anything in the photo (funny angle, backlit so you can’t see detail, horse in a sorta funny position).  A more practiced eye, though, pauses, and checks where all the important parts are.  And then that person might, say, check the horse’s breeding for names they like.  And then they might take a chance.

Would you?

Isabella G

Isabella G at the track

I might have, but it’s hard to say.  It’s hard to immediately see the nice, smooth, strong coupling and loin, nicely aligned hip, and well build shoulder on this lovely mare, as everything is either glarey or in shadow.  Again, our volunteers work really hard, but track pictures can be hard to get!  You have five or six minutes, not a single square foot of actual level ground (appearances are deceiving – but all the pavement on the backside is sloped for drainage), handlers that may or may not understand direction or how to stand up a horse, and then all the distractions of the track (which may mean the only way to get a horse standing still is to point her in a downhill direction so her butt is to the track, or something).

Anyway, I’ll stop blathering.  This pretty lady actually sold surprisingly quickly, late in the summer of 2010.  Her owner, in the DC area, is showing her in the hunters now, and posted this video today on the COTH message boards.  Hope she doesn’t mind me posting it here!

(link: for those who can’t see the embedded one)

Looks like this mare is turning out to be quite nice! 

Coming tomorrow… yet ANOTHER bit of awesomeness, this time about our own dear Cadence, and how she is doing in her new home.


I’m BACK! And a Happy Story

So I was happily posting away on COTH the other day when someone was all, “dude. Need. Blog. Updates.”  And I was like, “blog? what blog? Oh… THAT blog… oops!”

Needless to say things have been a bit busy lately.  I’ve moved, my girth has expanded to an uncomfortable level, and I can’t walk like a normal person anymore.  My horse is living the life out at the layup farm with the CANTER horses, scarfing as much grass as he can through his devilish grazing muzzle.  I’ve had a trip home, a ridiculous number of doctor visits, and am really, really, missing riding.  Especially the first rides on goofy TBs, which are my favorite rides of all.

Seeing as I haven’t been doing a lot directly with the horses, it’s sort of hard to update the blog.  I will have some new horse pics and intros coming up, the recap of our annual visit to Maryland Million, and also my other favorite, success stories 🙂  First up is a nice Happy Ending Story about a horse purchased from our trainer listings.  Unbridled Gold went through a couple sets of hands before landing with his current owner, but she had first seen and noticed him on CANTER’s site, before finding him (and liking him) in real life. 

Unbridled Gold

The Track Picture

Here, in Jan’s own words, is the story of “Moose” and some pictures:

I found Unbridled Gold (aka Moose) first through CANTER Mid-Atlantic, when I was playing around with the idea of an OTTB. At the time, I just bookmarked his page, thinking he was cute and I liked his eye. A few weeks went by and I disregarded him since I’d seen some I thought would be a better fit.

Then, in May, I found a cute little OTTB, at that time called Mufasa, through an agent, who was selling him for a girl who’d found him but didn’t need him for anything, she just thought he was worth helping out. When I saw his registered name on his sale contract, I realized he was the same horse I’d seen on CANTER! Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

An early attempt at this jumping thing

When I purchased him, he was not very trusting and was scared to have anyone near his backend. He didn’t like to be caught, in the field or in a stall, and generally tried to avoid people. Fly spray and grooming scared him (which was kinda funny, because NOTHING else did… ambulances, dogs, car horns, firecrackers, nothing!), and he wouldn’t let anyone near his right side. I gave him a little down time, about a week, and during that time we worked on ground manners, longed a little, and just started getting him to trust again. In that short amount of time he went from a scaredy cat to a total lovebug!

Undersaddle he was extraordinarily willing right off the bat, which was one of the main reasons I purchased him. He doesn’t ride “crooked” for the most part like a lot of OTTBs do, and was very good about picking up the correct lead on the flat and over fences. He’s a careful, but brave and scopey, jumper and almost always finds his own distances and adjusts himself. We did (and still do) have to work on his speed, since he will occasionally get a little quick, but he doesn’t try to bolt off or race other horses if we’re in a group.

Before I purchased Moose, I was a skeptic about Thoroughbreds, and more-so about my ability to handle one. I’d heard countless horror stories about the breed, and being young, I’d been written off by several people as “crazy” and “rushing into it,” when I said what I was getting into. I can say now, though, that the great George Morris was certainly right when he said, “The best of any breed is the Thoroughbred horse, and the best of that breed is better than any other breed.”

The immense heart and willingness Moose possesses is astounding, and the bond I have with him is like nothing else. He has more love and try than any other horse I’ve ever ridden, and I count myself lucky–blessed, really–to have him.

When I purchased him, I thought the name Unbridled Gold was kind of silly–I mean, he’s bay, not anything close to gold!–but, from where I stand now looking back, I think it was almost a foretelling of what he is now. He truly is gold, and I absolutely love every minute with him.

Moose Now, showing that height shouldn’t be a problem!

Jan reports that Moose is (obviously) a fantastic jumper with lots of potential to go over some pretty large obstacles.  And, as of when we chatted last week, Moose is 2nd in the country in the New Event Horse standings despite only one show. 


Fundraiser Fun!

Two quickies for you all!

First: There is a fantastic ebay auction happening RIGHT NOW for a Haskell Invitational Saddle Cloth, to benefit Hey Byrn!  Bidding is currently at $98 and you know it goes to a good cause!  Only about 5 hours left so head over and bid away for a nice piece of racing memorabilia! 

Second:  We are in the late planning stages for a really cool new event starting this year, a motorcycle poker run on September 10.  The ride will be about 100 miles, and riders collect cards along the way and win prizes for the best poker hand when they arrive at the end.  Start is in Charles Town, WV, and ends up in beautiful Virginia.  More information and registration will be on our website soon!  Kind of thinking “Harleys for Horses” has a nice ring to it!  This event is being planned by one of our AMAZING Charles Town volunteers, Trina.  Thanks, Trina! Yay!

Hey Byrn

If anyone hasn’t read CANTER’s other blogs on the subject, please do, now:

The Difference Between 35 and 36 Starts (from Allie, via Chronicle of the Horse)

More Than Just a Listing Service (from Jess’s blog)

Hey Byrn is not our usual intake horse.  Frankly, we don’t have the funding to take many cases of very limited soundness like this, it’s just not a responsible use of funds when there are so many horses needing a place to go.  But every once in a while, we’re just called to – it has to be done, and we comfort ourselves by thinking that in the worst case scenario, we can make a horse comfortable and happy for a little while before considering euthanasia and an easy passing.

Like Jess, I’m not above schilling for money.  Hey Byrn’s stall rest (and our potential ability to provide the same care to future horses) is more expensive than the field board most of our horses get.  His care will take work and extra vet bills.  In the future, when we are called about other horses like this (be they well known or not), maybe some reserves will allow us to be in a position to help, rather than the far-more-common (and heartbreaking) place we’re usually in, of having to say no.  Click the button. Even $5 helps.  Funds can be sent to

If you prefer snail mail, donations can also be sent to:

CANTER Mid Atlantic

C/O D. Darsa
13709 Arctic Avenue
Rockville, MD  20853
We’ve talked about this issue before – joint injections on horses who have compromised or painful joints, solely for the purpose of racing them one or two more times (instead of rest or retirement), has GOT to stop.  I wish people who do these things would stop and really understand what they are doing.  Too many of them just pass on the horse and give it no further thought.  I wish it was a minor problem, but any time I go to the track I am likely to pass by and notice dozens (if not more) horses wearing bandages from their joint injections that day.  Horses in many jurisdictions can get these injections within 24 hours of racing – making many a lame/injured horse appear sound in the paddock when they show up to race.
Perhaps such things should be reported in the racing form.  Can you imagine how you’d bet if you found out half the horses in a given race had received joint injections the day before?

Why Yes, I Am Alive!

Really!  I think since I’ve last posted I’ve been in a bit of a funk, so haven’t written here much even though things are (as always) going on and life is pretty busy. 

Not having to worry about keeping a horse ridden/shod/fed means that I’ve been able to spend time doing things like… organizing donations!  Hooray! I have a whole room full of stuff (I wish I was kidding) that has been donated to us in years past, some of which we can use and needs to go to the appropriate people, and some of which we can’t (and needs to go on ebay).  I’m just about done putting everything in the appropriate piles, and should have an ebay list soon! 

Keeping up with the listings has been quite a thing lately – two farms are having reduction/dispersal sales, and while one is largely taken care of (most sold quickly), the second has a large number of broodmares and young unregistered stock.  If you’re looking for a good deal (especially if you don’t care about papers!) head over to the Charles Town section of our listing pages – there are bunches of horses available for $600 and under.  🙂

Of course, I still have about eight horses to add, and have to make some serious time this week to call trainers for updates.  We have well over 100 horses listed from Charles Town right now, so I’m sure there are some! Well, I’m hoping, at least.  With so many horses on there, if you are looking, make sure to check pages 2 and 3 of that section – the large number of horses recently added has pushed a lot of others onto those other pages, and there’s plenty of good horses there that I know are still available!

In other news, trying to get organized for our fundraising teams to get rolling as well – if you’re waiting for an email or further info on that, please sit tight! I’m getting to it, really! *grin*

I’ve even managed to make a few trips out to Happy Horse Acres to visit everybody, spending some quality time with Rainbow, who learned how to lunge despite being utterly distracted because she couldn’t see her favorite buddy from the ring, and with The Dude, who is slowly but surely making some progress, and is about the sweetest horse ever.  He’s also showing a lot more curiousity about stuff now – trying to investigate the whole farm and check everything out when I bring him out.  At some point this week, I might have those pictures up and everything (though don’t count on it, we have a hugely busy week ahead!)

I’m still missing a certain redhead mare quite a bit.  It feels strange to come up the driveway and not see her in the field, or walk out to hear her nicker at me.  All for the best, I know.  And it seems like she’s doing quite nicely – today Allie posted a video on youtube of her and Hurry schooling XC:

(link if you need it: – hoping I got that URL right!)

I miss her so much. :/

But back on track, with other news… This Sunday, Southwind Farm in Damascus is hosting its first ever Combined Test, and we are expecting a decent turnout.  Somehow, CANTER got put in charge of the food (they know we have a lot of good cooks on board, I guess!), so that means that later this week will be spent getting supplies and griddles and everything all in order, and hopefully we’ll be able to pump out a few tasty breakfast sandwiches 🙂  Even if you’re not riding, feel free to stop by, we love to chat! Unfortunately, we will not have horses available to show/tell about, but I will have some listings with me for folks to look through, and maybe some of the “ebay pile” stuff for sale 🙂


Last Rides

Yesterday morning I got Cadence from her field, gave her an early breakfast, and about an hour and a half of hand grazing before bundling her onto the trailer for her trip to North Carolina.  I am still feeling a little sorry for myself, and anxious about her being so far away,  even though I know she’s in the most amazing hands possible.

The Most Beautiful Girl In The World

Yes, I see those ribs, they have been a constant source of frustration, and another reason we decided on a change of venue.  But all in all, she has slicked out, matured, and put on tons of muscle.  I can’t wait to see her in another few weeks with riding from Suzanney and some more weight on.  But damn, driving into the farm and not seeing her there is a little bit of a kick in the gut!

I promise to stop whining about this, but not until tomorrow 🙂

Prior to her leaving, we had some great last rides.  Saturday we worked largely on lateral work and transitions within the trot (trot normal! trot reeeeally slooooow! big trot!) which was surprisingly hard work.  But working in the indoor and using the mirrors, it’s very educational to work on that stuff and watch different muscle groups engage.  She still puts on a bit of an act about contact and lateral work… I caaaan’t!  It’s haaaaard!  That makes me laugh a little bit, especially because I know she can do it.   And of course, when I giggle, say, “come on, you know how to do this, nerd,” and sat up a bit, suddenly everything got easier. 

Sunday we didn’t really work very hard – I let her stretch out, and roll forward at a very nice forward trot and canter (even enjoying something that almost felt like a hand gallop, though the rhythm of her feet on the ground never changed.. man I love that about her!).  Then we jumped a little jump (three trot poles to a vertical).  She was perfectly willing, eager, and forward, and for about the first time I had no sense of rightward drift on the approach or landing (though perhaps, just perhaps, I was sitting straight? haha).

I’m going to miss riding her a ton – she’s just one of those horses that feels like a perfect fit.  Those of you down in NC – GO CHECK HER OUT! she is the best possible horse in the whole world, you won’t regret it. 🙂

In other news, I am going to be keeping busy by refocusing on things like fundraising and such – YAY!  I will also be visiting the funny farm to give updates on that 🙂  So there’s lots to do still, even without a riding project.

I have posted to our volunteer list that we are looking for volunteers to join and run fundraising teams – each team responsible for a fundraising effort or event, that they are totally in control of.  If you have ANY interest in that at all, or applicable skills, please email


The Most Perfect

The last couple rides I’ve had on Miss Cadence have been so wonderful I’m not really sure where to begin.  They haven’t necessarily been easy – but they’ve been wonderful.  One of the things I’ve come to notice is that the horses are typically very easy to start with.  90% of any given ride is usually about going forward at first.  Then comes contact, and then comes nuance.  Cadence is getting to that nuance phase, where we work more laterally (particularly to strengthen her right side) to get her more engaged back to front.  As she slides from “basic” to “nuanced” ride, things get a little more difficult.  I have to be even more correct, I have to be even more steady with my hands (and she has to learn to accept a little more contact, as nice as the feather-light thing is!), and I have to pay a lot more attention to staying centered in the saddle (among other things).

It’s a weird thing to think that as a horse gets more trained, she can become a little harder to ride, but I think it’s true.  Also in Cadence’s case, she has discovered her “go” button a little bit, fitness and confidence have endowed her with the ability to think more for herself, which can either be a blessing or a curse.  So far it’s been a blessing, with a little bit of “hee! someone has a go button now!” thrown in for good measure.  Mostly, though, I think a little more energy and attentiveness makes her much more fun and interesting to ride.

One of the things we worked on last night was some canter poles.  There was a single pole on one side of the ring, and a set on the other, set like two bounces.  We worked over the single pole a bit, and one of the things that impresses me is how she figures out how to adjust herself.  Provided I don’t mess with her at all other than to keep her straight and in front of my leg, if we biffed a distance to the pole and went over it awkwardly, invariably the next time through, I could feel her thinking and adjusting to try and make it comfortable.  The same thing happened when we tried the other poles.  She figured out quickly that she had to stay quiet and not “jump” the poles to get through comfortably, and all I really had to do was sit there.

As for the other work we did – she is getting much more balanced on the left lead, is getting some very nice walk-canter transitions (the canter-walk, not so much, but baby steps!), and getting much more responsive when I ask for a leg yield or shoulder in.  At the trot, the lateral work is harder than at the walk (natch), because she wants to speed up sometimes instead of staying balanced and using herself properly – but again, that’s a baby physical thing, and totally normal.  When I was done working on that stuff, I encouraged her to trot around a few times and really stretch out, and go long and low, which she quite enjoys. 

After that, we went for a walk with a friend down the long driveway, and on the way back we popped over a couple little logs and the ditch.  I don’t jump her very much, and the last time she went over anything was on our free jump day, but she was great.  About all I had to do was sit up and grab mane 🙂  She still has a bit of right drift, so that needs to  be managed (and more getting that right side stronger!), but she was so fun!  She takes off and lands so lightly it almost feels like flying.

All in all, a perfect ride on a lovely evening, capped off with a nice bowl of soup and watching the sun set with my horse up on the hill.

In other, more bittersweet news, Cadence will be heading down to our director and friends in North Carolina early next week.  Obviously, I have mixed feelings on this – I’m not getting lots of bites from people up here, and the market seems better down there, plus I know Suzanne will do a bang-up job of bringing her to the next level. 

But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little heartbroken.  Back in mid-April, I was one day away from getting a paycheck I thought I might make an offer with.  I was (and am) that in love with this horse.  I had a plan, my big grey with all his foot problems would happily transition to field board, and I would have a horse that I could take eventing and such (plus, the grey horse even likes her, and he’s picky!).  I was adding up numbers and enabling myself on making a fantastically bad equine-related financial decision, and really very close to calling Allie, when something else that had been niggling at me reared its ugly (depending on your perspective) head.

I hadn’t been feeling quite right for about a week at that point, and had begun to suspect that I had a little problem.  Three EPT sticks later, and it was clear that, as suddenly as I had gotten up the nerve to consider buying her, I had to dismiss that thought to prepare for something else, a different kind of critter entirely.

I’m not sure what this means for my involvement with CANTER.  I know I am in a tailspin, trying to redefine who I am, as everything I define myself with will be put on a back burner for a while.  I probably shouldn’t be jumping, and my high risk doctor is quite leery of riding at all, so it makes sense to send the greenbean girl to people who can take her to the next level.  But when I think of her leaving, I feel this dull sort of ache deep inside, along with an almost frantic feeling, like I need to stand in front of the trailer to stop it from happening.  Seeing her go is going to be like losing a piece of myself. 

I know it will work out for the best, she will find a perfect home, and in the meantime get excellent care and training from really awesome people.  But I’m sad anyway. 

Coming soon… pictures of one of my favorite success stories, and an update on The Dude.